The Content of the Mystery Revealed to Paul: Part 3 of 3 (series: Lessons on Ephesians)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:

That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs,
“That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs”⸺i.e., have the same right to the heavenly inheritance that the believing Jews have⸺is the substance of that mystery which had been hidden from all mankind for ages, and which was now made known to the New Testament apostles and prophets, and more particularly to the Apostle Paul.

Another part of this revealed mystery is that the Gentiles come on the same basis as believing Jews and partake of all the promises of God without having to become Jewish proselytes. They are fellow-heirs. That means that upon believing they inherit the promises made to Abraham and the Prophets, and now they belong to the commonwealth of the true Israel.

That the Gentiles were to be saved was no mystery (Romans 9:24-33; Romans 10:19-21). The mystery "hid in God" was the divine purpose for making Jew and Gentile an entirely new thing⸺“the church, which is Christ's body,” formed by the baptism of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:12; 1 Corinthians 12:13) and in which the earthly distinction of Jew and Gentile disappears (Ephesians 2:14-15; Colossians 3:10-11). The revelation of this mystery, which was foretold, but not explained by Christ (Matthew 16:18) was committed to Paul. In his writings alone we find the doctrine, position, walk, and destiny of the church.

Do you agree? The real mystery, I do believe, is that God would save any man, especially a man like me. Friend, if you have been saved, it is entirely due to God’s mercy and grace, because you do not deserve it.

and of the same body,
They are fellow-members of the body; the same mystical body of which Christ is the Head.
This is the body mentioned in Ephesians 2:16{3], the new man made of both Jew and Gentile united with Christ. The important thing is not the body but the oneness of it. So, they are no longer alienated. They are fellow-partakers of the promise. Thus they are no longer strangers to the promises. They are one body together ‘in Christ’, joint heirs, joint members, joint beneficiaries. The mystery was not that the Gentiles could be saved⸺there is much in the Old Testament concerning that, particularly in Isaiah⸺but that they should be joined with Jews in one body!"

and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:
“And partakers of His promise” refers to the great promise of the covenant, which incorporates all the rest under it. “His promise in Christ” is the promise made to Abraham and extended to the Gentiles. The apostle has essentially proved in his Epistle to the Romans and particularly in his Epistle to the Galatians (Galatians 3:14) that it was to be fulfilled to them by and through Christ. And that these blessings were to be announced in the preaching of the Gospel, and received upon believing it, he declares everywhere, but more especially in this epistle.

“In Christ” means that all the promises have their accomplishment in Him (2 Corinthians 1:20).

“By the Gospel” provides the means or instrument by which God builds the faith whereby they are made partakers of the promise, fellow heirs, etc. “In Christ by the Gospel” is how the miracle has been brought about, through the offering of Christ Jesus on the cross as a sacrifice as proclaimed in the Gospel and by their being united with Him in His body (Ephesians 2:13; Ephesians 2:16; 1 Corinthians 1:17-18).

The Gospel was designed to make all who embrace it children of God, and members of one family; to give them free access to Him as their Father, and lead them to love one another as brethren. To the extent that it does not produce these effects on those who profess it, they have reason to fear that they have never experienced its power.

It is difficult for us to appreciate how great this change was. As a Pharisee, Paul had believed implicitly in the superiority of the Jews in all things related to God. The Gentiles were in the shadows, with a comparatively few coming humbly to take hold of the coat tails of the Jews. But now all this

is turned upside down. Now all God’s ways are open on equal terms to all who believe, and all are equal in God’s sight.

7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.

Whereof I was made a minister
I was made a minister; a runner, servant, minister of the Gospel, not by men, but by God. He is a true minister of the Gospel who is called by God to the work of the ministry, and is qualified by Him with grace and gifts for it; and who faithfully performs it according to the ability God has given him. This describes a Gospel minister; in Paul’s case, an apostle. Minister of the Gospel, means one whose business it is to preach the Gospel. This is his service; the work for which he is called, and to which he is bound by the Holy Spirit to devote himself. There are two things which Paul here and in the verse following says in reference to his introduction into the ministry; first, it was a great favor; and secondly, it involved the exercise of divine power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:8).

according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me
He was made a minister, not according to his natural ability, his liberal education, or acquired learning; but according to the gift of the grace of God given to him. “The gift of the grace of God,” may mean the gracious gift, i.e. the gift due to the grace of God; or, the gift which is the grace of God; so that the grace, as Paul often calls his apostleship, is the thing given. In either way the gift referred to was his vocation to be an apostle. That he who was a persecutor and blasphemer should be called to be an apostle, was in his view a wonderful display of the grace of God.

Paul and all “called” ministers of the Gospel have the gift of interpreting the Scriptures, and of explaining the truths of the Gospel to the edification of men; and which is a distinct thing from natural abilities, human learning, or internal grace; for there may be all these present in one person, and yet that man is not fit to be a minister of the Gospel; what qualifies men for that is the above gift, which God, of His sovereign good will and pleasure, gives to some of the sons of men.

by the effectual working of his power
The gift in question was given by the effective working of His (God’s) power. Paul's vocation as an apostle involved his conversion, and his conversion was the effect of the power of God. This refers to the nature of the work, and not to its mere circumstances. It was not the blinding light, not the fearful voice, which he refers to as the power of God, but the inward change, by which he, a malignant opposer of Christ, was instantly converted into an obedient servant. The power of God is present when grace works in the hearts of men to make them believers in Christ; and it is also displayed in the gifts of the Spirit bestowed upon men, which is called a person endowed with power from on high; power for the conversion of sinners, and the edification of saints. In Ephesians 1:19, Paul wrote; “And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.”

Scripture and Special Notes

[1}And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:15-16).

[2} Those who exercised the office of a prophet or inspired teacher in the Christian church (1 Corinthians 12:1).

[3}And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby (Ephesians 2:16).

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