THE MYSTERY OF CHRIST REVEALED
For this reason, I Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles – Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that, through the gospel, the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus (Eph. 3: 1-6).
The secret is out! The Gentiles, who thought they were excluded, are in on God’s master plan to bless the whole world, Jew and Gentile alike, with the spiritual blessings Paul declared in the opening paragraphs of his letter. The children of Israel were the initial recipients of God’s magnificent array of benefits – if they had only understood and co-operated with God to receive the favour He promised them. However, they were only the prototype of what God had planned for the whole world.
Israel was the nation God chose to coach to walk in His ways as a visual aid for the rest of the world so that all the nations would understand what God had for them and what He wanted from them.
God entrusted to Paul and to his fellow apostles His plan to open the door of faith to the whole world. He placed in Paul’s spirit, through the revelation of the Holy Spirit, the understanding of this “mystery” – not something too difficult to understand but something hidden from human beings until the moment He made the truth known to His apostles. He entrusted to them the task of administering His grace to the previously excluded peoples so that they would have an equal share in everything He has promised to the Jews.
However, the Jews would have none of it. They believed that the covenant and the promises belonged to them, and to them alone. They hated and despised the Gentiles, believing that God’s prohibition to mix with them had to do with their worth as human beings. They failed to understand that the evil influence the pagan beliefs and practices had on His people was what God hated. After all they had suffered as a people because of their idolatry, they wanted nothing to do with Gentiles. They treated them as scum and called them “dogs”.
Paul and his fellow apostles suffered greatly at the hands of the Jews because they refused to participate in their prejudice. Jesus had given them the commission to take His message to the whole world. They were committed to going to the ends of the earth regardless of the way they were treated. The gospel of God’s grace was the dividing line which cut across all the divisions of race, colour, language and culture and created a new culture and a new race of people whose citizenship was not primarily in this world.
It was Paul’s task to administer this message and the grace which God offered to those who received it, regardless of their human condition. It was a sacred commission from the throne room of heaven. Paul accepted and carried out the commission with integrity and commitment to his dying day, not counting his life worth anything unless he obeyed his Master.
Imagine the joy of those who had previously believed that they were excluded from the benefits of the bond that God had created between Himself and His chosen people. The Jews were the privileged ones, and everyone else was regarded as trash – until Paul came to them with the good news that they, too, had equal shares with the Jews in the favour of God. God’s mysterious ways had become clear. He was not mad with the Gentiles, consigning them to hell, as they once believed. It was His plan, all along, to pour out His grace on them through the Jews who were the recipients and custodians of His covenant.
There are many references to God’s plan for the Gentiles in the Old Testament which His people could have understood, had they chosen to believe the prophecies. God did not hate them. Yes, He hated their practices but, through the cross, He also forgave their sin and gave them an opportunity to turn from their wickedness and put their trust in the Son of God.
What Paul had to share with the people of Asia Minor and Europe, regardless of their nationality and religious affiliation, was truly good news. God had given them the opportunity to turn away from the sins that tore their lives apart, to start again with a new life which He created within them, to bring them back from spiritual death to life and to set their feet on a path of obedience to God and His Word.
Through Christ, God had made a new race out of Jew and Gentile, belonging to His kingdom, under His authority and participators in His nature. All God’s promises were theirs as well. They had the hope of eternal life with those of the Jewish people who believed in and received Jesus as their Messiah.
Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3, eBook 978-4828-0511-6
My second book, Learning to be a Disciple – The Way of the Master (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing), a companion volume to Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart, has been released in paperback and digital format on www.amazon.com.
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