A Servant of the Gospel
Comments for Study 3
Memory Verse: 7
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I. The Prisoner (1)
>1. Who does Paul say he is a prisoner of?
* Ephesians 3:1 "For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles"
* "prisoner" -Only has recent times made prisons nice. The hard conditions in prisons often brought death. Prisoners were often made up of forced labor camps, working in conditions on jobs that not even the slavers were required to work under.
* "the prisoner of Christ Jesus" -Paul was a prisoner of Jesus, literally.
* We should not be surprised when labor in the Lord Jesus brings us to the lowest places of society and shame. We should not be surprised when we are falsely accused. Jesus taught, "A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household!" (Matt.10:24-25) And he taught, "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matt. 5:10-12)
* The NIV in verse 10 states, "the manifild wisdom of God." The GNT states, "God's wisdom in all its different forms." God wisdom has many facets that constantly pour out different flavors like the modern day soda dispensers in movie theaters. God's intent for the church is to reveal, display, and make known the many aspects of his wisdom (10).
God is rich in many ways. God who owns everything has riches that are not tangible (9). Jesus riches is mainly in the Spirit and dispelled by the Spirit. His riches is boundless grace. He is rich in mercy and compassion. He is the prince of peace and serenity. He is rich in love. His wealth is displayed and dispenses from the cross.
Christ Jesus' riches were a mystery in ages past, but revealed now through the church (2, 5, 9). This mystery is that through the gospel his people are heirs and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus that we have, are, and always will receive his riches (6).
Right now I can receive his riches of peace, passion, power, serenity, and healing. This is a promise of God. Right now I can allow the Spirit to reveal and dispence his love to others through me. This is "the manifild wisdom of God."
>For whose sake was he a prison?
* "for the sake of you Gentiles" -Paul taught the gospel to the Gentiles; infuriating the Jews. So when the Jews had a chance they tried to kill him, but only succeeding to have him arrested.
* God will complete the plan that he has for each one of his people.
>What events took place that ended in him being a prisoner? (Acts 9:15-16, 19:1, 21, 21:11, 33-36, 27:1)
* Acts 9:15-16 "But the Lord said to Ananias, 'Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.'"
* Acts 19:1 "While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples"
* Acts 19:21 "After all this had happened, Paul decided to go to Jerusalem, passing through Macedonia and Achaia. 'After I have been there,' he said, 'I must visit Rome also.'"
* Acts 21:11 "Coming over to us, he took Paul's belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, 'The Holy Spirit says, 'In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.''"
* Acts 21:33-36 "The commander came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. Then he asked who he was and what he had done. Some in the crowd shouted one thing and some another, and since the commander could not get at the truth because of the uproar, he ordered that Paul be taken into the barracks. When Paul reached the steps, the violence of the mob was so great he had to be carried by the soldiers. The crowd that followed kept shouting, 'Away with him!'"
* Acts 27:1 "When it was decided that we would sail for Italy, Paul and some other prisoners were handed over to a centurion named Julius, who belonged to the Imperial Regiment."
>What can we learn about life in Christ Jesus?
* When we follow the call that God gives us there will be opposition, no exceptions.
* God does not make a mistake when troubles and hardship come into our life. God is not surprised by anything. He lets them happen for a reason.
* God's love is not removed from his people when hardship comes. God always loves his people. We should never doubt God's love.
* Why then does trouble come into the life of believers? God has his eternal plans. We can trust that his eternal plan is the best for us. We seldom understand why troubles and hardships come. We can have the attitude of Paul; I am in this situation because Christ Jesus deems it is best. "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
* When trouble comes it is good to find out why? Yet we should not get so bogged down in searching why as that we forget to turn the trouble into a time to glorify Jesus and obey him.
II. The Mystery of Christ (2-13)
* Part II of this study is a side thought. Paul began a prayer in verse 1, then stops for twelve verses, and then picks his prayer up again in verse 14. Compare verse 1 and verse 14. Paul takes time to expound on his God given mission to the Gentiles.
>2. What had Paul previously written about the mystery revealed to him? (2-3, 1:9-10)
* Ephesians 3:2-3 "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."
* Ephesians 1:9-10 "And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment--to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ."
* The mystery of God was that he planned to bring the Gentiles and the Jews together in Christ Jesus. This fact is only mentioned a few places in the Old Testament. The Jews of Jesus' days on earth had not understood and ignored this plan of God. When it was revealed to the apostles, even they had a hard time excepting it, Paul included.
* Wherever the gospel was preached it was first preached to the Jews. God then brought Gentiles into the fold. Most Jews became uncomfortable to the point of complete anger and envy when their synagogues began filling up with Gentiles. They felt threatened, believing they would lose their cultural identity. This caused them to lash out at fellow Jews like Paul who were preaching to gospel to the Jews and the Gentiles and inviting all those strange people into their doors.
* Throughout history Jews were not the only people to fear bringing new and different people into their congregations. The greatest threat to the spread of the gospel is fear of those not like us and leaving our comfort zone. Whenever many who were sincere believers saw someone different walk in the door they diligently try to get them to conform to their culture and way of life. Many find it hard to separate a life of faith from their cultural practices, especially when the culture is wrapped in religion, rites, rituals, and customs (of the elders).
* A study of Jesus' ministry shows that the religious elders of his day could not separate culture from the will of God.
* Paul was not taught by man; that is the apostles. We can say in modern terms, "Paul did not get a theological degree from the Apostles' Messianic Seminary." And yet the other apostles accepted him as an equal. I have not meet one pastor that would be so inclined to follow their example today.
>When might have this been made known by revelation? (Gal. 1:11-12, 15-18; Acts 9:23)
* Galatians 1:11-12 "I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ."
* Galatians 1:15-18 "But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus. Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days."
* Acts 9:23 "After many days had gone by, the Jews conspired to kill him,"
* After Jesus came to Paul when he was on the way to Antioch to arrest and persecute Christians he went out into the Arabian desert and then to Damascus. During this three year period Paul studied, prayed and was taught by Jesus through revelation. He states very clearly that he was not taught by man. For this reason he calls himself an apostle, as one who was directly taught by Jesus. I have even see a group of confessing Christians lie so that a friend of their could get an honorary degree in theology so they wouldn't receive pressure from degreed pastors.
* When God calls people, often they are not from the "established religious circles of leadership." None of Jesus' disciples were Pharisees and teachers of the law. He taught the reason behind with, "No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved." (Matt. 9:16-17)
>3. What was not made known to men in other generations? (4-6a)
* Ephesians 3:4-6a "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 by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel."
* "through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel" -As stated above, the fact that the gospel spread so quickly and deeply in Gentile society was such a shock to even the Jewish converts that it caused a rift that exists even to this day.
* No all Gentiles reject Jews, and not all Jews reject Gentiles. Paul and the other apostles are evidence of this.
* Isaiah 49:6 "It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth."
>How was it revealed to the apostles and prophets?
* "it has now been revealed by the Spirit" -Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to teach every one of his people. As we study the Bible and pray we can learn of God's truth only when the Holy Spirit is in us. If the Holy Spirit is not in a person when they study the Bible no truth is written in the heart and no revelation comes from God.
* Always ask God to send the Holy Spirit when studying the Bible.
* John 14:25-26 "All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you."
* Knowing the Bible does not always mean that a person or group knows the secret things of God. Many false Christ preach a gospel and use some Bible verses in their teachings. Satan even used the word of God when he tempted Jesus and the Pharisees memorized much of the Old Testament and then rejected the Messiah. We should not deceive ourselves. Don't think or say, "We are elite soldiers in Christ," just because we study the Bible more than others.
>Through what events did the Spirit of God reveal the mystery? (Acts 10:15, 44-46, 11:18)
* Acts 10:15 "The voice spoke to him a second time, 'Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.'"
* Acts 10:44-46 "While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said,"
* Acts 11:18 "When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, "So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life."
* Peter had a hard time accepting that a Gentile was equal to Jews. This is why he had the vision of the sheet, to prepare him to accept the opposite of what other converted Jews were saying, "They must be circumcised (become Jews) to be in the Messiah."
* When a Gentile showed more faith in Jesus than any in Israel Jesus revealed, "I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matt. 8:11-12)
>4. What is the gospel? (6a, and 1 Cor. 15:1-8)
* 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 "Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born."
* "gospel" -Gospel is Greek for good news. Jesus is the good news. The good news is that Jesus came so that we can have an eternal relationship with God through him. How? As 1 Cor. 15:1-8 states.
* Has you accepted this good news? Do you believe it? Have you confessed your sins to God in the name of Jesus? Have you asked for God to forgive your sins through Jesus? Have you asked God to have a relationship with you? Have you asked God to take control of your life? Are you willing to live by faith in Jesus? Have you accepted that Jesus rose from the dead? Do you believe that like Jesus you too will rise from the dead? Have you decided to stop living a sinful life and instead live a life that is pleasing to God? Do you actively share this good news with other people? If you answered truthfully yes to all of these things, then you have accepted the gospel? If not, then please change your mind on which one(s) that you say no to; its a matter of eternal life, yours.
>What are the Gentiles and Isreal heirs of? (6a; Acts 3:24-26; Gen. 22:17-18, 26:3-4; Rev. 21:1-5)
* Acts 3:24-26 "Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days. And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, 'Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.' When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways."
* Genesis 22:17-18 "I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me."
* Genesis 26:3-4 "Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed,"
* Revelation 21:1-5 "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."
* God's promise to Abraham is a promise he makes to anyone who will believe as Abraham believes. God promises eternal life in a new earth. The new earth will be a far better one than this one. Sin, pain, death, decay, sadness, poverty, no famine, and all evil will be gone. God, the Lord Jesus will be on the new earth and he will be amongst people as he was in the garden of Eden.
>5. What does it mean that we are one body? (6b)
* Ephesians 3:6b "members together of one body"
* In Jesus and in the new earth people will not be separated by sin, hate, and evil. Love will be the order of the day and night. Peace with God, peace between people, and peace of heart will be in and for all. Joy and fulfillment will be experienced by all. Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10b)
>What is the promise of Christ Jesus? (6c; John 14:3)
* Ephesians 3:6c "and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus."
* John 14:3 "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."
* Jesus promised many things that center around God with man. When Jesus was born one of his titles was "Emmanuel" which means, "God with us."
>6. What two things did Paul consider God's grace to him? (7-9)
* Ephesians 3:7-9 "I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all God's people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things."
* "Although I am less than the least of all God's people" -Paul was humble, remembering his past even though he was blessed in the present. (1 Cor. 15:9, 1 Tim. 1:12-13)
* Paul mentions two points of personal grace:
1) to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ
2) to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery
* "the gift of God's grace" -Recognizing God's grace to us is important. Each person should know, remember, and tell others the grace that God has given to us.
* "through the working of his power" -Our place and call in Christ, considering the grand plan, is a small one. Yet and times it may seem daunting and overwhelming. How can we complete the will of God given by grace? Through God's power. Paul earlier said that the power of God that raised Jesus from the dead is made available to us. (1:18-19)
* "unsearchable riches of Christ... the administration of this mystery" -God is the God of mysteries. He does not reveal these mysteries all at once. He reveals them slowly, over time. Did men always know where diamonds, gold and silver were? Did God give a map of all of them to us? No, he reveals them to us slowly. Did man know the mystery of the atom, the sun, and the galaxies? No, God reveals these things slowly. Did mankind know that faith such as Abraham's is saving faith, that salvation is free through Christ, that the gospel will be preached to Gentiles, that Gentiles and Jews are united in the body of Christ? No, these things are slowly revealed. The extent of God's mysteries will be revealed over eternity. They mysteries of God all reflect his glory.
* "to make plain to everyone" -Each believe should be able to make plain to others the grace God shown in their personal life. Each believer should think about and prepare to share with people what Jesus did for them. We should practice sharing with others what the gospel is. If music, singing, sport, acting, and political fans can share with others about their human hero, how much more should we be able to share with others about Jesus and his glory. As a bride and a bridegroom will prepare a testimony of love about each other, then shouldn't we be ready to share a testimony of love about Jesus? Jeremiah 33:11 states, "The sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, and the voices of those who bring thank offerings to the house of the Lord, saying, "Give thanks to the Lord Almighty, for the Lord is good; his love endures forever." For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were before,' says the Lord."
>What is God's purpose for the church? (10)
* Ephesians 3:10 "His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,"
* "now" -In this age, the age of preaching the good news of the kingdom of God, God's wisdom is made known, in contrast to previous ages.
* "through the church" -The congregation of Jesus is a display of the wisdom of God.
* "the manifold wisdom" -"A very striking phrase. The adjective occurs only here, and means variegated. It is applied to pictures, flowers, and garments. It is used in the Septuagint of Joseph's coat (Gen. 37:3). Through the church God's wisdom is its infinite variety is to be displayed -the many-tinted wisdom of God -in different modes of power, different characters, methods of training, providences, forms of organizations, etc." (Word Studies in the New Testament, Vincent)
* "should be made known" -God intends that even the angels, fallen or God's should learn of his ways and wisdom.
* "the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realm" -The book of Daniel, especially the last three chapters reveals that angels and demons alike manipulate and/or fight for kingdoms of men. Angle's look at they mysteries that God is revealing through his dealings with mankind and wonder. (1 Peter 1:12) Hostile fallen angels who oppose God also are revealed the mysteries of God. (2:2, 6:12)
>7. How was this accomplished through Jesus Christ? (11)
* Ephesians 3:11 "according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord."
* "eternal purpose" -God's purpose is not just in the past and the here and now. God's purpose is eternal. Just as a person can mark on a circle and never find the end of the line, so God's purpose does not have an end of line. It keeps going on and on. Having an eternal nature makes God's purpose incomprehensible to man who looks around him and seems finite heavens, earth, animals, bugs, and fleshly bodies.
* "which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord" -Jesus is the accomplishment of everything. For this reason Jesus is be praised and honored. Jesus is the focal point and the essence of time. Jesus is the center of creation. Our Lord is the accomplishment of God's plan. Jesus is the plan.
* Anyone one or group that takes away from Jesus' Lordship is not worthy of him.
>What two things are needed to approach God? (12)
* Ephesians 3:12 "In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence."
* "in him" -In Jesus we may approach God.
* "through faith in him" -Through faith in Jesus was may approach God.
* John 10:7-9 "Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture."
* Luke 10:22 "All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."
* John 14:9-11 "Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves."
* No one can know God through his own efforts. Only through Jesus can people know the Father.
>How did Paul view his sufferings? (13)
* Ephesians 3:13 "I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory."
* "which are your glory" -Paul endured sufferings for preaching the gospel because through them people heard the gospels and were saved. Paul looked at sufferings as a kind of labor pains of spiritual child birth. If he did not preach the gospel he would not be in jail. Yet, because he preached the gospel he received sufferings and people heard the gospel.
* Anytime the gospel is preached, whether verbal, in print, or acted out there will be pain and suffering for the messenger. This pain is not to be shunned, but freely accepted knowing that a reward awaits those who preach the gospel.
* "not to be discouraged" -When the believers in Ephesus and all Asia Minor heard that Paul the man who preached the mysteries of Christ was in jail they were saddened. Paul said they should not be. Whenever we here of people suffering for their faith in Jesus we should no be said. Jesus taught, "Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets." (Luke 6:22-23)
* Acts 20:18-35 and 1 Cor. 1:8-11 record what Paul endured while in Ephesus as he preached the gospel and taught the word of God.
III. Christ in Our Hearts (14-21)
>8. How did Paul pray? (14)
* Ephesians 3:14 "For this reason I kneel before the Father,"
* "For this reason" -Paul now picks up the prayer which he stated in verse 1 and stopped until now. The reason Paul is praying was because of What God has and is doing in the church, Jesus' body.
* "I kneel before the Father" -Paul prayed kneeling as a sign of submission and reverence. Paul knew that he prayed before the Father in the heavenly realm. Paul is not the only person who knelt while praying, so did Daniel. ()
* The heart attitude is important when we pray, as it is no matter what we do. There are many prayers in the Bible to learn about prayer. We should not be ashamed to admit we don't know how to pray. Even the disciples ask Jesus, "Show us how to prayer." This lead to Jesus giving what is called, "The Lord's prayer." (Luke 11:1-4)
* Paul prayed that the Ephesian believers may come to know God's love (14,15) He prayed this even though God's love can never be fully known (19). Perhaps the fact that God's love can never be fully known is because it is so vast (18), explains the reason why love is so hard to define and comprehend. The old saying is true, "Love is a many splendor thing."
How do I define my relationship with God? Can and do I define it as love? Does his power through the Spirit make me strong in his love? Do I passionately seek to know his love? Is my roots and foundation in Jesus' love (17)?
Knowing God's love is to be completely filled with the very nature of God (19). And God's love feels so good.. This is why I make time for one-on-one personal encounters with God, to experience his good and pleasing love.
Be concerned not that at times I am not at rest with his love. For God is at work in me (20). Out of his glorious riches he strengthens me with power through his Spirit (16). He sustains me.
>What kind of family do we belong to? (15)
* Ephesians 3:15 "from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name."
* "his whole family" -This could be stated as "a group of families" as Israel has tribes, families, and individual households distinct with cultures. We are part of a spiritual family. Many human houses and families today are completely broken, rotted by sin. Some children never knew their father and others never knew their mother. Some have had a father and/or mother who acted improperly toward their children, and some children do the same toward their parents and each other. God's family is the best kind of family, perfect in every way; not like man's family.
* "in heaven and on earth" -Some of our brothers in Christ have gone to heaven where the angels mainly are. The angels are also part of God's family. Other members of God's family are still on earth with us. There are many members of his family that we have not met yet. Yet as eternity goes on we will meet them and learn of God's grace to them as we will share his grace to us with them.
* "derives its name" -"Wherever in heaven or in earth beings are grouped from their relation to a father, the name they bear in each case is derived from the Father." (Word Studies in the New Testament, Vincent)
* Since we are family of God's making we should act like and on behalf of our Father and creator. He acts in love and truth. We should also stay connected with God's family. There are some congregations that preach that they are the only family of God, or special and elite in God's family because of what they do or know. This is not true for our relationship to the father is what matters. It is true that God has given different directions and responsibilities, but those are not what makes us special. We should not be proud because of what God has given us to do. Rather, as Jesus said, "However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." (Luke 10:20) If we obey the call God has given us and become proud we do not act in love, and anything not done is love is not of God.
>What was his prayer topic? (16)
* Ephesians 3:16 "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,"
* "his glorious riches" -God's riches has been defines as; his grace (1:7), his inheritance in the saints (1:18), his grace expressed in his kindness (2:7), and unsearchable riches of Christ (3:16).
* "he may strengthen you with power" -In our current state we are weak. Through God's power is the only way his will is done on this earth. We cannot and should not rely on our own power. Anything that is not done with the power of God is of no value and will not survive standing before Christ in his Bema seat. Do you feel weak in you service for the Lord. Rely on him for when we are weak, he is strong.
* "through his Spirit in your inner being" -The Holy Spirit in us is how God gives us his strength. We are not born with God's spirit when we were born in the flesh. But when God created a new spirit in us his Holy Spirit came to dwell in us.
>How does Christ dwell in our hearts? (17; John 14:23-24)
* Ephesians 3:17 "so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,"
* John 14:23-24 "Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.'
* "Christ may dwell in your hearts" -Paul was praying for the dwelling of christ in our hearts. What pray for it? We have the Spirit of God when we accept the gospel by faith and with faith Christ dwells with us. Yet having the Spirit and Christ and being full of the Spirit and knowing Christ deeply are distinguishable. Meeting a person for the first time is knowing them, yet only superficially. Going on a few dates will enable someone to know them more. Knowing enough to marry and being married for five, ten, twenty and fifty years are different levels of knowing. So it is with Christ. Those of us who are in Christ, eternity will be spent in knowing him more and more. Also, Recently, there was a book which compared our life to a house with many rooms asking the question, "Is there a room in your being where you are shutting Jesus out?" Examine the rooms of your life and being to answer this question. Also, Paul did not personally know all the believers who would read this letter, certainly not us. He prayed that all who read this would have faith so that Christ may dwell within us to a greater and greater degree. Jesus prayed, "Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them." (John 17:25-26) And Paul wrote to the Philippians at around the same time he wrote this letter, "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead." (Phil. 3:10-11)
* "through faith" -By faith we are saved, by faith Christ dwells in our hearts.
* "rooted and established in love" -Consider a tree's roots or a building's foundation. Love is not just an emotion, or an act of the body. Love is a gift of God expressed in the very nature of our being and actions. Jesus taught, "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command." (John 15:12-14)
>10. What should we have a firm grasp of? (18-19a; John 15:13)
* Ephesians 3:18-19a "may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge"
* "may have power" -The love of christ with all his family is power. Those outside Christ may see love as a weakness. Yet, when we are rooted and established in Christ we have his power.
* "together with all the saints" -Those in heaven and on earth. No matter where we are at and what we are experiencing we have access to the love of Jesus. All ages, cultures, gender... no matter who, as long as they are in Christ should seek to grow deeper and deeper in the love and the knowledge of Christ's love.
* "to grasp" -Some translations use "comprehend"; the meaning is in "understanding".
* "how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ" -Christ love is described in a poetic way to convey a boundless event. Since Jesus' love is those boundless, knowing it will take boundless time.
* "to know this love that surpasses knowledge" -Knowledge is part of the mind. Knowing Jesus love is more than head knowledge. Jesus' love should also be known in our heart, will, soul, and spirit. We cannot completely know the love of Christ by study alone, we need to experience it.
>Are you filled with God? (19b)
* Ephesians 3:19b "that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
* The book of Acts clearly conveys that all have the Spirit. However, only a few people are stated to be "full of the Spirit". Barnabas and Stephen were two. Consider our soul as a cup and God as water. All souls outside of Christ are empty. All souls who know Christ have water in it. However, not all have the same amount of water. How much we let God into our soul is how much we will be filled with him. God is enough to overfill our cup. Are you overflowing with God or do you have only a little of him in you? A better illustration than a cup is when Jesus used a wineskin. He said, "Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved." (Matthew 9:17) Or consider again the house illustration mentioned above. Is there a room in your being where you have not let God in to redecorate? Or are you still the king of that room? God should rule every aspect of your being.
>How can you be? (Luke 4:1; Acts 7:55, 11:24)
* Luke 4:1 "Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert,"
* Acts 7:55 "But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God."
* Acts 11:24 "He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord."
* Consider all three examples; before temptation, before death by stoning, and after giving freely a costly gift.
* God's love found in Christ "must find expression in experience, in sorrows and joys, trials, and sufferings, in ways too deep for the mind of man to fathom, or for human language to express." (Tyndale New Commentary Series, Foules)
>11. What is God's power doing in us? (20)
* Ephesians 3:20 "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,'
* "who is able" -God will do and will do.
* "immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine" -Man has imagined a lot. Yet it is as small as a grain of sand in the vast desert of God's ability.
* "that is at work in us" -God's vase power of ability is at work in us. It is active the wine in the new wineskin mentioned above. What we are not is not what will will be tomorrow. And what we are tomorrow is not what we will be next week. And what we are next week is not what we will be next year. And what we are next year is not what we will be a thousand years from now. God is continually at work in us as we experience his love more and more.
* "all we ask" -Paul is asking God here, and yet he knows that God will do more than he asks.
>What is the purpose of the church? (21)
* Ephesians 3:21 "to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."
* "to him be the glory" -God the Father.
* "in the church" -As those in Christ. The church is currently the physical presence of God on this earth.
* "in Christ Jesus" -Jesus is the spiritual and physical presence of God in heaven and in his people. Jesus prayed, "Father glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you."
* "glory" -Glory here is not the glory of the presence of the Lord. Glory here is the praise and honor that is due God.
* "throughout all generations" -Some translations have "throughout all ages". Word Studies in the New Testament says this is literally "unto all the generations of the age of the ages" meaning eternity is made up of ages, and ages of generations.
>Who is the church? (Heb. 12:22-24)
* Hebrews 12:22-24 "But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel."
* The church is those bought by the blood of Jesus and will rise from the dead as he did.
* This marks the end of the doctrinal foundation of the letter. In the next study is the practical application of this doctrine.
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