As we read through the third chapter of Ephesians, it starts with Paul beginning a thought to which he quickly cuts off and goes on a tangent. That beginning thought is not continued until verse 14, which we will cover next time, so tonight we are focusing on verses 2-13 in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.
Verses 2 & 3
In these verses, Paul presumes that everyone reading has heard of the incredible conversion that occurred in Paul’s life on the road to Damascus.
Acts 22:6-21 outlines Paul’s miraculous conversion, for anyone who is unfamiliar.
1 Timothy 1:13-16 shows a brief description of who Paul saw himself as pre-conversion.
This “administration of God’s grace” that was given to Paul was given for the benefit of the Gentile people (as detailed in Ephesians 3:2). It was given to show a tangible way that God shows grace to everyone; especially those who do not deserve it – as Paul was a killer and persecutor of Christians who vehemently opposed Jesus.
Because of the life Paul once lived and the radical transformation that took place, he now has more credibility among those who hear him speak. The readers’ knowledge of Paul’s testimony gives them the ability to better understand his insight into the Gospel.
Two important things to pay attention to in verses 5 & 6…
The Gospel (“mystery” as Paul puts it) was veiled to all before Christ came – they could see some of its attributes, but could not see it all. The depth of knowledge of the things of God is so much more now that Jesus and the Holy Spirit came.
The Gospel is now free and available for all – as we discussed last time.
Paul describes himself as a servant of the Gospel in verse 7. How can someone serve the Gospel?
*Serving the Gospel can mean a few things. It can mean preaching it faithfully to those which God calls us to preach it (everyone). It can mean living a life that points back to Jesus. It can mean serving others the way that Jesus served others.*
In verse 8, Paul describes himself as less than the least of all the Lord’s people. Some people may think this is self-deprecation and has no place in the mind of a believer.
I, however, see this as a vital aspect of a believers’ life and story; while also showcasing Paul’s humility, which we are to emulate as followers of Christ because Paul emulated Jesus. It is crucial that we are humble enough to recognize that we do not deserve the grace of God and are no better than any other believer. That humility allows us to better preach the Gospel – as pointed to in verse 9.
The Gospel is the way that God uses the Church to reveal His will – that by putting our trust and faith in Jesus, we may confidently and freely approach God…meaning that Jesus is the bridge between God and His sinful creation.
In this verse, Paul asks that the Ephesians should not be discouraged by the sufferings that he is facing, but rather feel honored because he is suffering for them.
This is something that we can look at and take to heart, as it is discouraging to see fellow Christians suffer at the hands of this world. While the people are not actively suffering for us most of the time, they are suffering for the Gospel which is part of us. We can find honor and joy in seeing that even suffering, persecution, and death is not standing in the way of the Gospel being preached.
Our testimonies and stories matter. They are rarely pretty and are full of bumps and bruises and chaos, but if they are shared while being told through the lens of the saving grace of God, lives can be changed.
The story through which God administers His grace to us can be something that helps bring non-believers to Christ and can also strengthen those who already live in Christ.