I love to talk. Not just chatter or meaningless words, but talk to help bring understanding to something that might be hazy or unclear in some way. It has always been my passion to help others understand by breaking down difficult ideas into manageable, bite-size bits and present them in a way that is grasped easily and with the effect of a change in some way.
It is in the midst of a sentence that I sometimes realize I might be making an assumption about what my listener knows. So, I have to take a detour to fill in the details. As I read Ephesians 3, I see Paul does the same thing.
1When I think of all this, I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus for the benefit of you Gentiles . . . 2assuming, by the way, that you know . . . 14When I think of all this . . .Ephesians 3:1-2, 14
Paul begins telling the believers what he does when he “thinks of all this,” but then pauses his thought to fill in what he assumed they knew and then picks up the thought again in verse 14.
Reading with curiosity as my guide, I wonder what is so important for his reader to know that he takes 11 verses to explain. It bears looking into as it provides deeper meaning into what he does when “he thinks of all this.”
Paul, in verses 2-13, explains again the mystery of God made known to us in Christ and that he is an ambassador to the Gentiles to make this secret known. Here is the secret or mystery:
6And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus.Ephesians 3:6
This may not seem like anything that warrants so much further explanation. But to this group of mostly Gentile believers, it is a big deal. It bears repeating.
Perhaps you are new to talk of Jesus and God’s gift to you through him. You wonder if this good news is for you. Do you qualify to be included in the family? Will you have full rights? Are there charter members or levels of membership?
In the family of God, no one is grandfathered in meaning that we all have access to the blessings in the same way: believing the Good News! There are no charter members or premium benefits — all receive the inheritance!
I can hear the older siblings among us beginning to raise a voice of dissent. “Wait!” they say, “surely we enjoy benefits that those who are just joining don’t.”
Yes. As soon as we join the family, we receive the benefits of family — knowing we belong, we are loved, secure, understood, purposeful and significant. The longer we are united with God through Jesus, the more deeply and profoundly these truths change who we are as individuals. The more we are changed, the greater the connection with God grows. This is the benefit we enjoy as charter members.
What we don’t have over someone who just comes to Christ is special access. All who come to Christ are declared righteous, holy and blameless. There is nothing to do to earn it, nothing to do to keep it.
So Paul says, “when I think of all this…”
14When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.Ephesians 3:14-19
Now that’s a really big deal! If you skimmed through those verses, pause and read them again. I want to assure you that I am praying these things for you. I pray that you will be strengthened, empowered and made complete in the love of Jesus that comes from God. If you are just joining the family, welcome! I am glad you are here!