v1-12 - Paul's an interesting guy. What would make somebody like him, on a successful career track as a religious lawyer, give that all up to literally become a prisoner of Christ? This opening passage answers that question:
The 'mystery' that unifies all people, which had not been made known to people in the past, was made known to Paul and the other apostles.
This gospel - the 'boundless riches of Christ (v8) - was made known to Paul
in order that he would make it known to the world
in order that churches would be formed
in order that these churches would make known "the manifold wisdom of God (v10)."
Inasmuch as you are a member of this universal church, you are included in this responsibility to make this gospel known.
Paul summarizes the core message of the gospel in v12:
In Christ and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
v13-19 - Paul immediately takes advantage of this ability to approach God by offering a beautiful prayer on our behalf. Notice the AAA prayer pattern that we see so often in Biblical prayers:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: He begins this prayer by recognizing that God is the Father of all families in heaven and on earth (so our common ethnic background is 'child of God')
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Paul prays that you will be:
strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being
so that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: The prayer concludes with Paul making an audacious 'ask' on your behalf:
That you may have power:
to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,
to know this love that surpasses knowledge—
And that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
v20-21 - This chapter finishes with a doxology, which literally means 'words of glory.'
This God we've been invited to approach
can do more than we can ever imagine to ask of Him,
and His power is at work within you!
So we want God to be glorified
In the church,
and to all generations of people who are included in Christ.
OLD TESTAMENT REFERENCE:
Another word for 'dwelling in which God lives' is temple. Read 1 Kings 8:1-14 which tells of God's glory coming to dwell in the temple Solomon had built, realizing that God's Spirit has come to dwell in you.
Use the comment box below to discuss one or more of these questions:
EYE FOR DETAIL—From what you recall seeing in this chapter, try answering the following question without looking at your Bible: What brief phrase did Paul use to describe the message of Christ which he had been given to preach to the Gentiles? (See verse 8.)
How would you explain to a curious friend what it means to "approach God with freedom and confidence?"
Question 1 taken from The Complete Bible Discussion Guide: New Testament
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: The Father of all families (v15)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that you'll be strengthened by the Spirit so that Christ will dwell in your heart (v16-17)
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: