Ephesians 3 - Grace is hard work
Grace is certainly the free gift of God, but He calls us to the hard work of reading and understanding it.
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Ephesians 3 (ESV)
1 For this reason I, Paul,
a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles—
2 assuming that you have heard
of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you,
3 how the mystery was made known to me by revelation,
as I have written briefly.
4 When you read this,
you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ,
was not made known to the sons of men in other generations
as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.
6 This mystery
is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs,
members of the same body,
and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
7 Of this gospel
I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace,
which was given me by the working of his power.
8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints,
this grace was given,
preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
9 and to bring to light for everyone
what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God,
who created all things,
10 so that
through the church
manifold wisdom of God
might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized
in Christ Jesus our Lord, 1
2 in whom we have boldness and access
through our faith in him.
13 So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.
14 For this reason
I bow my knees before the Father,
15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,
according to the riches of his glory
he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—
being rooted and grounded in love,
18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints
what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,
that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him
who is able to do far more abundantly
than all that we ask or think,
according to the power at work within us,
21 to him be glory
in the church
and in Christ Jesus
throughout all generations,
forever and ever.
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Ephesians 3 Summary
Chapter three really depends on the image that was developed at the end of chapter two: the fellow citizens and members of the household of God... who are being built together into a dwelling place for God the Spirit (2:19-22).
This is what's happening when you read and dig into God's Word (v4). More and more you begin to understand the gospel as you grow in the unsearchable riches of Christ (v8).
In other words, reading the Bible is far different than reading ordinary books or articles. It's through the words of scripture you read (v4) and hear preached (v10) that you are given insight into the mysteries of Christ, things which haven't been made known to everyone!
But reading God's Word can be hard and frustrating, especially chapters like this one. Paul's sentences are massive and complex, and tough to follow along with.
Certainly tools like our outlined format and audio versions can help, but keep pushing yourself to do the hard work that it takes to understand what's been written.
Once again, Paul follows his familiar pattern of finishing a hard to understand passage with a beautiful doxology in v20-21:
Now to him
who is abl