Posts tagged ‘Gentiles’

Ephesians 3:6-13 – Paul clearly reveals God’s plan

Paul starts chapter 3 to pray for the Gentile believer, but doesn’t get very far before he interrupts himself for a number of verses (v.2-13) before he continues again with his prayer in v.14. The second part of his “interruption” is Paul clearly reveals God’s plan to all believers. He hinted about it earlier in 2:11-22 but never called it God’s plan. He also reveals his mission to make God’s plan known.

v.6,“And 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.” God’s plan is finally revealed in detail! Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News are “joint heirs…and members of the same body, and joint partakers [sharing] in the [same divine] promise in Christ Jesus through [their faith]” AMP. Notice in the AMP, Paul uses three terms to describe God’s plan which includes Gentiles with Jews together as:

  1. “Joint heirs” of the same blessing – Gentiles that believe are joint heirs with believing Jews. Gentiles do not become Jews in order to be heirs, no they are fellow heirs with the Jews because of Christ. Jews and Gentiles are adopted into the same family, becoming brothers and sisters. Gentile are fellow heirs of salvation and share equally with the Jews (Rom 8:17, Gal 3:29, 4:7)
  2. “Members” of the same body – they are united into one body (the church) as Christ is the head. They have all the privileges and promises because they belong to Christ.
  3. “Joint partakers” of the same promise – they both partake in the same promises in Christ Jesus. In the past Gentiles could only come under this promise by becoming Jews, now Paul is telling the Gentiles believers they are fully accepted and are fellow participants of the promise with the believing Jews.

So God’s plan is the complete union of Jews and Gentiles believers together as one group—the church. And they are united in Christ Jesus because they belong to him through the Good News. It is a double union, with Christ and with each other.

v.7,“By God’s grace and mighty power, I have been given the privilege of serving him by spreading this Good News.” God chose Paul to spread the Good News. Paul did not seek out this job or earn this responsibility because of any merit on his own. As a matter a fact, Paul was an enemy of Christ and persecuting Christians when God chose him. And to Paul it was a great “privilege” to have this responsibility chosen to be “spreading this Good News.” But he knew the only way to fulfill this mission was by “God’s grace and mighty power.”

v.8,“Though I am the least deserving of all God’s people, he graciously gave me the privilege of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasures available to them in Christ.” Paul knew he was “least deserving of all God’s people” (see note above in v.7 and 1 Cor 15:9-10, 1 Tim 1:15) to have this responsibility to spread the Good News to the Gentiles. But God chose him for this tasks, to tell the Gentiles about what is available to them: “inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ” MSG. These riches could include resurrection from the death of sin, eternity with Christ in heaven someday, reconciliation with God, same privilege of being joint heirs with Jewish believers in this new people—the church, end of hostility and the beginning of peace, access to the Father through Christ and by the Holy Spirit, etc… This is the reason Paul uses the word  “endless” or “inexhaustible.” These riches are impossible for us to fathom as human beings. We can’t grasp the greatness of these riches and the generosity of Christ in giving them.

v.9,“I was chosen to explain to everyone this mysterious plan that God, the Creator of all things, had kept secret from the beginning.” God, the “Creator of all things,” chose Paul to explain His “mysterious plan” that up until now was “kept secret” to everyone. Of course, God knew the plan all along (before the creation of the world or “from the beginning”) but had kept it a secret until the appropriate time. Now Paul can tell both Gentiles and Jews of God’s plan because it has been revealed to him as his mission.

v.10-11,“God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This is his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord.” We can see here that God chose not to reveal his master plan to anyone including the “unseen rulers and authorities” which is another way of saying both good and evil angels (1:21, 6:12). God wanted to “use the church” to“display his wisdom” to the angels, whether good or evil (good angels throughout history have desired to decipher God’s plan (1 Pet 1:12). And evil angels would really like to know God’s plan so they can attempt to frustrate it) “in the heavenly places.” The angels in this verse are more like spectators at a sporting event. They are not involved in the church but are watching it and being witnesses to it.God’s master plan was “carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord.” The union between believing Jews and believing Gentiles into one body was accomplished by Christ’s death on the cross—which is salvation.

v.12,“Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.” The AMP says “our faith gives us sufficient courage to freely and openly approach God through Christ.” Because of Christ’s faithfulness (and our faith in him) all barriers are removed so believers are given boldness (speak freely and freely approach) and confidence to come into the presence of God. The word “approach” implies a formal introduction into the presence of a king. Thanks to Christ and his sacrifice, Christians (both believing Jews and believing Gentiles) can come confidently into God’s presence through prayer (Heb 4:16). Especially Gentiles, this was very astounding news, because in the past they were far from God. But now they were able to come into God’s presence without fear and speak openly and frankly to him, just as the Jews have in the past and can today.

v.13,“So please don’t lose heart because of my trials here. I am suffering for you, so you should feel honoured.” Paul tells the Gentile believers to not allow his trials to make them lose heart but remember his suffering is for their sake. They should be honoured he is doing this for their benefit. In other words, if Paul had not been bringing the message of the Gospel to Gentiles there would not be any Gentiles included in the church, Christ’s body of believers. And he would not be in prison. He was in prison because he knew it was part of God’s plan.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO ME? I am thankful that God chose all those who would believe in him (Gentiles and Jews) which includes me. I am also thankful that God chose Paul to be his missionary to the Gentiles so myself and my family would be included in the church, Christ’s body of believers. And lastly I am thankful that Paul chose to be obedient to God to spread the Gospel to the Gentiles even though it resulted in his imprisonment because the result is I heard the Gospel and believed. Thank you God and thank you Paul.

WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?  Be thankful that God chose to include me in his church, Christ’s body of believers.

July 15, 2020 at 8:38 AM Leave a comment

Ephesians 3:1-5 – Paul’s insight into God’s plan

Paul starts chapter 3 to pray for the Gentile believer, but doesn’t get very far before he interrupts himself for a number of verses (v.2-13) before he continues again with his prayer in v.14. The first part of his “interruption” Paul reminds the believers that he understands God’s plan or mystery because God has given him insight into it.

v.1,“When I think of all this, I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus for the benefit of you Gentiles.” “When I think of all this” or in other translations “for this reason” is referring back to 2:11-22 Paul has just written—Jews and Gentiles are made into a new people in Christ—the church. “I, Paul, a prisoner…” Paul begins to pray and remind the readers who he is and where he is as he prays. The religious leaders in Jerusalem, who didn’t believe Jesus was the Messiah, pressured the Romans to arrest Paul and charge him with treason. According to the Jews (which was a rumour), Paul was distorting God’s message by telling the Jews to disobey the law of Moses, and by bringing a Gentile to the temple which defiles it (Acts 21:20-36). Tophimus, the Ephesian Gentile convert, was the man who they assumed Paul had brought with him to the temple (Acts 2:29). So Paul was put in prison while he was awaiting his trial. Paul knew his imprisonment was God’s will so he called himself “a prisoner of Christ Jesus.” Even though Paul is in a Roman prison, he still identifies himself as a prisoner of Christ Jesus, NOT a prisoner of Rome. Paul reminds the Gentile believers that he is in prison for Christ (he is in jail “because he serves Christ Jesus for you who are not Jews” ERV). Paul is in jail so that he can spread the Gospel to the Gentiles.

In v.1 it appears Paul is about to pray for the Gentile believers again (1:3-23) but he interrupts himself in v.2-13 to remind his readers about the mystery of Christ, giving an explanation and speaking of his understanding of it and his mission to make it known. Paul continues his prayer in v.14 with the same phrase “when I think of all this…”

v.2, “Assuming, by the way, that you know God gave me the special responsibility of extending his grace to you Gentiles.” God gave Paul this responsibility to help the Gentiles understand God’s grace is extended to them as much as it is to the Jews (Acts 26:17). Simply means that God gave Paul the mission to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles as much as he was to bring it to the unbelieving Jews. But Paul assumed they already knew this.

v.3,“As I briefly wrote earlier, God himself revealed his mysterious plan to me.” “Revealed” means unveiling something that was previously hidden. What was hidden? God’s “mysterious plan” (“mystery” AMP). This is a secret plan hidden in God (3:6,9), which can’t be understood by human ingenuity or study. It can only be revealed by “God himself.” And God chose to reveal his secret plan to Paul. Which Paul wrote briefly about earlier in this very same letter (2:11-22).

v.4,“As you read what I have written, you will understand my insight into this plan regarding Christ.” As the Gentile believers read what Paul has written about God’s plan (earlier), they will be able “to understand what [Paul] know[s] about the mystery of Christ” NIRV. Paul is reminding the readers (and hearers) of this letter that he has special “insight into this plan regarding Christ” because God revealed it to him.

v.5,“God did not reveal it to previous generations, but now by his Spirit he has revealed it to his holy apostles and prophets.” God didn’t reveal his plan to previous generations but now through the Holy Spirit God has revealed it his holy apostles and prophets, which Paul is one of them (an apostle).

In the next section Paul is going to once again remind the believers of God’s plan and his mission to make it known.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO ME? God chose Paul (an unlikely candidate because of all of his persecuting of Christians, etc) to give the insight into his plan or mystery. He not only revealed it to him but gave him the mission to spread the plan.

WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?  God has also chosen me (a believer but a sinner) to be in his ministry. Back in in mid-80’s I received this call and it wasn’t until 1991 that I finally listened and chose to serve. I am so thankful each day that God chose me and has been my support, stronghold, refuge and strength as I serve believers and unbelievers in his service. Thank you Father!

July 5, 2020 at 9:46 AM Leave a comment

Ephesians 1:11-14 – The believers’ inheritance

Paul concludes his lengthy spiritual blessing by writing about the believers’ inheritance from God. Both to the Jewish believers first, and then to the Gentile believers.

v.11,“Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.” Paul when writing “we are united with Christ” is specifically referring to the Jewish believers (himself included). Paul writes that God chose the Jewish believers in advance or predestined beforehand to receive “an inheritance from God” before he included the Gentiles (Rom 1:16). The Jews were were given God’s inheritance as God’s chosen people (Deut 4:20) or they were claimed by God as his portion.“He makes everything work out according to his plan” is talking about everything is under God’s sovereign control. Because God controls everything, he will carry out his plan “according to his plan” or “in conformity with the purpose of his will” NIV and bring it to completion in his timing. God’s design was that the chosen people or the children of Israel or the Jews would bring salvation to the rest of the world but he had chosen the Jews as his personal possession or his portion first (Deut 32:9). Paul uses “we” to refer to the Jewish believers but later on this this passage he uses “you” to refer to the Gentile believers.

v.12,“God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God.” Now it is clear when Paul uses “we” he is specifically speaking of the Jewish believers. Salvation was first brought to the Jews, they “were the first to trust in Christ.” This means that the Jews were the first to believe in Christ because the gospel was preached first to them and that the gospel message would then be offered to the Gentiles through the Jews which brought unity in Christ to all believers, resulting in bringing “praise and glory to God.” God’s ultimate plan for all of his creation was to glorify himself.

v.13,“And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, who he promised long ago.” Now Paul writes specifically to the Gentile believers using “you.” The Gentiles “also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves” which simply was speaking of “the Gospel of your salvation” NIV. The Gospel conveys the “truth”, which is able to save the believer. But while “hear[ing] the truth” brings knowledge, it does not bring salvation. These people also “believed in Christ.” When they believed, “he [Christ] identified you as his own” showing that they were included “in Christ.” How did he do this? He “stamped [them] with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit [the One promised by Christ] as owned and protected [by God]” AMP. The sealing of the Holy Spirit is a once-for-all act at conversion, that gives believers continued assurance that they are saved—believers.

v.14,“The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.” Paul is using a term “guarantee” for the Holy Spirit that was used in ancient time to describe an engagement ring. It is like a promise to your fiancée that you are planning to marry them. In the same way God’s deposit of the Holy Spirit in believer’s lives is like an engagement ring that shows that we belong to Christ until we go to be with him forever in heaven. Our “guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people” is that God, unlike most people, never breaks his promises. If you have trusted Christ, you are his forever! “He did this so we would praise and glorify him” is a phrase Paul has used in the past (1:6, 1:12). Paul is saying the reason for this guarantee is so that God will be praise and glorified.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO ME? God has given all believers (Jews and Gentile believers) an inheritance, that is being saved from our sins if we believe in Christ and his sacrifice. And the Holy Spirit is God’s guarantee that we will receive this inheritance. And all of this was to bring praise and glory to God.

WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?  So thankful that God chose to give me an inheritance and that the Holy Spirit guarantees it. I have assurance of my salvation and I want to give all honour and praise to God for it!

June 3, 2020 at 7:19 PM Leave a comment

Day 76…1 Corinthians 9:19-23

I know it has been awhile since I have posted my “Journey Thru the Bible” but I am back. C’mon along with me as I journey through the Bible, as I discover amazing truths that I missed the first time I studied or great reminders of things I had forgotten about. It’ going to be an amazing adventure!

I Corinthians 9:19-23: Chameleon for the Gospel

Paul wanted people of all cultures, backgrounds and races to hear the Gospel and be saved. So Paul embraced and adapted to culture he was in except when those cultures hindered or violated the Gospel.

v.19, Paul’s goal was to glorify God and bring everyone to Christ. Though Paul was “a free man with no master” which is to say free from all human control, he chose to be a “slave to all” without compromising the Gospel message. Paul could vary the style or method of his message becoming a accommodating to his audience so that he could “bring many people to Christ.”

v.20-23, Paul chose to be like his audience without compromising the doctrine of God’s Word and the Gospel message. Paul was willing to “live like” his audience in order to “bring” them to Christ. Paul mentions three groups: Jews, Gentiles and those with weak consciences.

Jews: When he was with Jews he “lived like a Jew to bring Jews to Christ.” Paul conformed his life to the practices of those“who follow the Jewish law” even though he was no longer “subject to the law” himself because of his freedom in Christ just so he could “bring” Jews who are “under the law” to Christ. He gained an audience with many Jews because he conformed to their regulations and restrictions (after he had been a Pharisee). However he never conceded that those regulations had to be kept in order to become a believer. Examples in Acts 16:3, 18:18, 21:20-26.

Gentiles: When he was with Gentiles “who do not follow the Jewish Law” he met them on their own turf. Paul lived according to God’s law because he didn’t “ignore the law of God” no “he obey[ed]” it. But when he was with Gentiles he did not require them to follow the Jewish law, unlike the false teachers of that day (Judiazers), in order to become believers. Instead he spoke a message that would “bring them to Christ.” An example is Acts 17:1-34.

Weak consciences: The “weak” that Paul refers to are believers who are baby Christians who needed to grow deeper in their knowledge of Christ and deeper understanding of their freedom in Christ. So Paul set aside his freedoms and starting living by their restraints for a time so that he might “bring the weak to Christ.” Paul chose to do “everything [he] could to spread the Good News” to all people and “find common ground with everyone, doing everything [he] can to save some.” But Paul never compromised the Gospel truth, God’s Law or his own conscience in the process.

Paul had one purpose, to take the Gospel to the unbelieving world. He did not preach with pride, counting the numbers or converts, instead he preached with love for the Gospel and those who heard it and in the end he could “share in its blessing.”

WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?  There was a number of things I took away from today’s study. First, to find common ground with the unbelievers in my life as I try to reach them for Christ. However to never have a know-it-all attitude as I speak to them. Listen a lot more than I speak. Then share in their needs and concerns, genuinely care for them. And always look for opportunities to tell others about Christ.

January 11, 2013 at 10:46 AM 1 comment

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