Posts tagged ‘Paul’

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

Day 74…1 Corinthians 9:1-6

I Corinthians 9:1-6: Paul’s apostleship

Paul takes a few verses here in chapter 9 to defend his apostleship and his freedom to exercise or not to exercise his rights as a apostle in Christ.

v.1-2, Unfortunately there were some people in Corinth that doubted they should listen to Paul so he presents his credentials as an “apostle.”

In order to be an apostle you had to show 3 evidences:

  1. “Have I not seen Jesus with my own eyes?” Personally seen Jesus after his resurrection. [Paul saw Jesus in Acts 9:3-18]
  2. Signs, wonders and mighty acts. [Paul did so in Acts 13:9-12]
  3. “Isn’t because of my work that you belong to the Lord?…you yourselves are proof that I am the Lord’s apostle.” Successful ministry. [Paul had described his work  among the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 3:5-7 & Acts 18:1-17]

These credentials make the advice Paul gives in this letter authority. Paul goes into even greater detail of his apostleship in 2 Corinthians 10-13.

v.3-5, “This is my answer to those who question my authority.” Those who were questioning Paul’s authority brought up the issue that Paul wasn’t taking advantage of everything he could do as an apostle and thus were questioning whether he was an apostle at all. As an apostle in the Greco-Roman world, it was quite an issue how missionaries, traveling teachers and philosophers were supported. They could charge, beg, work or accept gifts. Paul accepted support from Lydia in Acts 16, but since then had stopped that practice. However because other leaders continued to accept support, the issue arose: maybe Paul was not getting support anymore because he wasn’t really an apostle. But the truth was Paul chose to not take the support so as not to bring the gospel under suspicion. Then Paul names some rights that accompany being an apostle: “Don’t we have the right to live in your homes and share your meals?” which is the right be financially supported by the church–a place to stay and meals. “Don’t we have the right to bring a Christian wife with us as the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers do, and as Peter does?” which is the right to marry, and if Paul had a wife like many others he mentions, to take her with him and also to be supported by the church.

v.6, “Or is it only Barnabas and I who have to work to support ourselves?” Barnabas and Paul worked together on Paul’s first missionary journey but just before Paul started his second the two parted ways and Barnabas started his own missionary journey. Paul mentions Barnabas here because they were the only apostles who made it a habit to work and earn their living as they travelled and spread the Gospel.

Paul chose to work as a tentmaker (Acts 18:3) and not receive support from the Corinthian believers because it could hinder his work for the Gospel.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO ME? Paul used himself as an example of giving up personal rights. He had the right to be married and to receive financial support for his work, but he willingly gave up these rights to win people to Christ. When I focus on living for Christ my right should become unimportant.

WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?  I was thinking about the rights I have as a believer and even as a citizen of Canada. The question I have been thinking about is…would I be willing to give them up for the furtherance of the Gospel?

February 28, 2012 at 10:41 AM 3 comments

Day 68…1 Corinthians 7:20-24

I Corinthians 7:20-24: Be content where you are – part 2

Even though it seems like Paul is leaving the conversation of marriage in these few verses (up to v.24), the truth is he is highlighting the importance of living in peace or be content wherever God has you, especially in marriage. This is part 2 of this topic.

v.20, Paul repeats what he says in v.17 for emphasis and because it is his rule for all churches he has planted“Each of you should remain as you were when God called you.” This statement is speaking to believers referring to examples such as marriage, job, station in life (slave or free) and even whether they are circumcised or not. It does NOT refer to the spiritual or inward life that should always be growing and maturing as believers learn more about God and grow closer to him.

v.21, The church at Corinth had people from different stations in life, even slaves. So Paul wanted to let everyone know (even slaves) that wherever they are stationed in life they can stay there as a new believer. They need now to do whatever they do as if they were doing it for the Lord (Ephesians 6:5-9). “Don’t let that worry you…” The slaves should not feel that because they are now Christians they can no longer serve as a slave because they deserve freedom. Unfortunately they might have to keep on living as slaves, but they should do so wholeheartedly as if they were serving Jesus himself. But Paul does also say if they have “a chance to be free, take it” so they had a chance to better themselves and no longer be a slave, then they should take it. Obedience to God is what matters most.

v.22-23, Obviously slavery was very common throughout the Roman Empire, so many of the new believers in the church in Corinth were “slave when the Lord called [them].” Paul wants them to know even though they are slaves to humans, they are “now free in the Lord.” Free from the awful power of sin in their lives. Also in the same way if they “were free when the Lord called [them], [they] are now slave[s] of Christ.” The people who were free, had become slaves (or servants) of Jesus who “paid a high price” for them, higher than any rich person could ever pay for a slave, he paid with his blood! Even though it says “slaves” of Christ Paul is not speaking of the slaves that you and I know of from past history. He is letting us all know that when Jesus paid the high price we gained freedom, our obedience and service is to Christ only, not men, the world or anyone. Because all Christians are now slaves (or servants) of God, they should no longer “be enslaved by the world.” They should live in the world, but not be of it.

v.24, Paul reminds that believers at Corinth again of what he said in v.17 & 20: “remain as you were when God first called you.” Because all believers have been set free from sin and are free to live for god, they ought not to feel pride or shame in whatever station they are in life. Instead they should serve in that position as if they were serving God himself.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO ME? Obviously I am not a slave and if I were to look at these verses from only that point of view I would be missing the point. I think Paul is trying to tell me that wherever I am in life, my station, my position, my job, my lot in life I should be first content, but second do all to the glory of God. Serve and live in a way that I was doing it all for God, as if he were my boss, my wife, my kids, etc. And remember that because of Jesus’ sacrifice that paid the price for my sins I am no longer a slave to the world, but now I am a ‘slave’ to God. All my life should be an act of obedience and service to him.

WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?  Remember that God comes first, everything else is second, even my family, ministry, my job, everything else is second. I need to put my priorities in that order. The biggest way I can do this is to take some time each morning to send alone with God, I like to call this have a “date” with God. But not to just say I am going to do, but do it. Or as one my professors used to say in college “do it now!”

November 15, 2011 at 10:58 AM Leave a comment


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