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Ephesians 3:7-13

7 of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given to me according to the working of His power8 To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; 10 so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. 13 Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory.—Ephesians 3:7-13

In the second part of our study of this significant passage, we focus on the open secret of God. This mystery is both hidden and revealed and, today can be understood in ways beyond all the people who preceded the birth of Christ and even the hosts of heaven! The secret is this: it is the reconciliation of humanity to God by Jesus, which unites all believers in the world in the church, His body, resulting in glory to God. Our responsibility to this revealed mystery is our response.

Discussion Questions

  1. In all your life, which revealed mystery had the most significant impact? Tell the story.
  2. Share two of your most significant observations.
  3. Share one application you plan to put into practice.
  4. What is the significance of the mystery of Paul’s life?
  5. Why is this mystery significant to the readers of this letter?
  6. What are the cosmic implications of this mystery? See also Ephesians 1:21, 3:10, and 1 Peter 1:10-12.

Dig Deeper: Mystery

A keyword in the third chapter of Ephesians is “mystery” (mystērion) (vv. 3, 4, 6, 9). God’s mysteries cannot be discovered independently; understanding requires revelation from God. A remarkable aspect of Paul’s use of mystērion is that it usually involves God’s unfolding purposes for the world. For instance, “the mystery (mystērion) of Christ” (Eph 3:4) that consists of the inclusion of the Gentiles in God’s people is a central aspect of God’s redemption of the world.

What is this truth which was not made known to people in other generations as the Spirit has now revealed it to God’s holy apostles and prophets (5)? He spells it out in the following verse: This mystery is that through the gospel, the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus (6).

This privileged ministry of spreading the good news to Gentiles has three stages in Paul’s mind. He was commissioned first to preach Christ’s boundless riches to the Gentiles (8). Secondly, Paul was called to make plain to everyone (9) what God had purposed to do. The third phase of Paul’s ministry broadens to include the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms (10). These spiritual beings are spectators of the drama of salvation. The good news of God’s salvation offered to all humanity through the cross was passed from God to Paul, from Paul and others to all humanity, and from the church on earth back to heaven again, to the cosmic powers. God’s eternal purpose was to create the church out of a new and reconciled humanity in union with Christ Jesus our Lord (11).

  1. In Ephesians 3:10, Paul says God’s purpose is to “make known the manifold wisdom of God to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” What do you think this means?
  2. How do you think God reveals His mysteries to us and through us?
  3. How can you share your understanding of God’s mysteries with others?
  4. What are some challenges of living out our faith in a world that does not always understand God’s mysteries?
  5. Can our inability to fully understand God’s mysteries (our weakness) help us daily? How?
  6. How does our inability to understand the depth of God’s mysteries affect your understanding of discipleship?
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