Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you …
There is an underlying theme in the first three chapters of Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians which often gets overlooked. Paul hinted at it in chapter 1 using words like ‘unite’ and ‘adoption.’ By the middle of chapter 2 (vs. 11) he begins to unfold the theme, which he will refer to as a mystery revealed to him by revelation (3:3). The theme, which is completely divulged in chapter 3 verse 6, is that of the important role that the Gentiles would assume as God’s people in the coming age, and Paul’s special commission as the apostle to, and teacher of, the Gentiles (Ro 11:13, 1Tim 2:7, 2Tim 1:11). God’s concern for the peoples of the nations was a matter only foreshadowed in the Hebrew Scriptures, but fully revealed here. (See Isaiah 25:7, 52:15, and 55:5 for clues to this mystery).
This matter of the salvation of the Gentiles weighed heavily upon the Apostle Paul’s thoughts in the book of Romans. In chapter 1 of that epistle he made the unprecedented statement that the Gospel is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek (Rom 1:16). We can forget this because for two millennia Gentiles have been coming to Christ, becoming fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, so the idea of the exclusion and alienation of Gentiles from God’s kingdom seems remote to us. But to the original recipients of this epistle, this section was perhaps the most provocative.
In addition to this theme, there is in the first half of chapter 3, important information that is of abiding interest to the future generations of the church, concerning the personal character of the Apostle Paul himself. We get a glimpse of Paul’s character and self-description of who he was and what he saw as his God-given mission. A prisoner and a servant (vs. 7), Paul was also chosen by Divine favor, to the stewardship of the Gospel’s power to the Gentiles. Paul became the Gospel’s first ambassador to the nations – the first New Testament missionary. This was part of the eternal plan and purpose of God which was being unfolded before their eyes.
Listen to this message here: