Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ephesians 3:10-13

10His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11according to His eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.

In v10-13, Paul lays out the reasons for keeping this truth a mystery for a time and revealing at this time. It’s a glimpse of God’s eternal plan at which Paul marvels (Romans 11:33-36). Specifically, in v10, Paul says that the union of Jews and Gentiles in Christ is a sign to the spiritual beings, about whom we know little, of God’s sovereignty and power. It is the eternal purpose of God through Christ for the Church to be the display of God’s wisdom to the heavenly powers. Isn’t it amazing to think about a great multitude of spiritual beings longing to know what God is doing and seeing in the revelation of this mystery through Paul a great reason for falling down and worshipping almighty God as sovereign king! In other words, we as human believers in Christ, rescued from bondage to sin and united to Christ and to one another as living stones in the Temple of God, are “exhibit A” to the spiritual beings of God’s wisdom and power. God boasts in us, in what He has made us to be, before all the spiritual beings throughout the heavens. And they bow down and worship Him for His wisdom. Therefore, as Calvin says, “If the calling of the Gentiles draws the attention, and excites the reverence, of angels in heaven, how shameful that it should be slighted or disdained by men upon earth!”

V12 is praise to Christ. Paul mentions the work God accomplished through Christ Jesus, and he pauses to praise Him, for union with Him by grace through faith enables freedom and confidence to approach God. Commenting here, Calvin notes, “There are three stages in our progress. First, we believe the promises of God; next, by relying on them, we obtain that confidence, which is accompanied by holiness and peace of mind; and, last of all, comes boldness, which enables us to banish fear, and to come with firmness and steadiness into the presence of God.”

Finally, in v13, Paul tells his audience not to be discouraged about his imprisonment, because this mystery that Paul is graced and privileged to proclaim is worth suffering for and ultimately worth dying for. In fact, his sufferings were for the glory of his audience. Their glory comes through faith in Christ, which Paul boldly labored for, even to the point of imprisonment and death. Thus Paul will say in Philippians 1:20-24, “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always, Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.” Do you see that Christ will be exalted? Whatever happens, it is for God’s glory!

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