Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21
The Church As Mystery; 3:1-13. Four times in these verses Paul speaks of the church as “mystery”. In the NT, this word does not refer to the unknowable or to the kind of secret knowledge claimed by religious cults. Instead “mystery” in Scripture designates information communicated by revelation from God. Paul’s emphasis in this passage is on the fact that the church, as the living body of Christ in which all believers are united is a completely new revelation “which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things”. Thus we cannot learn about the church by looking into the OT. We must understand the church from the NT alone.
This new revelation is a stunning expression of the “manifold wisdom of God.” The idea behind “manifold” is “complex, many-faceted.” God’s plan was more complex than was revealed in OT times, although the church was always a part of his eternal purpose. For all angelic beings, the church is an amazing surprise. For us, the new relationship with God experienced by members of the church is direct access to the Lord with freedom and confidence.
1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—
2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. 6 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.
7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. 8 Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His 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, 11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.
The Church As Family; 3:14-19. It is our intimate relationship with God which gives us our identity. He is Father, so we who are in relationship with him must be family. Paul prays that we may be strengthened within by the Spirit as a dwelling place for Christ. He is convinced that as we are rooted and grounded in love for each other, we will “together with all the saints,” grasp the extent of Jesus’ love. Experiencing that love, we are “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God”. As we live together as family, loving one another as Christ loved us, we will grow together toward all that it means to be a Christian.
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
God’s Work Within; 3:20-21. Living and loving each other as family is our heritage in Christ. But it is only possible because God is able to do immeasurably more than we can imagine, “according to his power that is at work within us.”
Q. Have you experienced this “family” identity with other Christians? How can you be “family” to others who may need to be grounded in a growing relationship of love?
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.