In the previous lesson, we learned of the reconciliation between Jews and Gentiles in Christ. In this passage, we see that this reconciliation is the basis of Paul’s mission—to preach to the Gentiles. Then he ends the section with prayer and praise.
Did You Know...?
- The Dispensation of the Grace of God to the Gentiles (3:1-12)
- Prayer for the Ephesians (3:13-21)
Paul was given the ‘dispensation (stewardship) of the grace of God for the Gentiles’. What does this mean?Hide Answer
This means that Paul had been entrusted to dispense (pass on) the grace of God (salvation) to the Gentiles i.e. he was entrusted to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. The concept of stewardship impresses upon us that the grace of God actually belongs to the Gentiles and that Paul must dispense it and not keep it to himself.
What is the mystery that God has revealed?Hide Answer
How can the church as a whole and the individual members discharge responsibly the dispensation given us?Hide Answer
The church as a whole must dispense the gospel to all the world (Mt 24:14). For individual members, God may intend for one to be the light to his family or his friends at work.
Discuss God’s plan of salvation through the ages noting specifically the people that He chooses. Then see if we can appreciate why the above is a ‘mystery’ i.e. something even learned people do not know. Also think about why most of the Jews today still do not believe in Jesus.Hide Answer
God chose Seth over Cain; Noah; Abram was called out; Isaac over Ishmael; Jacob over Esau; the nation of Israel over all the other nations. The promise of God’s grace was to the descendants of Abraham alone (Gen 17:7,8,15,16; 21:10). So it was difficult for the Jews to understand how the Gentiles could be saved unless they were circumcised and became Jews themselves. But the mystery is resolved in Christ (Gal 3:26-29) because Gentiles can become descendants of Abraham through Jesus without having to become a Jew.
What does Paul have to say about his ministry to the Gentiles? a. The source of his effectiveness b. His qualifications c. The degree of the mystery d. The channel through which God reveals the mystery e. To whom also must the mystery be made known f. The ultimate power for accomplishing the workHide Answer
a. The grace of God given to him by the effective working of His power.
b. Not his worldly qualifications. In fact because he was less than the least of the saints (see 1Cor 15:9,10).
c. From the beginning of the ages, it has been hidden in God.
d. The church (Jews and Gentiles have been united as one in the church).
e. The principalities and the powers in the heavenly places – note the struggle in the heavenly places (Eph 6:12).
f. Christ’s work of salvation and faith in Christ.
What does Paul ask the Ephesians to do? What is the basis of this plea?Hide Answer
Paul asks them not to become discouraged because of his hardships and imprisonment, for these were all for a worthy cause. Through Paul’s sufferings, God’s glorious purpose for the Gentiles is accomplished.
Based on this paragraph, what is Paul’s attitude toward his ministry? What lessons can we learn from this attitude?Hide Answer
He considers his ministry a grace of God and feels unworthy for the task. Rather than complain about his sufferings, he knows that his tribulations are for a noble purpose. In the same way, we ought to regard our mission of preaching the gospel as an honor. Then we will work for the Lord with gladness and not lose heart.
What does verse 14 teach us about prayer?Hide Answer
Prayer often involves the bowing of knees (Lk 22:41). This gesture indicates coming to God with sincerity and humility.
Explain the meaning of verse 15.Hide Answer
“The whole family in heaven and earth” refers to the spiritual family all believers are born into (2:19). Jews and Gentiles are now brethren in the Lord, for they both call God their Father (Gal 4:6; Rom 8:15). Thus, the spiritual family originates (“derives its name”) from the Father through Jesus Christ.
What petitions does Paul make in his prayer?Hide Answer
1. That the believers may be strengthened with might through God’s Spirit in the inner man (16).
2. That Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith (17)
3. That they may be able to comprehend with all the saints the width and length and depth and height of Christ’s love (18-19).
4. That they may be filled with all the fullness of God (19).
What kind of knowledge did Paul pray that the Ephesians would have?Hide Answer
The love of Christ (compare Eph 1:17ff).
Discuss the width, length, depth and height of the love of Christ.Hide Answer
Width – All people (1Tim 1:15)
Length – To the end (Jn 13:1)
Depth – Like an iceberg, more than we can imagine.
Height – Lifted up on the cross. This is the ultimate act of love i.e. to die for one’s friends (Jn 15:13).
In comparison to the love of Christ, what is the width, length, depth and height of your love?
What does Paul say about God’s power?Hide Answer
He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think (20). His power works in us (20).
How did Paul’s prayer end? What does this teach us about our prayers?Hide Answer
He ascribed all glory to God . The climax of all prayers should be a heartfelt praise in which we give all glory to God and ask God’s glory to be fully manifest (Rev 5:11-14).