Ephesians 3:1-6 Seeing non-believers as co-heirs and members of God’s family
1 For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— 2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. 4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. 6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
Paul, having explained that Gentiles are no longer outsiders, but part of God’s household, proceeds to talk about God’s calling for him to minister to Gentiles; to all the peoples of the earth. However, this ministry has caused Paul great persecution from Jews who could not accept that their exclusive privilege to salvation is now opened to the rest of the world. Jews could not accept unclean and immoral people being adopted as God’s children with equal rights to God’s inheritance; they could not accept that people outside the lineage of Abraham can inherit salvation. Similarly, the church today is in danger of closing themselves out of the community by being self-serving and weighed down by the cares of life. The people around us are not outsiders, but are co-heirs of the inheritance and members of God’s household. God is calling believers today to reach out to the community like Paul did to Gentiles in his day.
For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles—assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you,
Paul states the reason for his imprisonment that is to bring Gentiles into the fold of God and to be joined with Jews as one new man out of the two. Paul risks his own life being persecuted for reaching out to Gentiles so that they may be included as members of God’s household. Paul was persecuted because Jews see Gentiles as unclean and beyond the reach of God’s redemptive plans; they expect Gentiles to live the way they do in conforming to the law before fully accepting them into the community. Jews brand Gentiles as unclean and inferior instead of valuing them as co-heirs of God’s kingdom. Thus, God entrusted Paul with the anointing and grace to reach out to Gentiles and proclaim them as co-heirs of God’s Kingdom. Paul not only has to deal with the rigors of a traveling evangelist but also the persecutions that landed him in prison.
How the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
This “mystery” as Paul makes clear is a new revelation that was hidden in the days of the Old Testament; but is now made known to the New Covenant ministers. This revelation is that Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. The reason this is so hard for Jews to accept is because the Gentile race were perceived as being cut off from God’s salvation plans the moment they are born; salvation is perceived as an inheritance that can only be passed down from their ancestors. Hence, the fact that Gentiles are born outside the lineage of Abraham disqualified them indefinitely for the possibility of salvation. The second reason is that Gentiles are perceived as a race whose heritage and attribute is unclean and thus, beyond the possibility of reformation. The third reason is the law; that forbids Jews to eat together or to inter-marry with Gentiles, which further exacerbate the hostility. This mystery is God’s secret plan to bring full restoration to the world through Gentiles. Paul designates this revelation as a mystery denoting the near impossibility of the Jews to understand and to embrace it.
1. We need to honor those who have given their lives unreservedly in order that we may grow in the Spirit and benefit from it. They possess a divine responsibility and an anointing that a common believer does not have. Therefore, we have to honor them because they are specially chosen by God to contribute to the community that something this physical world with its resources could not.
2. We have to perceive every non-believer as having an inert desire to reconcile with God despite their moral condition and beliefs system. We sometimes allow prejudice to influence our perception because of their outward appearances and mannerisms. We have to keep working with God to touch them with His Spirit and not give up. It is through their conversion that the church find her greatest blessing.
3. If we perceive the people around us as co-heirs and members of God’s household, we will naturally reach out to them. In other words, the motivation of evangelism comes from having the right perception of non-believers as being co-heirs and members of God’s family. Non-believers are not just people waiting to be saved, but they are our brothers who are lost because of sin.
1. Find ways to honor the full time ministers and workers in your church. This will bring joy to them and encourage them to continue in their journey of preaching the gospel.
2. Write down on paper the people that you have in the past lost contact with. Make plans to reach out to them through short messages and see where God is leading you to.
Dear Lord, I thank You for sending me Pastors that care and instruct me in the way. I pray that You bless them richly according to Christ’s glory and anointing. Use me to reach out to the unlikely candidates of the Christian faith. Teach me how I could encourage them in Your promises and love. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.