Messengers of the gospel
February 23, 2021

Messengers of the gospel

Passage: Ephesians 3
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Questions for further study

God’s messengers (Questions for further study)

Ephesians 3

  1. How does Paul describe the gospel message in verse 3, and why (v5)?[1]



  1. What is the mystery about (v4, 6)?[2]



  1. How do people come to understand the mystery of the gospel (v4-5, 8-10)? Through whom and by which means?[3]



  1. The mystery of the gospel was something that even the greatest minds could not have discovered in Old Testament times. Why would this mystery (see v6) be so surprising back then? [4]



  1. How does the mystery of the gospel – Christ’s new community – become a reality (v6)?[5]



  1. The Apostle Paul carried out a unique task that was foundational to the church of Jesus Christ. We cannot take on that role because it has been completed. But what do the following New Testament passages teach us about the role of all Christians in proclaiming the gospel?
    1. Matthew 28: 18-20 [6]
    2. Colossians 4:2-6 [7]
    3. 1 Peter 3: 15-16 [8]

[1] Paul describes God’s message as “the mystery made know to me by revelation” (v3). A mystery in scripture is something that has been hidden but now is made known or revealed. Men of previous generations have not understood and so have not been able to proclaim the message that Paul now proclaims (v5). [See also Galatians 1:11-23 for how Paul received his message]

[2] It was about Christ. That is what was not made known to men in other generations (v5). However, it was revealed by the Spirit to God’s apostles and prophets in New Testament times. The men of the Old Testament had glimpses and saw traces of the Christ (=Messiah). But since Christ has come, these have been revealed in full. Verse 6 tells us more fully what the mystery is:

  1. Jews and Gentiles are heirs together.
  2. Jews and Gentiles are members together of the one body (see also 2: 14-17)
  3. Jews and Gentiles are sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.

[3] The mysteries of God must be shown to us by God himself. First, it has been revealed to God’s holy apostles and prophets (v5), men like Paul, who have written it down (v4), preached it (v8), and worked at making it plain to everyone (v9). After the foundational period of the apostles and prophets, God’s message is revealed to the world through the church (v10) proclaiming the teaching of the apostles. For us today this means that we can come to understand the mystery of Christ through, and only through, the reading and teaching of God’s word, the bible, by servants of the gospel in bible believing churches.

[4] The result of Christ’s messiahship – the establishment of a new kingdom of God’s people made up of both Jews and Gentiles united in Christ – seems contrary to all of God’s separating and dividing activity in Old Testament Israel. Everywhere God separated Israel from Gentiles by His law and his word. But now, He is uniting them in one body. The promises of God were not limited to Israel. This was something that even the apostles needed convincing about (see Acts 11: 1-18). This mystery turned everyone’s world upside down! God was bringing about something that no-one has anticipated.

[5] Jews and Gentiles are united through the gospel. This is interesting and profoundly important. The message itself brings about the fulfilment of the mystery. Not only does the message say something, but it has power! (See Romans 1:16)

[6] Jesus is clearly addressing the whole church since Jesus talks about the disciples making disciples of all nations, and promises his presence with his servants, ‘to the very end of the age’. The task involves teaching people everywhere that Christ has commanded us.

[7] There’s a division of labour here with some Christians given the task of praying for others, like Paul, whose role is to proclaim the gospel. Specifically, they are instructed to pray for opportunities for the gospel and for clear communication on the part of the evangelists. But notice that those who serve by praying for teachers and evangelists should also make the most of every opportunity that comes there way and know how to answer people around them who have queries about the gospel.

[8] The instructions here are set in the context of suffering. Christ’s people should continue to follow and obey him, whatever the cost. When this provokes questions, they should speak gently and respectfully about the gospel and make sure that their lives reflect their words.

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