1, 14 For this reason I: Paul attempts to pray for the predominantly Gentile church he just wrote about. But he keeps thinking of all these living stones he’s around in Rome, and how he is in prison because he believed in them. So he writes about God’s mysterious plan and his involvement in it. It’s all a treasure. He must rejoice before he prays.
The church is involved in the greatest history — actually His story.
Theme: Theme: Like Paul, we ought to rejoice over being brought into the mysterious plan of God and respond with service, study, and personal enjoyment of it.
- The mystery of it.
- The service of it.
- The study of it.
- The personal enjoyment of it.
The Mystery Of It (1-6)
1 For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles—
Paul the prisoner.
- Of Christ, not Rome.
- For Gentiles.
1 For this reason I: Again, he breaks off into another thought before he prays. He will talk about the mysterious plan of God!
The plan of God is a gift to steward!
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.
2 Stewardship: Paul saw himself as a steward of God’s grace and mystery.
The church, like Paul to a degree, has been entrusted with the mystery of Christ. Like Paul, we steward it for others.
The plan of God has been revealed!
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.
Paul experienced a revelation of the gospel.
- At his conversion.
- But also subsequent to his conversion.
- Galatians 2:6 — And from those who seemed to be influential...added nothing to me.
- 1 Corinthians 11:23 (ESV)—23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread,
What was the revelation? It pertained to God’s program for the Gentile world, as we’ll see in a moment.
The plan of God — defined.
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.
God’s blessing to Gentiles had been hinted at from Genesis 12:3 onward, but it was not revealed to this degree.
- Romans 8:17 shows us we are fellow heirs with Christ.
- Ephesians 3:6 shows us we are fellow heirs with one another, Jew and Gentile alike.
Members of the same body: We are in a unique situation, so Paul coined a new term only Christian writers would use. No other society is like the church. It is central to the gospel.
Partakers of the promise:
- Recall: We were without the covenants of promise (Ephesians 2:12).
- Without the Messianic promise.
- Without the Holy Spirit promise.
- Ezekiel 36:26 (ESV)—26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
Serve The Mystery (7-8)
7 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. 8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
Serve as a waiter.
7 Made a minister: A word associated with table-waiting, not slavery. Paul was always looking for “customers” who were ready to consume the gospel of grace.
Serve with God’s power.
7 By the working of His power: Paul realized it was God’s grace which gave him the ministry, but also God’s energy and power which enabled him.
- Colossians 1:29 (ESV)—29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.
- Acts 1:8 (ESV)—8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Serve with humility.
8 Though I am very least of all the saints: This denotes Paul’s deep humility in view of God’s incomparably generous grace.
Paul had this perspective because he was constantly:
- Studying the gospel, which put him in remembrance of his past and current indwelling sin.
- Faced with his own limitations, because he was in ministry work.
Study The Mystery (8-11)
Study it because it is limitless.
8b to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things,
Unsearchable: built on the noun for ‘footprint’ or ‘track,’ so it is something which cannot be completely mapped out, walked out, or tracked out.
Study it because it is now unhidden.
God decreed it before the ages began — 1 Corinthians 2:7 (ESV)—7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.
God kept it a mystery for long ages — Romans 16:25–26 (ESV)—25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages
God has now revealed it — 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith.
Study it because it is awesome.
10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord,
The church is a new humanity that causes the angelic realm to wonder.
- 1 Peter 1:12 (ESV)—12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
- Through the mirror of the church, the angels of heaven — and also the demonic powers — see the glory of God.
Personally Enjoy The Mystery (12-13)
12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. 13 So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.
Personally enjoy the mystery — use your access.
12 Boldness / access / confidence: Freedom, liberty of speech before God the Father.
Personally enjoy the mystery — get on mission.
13 I am suffering for you, which is your glory: They might have lost heart because he was an apostle, a hero to them, and in prison. But he was on the mission God had for him, in Rome by the will of God.
God is not disabled by something like imprisonment.
Ephesians 1:10 (ESV)—10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.