In early January I preached a message where I caught some people off guard when I quoted a Sir Mix-a Lot song from the early ’90s and said, “I like big butts and I cannot lie.” There are 2 BIG BUTS in this chapter that seem to shout at me each time I read them. The first one is big because of it’s significance for the person who encounters God and the gospel; the second one because of its significance for the body of Christ as it applies the gospel.
Verse 4 – Paul has just finished (vs 1-3) talking about the really bad news, the predicament that all of us have faced – spiritually dead, followers of Satan, self-gratifying, objects of wrath. When we really understand just how desperate our situation was then you can begin to understand just how big the ‘but” is at the beginning of verse 4. “BUT because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead ….” It is worth pondering those first 3 verses so that you can get the full impact of verse 4 and following. The gospel is indeed good news. But it only makes sense when you fully grasp how awful the bad news is.
Verse 13 – The gospel not only transforms individual lives but it also transforms society. Back in the day that Paul was writing you had Jews and everybody else. There was misunderstanding; there was racism; there was hatred. Paul is saying that the dividing wall of hostility between the two groups has been torn down. That those who were without hope and without God have been reconciled. This is how Paul puts it: “BUT now in Christ Jesus you who were once far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.” God tore down the wall. Unfortunately walls of racism and hate have been built back up by men over the centuries because they have failed to grasp the gospel.
Here are a few questions from Ephesians 3 to get your pondering started…
v.1 – Paul refers to himself as a “prisoner of Christ Jesus.” In what ways are all believers prisoners of Christ Jesus?
v.3 – What is the mystery that Paul is referring to?
v.10 – What does Paul mean by this?
v.14 – What reason is Paul referring to here?
v. 16-19 – What can we learn from these verses about praying for others?
v.19 – What does it mean to be “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God?”
v.20 – How should this verse give fuel to our prayers?