Ephesians 3:4-5 4When you read this, you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5which 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 letter would help the Ephesians to understand the mystery of grace better. They should perceive that God has good insights into the gospel of Jesus Christ. The focus of this mystery is Jesus Christ. The phrase of Jesus Christ could be interpreted as the mystery about Jesus Christ (objective genitive) or the mystery that Jesus Christ made known to Paul (subjective genitive); either or both of these are possible and likely. The gospel should no longer be a mystery and hidden from the understanding and experience of the Ephesians. They should now know this, although Paul is reminding of it again in this letter. One of the clear reasons Paul wrote this letter to them is given in v. 4: he is restating to them the gospel so that they will know it clearly and be able to live it out and explain it to other people. One of the goals of regular preaching is to help people understand the gospel and to grow in their experience of it. This will not happen accidentally but must be at the forefront of what the preacher does. Paul will restate this later in the next chapter, in 4:11-14.
The Ephesians are part of a privileged generation. They are the first to hear of this mystery in clear terms, revealed to Paul and other holy apostles and prophets. What Paul preached was not unique or invented. It was consistent with other apostles and prophets proclaimed. There is one church made up of all believers in the true gospel. Another motivation and goal Paul has in this letter is to unify the church around this true mystery of Christ. Unity comes through the Holy Spirit who reveals this message to those who commit themselves to Christ’s supremacy. The apostles have authority because of their direct commission by Christ. They agree on this message, so that adds authority to what Paul preaches. Prophets are specially endowed with insight by the Holy Spirit. Prophecy in the early church focused upon clear proclamation of the gospel. It did not focus on the telling of future events or fortunes. It was more “forth telling” than “fore telling.” This was also a test of prophets, if what they spoke about was in agreement with what the apostles proclaimed. These verses in Ephesians should give us confidence that what we read in this letter and other letters of Paul are the true gospel and are consistent with the rest of the Bible. This is the truth to which we must commit our lives.
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