PFOA: Ephesians 3:1-13
Have you ever been distracted while you pray? You are in good company. After reminding the Gentile church at Ephesus that as citizens and members of God’s household, they have access in the Spirit to the Father, Paul is going to pray for them in v. 1. He begins, refering to the previous chapter with “For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles –“. But as he thinks about the Gentiles, he diverts to talk about the gospel that has now come to the Gentiles. It only in v. 14 that he gets back to his prayer, “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father”.
Paul most likely is writing this letter from prison in Rome. But he sees himself as a prisoner, not of men, but of Christ because the only reason he is in prison is because he preached the gospel to Gentiles. All along, the Jews believed that they are the chosen people and salvation is for the Jews only. Thus it is a mystery (v. 3) that the gospel of salvation is preached to the Gentiles, a mystery that that is revealed through Paul who is appointed to be the apostle to the Gentiles. This “mystery” is not be be confused with some of the mystery and gnostic religions, whose practitioners claim to have special knowledge revealed to them only. The mystery here describes something that has been hidden – that the gospel is for the Gentiles also – but is now revealed through Paul. It is no longer hidden, but fully revealed to all.
Gentiles and Jews, which encompasses everyone, are fellow heirs and members of the same body. This is the gospel preached by Paul. It is God’s plan from the very beginning, but is not realised until Christ came. The all-inclusive church, that accepts all ethnic groups, male and female, young and old, strong and weak, by its very nature, glorifies God, making known his wisdom to the “rulers and authorities” (v. 10) in the spiritual realm who are opposed to God.
When God chose Abram, out of all the people in earth, he changed his name to Abraham, for he is to be the father of a nultitude of nations (Gen 17:5). God’s eternal purpose was that people from every nation, from all tribes, peoples and languages will know and worship him.
By the work of Christ, through the preaching of the gospel, we, together with all who have responded to the gospel invitation, boldly and with confidence have access to God through our faith in him (v. 12). This is the attitude of Paul when he goes on to pray for the Ephesians (v. 14f) and we can have this same attitude when we bring our prayers and petitions to God.