The Mystery of Christ
Read Ephesians 3:1-21
In Ephesians three, Paul talks about a "mystery" which was revealed to him and the other apostles and prophets of that time that was hidden from the "sons of men" (children of Israel) that went before them. The mystery, of course, was that the Gentiles (all those who weren't Jewish) would now, because of Christ, be partakers in the same blessings God had promised the Jews (Ephesians 3:6-7). In Ephesians chapter two, Paul goes into great detail on what that unity for humanity now meant.
Paul believed (and rightly so) that he was called to preach this message of unity to all Gentiles (Ephesians 3:8). This was a unique ministry for him in particular because he was formerly a very religious, dogmatic Jew. His experience meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus forever changed his life. God had taken the unlikeliest of men to preach a new message of redemption that was now inclusive. No one was left out of God's plan for humanity. All were now given the same opportunities, blessings, and promises as the Jews. This was the mystery of Christ that was revealed to Paul and the other apostles.
Paul also believed that the mystery of Christ was something that, when accepted, created a unique fellowship or community of believers, who then had a specific responsibility to make the mystery known. Some have implied that Ephesians 3:10 means the church has authority over "rulers and authorities" in heavenly places. But a careful examination of the text reveals something far different. And we also discover, once again, how the NIV has distorted scripture. This is what Ephesians 3:10 says in the NKJV:
To the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places...
This is how the NIV translates Ephesians 3:10:
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.
You can see how the NIV has added words to the text and twisted them to mean something that seems to imply that the church is making the wisdom of God known to "spiritual" beings in the heavenly places. This is not so, and it is inconsistent with the surrounding text.
The word for "principalities" that Paul used is archē, which means "a beginning," and the word used for "powers" is exousia which means "authority." In other words, Paul is saying that the manifold wisdom of God that begins and has authority in the heavenly places is now made known to the church. For anyone to translate this to mean that now the church was teaching celestial beings or had power over them would be inconsistent and doctrinally wrong with what Paul has written in this letter. He is trying to stress to the Gentiles the privileges they (all believers) now have in Christ.
Imagine! Because of Jesus, we have access not only to God, but He reveals His wisdom and shares it with us. How? Through His Holy Spirit! 1 Corinthians 2:7-16 further illustrates this point. The mystery of God is that we, through His Holy Spirit, now have the mind of Christ. With that comes knowledge and wisdom to discern Scripture and have profound truths revealed to us, which those without the Holy Spirit are not privy to.
And so Paul ends Ephesians three with a heartfelt prayer for the Ephesians that we can all take to heart - that God would strengthen them through His Holy Spirit. That Christ would dwell in their hearts through faith and that they would be rooted and grounded in love, able to comprehend the extent of God's love for them and to know the love of Christ so that they may be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:14-19). And through the mystery of His Holy Spirit, we are all united with the same purpose - to grow in faith and service to Jesus Christ our Lord.
12/12/2016 01:43:50 am
12/12/2016 12:20:09 pm
I was thinking that as well Sherry, but it would be inconsistent with the surrounding text and the previous chapters. An excellent book on Spiritual Warfare and our spiritual authority is Truth or Territory: A Biblical Approach to Spiritual Warfare, by Jim Osman. In it, he says the following, "It is our union with Christ that entitles us to all the blessings listed in Ephesians. We are with Christ and belong to Him. That is the rich truth of those passages. It is a leap to infer that all His heavenly authority over the physical and spiritual realms is at our disposal." He goes on to explain that nowhere in Scripture are we given such authority, but that it was authors like Neil T. Anderson who fuelled that belief in Christians over 20 years ago. He says much more and in more detail, but it is by far the best book I've ever read on Ephesians and spiritual warfare.
12/14/2016 12:01:22 am
I guess I have been taught that we do have Christ's authority based on scripture like: Luke 10:19 "I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy" and Romans 8:11 "And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you." I haven't read Jim Osman's book. Maybe I will have time in the new year. Hope it's ok to discuss different viewpoints of scripture. I don't ever want to be confrontational but I love discussing scripture. I miss that aspect of Bible College to this day :)
12/12/2016 07:28:58 am
I love to pray the words of Ephesians 3 over my family.
12/14/2016 02:21:17 am
Oh, Sherry I love discussing different viewpoints. And I will be the first to admit if I'm wrong or made a mistake somewhere. You have shared some valid Scripture references, that I believe are addressed in the book I mentioned. And just so you know, I was taught exactly the same things that you mentioned, using those same verses. All I can say is read Jim's book. He approaches things like this (in particular Spiritual Warfare) using only Scripture. After I read it I got very excited because I had been feeling the same things he talks about in the book for years. It's very enlightening.
12/15/2016 09:06:17 am
Will do Laura!
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