In these verses the Apostle begins a wonderful diversion from his train of thought. It is usually understood that he was about to say here what he takes up in verse 15, that is, a prayer for the people of Ephesus. Instead he departs from that for a moment and tells of the glorious gospel he proclaims.
For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly.
He starts by saying he is a prisoner, but he is much more than a prison. He is a man entrusted with the responsibility of taking the gospel of Jesus Christ to people like the ones in Ephesus. “Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you,” he writes. He is writing about the gospel message and there are two matters that he points to with these words. The first is that he has a role from God in the spread of this good news. We need only consider his conversion and call experience which is recorded in Acts 9 and elsewhere to understand what he means. The risen Lord Jesus appeared to him when he was heading to Damascus to continue his brutal persecution of Christians. The Lord’s message was simple enough. When Jesus identified himself, Paul knew immediately he was completely wrong in his hostility to Christians. Jesus had risen from the dead! Jesus then commanded, didn’t ask, Paul to go and learn of the work of spreading this good news. This is all about a message of grace, a gift, from God. It is the gift of Jesus and his completed saving work for people who don’t deserve it.
In the third verse, he explains that this good news had come to him as a revelation. It was a mystery, which means that the gospel was not understood until God revealed it. In the history of Israel, the people had a hope in promises God had made but they were not aware what the fulfilment would be. It turns out that what was promised is that God the Son would become one of us and do for us what we could not do. He would live a perfect life for us, die a sacrificial death for our sin and then rise from the dead defeating death for us.
It is little wonder that Paul would be so captivated by this that he diverted his thoughts to this glorious reality as he dictated “Ephesians”. It is a reminder to all of us to pause and reflect on the amazing truth that Jesus, the Son of God gave himself for us. Even though we are great sinners, Christ has done the rescue work for us. He even took hold of people like Paul and others to ensure that we would hear so we might believe. Let us all unapologetically be distracted by this good news.
Prayer: Father, with this reminder of the significance of the gospel for us, help us to be perpetually mindful of all Jesus has done for us. Please help us to understand the depths of your grace so that we might never lose a sense of wonder concerning your mercy and love to us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
A song to listen to: Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)
David Johnston Living Church – Creek Road