Paul’s in jail and it does not look good, but from his apparent position of weakness God uses him to reveal to us a mystery that up until then was not made fully clear – that God’s grace and mercy is for all people who trust in Him and His gospel message, not just Israel, the chosen ones.
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. 4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. 6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. 8 Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 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, 11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.
What is this ‘mystery’? I know I love a good mystery – my favourite type of books or movies generally have me on edge anticipating the revealing end.
What a glorious passage this is, Paul revealing and making clear God’s gift of grace to all people, not just Israel (named as God’s ‘chosen people’ in the Old Testament). For me this is one of those ‘go to’ passages when I need reminding that God wants everyone to know Him and be His heirs, and that includes Jews (current day ‘heirs’ of Israel). I think that sometimes we assume that Jewish people have forfeited their right to God’s grace as the ones who cried out for His crucifixion, and now that Grace is the sole privilege of ‘Christians’. I wonder how often we pray for God’s ‘chosen people’ that they would also come to know Him through the saving power of Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection, which paid the price for us to be reunited with God, as His children.
We need to appreciate that as we are perfectly reconciled to our God, and as part of his people, we are reconciled to others as well. As the Church we have a duty to allow the Spirit to work through us as we are ‘in Christ’. In these unsettling times we need to be the ones who show stability and how the riches of Christ are worked out in our lives and can be for others. There is no mystery anymore, all has been revealed, all can call upon the name of Jesus and be reconciled to God, and share in all the privileges that that brings.
So, as we, through faith in Jesus approach God with freedom and confidence, let us make sure others know what the mystery is about, so they too may experience the riches that are in Christ.
Gracious Heavenly Father, I thank you that you chose to reveal Your mystery through Paul’s weakness and thus bringing Glory to You. I ask that the Holy Spirit will work through us to pass that ‘mystery’ on to others, so that they too may be able to share your inheritance and the eternal privilege it grants. Amen
A song to listen to: This I Believe (The Creed) Hillsong Worship
Living Church – Creek Road