3:1 This is the reason that I Paul am a Prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of your Gentiles–
3:2 for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you,
3:3 and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words,
3:4 a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ.
3:5 In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit:
3:6 that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
3:7 Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power.
3:8 Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ,
3:9 and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things;
3:10 so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
3:11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,
3:12 in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him.
Paul had experienced what it meant to be imprisoned both physically and spiritually. Although he had been thrown into jail many times before, Paul recognizes that he is a prisoner for Jesus Christ and that he was under Christ’s control. Furthermore, every aspect of his life was in the Lords hands. He knew that his suffering was for the sake of preaching the Gospel to everyone.
Paul paints for us a beautiful and realistic picture of what his life was like before coming to Christ. In verse 8, in light of God’s perfect righteousness, his assessment of himself is honest and humble. He knows he was unworthy of God’s Grace and yet God still reached out and saved him and turned him into one of the greatest evangelists that the Bible tell us about.
This passage holds wonderful news and the true meaning of what it means for the Gospel to be available to all people. Up until this point the good news had only reached to the Jewish nations. Here Paul is making it abundantly clear that the Gospel is now available to anyone who desires to hear and accept it. Paul is describing that all those who come to Christ are now united in Christ. There is no racial, social, or spiritual distinctions. When one is saved and comes to the saving knowledge of Christ, you are automatically now a part of God’s family-the church. John 3:16 describes how this is a promise that is available to each and everyone of us.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
A professor once told me the Israel did not follow God’s commands in order to be Israelites. They followed God’s commands because they were Israelites. The point being that following God was a reaction to what He had already done for the nation of Israel. I would submit that the same should be true for Christians.
We should not obey God and serve Him in order to be Christians but we should do so because we are Christians. We cannot not earn our own salvation, God has already taken care of that for us. Rather, we are given freedom and grace. What was Paul’s reaction to God’s grace and freedom? He became a slave to the gospel.
Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power. (Ephesians 3:7)
I will leave you with this short story to illustrate the gospel of grace. When I was 16 I landed myself in some serious trouble with the law. My parents had not been together for over a decade at this point so I had to deal with them separately. My mother’s reaction depicts what what most people think Christianity is. She was upset about my disobedience. She yelled, screamed, threatened, and then punished. Her rebuke was taken with a grain of salt and a sneer. However, my father’s reaction depicted more closely how the gospel actually works. He looked at me calmly with a loving and disappointed face, grabbed my arm, and said “Justin, I heard you got into some trouble. We can’t let this kind of stuff happen.” Nothing more was said or done. He hugged me and that was that. Take a guess which conversation convicted me more. It was the conversation where I knew I had disappointed someone who loved me and showed me grace. And I did not get in trouble after that either. I wasn’t going to do that to my father and myself again.
Punishment and fear will defer certain behaviors. But it is grace which makes a person truly desire to dedicate themselves to something.