Matthew 13:1: parable of the sower intro to the thought of mystery, that which is hidden from the natural eye.
or this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:
For what cause Paul? For the cause of you Ephesian Gentiles, and you South Louisiana Gentiles who were strangers to the citizenry of God's kingdom. It's for your cause that Paul was a prisoner of Jesus.
This is the imprisonment in Rome where he was under house arrest, which was before the imprisonment where he was in a dungeon in the ground in the Mamertine Prison, and from there eventually beheaded for his faith.
But in this imprisonment, he sits under house arrest for the cause of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles. Undoubtedly, there is a reference here also to the fact that the very reason he's in prison has something to do with his associations with one of the Ephesians named Trophimus (Acts 21).
But what really gets my attention is that no matter his circumstances, he remains focused on his real purpose in life. He calls himself a prisoner of Jesus. He's not a prisoner of Rome. Caesar doesn't hold the key to the chains that bind him to this spot, and he's also not second guessing whether he was in God's will bringing the gospel to these alienated Gentiles.
And then he continues by saying you have heard of the dispensation of the grace given to me for you right?
The word dispensation is a compound word connected to oikos, which is the Greek word for house. And the whole idea of the word is the thought of a house steward, and the way it relates to Paul is that he has been entrusted with the task of bringing the gospel of Jesus to the Gentile world who doesn't know God, and the task can be likened to the thought of a house steward caring for his master's estate. Paul has been entrusted with a great responsibility, and he continuously forges forward with perseverance.
You're probably wondering in your mind, how does he do it? How does he carry on in spite of all the negative circumstances? How does he keep the faith and not just fall prey to depression?
The answer is "...the dispensation of the grace."
It's the grace of God that carries him through. No man, I don't care how resilient he may be, could carry the load Paul carried alone. It's the grace of God that bears the load in Paul's life as he accomplishes the will of God.
Grace changes the internal character of a man. Whatever he was before, look out because things are getting ready to change. If he was a quitter, now he's going to be a finisher with excellence. If he was weak as a father, he's about to become the best daddy a man could ever be...
You see grace is the supernatural working of the Holy Spirit strengthening a person to be what they couldn't be before on their own, strengthening them to do what they never could have done, it's the spiritual catalyst that changes everything. It's the hope when all hope has run out, it's the power when the bones are dried up and weakened. Just when all hope is lost and failure certain, grace shows up and takes over, and when that man allows grace to have its way-- watch out devil, because now that man or woman has become a force to be reckoned with in the hand of God.
Paul learned some things about grace before he ever sat under this house arrest (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). And let me say this to you Christian, "Whatever you do-- don't quit! Don't give up on Him, because He will never give up on you! Surrender your life to him, in your weakness, cry out to Him, and watch His grace change everything."
God gave Paul the supernatural strength he needed in order to accomplish the task he asked of Him, but let me say this Christian, "Grace must be submitted to in order for it to work; the head must be softened; the neck must be un-stiffened, and the knee must be bowed. If the man or woman of God refuses to let go of the reins and let God have His way, the wandering journey will continue when, instead, the power of God could be working on their behalf!
How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery:(as I wrote afore in a few words, whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:
The word mystery is introduced in this verse and is the focal point of the thought surrounding the ten verses we will cover. Fourteen times in these six verses, from 3-10 of Ephesians chapter three, words like: mystery, knowledge, known, see, and understand are used.
Specifically, the mystery entails the fact that God's plan regarding the birth of His eternal family always included the entirety of the world, but that it was previously hidden in a mystery. A mystery is something that is difficult to see. It's a riddle that must be solved, a treasure that must be searched for, but in the case of God and His plans, a revelation that must be given by Him to man.
This mystery, Paul explains has been opened up to God's "holy" apostles. Maybe the word holy should receive attention, because I can assure you that religion, through the ages, has skewed our perception of the apostles. We have discussed this concept many times, but the word "holy" is hagios in the Greek and describes separated out ones. It's the same word that is often translated as sanctified, once again, meaning separated ones.
In the sense of sanctification, the believer is separated out from the world by being placed into Christ. In this place, the Holy Spirit indwells him, which separates the believer from the world. People may not like to hear this, but not everybody has the Spirit of God living in them. Only those born again from the dead are alive with the presence of God.
In the context surrounding this passage, the idea of the "holy" apostles is that they have been separated out by God for a purpose, to them the mystery of God has been revealed: God has an eternal plan, and this is what He meant when He said way back in Genesis:
Genesis 12:1-3 that in Abraham there was a blessing for all the nations.
The promise surrounded a nation that would come from Abraham, a nation that was in Him, and from him, a blessing for all nations would come forth and that blessing was Jesus. But heretofore the blessing was a mystery that is now being revealed.
So the word holy connected to the apostles surrounds a separating out for a purpose not some special level of Christianity they were given when compared to the rest of mankind, or some status attained that allows them to be depicted in religious art donned with crowns of halos.
As a matter of fact, these halos come from ancient Babylonian mystery religion; they represent the sun disc, which filtered from Babylon to Egypt and is found connected to Osiris and Isis in reference to the birth of their son Horus, which are all clues to Satan's agenda of usurping the power and plan of God.
I bring all this up because for so long I had this thought in my mind that these men were almost like gods; they were so holy, and how could their words help me, who was so unholy? No! You need to understand that you will never be separated out to do what they did (used as instruments to pen the holy writ), but your are just as holy in the eyes of God than they ever were because the same separation that made them holy made you holy; we were all made holy in the eyes of God when through faith, in the sacrifice of Jesus, we were translated from darkness to light, from the world into the place known as "In Christ."
Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara's womb: -- He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.
Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
Minister is Diakonos, which means servant, literally, a table waiter. This is where we get the word deacon. I find this concept very interesting. This word was first used to describe Stephen and the other original deacons; their purpose was to minister practically through the physical distribution of food while the apostles sought the face of God and studied the scriptures (Acts 6).
But here, Paul applies this word to himself. He is a diakonos, a servant to distribute food to people. But in this sense, the thought is spiritual food, even the mysteries of God to inform them of their hope in Christ.
If his word is applied to you as a calling on your life, your response is not to be one of elevation of self. It's a lowering of self, a lowering where one is made to serve the master, and the master has asked His servants, "Feed my sheep!" Not, "Extort my sheep."
Paul self deprecates and debases his person outside of Christ...Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints..., but also makes it clear that grace has been given unto him to accomplish what God has called him to do. You see from the outside looking in with physical eyes it may seem that Paul isn't of God. He's in prison. I mean no one wants to take the time to consider why he's there, to consider the fact that he's in there for preaching the gospel and taking a stand against legalism.
Nowadays, they would say that Paul was out of the will of God because he didn't have enough faith and so he was thrown in jail. If The Lord tarries for any length of time, and the Christian who has Jesus burning in his heart lets him out you may go to jail too Christian.
I'm not talking about the majority of the church, which is sitting under a social gospel that wants to make the home life better and focuses on cleaning up the community. I'm talking about a gospel that focuses on allowing God to clean the heart! Those Christians that follow that gospel will be persecuted if the Lord tarries.
Paul's been given grace to preach the gospel. Jesus preached peace to those that were far off and those that were near. The good news of the kingdom must be heralded. There is a wedding taking place upon the horizon! You need to understand that God is looking for a bride to marry His Son. Will you marry the Son? How many people will have left their invitation in the envelope? How many people will have not even known because they weren't told.
I have thought many times about how the Apostle Paul was so against God, and then God performed a suddenly, where his life was transformed instantaneously before God, and suddenly there was such a flow of revelation given unto him.
Undoubtedly, he remains humble because forever burned on the retina of his mind are multiple occurrences where he led the way to rip people from their homes, having them placed in prison, having them killed; forever burned in his mind is the sight of Stephen being stoned, the sound of stone striking skin, then the crack of bone, the recording of these sounds undoubtedly from time to time played again in his mind. Then that glorious day when he was full of zeal on his way to Damascus, and he was overcome by the light of God. These are persistent reminders that outside of Christ he is nothing, but a hater of God's way, but in Christ, he has been given great revelation regarding the things of God.
In the words that the Holy Spirit would choose through Paul's vocabulary, "...I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;"
Unsearchable- Untraceable: boundless: past finding out.
These riches, literally a treasure are past finding out but don't think for one moment that Paul has ceased in striving to mine for the gold that he knows is there.
What great treasures were revealed to this mighty man of God. All these connections where Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament types:
He is the Passover lamb (1Corinthians 5:7)
He is the unleavened bread (1Corinthians 5:7)
He is the mercy seat where the blood is applied to settle God's offense against us (Romans 3:25: the word propitiation in the Greek is the same word for Mercy Seat)
He is the rock which when stricken living water flowed (1 Corinthians 10:4)
The grace of God was poured into this humble servant Paul so he, a diakonas, could serve us the bread of God by unveiling through the Holy Spirit the mystery of God.
And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
God is using the church to reveal to both man and principalities (angels, both good and bad) the manifold wisdom of God. The word for manifold was used in ancient times to refer to embroidered patterns of many colors. The idea connects to beauty and diversity, but also unity in that all this is coming together as one. The church (called out ones) made up of both Jew and Gentile are a beautiful pattern of unity that has been woven together through the cross. And this being placed on display for both man and angel to see; for them to see the wisdom of God.
The purpose of Paul's stewardship was that all men would have the opportunity to have enlightened spiritual eyes. Remember Paul's prayer was that people would see with spiritual eyes. He wants all men to be able to see the mystery, which was previously hidden.
The word fellowship here in the Greek is literally koinonea and this word is also translated at times to the word communion.
Paul is continuing his thought from previous about people being able to see. He wants them to see this glorious mystery which was prepared from the beginning.
While we can attribute the word 'omniscience' to God and simply state that nothing takes God by surprise, if we consider the thought of this verse:
(1) God has a plan that he wants man to see
(2) God's eternal plan connects humanity together as a body or family for a common union or purpose; ultimately, it will result in eternal fellowship or intimacy, but what must be noted is the fact that this same verse mentions Jesus' role as the eternal word who spoke the worlds into existence.
This tells me that when the earth was created, God knew there would be a fall, resulting in a plan that was preordained (1 Peter 1:18) that would go into effect and through the ages He's been communicating the plan; really writing the story twice so humanity wouldn't miss it. Ultimately, whether we like it or not, the choice in the garden produced a daily choice for man. What will he choose? Who will he choose? God or what the spirit of the world is offering?
But with regards to the principalities, there is something amazing taking place in the heavenly realms that you and I can't see. The angelic hosts both good and bad are viewing this redemption plan. And as God moves His plan forward, they are amazed and in awe at what God accomplishes. Everything seems scattered and thrown in different directions and then in Christ, God makes one new man. The church ekklesia, called out ones.
You have to understand that they've never experienced redemption. An angel will never be bought back from sin. All they know is that one third of their fellow creation went the way of Lucifer and now, those angels are destined for a lake of fire. And they see themselves and how grateful they must be that they didn't fall prey to the devices of God's most beautiful creation. How they must have previously looked upon his beauty and perceived in their angelic minds that this one was more special than they, and now they see how those that went his way are fallen and will never return.
But they also see that in man’s case, there is something altogether different going on in the spiritual realm. There is this thing called salvation, a buying back from the fall, and their angelic eyes observe everyday this glorious move of God!
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
Lambano- to seize or take hold of
God lowered Himself in order to seize, take hold of, or redeem humanity. He did not lower Himself to redeem fallen angels. He bypassed them. I can only imagine what they must have thought when they saw all this taking place in the spiritual realm
1 Peter 1:1-12
1 Peter Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.
"...desire to look into." Literally means to stoop over to look.
This thought implies a willingness to exert or inconvenience oneself to obtain a better perspective. The heavenly angels peer through the portals of heaven and observe the salvation of fallen man, and when a man is saved:
Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
And while all this is rejoicing over this mystery over salvation is taking place with the heavenly angels, I can only imagine the seething anger burning in the minds of the fallen ones:
And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
Because you see Jesus spoiled their plans, through the giving of His life, He paid sin's debt because the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus. They didn't even know what was happening. They had a clue that one day something big would take place. They even knew that the serpent would be crushed by the seed, and that through the crushing somehow the seed would be hurt, but they were so thirsty for Jesus blood and death, they didn't even see that they played into God's plan all along, and the fact that their inciting Israel and Rome to hang Him on the cross signed the spiritual Emancipation Proclamation.