A reflection on Ephesians 3:1-12 for Wednesday, January 6, 2021
This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles — for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given to me for you, and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words, a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. 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: that is, the Gentiles have become fellow-heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given to me by the working of his power. 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, and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; 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. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him.
Ephesians 3:1-12 (NRSVA)
Paul too writes of a mystery revealed.
It is not the same language as Isaiah – who uses light, darkness, and dawn to describe the revealing of the Christ. It is however, a pointer in the same direction. In Christ the mystery of the Kingdom has been revealed – and it is news to be shared with the whole world.
Paul, Isaiah, and Matthew – unsurprisingly – are on the same page.
The difference, perhaps is that the Apostle is compelled to take this news to the world. In Isaiah and Matthew the image was attraction to the light. Paul, however, is called to go.
In doing so, however, the ’apostle to the Gentiles’ seems here to be absolutely convinced of the compelling nature of the message he shares. His is a mystery revealed in Christ for all the world.
In his own words: ‘…the Gentiles have become fellow-heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.’
This is the Christ-revealed vision that compels Paul – and a thousand other missionaries – to every corner of the world!
What parallels do you see between the idea of Epiphany and the call to mission? Why is there such an emphasis on a God for the nations in these readings?
How do you balance the two concepts of the light ‘drawing’ the world and the light being ‘taken’ into all the world? What would it look like for the church to hold both these realities in equal tension?