Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.
As I let myself sink into Ephesians, I am struck by an obvious insight completely new to me. Paul is not writing a letter here. He is trying to describe the indescribable. Paul is not downloading doctrine and theology on his readers. He is live-streaming a vision. And let’s remember, Paul is not new to the faith. He was not naive. He’s no Johnny-come-lately to the people of God. Paul saw something, and not only could he never go back to the way things were, he would never get over it.
Go back and scan through Ephesians so far and note the language alone. It’s not hyperbole. Every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm. The riches of his glorious inheritance. His incomparably great power for us who believe. He fills all things everywhere with himself. The incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us. Unsearchable riches. Manifold wisdom. Eternal purpose. Boldness. Access. Confidence. Faith.
Let’s remember who Paul used to be. He was the president of the Young Pharisees Club, a riser, most likely to succeed, an ultimate insider. He hated Jesus and anyone even remotely connected to him. He was the equivalent of a radicalized fundamentalist anti-Christian terrorist. Need evidence of this? See Acts 8:3 (niv): “But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.”
Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power.
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is pure vision. He’s not solving problems as in many of his other letters. He sees past the surface and into the substance of things—beyond the appearance into the ultimate reality. He is desperate for us to see it too.
My biggest problem is I’ve read the letter enough now to be pretty sure I know what it means. Once I know what something means I can move on.
The gospel is not information. It is not precepts or principles. It is not a belief system. The gospel is the fullness of the revelation of God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We don’t get it and move on. The sign that we’ve gotten it is we never get over it. And the other sign that we’ve gotten it is the more we get it, the more we realize there is more to get.
The gospel is not information and cogitation. It is revelation and transformation.
Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who is the image of the invisible God, the exact representation of your being, and who fills our lives with your fullness by the power of your Spirit. Forgive me for somehow thinking that I even halfway get you. I know I have you, and yet I know there is so much more. Bring me closer. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
How do you marvel at the incredible turnaround in Paul’s life? How did this happen?
What do you make of this idea of “the authenticating sign of the gospel” being not getting over it? And knowing there is more to get?
How do you understand the difference between reading this letter as information and comprehending it as revelation?
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