January 6, 2022
1 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.
Paul was about to talk about his prayers for the church in Ephesus and now has this interruption of his own thoughts to remind the people why he is the one writing to them, why he is the messenger of the grace of Jesus, how he is a servant of God through faith in Jesus and the grace of Jesus. He tells them of the greatness of the grace that now comes to all people, not just to a few. We should reread the text with the energy of one who is bursting with excitement. It just all has to come out. This happens more than once in Ephesians. Ephesians 1.3-14 is one sentence in the Greek in which Paul writes this. And that sentence has no verb. It is several phrases of praise put together. The excitement of Paul to offer praise, the excitement to speak of grace. The joy of salvation is this, to be able to express the worship of God and to express the grace of God.
If you read through Acts and Paul’s other letters you will see that Paul does not live in this ecstatic state at all times. He will have moments of sadness, anger, loneliness, compassion, etc. And that does not minimize this moment of joy, it sets it apart. We will also have varying experiences of these emotions while living out our faith. And when it comes time to express the great joy, we can do so without embarrassment, but knowing that it is an experience common to us all. When we have times of compassion for others and the tears of sorrow, we can express them as part of our faith. If we are angry with the sin of the world we can express that with grace to others for the hope of understanding and repentance.
And where is there great joy for Paul, and for us today? That the gospel is able to go out to rich and poor, to powerful and weak, far and near. Where is there compassion from us today? That the world is in need of grace and kindness, needing to be welcomed into God’s grace. Where is there sadness for us today? That there are many in the world who will hear of God’s grace and still walk away with hardness in their hearts. Where is there anger for us today? That there are many among us who would distort the gospel of grace for self, for profit, or for divisions.
But the gospel comes to us, and goes out with us, to bring grace to all and to bring joy to God (and to us) that all may hear and believe in the grace of Jesus to bring life and hope forever.
Song – Grace Flows Down
O God, you spoke your Word and revealed your good news in Jesus, the Christ. Fill all creation with that Word again so that by proclaiming your joyful promises to all nations and singing of your glorious hope to all peoples, we may become one living body, your incarnate presence on the earth. Amen.