The Mystery Hidden For All Ages (3:1-13)
Welcome to Week 4 of your Ephesians Bible Study.
This week we tackle Ephesians 3:1-13, which covers God’s great purpose in forming the church from both Jewish and Gentile families in a slightly different way than last week.
The Mystery Revealed
In addition, this week we are introduced to a new term, “mystery” which forms an integral part of the letter to the Ephesians.
It is important to understand the full meaning of this term for it has implications for how the gospel is lived out day by day.
Let’s dive in to see what this week’s lesson has to say to us.
Read Ephesians 3:1-13
As you read, pay attention to the way Paul positions himself with respect to the Gentiles. Also, try to pick out the word “mystery” in these verses and see how Paul is defining this term.
Read Acts 9:1-15 (as background for this section of Ephesians)
Note the relationship between Paul’s commission in Acts and his explanation of his ministry in Ephesians 3:1-13.
Read Ephesians 2:1-3
Questions to Reflect on the Passage
- According to Acts 9:1-15, how exactly did Paul receive his commission? What did that commission imply? What does that commission imply according to Ephesians 3:1-2 and 3:8?
- What are some possible reasons that God would choose an Old Testament scholar, a doctor of the law, a Jewish Pharisee to communicate his gospel of grace to a Gentile world? As you answer this question, think about Paul’s impact on Christianity and some of the topics he tackled in his letters.
- What exactly is the “mystery” to which Paul refers several times in this section? How did Paul receive this “mystery” (3:3)? What additional details or descriptions do 3:5, 9, 11 provide regarding this “mystery”?
- Paul combines the term “fellow” with three descriptions and applies these to Gentiles (3:6)? What are these phrases now applied to Gentiles and what do they mean?
- What is the result of the church being brought into existence according to 3:10?
Questions to Reflect on Your Life
- According to 3:6 we are fellow heirs (see 1:11), fellow members of one body and fellow partakers of the promise (presumably the promise to Abraham). How does knowing you have a future inheritance affect your Christian life today (personally and in community)?What is the implication for you of the church being described as a body? How accurate is that metaphor for how you live out your Christian life (personally and in community)? Elaborate.
- How would you describe the “mystery” in this section in modern language to someone who was reading Ephesians for the first time? Again, is this the lens by which your view your faith and salvation? Why or why not?
- Ephesians 3:10 talks about God’s wisdom being made manifest to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. Later in Ephesians 6, Paul will ask his readers to put on God’s armor as he talks about the principalities in the heavenly realm.
- What do you as a 21st century, modern Christian make of these descriptions? Do you have a portrait of the church that uses these very cosmic descriptions and categories? Why or why not?
- Who are these rulers and authorities in the heavenly places and what impact (if any) do you believe they have in this world and on the church?
- Ephesians 3:12 says we now have boldness and confident access through faith in Him (Christ)? This is a description of our ability to approach God’s throne without fear and trepidation to make our needs known to him (See Heb 4:16). Does this accurately describe your approach to prayer? Why or why not?