Ephesians 3 –The Mystery of the Church

1.3:1-8Introduction: Now you can see how, beginning from v 2:11, God is building His Body (church) in the earth. And how He is spiritually connecting and putting things together. All who believe are apart of God’s household, whether Jew or Greek[1] (Romans1:16). And all are being built up for a purpose, which will culminate in vv 3:9-12.

  1. 3:6Two opposite and unique bodies are now one in Jesus and they bring the ministry, or administration, of the mystery-Israel and the Church. And, in doing so, the many wisdoms of God are made known as it is revealed through His church to the heavenly places, the supernatural realm. His rule and authority in this realm is made known to the rulers and authorities there by us, those whom are at His right hand. [I am not neglecting the 3rd heaven (2 Co 12:2), just pointing at the supremacy we have in Him in all things spiritual and supernatural.]
  2. 3:9-12Part of the mystery is that God has brought the two groups together[2] to form one body-His Body. The unity of the one Spirit and those who join together in Jesus name, sealed by His Spirit, as the great mystery, will not only have significant, but complete global impact. Jesus is forming a people in the earth with a view to ministering in the fullness of Christ, which will shake all generations (past, present, and future), and will threaten and overthrow demonic powers. It will summon[3] the return of our Lord Jesus and cause multitudes to be saved. It will bring the greatest persecution ever known and the greatest victory ever fathomed[4]. As we said earlier, all creation is waiting for this(Rom 8:19-21), all those who have gone before us are waiting for this (Heb 11), and heaven is waiting for that one generation (Heb 11:40) to arise from the dead (Eph 5:14).
    1. 1:9-10He made known His mystery to us (Christ in us). All things are complete in Christ and for His glory.
    2. The chapter begins with “For this reason…,” which may be applied to the latter verses, particularly 3:10: “…so that the manifold wisdom of God…” Ch 2 ends with the church, all believers, being built together, “for this reason,” ” so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” To see the passages in contextual flow is essential in proper interpretation and application.
    3. The mystery of the Church is that we are one body sitting at the right hand of Jesus (as His bride) fulfilling His intended plans and purposes in the earth. This is, in itself, the manifold wisdom of God as it is decreed to the rulers and authorities. (Once again ref. the Heavenly Places study which will be the last part of the series.) Many have tried to understand the “why?” behind this passage. I do not claim to have the answer, which would be all together another study, but I do believe the major significance relates to the fall of Adam in the garden, the reversal of spiritual authority and all Jesus did in the liberation of that authority to bring us once again to the heavenly places.
    4. 3:11Art Katz ask us; “How many churches have this as their purpose, making known the manifold wisdom of God to the rulers and authorities in heavenly places?” This is mind blowing in relation to common church paradigms. Our purpose as church is to not only consider such realities, but as Robert Gladstone puts it: “Be the thing!” (The mystery revealed) This is in essence our vocation (see Sparks, The Prophetic ministry). The reason behind the next three chapters of becoming mature and belonging to the fullness of Christ. Only a people in fullness can make the living proclamation need in 3:10.
    5. 3:11This is part of His eternal purpose and plan for the ages; to redeem mankind through a Messiah, who would send His Spirit to transform them into the image of God. This is the meaning of life and creation. God’s judgement and grace is therefore demonstrated in them from this restored state.
    6. 3:12We are at his right hand. We know who, where, and what we are. We should be bold before Him in what He calls us to do. This is not a place of timidity. Timidity is not humility. We should big strong humble bold lion copies of Jesus.
    7. 1:20-21He is the ultimate authority and He chooses to enforce it through us His church (1:23). The One who fills all in all decided to fill us with all the fullness of Himself. The Church should be the fullness and completeness of Christ in the earth today!We are the supernatural ones in the earth and in the heavens (but often our minds are on earth).

The wisdom of God, the filling of man with Himself-Jesus being the prototype-is to be demonstrated to all, even the demonic powers that deem to rule the earth. We take them down in Jesus name! It is the eternal purpose of the church to do these things.

3:13-21 – The 4thDimension – The Spiritual Realm

This section seems to transition from the theme of describing the church’s function to how to get the church to and how to walk in that fullness of unveiling the mystery of Christ in the earth. We have established the significance of our heavenly place, now how do we live that out here in the earth?

  1. 3:16Therefore we cannot comprehend nor understand our place in this realm unless, according to His riches, as the highest place there, by His Spirit strengthens us with power in our inner man. Then the love that causes us to be effective in this realm will fill us up with all the fullness of God.
  2. If we are going to walk this walk (4:1), then our inner-man must be full of the power and person of the Holy Spirit. Who are we on the inside? The place where only Christ can see? (Matt 6:6) If who we are in public is not who we are in private, then we are fake[5]. Does who we are on the outside, accurately reflect who we are on the inside? Is our private life filled with sin, or precious time spent with Jesus?
  3. This is the contextual set-up of the following verses: We are strengthened with power in the inner man to: 1) Christ may dwell in our hearts; 2) Comprehend with all the saints what is the breath, length, height, and depth (18); 3) Know the love of Christ which results in all the fullness of God (19).
  4. 3:17Can those around you see Jesus in you? Can people tell that you have been with Jesus? Does Jesus dwell in our hearts to the extent that we love everyone around us the way that Jesus loves them? The more time you spend with Jesus, the more you will become like Him[6]. “You are what you eat.” If you spend lots of time being entertained and pleasured by the world, then you will resemble the world. If you spend time in prayer and in the Word, and in fellowship with other believers, then you will resemble them and God.
  5. i.This is very important for the church in walking in fullness. The individuals that make up the body must not rely on the “pastor’s” [7]prayer life. They must have their own intimate time with Jesus. A church that walks in fullness is a church that knows Jesus, and is comprised of multitudes who know Jesus.
    1. 3:16-19 – Contextual Each verse has special meaning, but there is a flow that goes through all four verses that has a broader and deeper significance. 16 – Our inner-man is strengthened through the power of the Spirit, 17 – causing Christ to dwell in our hearts. This, after we study 18 will culminate in 19, filled up to all the fullness of God.
    2. i.3:18The Four Dimensions of GodFour dimensions of God; we live in a three dimensional world.[8] I believe that the fourth dimension is the spiritual realm. We can apply this observation to previously stated verses: 1:3-Blessed in the heavenly places; 1:13-Sealed in the Spirit realm; 1:17-We have wisdom and knowledge in this realm; 1:20-21-Christ has complete authority in this realm. •So this fourth dimension that we cannot see can only be accessed through faith (3:17; Heb 11:1). 1:23-The church is not natural, it is supernatural, borne of God; 2:6-We are with Jesus in the spiritual realm; 2:22-Out place is in this realm. The church’s purpose is to be built together as a dwelling for God. He longs to fill His Bride with himself (5:31).We dwell with God in this spiritual realm, and from this place (3:10), we demonstrate the wisdom and power of God to the earthly and spiritual realms. That is the mystery of the church and a church that is beginning to walk in fullness.
  1. ii.3:19With the spiritual understanding that we now have, we can somewhat realize this great love that He has for us to allow us this life in the Spirit; not only to bring us into this realm, but also to set us at Jesus’ right hand and use us to demonstrate Himself. The thematic implication of this verse is simply that God loves us so much it’s four dimensional. •John 3:3-12Before we are saved, we have no access (Eph3:12) of faith. Because it is faith that Jesus is Lord (Jn3:16-17), that leads to this spiritual life. 3:5-We must be born again in the Spirit, because the kingdom is a supernatural kingdom; that also happens to control the natural one. 3:8-The natural is limited, the spiritual is not.3:12-Nicodemus is having a hard time believing an comprehending the reality of the existence of a supernatural realm in the manner the Jesus is describing[9]. Eph 3:18-We comprehend with all the saints these things, that leads to the beings filled up with all the fullness of God.
  1. iii.1Corinthians 2 – Spiritual Understanding and Comprehension 2:1-We can see some of what we have been discussing described here. 1:1-5-Part of the reason the church is not walking in fullness is because they rely on their own wisdom and not God’s. 2:6-9-No one understands these things because it requires spiritual sight[10](Eph 1:10 view). 2:11-16b-We know the mind of Christ, because the Spirit of God lives inside of us and possesses us. Our calling is to demonstrate this wisdom and this power in the earth just like Jesus did. 4:1-20-This is the revelation of the mystery to the earth: God is real and powerfully demonstrated in love and compassion. We do not need tricks[11] to evangelize, we need His power and presence, and then the mystery will become clear: Jesus Christ is Lord over all.
  1. 3:20-21Now that we have a glimpse of spiritual understanding, we realize that this vast spiritual realm is ruled by a great God who can do anything, is far beyond anything we can fathom. Still He chooses to work His unfathomable power through us; what a mystery!This power works within us, the church.
  2. Believe and there will be no limits. This natural realm, all that we see with our eyes is subject to the spiritual realm. There is nothing that cannot be accomplished when we are in the Spirit!Smith Wigglesworth would say “only believe”. We know in our heads, but do we believe in our hearts that Jesus can do anything. When we speak in faith about what we cannot see, it will change what we can see. When faith resides in us; we know God can do anything. 2 Kings6:12 -1The servant was afraid of what he saw with his eyes. Elisha saw the spiritual realm with his eyes and knew God was with them. Then he said that those for us are greater than those against us (v.16). We should never be afraid of what we see with our eyes even when faced with death. (Rev 12:11) There is always a greater spiritual force on our side than the devil’s side. (Eph6:12, 2 Ki6:17).

[1] Gentile; Greek used for the sake of the ref to Romans.

[2] Jews and Gentiles.

[3] For the point I used this word, but loosely in the prophetic sense, not dogmatically.

[4] For this statement, apply the same logic as the above footnote.

[5] I am talking about staying pure, not displaying publicly, private situations.

[6] Mannerisms, the more time you spend with someone, the more you begin to do and act like them. You develop the same mannerisms.

[7] “Pastor” is used in the modern sense of the term, but not in correct Biblical function.

[8] At least four. I am not being dogmatic here either. Some translations word it differently than the NASB. However, I do not think that we are straying form context, nor do I think we will stray into error by implying that breadth here refers to the spiritual realm.

[9] Most of the church (western) does not get past this infant stage of understanding in the Spirit. They believe Jesus is Lord, but they have baby spiritual understanding.

[10] This is only obtained by being in God’s presence and being filled up by Him.

[11] NT evangelism is not like what you see today. Men went out filled with God, demonstrating his power.

Visit David’s Google+ Profile