Wednesday, 17 August 2016
To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, Ephesians 3:8
In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul called himself “the least of the apostles.” Here he takes the thought further and says that “the gift of the grace of God” of the previous verse was given to him who is “less than the least of all the saints.” Here he uses a word found nowhere else in Scripture, elachistoteros. It is a “comparative formed from a superlative.’ The comparative refers to himself, “less.” The superlative is the one who even stands above him, “the least.”
Paul looked into himself and saw the depth of the consciousness of sin that dwelt in him and he reasoned that what he saw was certainly less worthy of God’s favor than any other other saint. To him, the makeup of who he was demonstrated the highest grace that could be given.
But he notes that “this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” In these words, he contrasts the “saints” with the “Gentiles.” This is evident from his words of the previous chapter –
“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God…” (2:19)
The “saints” refer to those in Christ. Until the Gentiles came to Christ, they were not saints. Therefore, he is making a contrast between them. The idea of “Gentiles” being brought into the household of God would have been unheard of, and thus the term is almost used in a derogatory sense. Because of this, it shows the level of grace that was bestowed upon Paul once again. Despite being the least of the saints, he was given the great honor of taking this once “unclean” group of people and preaching the message of Christ to them.
But more than just a simple message of their acceptance, he was given the honor of conveying to them “the unsearchable riches of Christ.” The word he uses for “unsearchable,” anexichniastos, is found only here and in Romans 11:33. It conveys the idea of the inability to comprehend. The riches are beyond finding out. It is an implicit note of the deity of Christ which will be expanded on in the verses ahead. As only God is unsearchable, then the unsearchable riches of Christ demonstrate the divine nature of Christ.
It is these marvelous wonders which Paul, the least of all the saints, was given the grace to share with the Gentiles. He was chosen to bring them from their lowly state to a position on the same level as the saints of God who were drawn out of the chosen nation of Israel.
Life application: Those who understand the depth of sin which dwells in their soul will more fully appreciate the magnificence of the grace which is bestowed upon them through Jesus Christ.
Lord God, when we start thinking highly of ourselves, all we need to do is to consider what being saved by Christ means. Only a sinner needs a Savior. And if we were sinners, then the grace of the Savior must have been great. More than that, we continue to be saved by this same great Savior. Each misstep and each wayward deed is covered by the immeasurable grace of Christ. Understanding this, we can stop thinking so highly of ourselves and go about our lives fully appreciating that we stand solely on the merits of the Lord. Thank You for such marvelous grace. Amen.