Thursday, 18 August 2016
…and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; Ephesians 3:9
In this verse are a few words which differ in ancient manuscripts. The first notable one is “fellowship.” In Greek, it is the word koinonia. However, other manuscripts say, “dispensation.” The word is very similar, oikonomia. The mistake in translation would be easy to make. The second major difference is that the words “through Jesus Christ” are not in some manuscripts. Neither of these changes the doctrine of Scripture. For the sake of consistency in analysis, the evaluation will assume that the NKJV is correct. However, this doesn’t mean it is. It is simply the NKJV which is being used for the study.
Paul says first, “… and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery.” The word “see” properly means “to illuminate” or “to enlighten.” He is saying that the grace bestowed upon him was that he would be used as the means of making all see this fellowship of the mystery of the Gentiles being brought into the New Covenant through the work of Christ. This word “all” is used, as it often is, in the superlative sense. Not all in his time, nor all in the ages since his time, have had this mystery illuminated to them. Further, for those who have had it explained, it doesn’t mean that they believe it. The word of Christ tells of what He has done, but that word is often misunderstood or rejected. Therefore, even those who have had the truths of Christ illuminated to them, don’t really see them as they truly are.
However, it was Paul’s task to share this mystery in both his life and actions and in his writings. They open up to the world this “mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God.” As previously explained, a mystery is something which was hidden and has now been revealed. It could not otherwise have been known without God directly revealing it to the world. From the beginning of the ages, it was hidden. Only a select line of people were considered “the sons of God.” The rest of the world were considered in the broader sense of being “sons of men.” One line was destined for God’s favor; the other was destined for destruction. It is through Paul that the mystery is made known that the Gentile people of the world would now have access to, and be participants in, the workings of God concerning their redemption and salvation.
He finishes up with the note that it is God “who created all things through Jesus Christ.” Jesus, the Word of God, created all things. This is reflected in John 1:1-3 –
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”
What Paul is doing with the addition of these words, is showing that the same member of the Godhead, Christ Jesus, is also the one who is the Establisher of this new outcropping of His redemptive plans. Everything dealing with the creation is done through Jesus Christ, including the creation of one new man out of the two – both Jew and Gentile. This is the mystery of the fellowship which had been hidden for so very long. This is what Paul now reveals to the world through His writings.
Life application: If you want to understand the church age and the doctrine by which it is governed, you need to understand Paul’s letters. To reject Paul is to reject the church of this dispensation. To reject the church during this dispensation is to reject what Jesus Christ is doing in the world for humanity. Stay away from anyone who would twist or diminish the words of Paul as given by the Holy Spirit through him.
Lord God Almighty, surely we must stand amazed at the marvel and the wonder of what You have done through Jesus. He came to His own in order to reconcile them to You. At the same time, You opened a door through Him for all of the people of the world to also have that same reconciliation. Now, people of every tribe, tongue, and culture – without regard to color, lineage, or location, have the same access to You. Your eternal temple is being built out of precious stones of every variety. Thank You for including any and all who come to You through Christ by a mere act of faith! Amen.