Sunday, 14 August 2016
…which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: Ephesians 3:5
The word “which” is referring to the “mystery” of verses 3 & 4. This mystery is the work of God in Christ for Jew and Gentile which Paul has been speaking of and which he will continue to explain. This mystery was not made known “in other ages.” God has worked through “dispensations” or “ages” in order to effect His redemptive purposes for fallen man. In the previous ages, there was one line of people specially chosen to lead humanity to the Messiah.
However, rather than focusing solely on that one line, he notes that this mystery was unknown to all. This is understood by his words that it “was not made known to the sons of men. This term, “sons of men,” is speaking of all of those born into the stream of humanity. Jesus is often called the Son of man, thus declaring that He is truly and fully human. Paul uses the term this way to then make a distinction between the general stock of humanity and those chosen for a particular purpose. All born into humanity are sons of men, but some sons of men have been granted particular abilities. This is seen in the next clause.
The words “as it has now been revealed,” mean that what was an unknown mystery has now become known by the means of revelation. Paul didn’t say that in the past ages the mystery “had not been revealed.” Instead, he said that it “was not made known.” The mystery does not come about by mere logic or mental training. Instead, it only came about through revelation “by the Spirit.” In the book of John, Christ spoke of how the Spirit testified of Him. First, in John 5 He said –
“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” John 5:39
Then, in John 15 He said –
“But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.” John 15:26
The first was speaking of the Spirit-inspired Old Testament. The second speaks of the coming Spirit-inspired New Testament. The Old Testament certainly gives types and shadows and even hints as to what was coming, but it could not have been understood without the further revelation of the Spirit in the New. And this revelation of the Spirit was “to His holy apostles and prophets.”
The word “holy” is given in contrast to “the sons of men.” Only those chosen by God and granted this special revelation could then turn and reveal it to the world for an understanding of what God has done. This shows that those “holy apostles and prophets” were granted this insight at a particular point in time and for a particular purpose; to reveal the Word of God to the world. They proclaimed the word; the word was recorded, which is now our New Testament; and then the revelation stopped. In the pages of the Bible, we have all the information necessary for our life and practice as Christians. No further revelation is required. Nor should more revelation be anticipated.
Life application: Beware of those who say, “The Lord has given me a prophetic word.” Unless he repeats and then explains a passage of Scripture, he is to be shunned. God has revealed His will to us in the pages of the Holy Bible.
Lord God, You have revealed Your will to us in the pages of Scripture. The revelation we need in order to conduct our lives as faithful and doctrinally sound Christians is found there. What more do we need to rightly conduct our lives in Your presence? Grant us the heart and desire to pursue this magnificent treasure. Help us never to look for more “revelation” from those who claim to be prophets and apostles. Your word is written and it is sufficient. Thank You for Your perfect word. Amen.