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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

THE MYSTERY OF CHRIST REVEALED

Ephesians 3:1-7 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, if ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to youward: how that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel: whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of His power.

With very few exceptions, bible scholars agree that, at the time he wrote this epistle to the church of Christ at Ephesus, Paul was a prisoner in Rome. While awaiting trial, he was physically restricted by the Roman government but was still able to carry on the ministry of Christ, by teaching those within the prison walls, as well as by writing epistles, such as this, and dispatching them to established churches in areas, to which he had previously preached the word of God. Paul states that he was also a prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles. Paul confirms his Christian calling was primarily to be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, delivering to them the gospel of God (Rom. 15:16).

As a prisoner of Jesus Christ, Paul was restricted, but not by cell bars or armed guards. As a prisoner of Christ, he was restricted in the message he was authorized to teach. He could not preach the gospel of Paul, or the gospel message of any other person, or religious body. His message had to be the gospel of God. Ironically, had Paul not been a prisoner of Jesus Christ preaching the gospel of God, he would have never become a prisoner of the Roman government.

The early years of Paul were spent studying at the feet of Gamaliel, a doctor of Jewish law, preparing him to be a dedicated Pharisee, as was his father, zealous toward God (Acts 22:3). However, these many years of preparation were made void in an instant, through the miraculous revelation of Christ. Paul wrote to the churches of Galatia, telling them the gospel he delivered to them was not that of man, for I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but (I received it) by the revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:11-12). Paul was chosen by Christ to bear My (Christ's) name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel (Acts 9:15). Immediately after he had received this revelation, Paul was baptized and straightway he preached Christ (Acts 9:18-19).

Paul told Roman Christians that the mystery of God's plan of salvation was kept secret since the world began (Rom. 16:25). Likewise, in his letter to the Colossian church, Paul stated that he was made a minister of Christ to deliver the word of God, Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints: to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: (Col. 1:26-27). The lesson text tells us that by revelation He (Jesus) made known unto me (Paul) the mystery (Vs. 3).

And what was this revelation? That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel (Vs. 6). Although the Jewish nation was first chosen to be the heirs of promise, the people of Gentile nations, that are baptized into Christ, become the adopted children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ (8:16-17). By putting on Christ in baptism, all people become members of the same body. This fact Paul confirmed in his letter to the church at Corinth by saying, for by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles (1 Cor. 12:12).

All children of God, Paul said in the lesson text, are partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel. This truth, as well as the complete mystery of Christ, was revealed in Paul's message to the churches in Galatia. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise (Gal. 3:26-29).

Hidden by God for over 4,000 years, God had finally, in the due time chosen by Him, through His Son, Jesus Christ, and then, through His chosen apostle Paul, by whose inspired writing, the world now has The Mystery of Christ Revealed.