Ephesians 3: The Mystery Revealed

Jesus came to set people free, so why does Paul describe himself as imprisoned?

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Luke 4:18–19 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, freedom for the oppressed, and recovery of sight for the blind—to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”
Ephesians 3:1 Therefore, I have made myself a captive of Jesus Christ for the benefit of all people who do not know him.
King James
Luke 4:18–19 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
Ephesians 3:1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,

How would the Ephesians have heard about Paul’s ministry?

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Ephesians 3:2 I’m sure you’ve heard how God has sent me to bring the good news to your people.
King James
Ephesians 3:2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:

What might the Ephesians not have known?

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Ephesians 3:3–4 Earlier I briefly wrote that God has revealed to me the secrets of his plan. As you read what I am writing now, I want you to understand what I know about the mystery of Christ.
King James
Ephesians 3:3–4 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)

How would you describe the truth that was hidden from previous generations?

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Ephesians 3:5 This truth has been hidden from previous generations, but it is now revealed by the Holy Spirit through his special messengers.
King James
Ephesians 3:5 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;

Why did God need special messengers to reveal the truth?

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Ephesians 3:5 This truth has been hidden from previous generations, but it is now revealed by the Holy Spirit through his special messengers.
King James
Ephesians 3:5 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;

As traditionally exclusive societies, how would the Jews and non-Jews have felt about being part of one family?

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Ephesians 3:6 Both Jews and non-Jews will be one family, one body of believers hearing the good news and receiving the promised inheritance in Jesus Christ.
King James
Ephesians 3:6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:

Instead of writing, if Paul had been with the Ephesians, what insights would he share and how might God’s favor and power be revealed?

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Ephesians 3:7 For this purpose, God’s favor and mighty power is at work in me, his servant, to bring the good news.
King James
Ephesians 3:7 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.

Why did Paul claim to be the least deserving of God’s special messengers?

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1 Corinthians 15:9 Yes, I consider myself the least of the messengers, not worthy to be called a messenger, because I persecuted the children of God.
Ephesians 3:8 Although I am the least deserving of his people, God has graciously given me the privilege of preaching to the nations about the bountiful riches we have in Christ.
King James
1 Corinthians 15:9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
Ephesians 3:8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;

Why do you think the mystery was not explained much earlier?

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Ephesians 3:9–11 God who created all things by Jesus Christ had a plan from the beginning, a mystery that I have been sent to explain. That which has not been understood by rulers and the highest authorities will now see the wisdom of God revealed through the body of believers in fulfillment of his eternal purpose in Jesus Christ our Lord.
King James
Ephesians 3:9–11 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:

How does our relationship with God give us courage and confidence?

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Ephesians 3:12 In our relationship with God, our faith in Christ gives us courage and confidence.
King James
Ephesians 3:12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.

What is the difference between sympathy and empathy? Which term do you think is the best fit for how the believers in Ephesus would have felt? Why?

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Ephesians 3:13 Please don’t feel bad because of what I am going through for your benefit.
King James
Ephesians 3:13 Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

Why did Paul not want the Ephesians to feel bad about his situation?

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Ephesians 3:13–15 Please don’t feel bad because of what I am going through for your benefit. That’s why I choose to humble myself, falling to my knees before the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Creator of all things, both spiritual and physical.
King James
Ephesians 3:13–15 Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory. For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,

What reasons might we have for believing Paul’s prayer for “showers of blessing” would be answered?

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Ephesians 3:16 I pray you will be showered with the richness of his glory and the Holy Spirit will strengthen your inner being.
King James
Ephesians 3:16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

How would you define the “faith” that opens doors and causes all things to be possible?

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Mark 9:23 “For those who believe, anything is possible.”
Mark 14:36 “Dearest Father, everything is possible for you. Let me escape this suffering. Nevertheless, I want your will, not mine.”
Ephesians 3:17 May your faith open the door of your hearts to Christ so he will dwell within you, your lives standing on the strong foundation of love.
King James
Mark 9:23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
Mark 14:36 And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.
Ephesians 3:17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

Are there limits to what faith can accomplish? Why?

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Ephesians 3:17 May your faith open the door of your hearts to Christ so he will dwell within you, your lives standing on the strong foundation of love.
King James
Ephesians 3:17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

What can we do to understand more about God and his plan?

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Proverbs 3:6 Let the Lord guide everything you do, and he will keep you on the right path.
Proverbs 16:9 Men want to map their entire journey, but God shows them only the next step.
John 16:13 “But when the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own authority but will say only what he hears. He will reveal to you things to come.”
Ephesians 3:18–19 May you, among all believers, be able to understand God in his fullness, that we know the love of Christ, which cannot be fully explained but is known by experience when you are filled with God’s Spirit.
2 Timothy 2:15 Diligently study so you will be recognized by God and others as one who correctly interprets Scripture, one who need not be ashamed.
King James
Proverbs 3:6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Proverbs 16:9 A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.
John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
Ephesians 3:18–19 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

How much more do you think we can learn about God?

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Ephesians 3:20–21 May God who is able to do more than we can even imagine, whose power is at work in us, reveal the magnitude of his glory in everyone surrendered to Christ Jesus, both now and forever. Amen.
King James
Ephesians 3:20–21 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.