Pastor David B. Curtis

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Media #695 MP3 Audio File Video File

The Mystery Revealed - Part 2

Ephesians 3:7-13

Delivered 02/23/2014

We started to look at chapter 3 of Ephesians last week. We saw that Paul was about to pray for the Ephesians that Yahweh would make the truths that He taught them in chapter 2 a reality in their experience. But, before he gets to his prayer, something diverts Paul's attention. He gets out, "For this reason, I, Paul," then something stops him, and he picks the prayer up again in verse 14. So verses 1b-13 are a parenthesis. And in that parenthesis, he goes back over this whole mystery again before he prays for them.

We saw that Paul was a prisoner because of the very mystery he was preaching. He was in prison because he preached that the Jews and ethnos were one in Christ. That's what made him a prisoner. Paul tells us that the mystery that he is preaching was:

...in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; Ephesians 3:5 NASB

Paul tells us that he was a steward of the mystery and that no revelation of this mystery was given in the Tanakh, but that it was revealed for the first time in the New Testament. Have you ever heard the saying, "There's nothing new in the New Testament"? Let me give you a quote: "Listen to me, believers, There is nothing new in the New Testament. Everything that Paul, and all its writers, taught was nothing but what the Hebrew Scriptures taught would happen." Do you know who said this? I did. I found it in three different messages. I was wrong! This is why I'm always telling you to be Bereans and check out what you hear before you believe it.

When I said there is nothing new in the New Testament, I even quoted Ephesians 3:3-6, but I took the comparative conjunction "hos" (as); as restrictive, meaning that the mystery was partially revealed in the Tanakh, but has now been fully revealed. Well the problem was I hadn't ever done a verse-by-verse study of Ephesians. And now that I am doing an in depth study I am convinced that when Paul tells us in chapter 3, verse 5, "in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed"that this comparative conjunction "hos" is descriptive, meaning that no revelation of this mystery was given in the Tanakh, but that it was revealed for the first time in the New Testament. So I think there is something new in the New Testament.

We saw last time that verse 6 in the Greek begins with the present infinitive eime, which explains the content of the mystery. Paul tells us that the Gentiles/ethnos are fellow heirs, they are fellow members of the one body, and they are fellow partakers of the promise in Christ by the Gospel. That's the mystery. That's the secret. That's the relationship that did not exist in Tanakh—that Jew and Gentile/ethnos would have equal standing before Yahweh because of their faith in Yeshua the Messiah.

Paul continues this discussion of the mystery in verses 7-13, and we are going to look at these this morning. And let me just say that there is some deep stuff in this passage, and I am by no means plumbing its depths.

of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God's grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. Ephesians 3:7 NASB

In verse 1 he calls himself, "a prisoner," and here he call himself, "a minister," but it would be better translated: "a servant." This is not a stained glass word, referring to a member of the clergy. That concept is foreign to the New Testament. Rather, it is the Greek word, diakonos, meaning: "servant." It referred to one who waited tables. As such, a servant obeyed his master. He was not free to do his own thing, but he did what his master commanded. The NASB translates diakonos as servant in:

What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. 1 Corinthians 3:5 NASB

Paul uses a different Greek word to call himself a servant in:

Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 1 Corinthians 4:1 NASB

The word Paul uses here for servant is the Greek word huperetes. It means: "a galley slave." This word referred to a rower in the lower tier of the galley of a ship. It was the lowest level of slavery. Paul sees himself as a slave of Christ.

Being an apostle was not Paul's career choice! Rather, it was given to him as a sacred stewardship of God's grace. When he says that he "was made a minister," it is a passive verb, meaning that he didn't choose it. Rather, Yahweh acted on Paul. On the day of Paul's conversion, the Lord told Paul:

"And I said, 'What shall I do, Lord?' And the Lord said to me, 'Get up and go on into Damascus, and there you will be told of all that has been appointed for you to do.' Acts 22:10 NASB

Paul was drafted! He was divinely called, divinely appointed. In Colossians 1:23, he says, "I was made a minister." In Colossians 1:25, he says it again, "I was made a minister." And he says it again here, "I was made a minister according to the gift of God's grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.

Just as it is God's sovereignty that brings men to salvation in Christ, it is His sovereignty that calls men to ministry for Christ. Paul's vocation as an apostle involved his conversion, and his conversion was the effect of the power of God. Paul was given the gift of grace that enabled him to perform the duties of a servant of the Gospel:

To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, Ephesians 3:8 NASB

Paul says that he is, "the very least of all saints"—the word "least" is a superlative. In the original language, it is a hybrid word. It's an odd word, because he takes the Greek word "least" or "smaller," and he adds an ending unto it that is impossible linguistically, so that he creates a word something like "leaster." "I am the 'leaster' of all the saints"— that's what he's saying.

This is the chief, perhaps the pre-eminent theologian of the Church of Christ of all time, and he says: "I'm 'leaster' of all Christians." Paul goes out of his way to show that he considers himself to be unworthy of God's grace in his ministry. In A.D. 59 Paul says in: 1 Corinthians 15:9, "For I am the least of the apostles." Then in A.D. 64, Paul says in our text in Ephesians 3:8,"I am the leaster of all the saints." Then in A.D. 65, Paul says in 1 Timothy 1:15, that he was "the chief of sinners." He uses the present tense. There is a digression here.

This was not a false humility on Paul's part, but rather his honest feelings as he thought about his sinful past. In his self-righteousness, he had persecuted the Church. His spiritual pride led him to think that he was doing God a favor by killing innocent believers! So, after Yahweh graciously stopped him in his tracks, Paul never got over the great mercy that Elohim had shown to him. And the more he came to love the Church of Yeshua the more he came to despise his own sinful past.

"This grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles"—he mentions "grace" in 3:2 and 3:7, and here. Anything we do in service of Yahweh is through the power of His grace. We wrongly start thinking that God owes it to us because of our hard work for Him. But if He owes it, it's not grace. Grace is always undeserved. Since we did nothing to deserve it, we can't demand it.

Paul's preaching was predominantly to the Gentiles/ethnos, to the non-Jews. The religious Jews despised them as filthy dogs. They did not obey the Jewish Law. They made up their own standards for morality, which were abominable in God's sight.

The Ephesians, as we've seen, were steeped in the occult, and so many of them were plagued by demons that it spawned an industry for professional exorcists (Acts 19:13-16). They "worshiped" at the pagan Temple of Diana, which involved immorality with the temple prostitutes. They did a thriving business selling idols, which ignorant people bought in hopes of solving their problems. These Gentiles were about as far from the living and true Elohim as anyone could be. And yet, when Paul came to Ephesus and preached the unfathomable riches of Christ, so many got saved that it threatened the idol-makers' business.

"The unfathomable riches of Christ"—the word "unfathomable" is from the Greek word anexichniastos, which can be translated as: "unfathomable, untraceable, unsearchable, unable-to-comprehend." This word is used only one other time in the New Testament, in Romans 11:33— "unfathomable His ways!" The word is used twice in the Greek Tanakh to describe Yahweh's unfathomable ways in His creation (Job 5:9; 9:10). You cannot ever fully know or experience the fullness of the riches of Christ! What are the unfathomable riches of Christ? They are all the truths about Him. Now "the riches of Christ" are infinite, and therefore, "unfathomable," but this does not mean that we can know nothing about the riches of Christ, since the Bible reveals many things to us.

If it was revealed to you this morning that somewhere in your back yard, a strongbox with a million dollars was buried, you'd leave immediately and be out in your back yard with a shovel, and you wouldn't stop digging until you found it! Well, you've got something far greater than money—you've got "the unfathomable riches of Christ," hidden in your Bible! Start digging! If you're a Christian, you are rich. Believe me, you are incredibly rich.

The word translated "preach" is literally: "to proclaim the good news." It would not be good news to hear that Christ has unfathomable riches to offer, but you must earn them. It would not be good news to hear that you must first clean up your life to qualify for these riches. It is only good news if, as is really true, Christ offers these riches freely to all that call upon Him.

and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; Ephesians 3:9 NASB

"To bring to light"—is the Greek word photizo, which means:"to give light, to shine, to enlighten, illumine, to bring to light, render evident, to cause something to exist and thus come to light and become clear to all." In this context it involves the disclosure of the mystery, literally "to bring to light."

The word "administration" is from the Greek word oikonomia, this word has to do with the oversight and administration of another's property. This is the same word translated: "stewardship" in 3:2. The word "mystery," in Paul's writings, occurs in close proximity to the word "stewardship." Paul associates the two words in seven out of its ten appearances in his own letters. His stewardship, therefore, is seen to be tied up with the deliverance of the mystery.

"Mystery," as we have seen, refers to something that was previously unknown, but now has been revealed. This mystery was the previously hidden aspect of God's uniting the Jews and Gentiles/ethnos on equal standing in the one body of Christ.

The mystery was that the Gentiles did not have to submit themselves to the Law of Moses to be of the Kingdom of God. Previously, to be of God's kingdom, you must come to God through the covenant that He made with Israel in the dessert, thus undergoing the rite of circumcision, the entryway into the covenant people of God. But now, we do not submit ourselves to the Law given to Moses for Israel, but we come to Christ, who is Israel.

Let's pause here for a minute and talk about this mystery of Jew and Gentile/ethnos being made one in Christ. We have been stressing that the Church is something "new," but how new is it? In Ephesians 2:15 Paul says:

by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, Ephesians 2:15 NASB

"One new man"—this sounds like the Church is something new, separate from Israel. But remember what Paul said in Romans 11?:

But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, Romans 11:17 NASB

This makes it sound like the Church is joined to Israel. So is the Church connected to Israel, or is it something totally new? One of the great theological battlegrounds of orthodox Christianity throughout the centuries has been the nature and character of the Church, especially in relation to its biblical predecessor, Israel. There are three major views and many variations of those.

Separation theology—which says the Church and Israel are totally separate. This is a view held by Dispensationalism. Although Premillennial Dispensationalism is a relatively new viewpoint in the history of Christian theology, its position on God's special purpose for Israel has shaped, even dominated, recent debates among evangelical Christians on the relationship between the Church and Israel. In classic Dispensationalism, God has two distinct peoples: an earthly people, Israel, and a heavenly people, the Church.

Thomas S. McCall, Th.D. writes, "It is clearly taught in the New Testament, but it has been suppressed throughout most of Church history. This view is that the Church is completely different and distinct from Israel, and the two should not be confused."

"Two-Covenant Theology"—In the recent history of reflection upon the issue of Israel and the Church, a new and more radical position has emerged, which is often linked with the name of Franz Rosenzweig, a Jewish author of a work written shortly after World War I, entitled, "The Star of Redemption." Two- Covenant Theology teaches that there are two separate covenants, one between God and Israel, and the other between God and the Church of Yeshua the Christ. Rather than there being one way of redemption through faith in Yeshua for Jew and Gentile believers alike, God's original covenant relationship with His ancestral people, Israel, remains separate from His New Covenant relationship with the Gentile nations through the Lord Yeshua the Christ. John Hagee holds this erroneous view.

I think that I can dismantle this "Two Covenant" view in sixty seconds:

"Behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, Jeremiah 31:31 NASB

What is promised here? A New Covenant. Who is this New Covenant promised to? Israel! Anyone disagree with that? Good. Then let me ask you this, what covenant is the Church under? Writing to the Church that was in Corinth, Paul said:

who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:6 NASB

Jeremiah 31 is undeniably addressed to Israel. The New Covenant is the very heart of the Gospel, yet, if the Church is fulfilling the promise given to Israel under the New Covenant, Dispensationalism and this Two- Covenant view is dead.

These views don't explain Paul's olive tree metaphor and Gentiles being grafted into Israel.

Then there is a view called, "Replacement Theology"—the Church and Israel refer to the same group of people. This would be the view of "Covenant theology." This is a system of theology that arose largely through the Calvinists in Holland. Now there are differences of opinion among covenant theologians. But generally speaking, covenant theologians see the time of the birth of the Church to be either with Adam, or with Abraham. So they usually think of the Church as being in the Tanakh, and it's proper to them to speak of Israel as the Church.

Well this view does not seem to fit with what Paul says in Ephesians about the fact that the mystery was not revealed in the Tanakh and about Jew and Gentile becoming one New Man.

Well let's look at what Paul says in Ephesians 2:15 and Romans 11:17 and see if we can find a biblical view:

by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, Ephesians 2:15 NASB

"In Himself He might make the two into one new man"—the Greek word translated "make" is literally: "create." Yeshua created something new, the Church. The Greek word used for "new" is kainos, which means: "new in point of quality." A thing which is kainos is new in the sense that it brings a new quality, we could say, "one fresh man"— that's the idea of the Greek word kinos. It is not something totally new, but a new quality which did not exist before. It is not as the Dispensationalists say, "something totally different and distinct from Israel." Notice what Paul wrote:

But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, Romans 11:17 NASB

Yahweh didn't plant a new tree, but He did create new branches that are grafted into the root of Israel.

When the grafting process on an olive tree is started, the olive tree is cut down to almost nothing. There is basically only root stock left. A branch from the good tree would be grafted onto the wild tree. This good branch would then produce fruit while getting nourishment from the wild tree root system.

"The rich root of the olive tree"— Who or what is the "root"? I would say that the root is Abraham and the promises Yahweh made to him:

"Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, Who seek the LORD: Look to the rock from which you were hewn And to the quarry from which you were dug. "Look to Abraham your father And to Sarah who gave birth to you in pain; When he was but one I called him, Then I blessed him and multiplied him." Isaiah 51:1-2 NASB

It all goes back to Abraham. Tom Holland writes, "Paul saw its root to represent the promises made to Abraham, and its branches to represent his spiritual offspring—believing Jews and Gentiles who are justified and made holy by the same faith as their 'father.'"

So the root of the olive tree is Abraham and the promises Yahweh made to him.

Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father's house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed." Genesis 12:1-3 NASB

Do you see any "if's" in God's word to Abraham? This is not an agreement, it is a promise. You will read in vain in Genesis 12-15 to find anywhere where God says "If you will do...then I will do..." In other words, there were no conditions. This is a unilateral covenant. So I see the "root" as Abraham and the unilateral covenant that Yahweh made with him. So the root is the covenant promises made to Abraham. And the tree is the Church, Jew and Gentile believers who embrace Yeshua as the Messiah. Those of ethnic Israel who did not believe that Yeshua was the Messiah were broken off.

Following Paul's analogy here, if we, a wild olive branch, were grafted into a rich cultivated olive tree, the fruit that would continue to grow would be the wild olives, bitter and shriveled; that which we already were producing. But God does a miracle with us. He changes us so that the fruit that comes forth is the fruit of the Spirit, and we begin to produce the rich, wonderful, fat fruit of the good olive tree in our lives.

"And became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree"—Gentile believers become "partakers" with the Jews in the rich root. The word "partaker" here is from the Greek word sugkoinonos, which means: "sharers or fellowshippers together with them in the rich root of the olive tree." With them" is a reference to believing Jews. We become partakers of the rich root of the olive tree.

This is not "Replacement Theology"—we did not replace Israel. We became partakers with the remnant of the Abrahamic Covenant. God did not replace the Hebrew tree with a Gentile tree, He grafted us into the Hebrew tree. This is better called "Remnant Theology" or "Fulfillment Theology," the Church is the fulfillment of all the promises Yahweh made to Israel. The root now supports two types of branches, cultivated and wild, and together they are "one" tree:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Yeshua. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise. Galatians 3:28-29 NASB

Notice what Paul goes on to say to the Gentiles in Romans:

do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. Romans 11:18 NASB

"The root supports you"—the grafted shoot is sharing the same rising sap as the remaining original branches. The Gentiles are totally dependent on the covenant which God entered into with Abraham and the promises made to him. Faith in Christ is the link with the promises made to Abraham. Faith unites us to the nourishing root of the olive tree—the promises of God. Being a Christian means becoming a true Jew. Being a Christian means finding your ancestry in Abraham and his offspring. What does this tells us about the Church? Its roots are Hebrew.

Believers, you and I, Gentile believers, have been grafted into Yahweh's olive tree. Yahweh didn't get upset with Israel and go out and plant a new tree as Dispensationalism teaches. He grafted us into Israel, through Yeshua who is Israel. We cannot exist without our Jewish roots. You cannot exist independently of Yeshua, nor can you exist independently of your Jewish roots. Because Yeshua is not a tree, He is a shoot out of a tree, and the tree is Israel. Believers, our roots are Jewish. If we are to understand Christianity, we must understand our Hebrew roots, which means we must learn the first three fourths of the Bible. The Church is the True Israel of God. We inherit all the promises God made to True Israel.

This is the one new man"—"new" is kainos, which means: "new in point of quality. In this new tree Jew and Gentile are one, on equal standing before Yahweh. In this new tree the Torah of Moses is completely kept through faith in Yeshua. Never before could Jew and Gentile stand together and worship Yahweh without distinction.

Back to Ephesians 3:

and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; Ephesians 3:9 NASB

When Paul mentions God, he often adds a descriptive phrase, such as, "God who is rich in mercy, God of hope, or God who commanded the light to shine," and so on. The descriptive phrases are selected to fit the context. Here Paul writes, God" who created all things." Why?:

so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. Ephesians 3:10 NASB

"So that"—this is a purpose clause. Something happened in the preceding verses for the purpose of revealing God's wisdom. If this clause is dependant upon the immediately preceding, "God who created all things" then Paul teaches that God created all things in order that by the Church might be made known His manifold wisdom. This is the Supralapsarian View of the order of the divine purposes.

When we say that God created the world for the purpose of displaying His manifold wisdom, we connect the purpose-clause with the nearest antecedent.

I'm supralapsarian, I believe that Yahweh planned the fall, I believe He created evil. The infralapsarian position does not believe that God created evil. The primary difference in the lapsarian viewpoints is the order of the decrees; the order implies different origins of sin.

Charles Hodge, in his Commentary of Ephesians, says, "This is the only passage in Scripture adduced as directly asserting supralapsarianism." And then later he says, "Supralapsarianism is foreign to the New Testament." Well if this verse teaches supralapsarianism, as I believe it does, then the doctrine is not foreign to the New Testament.

God created the world so that His manifold wisdom might now be made known through the Church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. When Paul sees in the creation of the world and the establishment of the Church nothing less than the fulfillment of God's eternal purpose, then clearly the Church is something more than a mere Dispensational parenthesis in the plan of God.

This Greek word for "manifold " occurs in the Bible only here. It is very unusual. Half of it (poikilos) is used to mean: "wrought in various colors," diversified, intricate, complex, subtle. Its basic idea is of varied in color. Then Paul puts a prefix on the word that means: "many" (polupoikilos). So the emphasis is very many colors and variations and intricacies and subtleties.

God's wisdom is "manifold." It is rich, colorful, and multifaceted, but this does not mean that it is pluralistic or inconsistent, that two contradictory religions can both be true, or that two contradictory doctrines can both be correct. In fact, it means that there are multiple angles from which to admire the superiority and exclusivity of the Christian faith. Since Christianity is true, then Islam, Mormonism, Catholicism, Judaism, and all non-Christian religions, must be false. God's "manifold wisdom" teaches us that truth is absolute. Why did God send His Son, very God of very God, to die for sins? Why does God send forth the Gospel? Why does God enlighten anyone? It is for the purpose of making known His manifold wisdom. Making it known to whom?

"To the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places"—commentators disagree on whether "the rulers and authorities" refer to good or evil entities, or both. I think it probably refers to both (The fallen angels are referred to by the same terms in 6:12; in 1:21, it probably includes both). If one studies the apostle's use of that terminology, you can only come to the conclusion that he is referring to the heavenly hosts, good and bad. They are heavenly beings, heavenly spiritual beings. Well now if that's what Paul means, then he is saying that this great work of building up this one New Man of Jew and Greek, so that they're equal in one body of Christ, has as one of its major purposes the manifestation, or the, as he says, the making known of the manifold wisdom of God to the angelic hosts about us. In other words, we are the means by which God is instructing the angels in His wisdom.

It is Yahweh's cosmic drama. The theater is history. The stage is the world. The actors are the Church. The writer is God, who directs and produces the drama. And the audience? The cosmic beings, the rulers, and authorities in heavenly realms—and the history of the Christian Church is the graduate school for angels. Think about this! This is how the angels are watching us and learning about God's wisdom.

This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Yeshua our Lord, Ephesians 3:11 NASB

God's plan of redemption was not an afterthought of man's sin. Scripture reveals that Yeshua was "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Re 13:8). Acts 15:18 says, "Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world." Before the world began, God promised eternal life to those who would believe (Tit 1:2). Peter said Yeshua was foreordained before the foundation of the world (1Pe 1:20). In Eph 1:4, Paul said we were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. Here, in this verse, he made it clear that the plan of redemption was God's eternal purpose:

in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. Ephesians 3:12 NASB

Because of our union with Christ, we have: "boldness," which means that we can come before Yahweh without fear of rejection or penalty; "Confidence," which implies familiarity; and "access," which means that you have the privilege of admission. Of all the blessings of Christian salvation none is greater than this, that we have access to Yahweh.

To a Jew, only once a year did anybody ever enter God's presence. The high priest would go in there, he'd hurry in and he'd hurry out. Nobody but nobody else had access to Yahweh. And all of a sudden, Paul says, It's a new day, folks, the mystery isn't like Israel of old; it isn't like the veil and the holy of holies, and the holy place and all of that stuff. It's now different. In the mystery, the Church, we all have instant access; we go with boldness and access with confidence into Yahweh's presence.

Our translation has "through faith in Him," but this same construction, when used elsewhere in Ephesians, would be translated "through His faithfulness." In 1:7, "through His blood"; 3:16, "through His Spirit." In fact, it is not used the way it is translated here anywhere else in the Pauline Canon. It is through "His faithfulness"that we can now come boldly, freely, and confidently before the throne of God. Because Yeshua was faithful, we are given grace. This does not discount the necessity of our faith, but our faith is not the cause of our ability to come before God.

We can be absolutely confident that when we come to Yahweh in prayer, when we come to Him in worship, that we are being accepted, that we are being heard, we are being seen—not upon what we do, but because of the faithfulness of Christ.

Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory. Ephesians 3:13 NASB

After Paul has summed up the mystery and his ministry, all of which was a digression from a prayer he was about to start, he finally, in verse 13, gives an inference, which was likely the point of the whole parenthesis to begin with: "Therefore, I ask you not to be discouraged in my tribulations for you, which is your glory."

Why are Paul's tribulations the Church's glory? The fact is that because Paul is being faithful in his following after Yeshua, even to the point of imprisonment and eventually death, the members of the Church that are reading this have had the Gospel brought to them, and they heard, and they were converted, and they are now in union with Christ, which is their glory—all because of Paul's tribulations.

This means that Paul's imprisonment is not an accident, or an unexpected subversion of God's plan by men. Rather, it is part of the outworking of God's foreordained plan, which He has accomplished in Christ. So Paul is writing to assure them that everything is right. There is nothing at all wrong about his position. It is exactly right, and he glories in this fact.

Media #695

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