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;
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…
“Grace given (to) preach the gospel”
It’s as though we must be permitted to speak the things of eternal life. In fact, the gospel of Jesus Christ is of such eternal worth, that it took the blood of Christ to bring value and strength to the gospel. Who are we, whom preach the gospel, to take upon ourselves this privilege of speaking the truths of heaven, except that we are called and entrusted with the words of life?
“Fellowship of the mystery”
Intended as a revelation to be revealed only after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, the fellowship of the mystery expresses that God is now available to all men.
The door was closed in Eden, after Adam and Eve disobeyed God they were removed from that paradise and moved into a condition of struggle.
Communication with God was closed as well. Fellowship was put away, because as carnal minds we cannot fellowship with God, because he is a Spirit, he seeks those (John 4:23) who are able to communicate with him.
Now, that fellowship is open to us as well.
“…To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God…”
That which was kept hidden from the knowledge of Satan and all dark powers under his control, are now and have been uncovered, but more importantly, it’s the church who should know and embrace the wisdom of God.
God has spent the history of the old testament to reveal to Israel and to all men the intents of his own heart. He sent us his word so that we could know him.
I am going to go back over the previous verses to express the mystery of which Paul wrote about here.
Please indulge me.
For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles…
The Apostle Paul’s ministry primarily focused on the Gentiles; people of non Jewish blood, or culture, meaning all people, of all languages, and ethnicities.
Paul calls himself…
“…the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles…”
Consider that this letter is to the Ephesians, or to the church in Ephesus, a city of ancient Greece, perhaps Rome’s at that time. Today, Ephesus is in modern Turkey, well away from Paul’s homeland of Israel.
Paul is Christ’s prisoner for the Gentiles, as though he is bound to the gentiles; locked in and engaged to dispense the gospel only to them.
Paul was not opposed to this, this made it inconvenient to live free to pursue his own interests, but I feel that Paul relished this responsibly; it was more than a privilege, or honor; perhaps that feeling of getting to drive your daddy’s Corvette for the first time – Everytime!
That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost. I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to God. For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed, Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation: But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand.
This is a large portion of scripture to bite off at one time, but a few key phrases here are:
“…For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me…”
It is very near impossible to tell you about Paul’s life and ministry without talking about Paul. His lifetime of ministry is filled about speaking only the gospel and the building of the church wherever he went.
Today, we literally work inside of established ministries, so, it’s not like we can avoid speaking of the things of Christ which has been set up by others.
But, I think the necessity to venture out of the established setting is of great importance, especially when there are those who would not step into an established church for any of a myriad of reasons.
Go where they are.
For Paul it was literally pioneering.
For us, it is the unlovely, the undesirable, and the unchurched (Luke 6:31-36).
That field is still unharvested.
“…Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation…”
Again, we literally can go no place that the name of Christ is not recognized, and known as the Son of God.
But, there are those who still have not submitted to the power of his name. To them you will be the initiator of the value of his name.
I think that most of us would rather be comfortable in the established setting of the church where it is accepted and understood that it’s all about Christ.
There are a great many testimonies of missionaries who went into barbarous regions of the world, and have died for the gospel and call of God.
One in particular is Nate Saint who’s story can be seen in a movie called “End of the Spear”.
Nate and four others flew into a jungle of Equador to bring the gospel to the people of Auca. They literally were people of less than civilized social structure.
Nate and his companions were killed by these people. But, he knew he was supposed to be there. Although they died, they imprinted on the indigenous people with such a powerful expression of who God is.
Later, missionaries had the opportunity to help the native people through a time of disease, and death. The missionaries were able to reach them for Christ.
Sometimes the only ministry is your own death in the name of Christ.
If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward…
Strong’s Concordance definition: OIKONOMIA, “…oy-kon-om-ee’-ah; …administration (of a household or estate); specially, a (religious) “economy”:—dispensation, stewardship…”
Like a householder managing his master’s businesses.
Even as a child of God, Paul has come to the age of responsibility to his father’s business, he is delegated the full gospel and committed to the dispensation to the Gentiles.
While the rest of the apostles are committed in their responsibility to God, they also are delegated the responsibility of the gospel, but some will stay in Jerusalem for their ministry, and yet some will be lead by the Spirit where he guides them.
The dispensation, or stewardship of the grace of God is because grace is like an atmosphere in which the world is covered. Most people don’t really know this or understand that it is freely available. We tend to think that we must earn or deserve it, but this is why it is called “grace”, no one can earn it or deserve it (Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23).
It also is not on a time limit, once you accept it is your forever, but if it is not accepted it expires with the person.
This is why Paul tells us that the dispensation of grace is given to him for us, so that he can make men know of its availability.
He, and all who preach are the portal, or conduit of the grace of God. God has required that all men should know about grace, and all who have accepted the grace of God have become conduits of God’s grace (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).
That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel…
What does it feel like to be shrouded from a mystery only to finally be let in on the big secret, and now there is no more mystery?
When once the world was blanketed under the atmosphere of guilt of sin, though unknown that it was sin, that same blanket was darkness, lack of sight (spiritually), and lack of any kind of direction. It perfectly hid hope.
“…In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them…”
2 Corinthians 4:4
This is the effect of the mystery still in effect, even after the mystery has been revealed.
When before the gospel had come, the world was in darkness, it was natural that it was unknown.
But, since the darkness has been lifted, Satan makes so much effort to keep those blinded, who still have not come to revelation.
That’s where we, whom believe come in.
“…But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost…”
2 Corinthians 4:3
Who has the power to hide the gospel? You and I are given this authority. We are the wielders of this light; yes, light! If they don’t know, it is our doing.
“…lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them…”
“…the light of the glorious gospel…”
We believe because we have seen the light of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. It is in our hands, committed, entrusted to us to let them know, to bring them light.
Once they know and believe, the darkness is past from them.
The mystery of the manifold, or many sided wisdom of God is the light of the gospel, available to all men.
It was a mystery to the Jews, as they did receive the law, they also should have received the gospel, and many have. It is expected that it should have been received by Israel, it’s just that the law was so ingrained in them and their culture that they could not accept the claims of Christ.
Even Paul struggled to reel in the Jewish hearts of the leadership (Acts 13:46; Acts 26:20).
Gentiles, we of non Jewish culture and blood, pray for the Jews, that they will accept the wisdom of God.
Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fullness?
You should read chapter 11.
Paul’s economy equals the riches of the world with the diminishing of the Jews with a measure of success; the riches of the world meaning the vast population of humanity, and the diminishing of the Jews meaning the few who do believe.
Paul wants us to see that if all of Israel could believe, how much more the fullness of all mankind?!
I could go on, and on, but let me end here. The wisdom of God is that all men should know and be able to believe in Christ.
“…The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:
The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace…”