For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles (2) surely you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God that was given to me for you, (3) how that by revelation He made known to me the ‘secret’ (as I have written briefly already, (4) with reference to which, when you read, you can understand my insight into Christ’s secret), (5) which in different generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: (6) that the Gentiles are joint-heirs, of the same body, and fellow partakers of His promise in the Christ through the Gospel, (7) of which I became a servant according to the gift of God's grace, the gift given to me according to the outworking of His power. Ephesians 3:1-7 WPNT
B1 God's blessing to understand His "secret." 1-2
C1 Ephesians is one of the prison letters along with Colossians, Philippians, and Philemon.
C2 Paul was in prison because he was a Christian.
C3 Paul is not bragging or wanting sympathy. He is simply telling a fact.
C4 The word dispensation in KJV is the Greek word οἰκονομία oikonomía. That word means a steward, the household manager. God has given responsibility to Paul as the “Apostle to the Gentiles.” Romans 11:13 WEL For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I hold my ministry in honor.
D1 NRSV uses the word commission.
D2 WEB uses the word administration.
D3 GW uses the word responsibility.
D4 ESV uses the word stewardship.
D5 Coverdale uses the word office.
B2 God's blessing to reveal the "secret." 3-5
C1 The are some interpreters who believe this passage refers to the Church Age Gospel, which is different from other Gospels, including the Gospel that the Lord Jesus preached.
D1 There is only ONE Gospel. Peter and Paul preached the same Gospel, so did the Lord Jesus to Adam.
D2 The Gospel you and I believed is the same Gospel Adam and Eve believed as well as Able, Seth, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Mr and Mrs Isaiah, Joseph and Mary, Peter, Paul, Polycarp, and down to us and the future.
D3 Galatians 1:8-9 NRSV But even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let that one be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so now I repeat, if anyone proclaims to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let that one be accursed! What if someone tells the Gospel that Peter was preaching at that time or one who had heard the Lord Jesus?
D4 Dr Randy White, the last I knew, still taught that the Gospel that the Lord Jesus preached was the Gospel of the Kingdom, which is understood to be believe that He is Messiah and keep the Law. This is false. Consider the teaching of the Lord Jesus and the tax collector: Luke 18:13-14 NKJV And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." The Lord Jesus declared that this man was justified by believing God.
D5 Abraham believed God and was considered a believer by God.
E1 Genesis Genesis 15:6 NRSV And he believed the LORD; and the LORD reckoned it to him as righteousness.
E2 Romans 4:3 NRSV For what does the scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness."
E3 Galatians 3:6 NRSV Just as Abraham "believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,"
E4 James 2:23 NRSV Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness," and he was called the friend of God.
C2 Even though the Gospel was known, how it provided justification was not known, at least completely. After the Lord Jesus died, buried, and raised to life (the resurrection), the Apostles and believers knew. Because of God’s Law they knew the penalty, but did not understand the idea of someone must be punished for my sin. It is either me or a substitute, that substitute was Messiah Jesus.
D1 Blood of animals was only a covering. It cannot take away sins. Hebrews 10:4 NRSV For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
D2 The blood of the Lord Jesus was the atonement, the cleansing. Hebrews 9:12-14 NRSV He entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, with the sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer, sanctifies those who have been defiled so that their flesh is purified, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God!
B3 The "secret." 6-7
C1 Before the Lord Jesus, there were Jews and Gentiles, now there are Jews, Gentiles, and Christians. Christians are one.
D1 In inheritance: Romans 8:16-17 NRSV It is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
D2 In eternal life: John 3:15-16 EMTV That everyone who believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
D3 In salvation: Hebrews 1:14 NRSV Are not all angels spirits in the divine service, sent to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?
D4 The unbelieving do not inherit the Kingdom of God; believers do inherit the Kingdom of God: 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 WEL Don't you know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Don't be deceived, for neither fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, active homosexual partners, 10 Thieves, covetous, drunkards, verbal abusers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you, but now you are washed, but now you are sanctified, but now you are made righteous in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
D5 The Lord Himself
E1 First translation: Psalms 73:26 NRSV My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
E2 Second translation: Psalms 73:26 GW My body and mind may waste away, but God remains the foundation of my life and my inheritance forever.
D1 Is defined as receiving what we do not deserve or earn.
D2 The Greek word for grace is χάρις charis. Its underlying meaning is joy. Further, it implies sympathy and kindness even favor. That sense of unmerited favor is how we use this here.
E1 The noun and verb are used in this passage: Acts 11:23 WEB who, when he had come, and had seen the grace [noun] of God, was glad [verb]. He exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they should remain near to the Lord.
E2 A gift: Romans 3:24 NRSV They are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
D3 Blessings of grace
E1 Justified: Romans 3:24 NRSV They are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
E2 More grace: James 4:6 NKJV But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”
E3 Sufficient in trials and service: 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 NRSV Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, 9 but he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness." So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
E4 Comfort, hope, and strength: 2 Thessalonians 2:16 NRSV Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope.
E5 Let us be sure we do NOT fall from grace. Human effort cannot please God: Galatians 5:4 NRSV You who want to be justified by the law have cut yourselves off from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.
B1 God wants to bless people to know and believe the Gospel.
B2 Believing Christians are not Jews and Gentiles, we are Christians—one body in Christ.
B3 God’s grace, not us, is sufficient for believers then and today.