Ephesians 3:1-7 “A Prisoner of the Lord”

Published September 6, 2017 by

Ephesians 3:1-7 (continued from Last week’s, In Ephesians 2:1-21)

Paul now solidifies his purpose and cause (along with explaining why he willingly suffers persecution).

Let me quote these same verses from “the Message

Eph. 3:1 This is why I, Paul, am in jail for Christ, having taken up the cause of you outsiders, so-called. Eph. 3:2 I take it that you’re familiar with the part I was given in God’s plan for including everybody. Eph. 3:3 I got the inside story on this from God himself, as I just wrote you in brief. Eph. 3:4 ¶ As you read over what I have written to you, you’ll be able to see for yourselves into the mystery of Christ. Eph. 3:5 None of our ancestors understood this. Only in our time has it been made clear by God’s Spirit through his holy apostles and prophets of this new order. Eph. 3:6 The mystery is that people who have never heard of God and those who have heard of him all their lives (what I’ve been calling outsiders and insiders) stand on the same ground before God. They get the same offer, same help, same promises in Christ Jesus. The Message is accessible and welcoming to everyone, across the board. Eph. 3:7  This is my life work: helping people understand and respond to this Message. It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details. 

Paul writes of the revealing of what he calls a mystery (that which was hidden until now, and revealed only now by God Himself). All (outsiders and insiders, gentiles and jews) are given equal access to this gift from God, salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Verse 7 states that spreading the news of this gift, the message of salvation, is his life work. Paul declares a singular focus and mission, nothing else matters but sharing this good news to anyone who will listen and receive it, that good news is what we call the Gospel.

This singular focus, his paradigm, his “world view”, re-translates everything he perceives, understands, and interacts with in his life. Let me show a simple example of this effect contained right here in this introduction to his letter to the Ephesians.

Paul calls himself (because this is how he sees himself) as a prisoner of Jesus Christ, not Rome (Rom 1:1; Eph 4:1) He does not see himself bound by Roman chains but, rather, by the love of his Savior. (2 Cor 5:14)

The word for constrain is συνέχει which means to compel, surround.

The amplified 2 Cor 5:14-17 reads:

14. “For the love of Christ controls and urges and impels us, because we are of the opinion and conviction that [if] One died for all, then all died;

15 And He died for all, so that all those who live might live no longer to and for themselves, but to and for Him Who died and was raised again for their sake.

16 Consequently, from now on we estimate and regard no one from a [purely] human point of view [in terms of natural standards of value]. [No] even though we once did estimate Christ from a human viewpoint and as a man, yet now [we have such knowledge of Him that] we know Him no longer [in terms of the flesh].

17 Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!”

Three things are provided here:

  1. A Cause
  2. An Effect
  3. A Result

 

  1. A Cause (conviction that we have all died and risen with Christ)
  2. An Effect (urged forward to live and love with the Love of Christ)
  3. A Result (regard no one from a purely human point of view but as a new creation with a new moral and spiritual condition)

Eph 3:2-7 explain that this cause-effect-result are the reason he is in the situation he is in. Under arrest and escort by the Praetorian Guard (Phil 1:13), being taken to Rome where he will first be able to preach the Gospel before Caesar himself, and then likely executed. It is important to mention a couple of historical facts here:

  1. The Praetorian Guard was a hand selection of veteran soldiers from among Rome’s best. Their loyalty was beyond question, being trusted to guard the emporer himself. They were the only Romans allowed to enter any place in Rome still armed (even the Pomerium), and also served as a secret police enforcing the laws where needed.
  2. Roman soldiers ordered to bring a prisoner anywhere were responsible for protecting that prisoner up to and including arrival and transfer of prisoner at destination. (failure to carry out orders were usually rewarded with some harsh and creative form of execution)

in summary, Paul prisoner status results in his protection from all who would harm him (protection from Soldiers who are the best of the best and are under orders to either die trying to protect him, or die if they failed and survived)

praetorianAh … to enjoy that form of protection !  LOL

Imagine carrying out all forms of obedience to God and being protected by Praetorian Roman Elite Soldiers who would give their lives to keep you alive ?!

If only we were protected like that. hmmm ?!

If only we knew of a loving God (Creator and Master of the Universe), who would be willing to give His life in exchange for ours ?! hmmm

  • John 3:16
  • John 6:39
  • John 10:28-29
  • Eph 6:17
  • Rev 1:16
  • Rev 19:15

Jesus is our Praetorian Guard

 

He even protects us from the inside !

  • 2 Cor 1:22
  • 2 Cor 5:5
  • Eph 1:13-14
  • 4:30

Oh sure, Paul might step on a sharp rock or get a cut along the way on his journey to Rome (his God given mission) but his life is preserved just as his work is preserved.

So we are urged, and empowered by our love in Christ to see those around us not as mere humans, but either as new creations or potential new creations (waiting to be made into such by that same love) and are under guard as we do so. We may also encounter rocks and cuts along our God given mission, but He preserves us better than any human elite soldier.

We are impelled, empowered, escorted, and protected by God to share God’s love. How do you see the world around you ?

Are you a prisoner “of the world” or a prisoner “for the world” to see Him?

 

εν διακονια τω θεω, Dave Cadieux

 

next week, Ephesians 3:8-12

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