This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, (3:11).
Paul introduces the Gentiles in Ephesus to the mystery entrusted to him, stating God has called him as a steward, or manager, of God’s grace; something he is so passionate about. That’s what grace will do. Paul, who had been radically transformed by the grace of God, is willing to do anything God calls him to do, that others may also be touched by the “unfathomable riches of Christ” (3:8).
Three times Paul refers to the mystery.
- that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery… (3:3).
- …you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which 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, (3:4-5).
- and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things (3:9).
It’s quite possible the Gentiles felt like second-class believers. After all, everything God had done to fulfill His plan of redemption had come down the line of the children of Israel; beginning with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; to Moses and the Exodus; to Joshua and the Promised Land; to King David and the prophets; and of course, Jesus.
It might have seemed to the Gentiles that they were an after-thought in God’s plan; or maybe they were like the first runner up in the Miss Universe pageant. You know, “If for any reason that the Miss Universe cannot fulfill her duties, the 1st runner up shall take over.”
But now, what was once a mystery has now been revealed.
to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, (3:6).
And oh, the amazing grace of our Great God; He leads Paul to write of His grace and bring to light the wisdom of God in all His dealings with humanity; and He inspired Paul in order to instill confident faith in the Gentile believers.
This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him, (3:11-12).
The Gentiles were never an after-thought; the Gentiles were always a part of His Eternal Purpose.
Consider His Eternal Purpose
Only His complex wisdom could ever define and make His Eternal Purpose known. And in Jesus Christ, He has brought to light the mystery hidden from eternity past.
and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; 10 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. 11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, (3:9-11).
- It was His Eternal Purpose to prepare the kingdom for us.
- “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,’” (Matthew 25:34).
- It was His Eternal Purpose that predetermined Jesus would be nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men.
- this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death, (Acts 2:23 ).
- It was His Eternal Purpose that determined His perfect time to make His mystery known to every nation.
- Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, 26 but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; (Romans 16:25-26).
- It was His Eternal Purpose that chose us and predestined us for an inheritance.
- just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world… 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, (Ephesians 1:4, 11).
- It was His Eternal Purpose that called us to salvation, not according to our works, but through His grace in Christ Jesus.
- who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, 10 but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, (2 Timothy 1:9-10).
- It was His Eternal Purpose that granted us an immovable hope of eternal life.
- in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, 3 but at the proper time manifested, even His word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior, (Titus 1:2-3).
- It was His Eternal Purpose that sent Jesus Christ, the spotless and perfect lamb of God, to redeem us by His precious blood.
- knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. 20 For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you 21 who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God, (1 Peter 1:18-20).
How do we respond to His Eternal Purpose?
Our salvation was never His Plan B; we are definitely not an after-thought. Nor did we suddenly make ourselves appealing to Him so as to make Him want us. His choosing us has been His Eternal Purpose, predestined before time began.
but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; (1 Corinthians 2:7).
It’s difficult to comprehend. Actually, it’s a mystery, hidden in the wisdom of God. We really shouldn’t expect to understand it, ever. But He does expect us to believe it.
Believing that we have been His plan since the beginning of time, believing that relationship with Holy God, bought and paid for by the sinless blood of Jesus Christ is His Eternal Purpose for us, will absolutely grip us; with awe, adoration, reverence, worship and a passionate desire to walk in holiness and obedience.
just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him, (Ephesians 1:4).
And let us remember, His Eternal Purpose for us is always His work, never ours. Therefore, we can have full confidence that what He began, He will perfectly complete.
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus, (Philippians 1:6).
Paul wraps up this portion of his letter with one of his powerful Spirit inspired prayers. And because Paul was absolutely convinced of His Eternal Purpose, he is doubtless of the Father’s love. Let’s close out today, praying, led by His inspired Word and led for this reason, it was His Eternal Purpose to save us and to bring us to His love.
Let us pray, asking to be filled with the knowledge of the truth of His Eternal Purpose and abounding love for us. And when we do, we also can pray with audacious expectation. For His Eternal Purpose for us is so much better than anything we can possibly imagine!
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.
20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen, (3:14-21).