Ephesians chapter 3 starts off with the phrase “for this reason”. Whenever this kind of transitional phrase is used (“because”, “therefore”, “for this reason” etc.), we need to look at the preceding verses to see what it is referring to. The end of chapter 2 is telling us how the Gentiles and Jews who are both now believers in Christ have become one and are being joined together as a dwelling place for God. In lieu of this, “for this reason” Paul writes, and then he seems to take a side trip to talk about his stewardship that he’s been given.
For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles-assuming that you have heard about the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
This stewardship or responsibility that has been given to Paul is that the mystery of the gospel has now been revealed to him – that the Gentiles are also able to receive Christ, and can partake of His promises, just like the Jews. This was not known in previous generations but has now been revealed by the Holy Spirit to the apostles. Paul uses three different phrases to describe what the Gentiles now are: “fellow heirs”, “members of the same body”, and “partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus”. These are synonymous yet they draw out the full meaning of all that this blessing entails. This expounds on the previous chapter’s description of the Jewish and Gentile believers being joined together and becoming one. We all are now together in Christ and can partake of the promises that come with the gospel. Going back to chapter 1, these promises include an inheritance waiting for us, every spiritual blessing in Christ, adoption as God’s children, and so on. This had all been a mystery before and now has been made known. Paul has been given the task of revealing this and telling the Gentiles about the gospel that they can now be a part of with the Jews.
- vs. 1-3 – Paul was given stewardship of God’s grace for Gentiles and mystery was revealed to him
- vs. 4-6 – The mystery of Christ wasn’t made known before but now is revealed: the Gentiles are fellow heirs of the gospel.
Two key words in this section are mystery and revealed/revelation. It can be fun to look at the original language for key words to get a better idea of their meaning and how these words were used at the time of writing. Blue Letter Bible is a great online resource to do word studies in the original language. When you look up a passage on Blue Letter Bible (such as Ephesians 3), to the left of the verses are buttons that say ‘tools’. Clicking on these will bring up the original language for the verse and links to the Strong’s concordance that will give you definitions of the word from the original language.
Screenshot from Blue Letter Bible
This is a great way to dig deeper into the passage.