The book of Ephesians challenges us to look at wide range of moral and ethical behaviors, not so that we can earn our faith—we can’t—but to challenge us to live up to our heavenly calling.
Read Ephesians 3:1-6 in the Message. If possible, read out loud.
1-3 This is why I, Paul, am in jail for Christ, having taken up the cause of you outsiders, so-called. I take it that you’re familiar with the part I was given in God’s plan for including everybody. I got the inside story on this from God himself, as I just wrote you in brief. 4-6 As you read over what I have written to you, you’ll be able to see for yourselves into the mystery of Christ. 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. 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. (Ephesians 3:1-6, MSG)
Signs of the Times
- Imprisonment in Roman times usually was due to waiting for a trial or execution. It was rarely used as a form of punishment. The amount of time in prison wasn’t strong enforced or limited, and often prisoners were poorly treated with beatings, torture, and inadequate food. People of higher status often experienced better conditions while incarcerated.
- In Caesarea, Paul was detained for trial in a fortress at the governor’s residence (Acts 23-23). When he was transferred to Rome, he was allowed to find and rent his own quarters (under guard) outside the military camp. His mild treatment was made possible because Paul was a Roman citizen, had received favorable verdicts from two governors, and the praetorian prefect in charge of prisoners from the provinces was an honest man named Afranius Burrus.
- Paul’s trial took two years to conclude, and he was initially released. However, when Nero began to execute Christians, Paul was once again detained, this time probably in an underground execution cell of the prison in Rome. (Archaeological Study Bible, pg 1826)
- The word “mysterion” is translated as “mystery” in verse 3. In Greek it meant something only revealed to the initiated, so Paul was referring to something that had formerly been hidden, but now everyone could hear, understand, and experience it.
We’ve read the verses once and have read a little more about the setting and time in which they were written. Read them a second time to glean the nuggets of information that are there for you, this time in the New Living Translation.
1 When I think of all this, I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus for the benefit of you Gentiles, 2 assuming, by the way, that you know God gave me the special responsibility of extending his grace to you Gentiles. 3 As I briefly wrote earlier, God himself revealed his mysterious plan to me. 4 As you read what I have written, you will understand my insight into this plan regarding Christ. 5 God did not reveal it to previous generations, but now by his Spirit he has revealed it to his holy apostles and prophets. 6 And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 3:1-6, NLT) Let's organize and chart the harvest we found in these verses.
Quiet your mind; open your eyes, ears, and heart. What does God want you to hear in these three verses as you read them one more time, in The Passion Translation?
1 Beloved friends, because of my love for Jesus Christ, I am now his prisoner for the sake of all of you who are not Jews, 2 so that you will hear the gospel that God has entrusted to me to share with you. 3 For this wonderful mystery, which I briefly described, was given to me by divine revelation, 4 so that whenever you read it you will be able to understand my revelation and insight into the secret mystery of the Messiah. 5 There has never been a generation that has been given the detailed understanding of this glorious and divine mystery until now. He kept it a secret until this generation. God is revealing it only now to his sacred apostles and prophets by the Holy Spirit. 6 Here’s the secret: The gospel of grace has made you, non-Jewish believers, into coheirs of his promise through your union with him. And you have now become members of his body—one with the Anointed One! (Ephesians 3:1-6, TPT)
The prison cell didn’t seem to decrease Paul’s passion, but increase it. Write, draw, or choose a picture of what you focused on in these words of Scripture.
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below or you can share your drawings and pictures by email at KSEvenhouseWWV@gmail.com
May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord shine his countenance upon you and bring you peace.