For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles--Ephesians 3:1(NASB)
In the first few chapters of Ephesians, Paul gives us the most exciting overview of our position in Christ. He lists many of the incredible privileges and blessings that are ours by faith in Him, and which the Lord has showered upon all of us in great abundance. He praises God for the bountiful supply of spiritual blessings that are ours by faith in Him.
Paul was writing to the Ephesians from his prison cell in Rome. Nevertheless, he rejoiced to remind them of the great benefits that are the birthright of all who are saved. He rejoiced that we were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, are blameless in the sight of the Father, and will one day stand before Him in love. Paul noted that we were foreordained to be adopted as His children, because of our relationship with the Lord Jesus. He reminded us that God is rich in mercy, and has made us alive with Christ, even though we were dead in trespasses and sin. Praise God for His goodness and grace.
He spoke of the great deliverance we have all received through faith in the blood of Christ. He wrote of our wonderful redemption, our heavenly inheritance, the indwelling Holy Spirit, and the peace of God we have received through His sacrificial blood. He reminded us we are forgiven of our trespasses and sin, which is all according to the riches of His marvellous grace - a heavenly favour which has been lavished on us, with all wisdom and understanding.
Then Paul prayed a most beautiful and exemplary prayer, for the believers in Ephesus - a prayer that has blessed countless Christians throughout the dispensation of grace. He prayed that God would bestow on them a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ Jesus, and He began to explain the mystery of God's will - the redemption of man through the Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom He will usher in the fullness of the times and bring everything together in Him.
Paul explained to the believers how the Father has put all things in subjection under Christ's feet and appointed Him to be the universal and supreme Head of the Church, and how the Body of Christ is completely filled by HIM, while He Himself is "completely filled by God" - Who completely fills everything in every way!
For two glorious chapters, Paul continued to exult in our great salvation. He expounds the doctrine of salvation and reminds us of the numerous benefits we have been granted by faith in Christ. But at the start of chapter 3, his euphotic flow of thought is suspended, momentarily, with an announcement, "it is for this reason that I, Paul, am a prisoner of Christ Jesus - it is for the sake of you Gentiles."
The dear people to whom the letter was addressed, and for whom Paul had uttered his heartfelt prayer, were the Christians in Ephesus. It was because he was sharing the gospel of Christ, that Paul was languishing in a Roman jail. However, he was not identifying himself as a poor victim of rotten circumstances, nor was it a statement designed to manufacture their pity.
Paul had been called, chosen, and commissioned by Christ, to be His missionary to the Gentiles. He was the apostle Christ chose to tell the good news of the gospel of grace to Jew and Gentile alike. They were dead in their sin and in need of salvation, and Paul was now in prison for the sake of the gospel.
Paul may have been in jail for sharing the good news to these Gentiles, but he was not discouraged or depressed. He knew that he was sharing in the suffering of the Lord, Whom he loved so dearly and Who arrested his heart on that road to Damascus. Oh, he was not sharing in Christ's work on the Cross! NEVER! Christ alone died as the sacrifice for sin. However, he was sharing in the ongoing suffering that is the birthright of ALL who believe. Jesus told us, "In the world, ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."
"Saul, Saul why are you persecuting ME?" was Christ's challenging questions to this man who was persecuting the Church. Paul knew that every believer is identified with Christ and those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake are a partaker in Christ's suffering. He was able to write to the Philippians "that I may know Him and...that I may fellowship in His sufferings."
Paul was partaking in Christ's suffering. He was a prisoner for the sake of Christ because he shared the good news with the Gentiles. Paul saw his prison sentence as a badge of honour. Paul was willing to suffer for Christ, so others would know the truth. He believed that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us.
The reason that Paul was under arrest and awaiting his trial was that he was telling forth the good news of the gospel of grace. He knew that the gospel of Christ was the power of God to salvation to everyone who believes...to the Jew first, but ALSO to the Gentile, and for this reason, he was the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of the Gentiles.
Paul was a wonderful example of a man who was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, but preached it boldly to Jew and Gentile alike. He recognised that suffering for Christ was a privilege, and we who are born again should be willing to do the same. For if indeed we suffer with Him, we will also be glorified with Him. May we continue in his footsteps and be ready and willing to tell forth the glories of His name to Jew and Gentile alike - and for His greater glory.
Heavenly Father, thank You that you purposed in Your heart to send the Lord Jesus as the sin-sacrifice for the world, and that Jew and Gentile alike can be saved by grace through faith in Him. Thank You that Paul was Your chosen apostle to the Gentiles and that he was ready and willing to be a prisoner of Christ, and to suffer for Him, so that the gospel would spread throughout the world. Thank You for my great salvation, and may I be ready and willing to suffer for His dear name's sake, and bring many into Your kingdom, I pray. In Jesus' name, AMEN.
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