The Secret Plan of God

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.

7-8 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. When it came to presenting the Message to people who had no background in God’s way, I was the least qualified of any of the available Christians. God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities.

8-10 And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ. My task is to bring out in the open and make plain what God, who created all this in the first place, has been doing in secret and behind the scenes all along. Through followers of Jesus like yourselves gathered in churches, this extraordinary plan of God is becoming known and talked about even among the angels!

11-13 All this is proceeding along lines planned all along by God and then executed in Christ Jesus. When we trust in him, we’re free to say whatever needs to be said, bold to go wherever we need to go. So don’t let my present trouble on your behalf get you down. Be proud!

14-19 My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

20-21 God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

Glory to God in the church!
Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!

God’s Marvelous Plan for the Gentiles

For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner(A) of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—

Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me(B) for you, that is, the mystery(C) made known to me by revelation,(D) as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight(E) into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets.(F) This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs(G) together with Israel, members together of one body,(H) and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.(I)

I became a servant of this gospel(J) by the gift of God’s grace given me(K) through the working of his power.(L) Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people,(M) this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles(N) the boundless riches of Christ,(O) and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery,(P) which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God(Q) should be made known(R) to the rulers and authorities(S) in the heavenly realms,(T) 11 according to his eternal purpose(U) that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God(V) with freedom and confidence.(W) 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.

A Prayer for the Ephesians

14 For this reason I kneel(X) before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches(Y) he may strengthen you with power(Z) through his Spirit in your inner being,(AA) 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts(AB) through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted(AC) and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people,(AD) to grasp how wide and long and high and deep(AE) is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge(AF)—that you may be filled(AG) to the measure of all the fullness of God.(AH)

20 Now to him who is able(AI) to do immeasurably more than all we ask(AJ) or imagine, according to his power(AK) that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.(AL)

Footnotes

  1. Ephesians 3:15 The Greek for family (patria) is derived from the Greek for father (pater).

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