Scripture Focus: Ephesians 3.1-6, 14-15
1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—
2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ 5 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. 6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.
Reflection: A Glorious Mystery
By John Tillman
Paul’s Ephesians 3 prayer, beginning in verse 14, is well known. It is often memorized. Portions of it are often in liturgies or prayer guides. But it is an interrupted prayer. What is so important Paul would stop praying?
Paul begins to pray in verse 1, but after just getting started, he breaks in the middle of a sentence. Most modern translations include a dash: “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—…”
Paul just can’t go on without making sure that the Ephesians remember something: the mystery of Christ.
When you read or watch a good mystery, the revelation of the truth is, by design, a surprise. However, with the best sort of mysteries, once we know the truth and reflect on the plot and the clues, we think, “Ahhh! It was so obvious!” If the clues don’t make sense or if the vital clues were kept from us, the revelation isn’t as satisfying. Only highly skilled authors can write mysteries that do not violate this principle of fairness.
The mystery of Christ is that God always intended people of every race, not just Jews, to be part of the kingdom of God. No tribe, tongue, or nation will be unrepresented and the Gentile nations will not be second-class citizens or immigrants. God isn’t just handing out green cards or worker permits. (Joshua 9:20-27) Not only will all people be full citizens, they’ll be family. All ethnicities will be “heirs together with Israel.” Heirs of God’s promise.
This mystery surprised many people in the first century, including Paul himself and Jesus’ closest disciples. However, this mystery does not violate the principle of fairness. When we look back through the scriptures, as seen through Christ, (Luke 24.25-27) we say, “Ahhh! It was so obvious!” The clues were right there all along.
When we read the Old Testament, we are reading the mystery backward. Knowing the solution, the truth, we can see more clearly the clues that God, a highly skilled author, placed there.
Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians, in which he prays to “God the father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name…” makes more sense when we understand this mystery. From many peoples, God is making one people. From many families, God is making one family. It is more than we would imagine he would do—a glorious mystery.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. — Psalm 92.12
Ezekiel 25 (Listen 2:50)
Ephesians 3 (Listen 2:41)
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