The Mystery in Ephesians
This epistle was written from a Roman prison by the Apostle Paul around 64 A.D. It was written to the saints at Ephesus, and to "The faithful in Christ Jesus" anywhere. The truth contained in this epistle is the most profound truth in all the Word of God. It is the loftiest truth in the Scripture where there is no room for anything but PRAISE and PEACE from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. The "Mystery'' is here revealed. It had been kept secret since the world began; not made known to the sons of men (3:5); hidden in God (3:9)., never revealed in the Scriptures, but made known to the Apostle Paul by means of a special revelation (3:3). The great "Mystery'' (i.e. the secret), is that of the Church of the "One Body'' (2:16) with Christ Jesus revealed as its Head. It concerns the "one new man'' (2: 15), (i.e. "a perfect man'') (4:1 3). It makes known a sphere of blessing "Far above all heavens'' (4:10) which had never been the subject of man's delight. But now it is made known that God has an election out of the earth that was chosen in Christ before the world began ( 1 :4). This calling is destined to occupy the heavenly places where Christ is now enthroned and seated at The Father's Own Right Hand. Those who have received the "adoption of children by Jesus Christ unto Himself'' ( l :5) will one day be received up into glory "far above all principality and power'' ( l :21). and there to enjoy the inconceivable glory. Truth contained in this epistle is immeasurably higher than the glorious truth concerning the Kingdom.
This company of believers has already been blessed with "all spiritual blessings in heavenly places'' (1 :3). They are viewed as having been quickened, raised, and exalted together with Him. The Church of the One Body is the only company and calling of God's redeemed that is said to be "To the praise of the glory of His grace.''
Paul is given a revelation of such a nature that man and all his religion find no place for forms and ceremonies. We learn in the Ephesian Epistle that God is concerned with His own purpose. His own will, His own Son and His own inheritance.
Ephesians is for those who have enlightened eyes that they may see the revelation of the Mystery. This epistle is considered "strong meat" of the Word. It is certainly for those who have grown in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is written for those who are faithful (i.e.full of faith). It is impossible for those who still hold to ritual, rites, form and ceremony to grasp the truth recorded here. It is for those who have passed on from types and shadows and symbols. It concerns the realm of the spirit where full grown men of God are to live, even while they are tabernacling in the flesh. As the Lord Jesus Christ grants wisdom and revelation in the Word of Truth, full grown, mature men of God are to grow accustomed to seeing the things that are invisible, as they begin to move in mind, heart, and spirit among the invisible and eternal things.
This Ephesian Epistle was written after the landmark of Acts 28:28 was reached. The dispensational boundary line was crossed at Acts 28:28 and Israel's hope was left behind, unfilled and set aside. The churches which had been established during the Book of Acts found that the miraculous had ceased. Signs, wonders, and miracles were no longer the order of the day, but rather SILENCE. Perhaps the most awesome and far-reaching pronouncement made since the angels heralded the birth of Christ was made in a Roman prison when the Apostle Paul solemnly pronounced Israel's blindness in Acts 28. For with his pronouncement in Acts 28:28, Kingdom truth ended abruptly. Ephesians explains God's purpose and silence during this present age. Shortly after Paul made known to the Christians that the Lord is no longer dealing on Kingdom grounds but rather on the basis of the Mystery, they turned from him and the new revelation. Before Paul is martyred he testifies that all they that are in Asia be turned away from him (2 Tim. l :15), and all have forsaken him (2 Tim. 4:16). Most evidently, the majority of Christians in Paul's own day failed to acknowledge the landmark of Acts 28, as they do today. They took truth made known after Israel was set aside and read it back into those epistles Paul wrote before he knew the Mystery.
Paul told Timothy that as a workman that needeth not be ashamed, he must rightly divide the Word of Truth (2 Tim. 2: l 5). That is, he must differentiate between those epistles written during the age of the miraculous and those written after. This we will do as we set forth below the two sets of epistles. Recognize that the Apostle had two ministries - one during the Acts period and the other after the Acts period ended.
Ministry During the Acts Period
Romans Ministry During the Post Acts Period
Present Truth is found in those epistles written after Israel was set aside. When Paul ceased being BOUND FOR ISRAEL'S HOPE and became A PRISONER OF JESUS CHRIST FOR THE GENTILES, he received a new and fresh revelation.
The epistles written by Paul after the Acts 28 crisis are seven in number. Five are written from prison and two are written between the Roman imprisonment recorded in Acts 28 and the imprisonment that ended in his death. Charles H. Welch gives a good outline of the seven epistles in his work entitled, "Heavenly places'' which we will set forth below.
A.Ephesians The dispensation of the Mystery made known to and through the Apostle, as the prisoner of Jesus Christ.
B. Philippians Bishops and Deacons; Prize of the high calling; Work out . . . salvation; Try the things that differ.
C. Colossians The dispensation of the Mystery, and similar teaching to Ephesians with warning added concerning the prize. Personal exhibition of truth.
Teaching having personal regard to individual servants with respect to work of administration while the new teaching was being established.
A. 1 Timothy
The Mystery of Godliness; Bishops and Deacons appointed; Special instructions in view of the great dispensational change.
Bishops appointed to maintain the truth against Judaistic opposition. The truth which is after godliness.
C. 2 Timothy
No Bishops or Deacons; Intensely individual. The Crown; Right Division; Opposers of the Truth.
"PauI, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the FAITHFUL in Christ Jesus.. Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. '' 1 .1-2.
The Apostle Paul is the writer of this epistle and he says so in the salutation of the letter. Paul is writing this to the saved at Ephesus. AIl the saved are saints; "saints'' means set apart ones. You don't wait until after you are dead for some church to make you a saint. This epistle is of necessity addressed to the saved and not only that, it is addressed to the FAITHFUL. There is a big difference between being a saint and being a FAITHFUL saint. Remember that all the saved are "Saints'' but not all the saints are "FAITHFUL''. The word FAITHFUL means "believing what God has said.''
This letter is addressed to the saints , but more in particular to the ones who will believe the latest revelation from the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. You have many people who are saints but don't believe the latest revelation that we have from God. The Lord would have us understand and believe the latest TRUTH we have from Him. A FAITHFUL saint believes the latest report that he has heard from God. Now "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing (cometh) BY THE WORD OF GOD." (Rom. 10:17).
The Apostle Paul, as the "prisoner of Jesus Christ for the Gentiles'', has a special revelation that is connected with him as the Lord's prisoner. This special revelation given to Paul after Israel is set aside is called Paul's "prison ministry.'' It is while he is in prison that the RISEN-ASCENDED- GLORIFIED Lord Jesus Christ gives the latest revelation to Paul the Apostle. HE reveals to him a most carefully hidden secret. This secret, called "the Mystery'', has been hid in God. God the Father had kept a secret and had not made it known until He gave it to Paul the prisoner by special revelation. Paul calls this special revelation "the testimony of the Lord's prisoner'' in 2 Tim. 1:8. He tells Timothy not to be ashamed of this testimony. In PLAINER WORDS, the testimony for PRESENT TRUTH is to be found in the epistles written BY PAUL THE PRISONER, not Paul the free man. However don't misunderstand.
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine,for reproof for correction, and for instruction in righteousness.'' (2 Tim. 3:16)
Present truth for the church which is "His body the fullness of Him that filleth all in all'' is found in this peculiar cluster of epistles we call the prison epistles. The FAITHFUL believe what is heard from God, not just that which is written for other ages and dispensations but those who believe that which was written by the Lord's prisoner. The PRISONER of the Lord is the chosen vessel to make known God's secret purpose. It is in the epistle to the Ephesians that this secret, the Mystery, is made known. The high truth concerning the Church of the One Body is explained and revealed here. The FAITHFUL recognize Paul's distinctive ministry as the great revelator of God's secret purpose. That is, the purpose that God had planned before the world began, before any promises were made to any of the "fathers''. It is only the faithful who will believe PRESENT TRUTH. That's why Paul addresses this to the saints at Ephesus and the FAITHFUL IN CHRIST JESUS.
As he always does, he bestows the blessings of "Grace, and peace'' to the readers of this epistle. Grace is, of course, the main characteristic of Paul's ministry. In Eph. 3:2, Paul says that "the dispensation of the GRACE OF GOD is given me to you-ward''. So, since God's administration of HIS program of GRACE was given to Paul to explain, it is natural that Paul opens his epistles with that famous salutation of his - GRACE BE TO YOU AND PEACE from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. You might notice that Grace and Peace has God the Father as the originator and source and this GRACE and PEACE comes through and flows out from The Lord Jesus Christ. There is no grace or peace apart from being in Christ. The unsaved have no peace with God; they are at enmity with God, but after being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1). Those that have peace with God can also have the peace of God (Phi1. 4:7).