For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles—assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ… Ephesians 3.1-8
Paul has labored in the preceding verses to proclaim that in Christ, Jew and Gentile are one—“for [Christ Jesus] himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility” (2.14). Such reality is so profound that Paul repeats it in verse 6—“the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” Those who were once enemies have become friends, both with God and with one another. So it is all the more staggering what Paul declares in the opening verses of chapter 3. Paul’s words to the Ephesians in these verses demonstrate that the grace of the gospel humbles us in order to fit us for service of our neighbors and the nations—even those counted as enemies—by proclaiming Christ.
The grace of the gospel humbles us in order to fit us for service of our neighbors and the nations—even those counted as enemies—by proclaiming Christ.
Paul knows the grace belonging to him was given him. It was received, not merited (v. 2, 7). Thus he says in verse 8, “I am the least of all the saints.” Proper stewardship of the grace of God in Christ entrusted to us demands humility. The proud heart has not yet met the power of God which levels in a moment all pretenses that would tarnish the glory of God’s grace. Only those hearts gladly found at the bottom, being counted among the least, are those who have been kissed by God’s grace.
It is only with such humility that Paul, who raged against the church and rejected the Gentiles, would call himself “a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles.” The gospel of God’s grace in Christ which was made known to Paul by Jesus himself (v. 3) has so utterly captivated and changed Paul that though once a destroyer of Christ’s church and condemner of Gentiles he has been made a servant of Christ’s church and friend of the Gentiles “according to the gift of God’s grace.”
And the means by which Paul was humbled to friendship in Christ with God and the Gentiles—the gospel of God’s magnificent grace—is the same means God charges Paul to employ in his service of his Gentile neighbors. “[To me] this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” The grace that saves us is not meant for us alone. We have been given grace to steward, to entrust and extend to others—even our enemies—in our proclamation of Christ. Our salvation in Christ implicates us in the mission to herald the unsearchable, inexhaustible, unimaginable riches of Christ among all the nations.
May we be brought low upon remembrance of the gospel of God’s grace entrusted to us in Christ that we might faithfully and joyfully carry the banner of Christ and his gospel to our neighbors and the nations.