Scripture quotations taken from the NASB


Mystery Revealed

Paul begins Ephesians by telling them he was "an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God" (Eph 1:1). He told the Colossians "of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God" (Col 1:25). According to the Greek word diakonos for minister Paul was a servant. To be preaching meant that he was proclaiming the gospel. Jesus told Ananias, "'Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel'" (Ac 9:15). Christ also "humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death" (Php 2:8) and became "a servant to the curcumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers" (Ro 15:8). However, Jesus was also prophetically "the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem" (Eccl 1:1). "The Preacher also taught the people knowledge" (12:9). Jesus was "called Rabbi by men" (Mt 23:7) "which translated means Teacher" (Jn 1:38).

Paul said "I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher" (2Ti 1:11). It was in accordance with "the hope of the gospel . . . of which I, Paul, was made a minister" (Col 1:23) and according to the "promise of Christ Jesus through the gospel, of which I was made a minister" (Eph 3:6-7). However it was by "the gift of God's grace which was given to me according to the working of His power" (:7) in that "this grace was given to preach to the Gentiles" (:8). He told the Galatians that God "had set me apart even from my mother's womb [and] called me through His grace, [and] was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles" (Gal 1:15-16). Then he continues saying, "the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man . . . nor was [I] taught it, but received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ" (:11-12). This is when he "went away to Arabia" (:18) ["Mount Sinal [is] in Arabia" (4:25)] and after staying in "Damascus . . . three years later I went up to Jerusalem" (:17-18). The original twelve apostles had also been with Jesus for three years.

Paul reminded the Ephesians that "you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace which was given me for you; that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery" (Eph 3:2). It is a mystery because it had never been revealed. "We speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages through our glory" (1Co 2:7). But when you read Paul's doctrine it isn't necessarily easy to understand because even Peter said "in all his letters, speaking in them of these things . . . [there] are some things hard to understand" (2Pe 3:16). Its as if you need a revelation to understand the revelation. Doctrine can be just words, plus "a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God . . . because they are spiritually appraised (1Co 2:14). Fortunately "we have received . . . the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God" (:12). Paul prayed "that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling" (Eph 1:18). Furthermore, he prayed "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him" (:17). He also provides hope citing "by referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ" (3:4). It comes by "Him who is able to establish you . . . according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past" (Ro 16:25). We are "attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery, that is Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col 2:2-3).

Revelation by Grace

Salvation comes from God founded in "being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us" (Eph 2:4). "God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Ro 5:7). "The Law came . . . but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more" (:20). "Even when we were dead in our transgressions, [God] made us alive together with Christ" (Eph 2:5). God operates through mercy, love and grace. Grace is supernatural enablement beyond the capacity of man. It is a divine plan "according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him" (1:9). It was "so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus" (2:7). "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace" (1:7). "By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God" (2:8). "It is faith working through love" (Gal 5:6). It is by "His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved" (Eph 1:6). "To each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift" (4:7). "Of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace" (Jn 1:16).

There is "the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ" (Eph 3:11). "We have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will" (1:11). There are "the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints" (:18) composed of "the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe" (:19). This takes the form of "the power that works within us" (3:20) according to "the working of the strength of His might" (1:19). With Paul it was the "grace which was given to me according to the working of His power" (3:7). Consequently "He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will" (1:5). "His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence" (2Pe 1:3). "He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places" (Eph 1:20) and has now "raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (2:6). He "has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (1:3).

Called and Chosen

God "chose us in Him before the foundation of the world" (Eph 1:4). I was told by a member of another religion that this was possible because "those whom He foreknew" (Ro 8:29) existed as spirit babies when God created everything in the beginning. Can you build an entire doctrine based on presumption regarding detail that isn't even spelled out in scripture? The meaning of scripture must not be ambiguous, and relevant scriptures must reinforce each other and not be just selectively applied. To "foreknow" is the Greek word proginosko meaning to know beforehand ahead of time or to foreordain. A sense of time is involved which means the rules aren't changed just because God lives in eternity and can define things any way he wants. "He chose us in Him" (Eph 1:4). To choose is the Greek word eklegomai meaning to choose, pick or select designating that there is a definite choice made. In the Old Testament God said it was "'Israel, whom I have chosen'" (Isa 44:1). Being chosen is described by the Hebrew word bahar meaning to choose or select based upon a certain desire or preference to appoint to a position. He chose Jacob over Esau "so that God's purpose according to His choice would stand" (Ro 9:11). That choice is described by the Greek word ekloge meaning that a selection or election has taken place. It is predicated on "God's purpose" (:11). God "knows all things" (1Jn 3:20) and "His understanding is infinite" (Ps 147:5). He points out, "'I am the first and I am the last'" (Isa 44:6) and "'I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning'" (46:9-10). God chose Israel when "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness" (Gal 3:6). Consequently the selection of Jacob was "not because of works but because of Him who calls" (Ro 9:11). Calling is expressed by the Greek word kaleo meaning to call, invite or summon. God did not rig the process to accept only those who he knew would agree to his plan. "These whom He predestined, He also called" (8:30) which is an invitation whereby "God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent" (Ac 17:30). It was based upon "the grace of God [that] He might taste death for everyone" (Heb 2:9). This is accomplished "In Him" (Eph 1:13).

You respond to the call "after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation" (:13). "He predestined, He also called" (Ro 8:30). To predestine is expressed by the Greek word proorizo meaning to decide beforehand.. That predestination occurs before the calling which demonstrates it is "in Him" (Eph 1:13). The key is that "having also believed you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise" (:13). We are "chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanactifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled by His blood" (1Pe 1:1-2). "We have obtained an inheritanace, having been predestined according to His purpose who works out all things after the counsel of His will" (Eph 1:11). "He predestinated us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will" (:5). "He also predestinated to become conformed to the image of His Son" (Ro 8:29). "As many as had been appointed to eternal life believed" (Ac 13:48). To appoint is the Greek word tasso which is to determine, establish or assign. Peter therefore warns, "Be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and chosing you; for as long as you practice these things you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you" (1Pe 1:10-11).


Paul's letter to the Romans is recognized as foundational theology. Ephesians has a similar status undoubtedly due to "the surpassing greatness of the revelations" (2Co 12:7). They are matched by the "surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe" (Eph 1:19). The revelations according to the Greek word huperbole are superior or beyond measure which means that to some people might sound excessively religious or impractical. But to those who "having also believed" (:13) and have "faith in the Lord Jesus" (:15) the doctrine is valuable to "know what is the hope of His calling" (:18). "We have obtained an inheritance having been predestined . . . to the end that we . . . would be to the praise of His glory" (:11-12). It is "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col 1:27). Then the Holy Spirit "is given as a pledge (NASB), deposit guaranteeing (NIV), earnest (KJV), guarantee (RSV) of our inheritance" (:14). "In Him we have redemption through His blood" (:7). "You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men" (1Co 7:23). We "were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise" (Eph 1:13) "with a view to the redemption . . . to the praise of His glory" (:14). "For the Lord will not abandon His people, nor will He forsake His inheritance" (Ps 94:14). An inheritance happens after "the death of the one who made" (Heb 9:16) the covenant. We are to know "what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints" (Eph 1:18) who are "God's own possession" (:14). You are redeemed at salvation so "the redemption of the purchased possession" (:14) occurs in the future kingdom. We are "awaiting for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body" (Ro 8:23). "The anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God" (:19).

"When the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son . . . so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons" (Gal 4:4-5). Redemption pertains to purchasing slaves or prisoners to set them free as when we "were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world" (:3). In the ancient world adoption was a legal process where a person was brought into a family and placed as a son with the same privileges as a biological child. "Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God" (:7). An heir is "owner of everything" (:1). "You have received a spirit of adoption as sons" (Ro 8:15) and "because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba Father!'" (Gal 4:6) whereby we know "we are children of God" (Ro 8:16). We are also "fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him" (:17). "The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us" (:18). "The creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God" (:21).

Body of Christ

Paul uses the metaphor of "the whole [human] body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part" (Eph 4:16). Holistically "the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body" (1Co 12:12). There is "no division in the body" (:25). The body is a unit but "God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired" (:18). It is a figure of speech because "we are members of His body" (Eph 5:30) since "you are Christ's body" (1Co 12:27). "We, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another" (Ro 12:5) so "that the members may have the same care for one another" (1Co 12:25). "Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body" (Eph 5:23) "which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all" (1:23). He is the "head of the body, the church" (Col 1:18). God "put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church" (Eph 1:22). "The church is subject to Christ" (5:24). "When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all" (1Co 15:28).

It was to "reconcile them both in one body through the cross" (Eph 1:16) whereby "by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks . . . we were all made to drink of one Spirit" (1Co 12:13). "We are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ" (Eph 4:15). We must hold "fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God" (Col 2:19). "Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ" (1Co 11:3). "The equipping of the saints [is] for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ" (Eph 4:12) so "the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord" (2:21) "into a dwelling of God in the Spirit" (:22).

It is in context of "a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times" (1:10) "not only in this age but also in the one to come" (:21). It is in terms of "the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth" (:10). "He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together" (Col 1:17). He is seated "in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named" (Eph 1:21). "He put all things . . . under His feet" (:22) and has authority "over all things to the church" (:22). It is "the fullness of Him who fills all in all" (:23).

Fullness of Christ

God reconciled us "as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself" (Eph 1:5). Christ "loved the church and gave Himself up for her" (5:25). Therefore "through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father" (2:18). We are now "fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household" (:19). As a result "God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name" (Php 2:9). It is so that Christ "will come to have first place in everything" (Col 1:8) and "for all the fullness to dwell in Him" (:19). "All things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together" (:16-17). Christ "ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things" (Eph 4:10). There is "one Spirit . . . one Lord . . . one God and Father of all who is over all and through all in all" (:4-6).

Hoping in Christ is "to the praise of His glory" (Eph 1:12) and through suffering "we may also be glorified with Him" (Ro 8:17) which "is to be revealed in us" (:18). It is grace "which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved" (Eph 1:6) "to make you stand in the presence of His glory" (Jude 24). He "called us by His own glory" (2Pe 1:3) and "of His fullness we have all received" (Jn 1:16). It comes through "the true knowledge of Him" (2Pe 1:3) and Paul prayed that "the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and a revelation in the knowledge of Him" (Eph 1:17). Then "every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Php 2:11).

God has "blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Eph 1:3). "His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness" (2Pe 1:3). Consequently Paul asked them "to walk in a manner worthy of [your] calling" (Eph 4:1) also stating "you were called in one hope of your calling" (:4). Furthermore, be "diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (:3) "until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man" (:13). "We are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even "Christ" (:15) to "the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ" (:13). We "also are being built together into a dwelling of God" (2:22) which is "the building up of the body of Christ" (4:12) by "being fitted together" (2:21). "To each one of us grace was given" (4:7) "until we all attain to the unity of the faith" (:13).

Unity of Spirit

Paul instructed to "put on the new self who is being renewed" (Col 3:10). Also, "put on a [new] heart" (:12) and "put on love" (:14). To put something on applies figuratively to clothes which are basically a covering. The new self entails "a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him" (:11) in terms of "the likeness of God [which] has been created in the righteousness and holiness of the truth" (Eph 4:24). The new self walks "in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called" (:1) with the goal of preserving "the unity of the Spirit" (:3). This is accomplished "with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love" (:2). Also, "put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other" (Col 3:12-13). Paul instructs "being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph 4:3). In addition, "put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity" (Col 3:14). The bond of unity and peace is in and of the Spirit which is why you must put on the grace (divine enablement via unmerited favor) to make it possible.

Love is the "perfect" (Col 3:14) way to "preserve" (Eph 4:3) unity. It comes from "a heart of compassion [and] kindness" (Col 3:12). You have compassion when you sympathize with another person's misfortunes and are disposed to help and be merciful and gracious. It is in the context of "when you encounter various trials" (Ja 1:2) which requires "patience" (Eph 4:2, Col 3:12). Then this "testing of your faith produces endurance" (Ja 1:3) which has "its perfect result" (:4). Endurance is based upon having patience which is the ability to persevere through trouble without complaining or losing control. Patience is centered on an internal attitude that is a spiritual matter. You may have to submit to circumstances for a while and tolerate problems while calmly waiting for the situation to resolve itself. It is important to show "tolerance for one another in love" (Eph 4:2). Others have beliefs and ways of doing things. To put up with them without getting provoked is forebearance. You can recognize and respect these differences without having to compromise your own standards. To achieve unity you will also need humility (Eph 4:2, Col 3:12). Spiritually it is dependant on acknowledging God's grace as opposed to being prideful and self-assertive. Human shortcomings must be confronted which hopefully would lead a person to being more modest and unassuming and less pretentious and obtrusive. Gentleness (Eph 4:2, Col 3:12) and kindness (:12) are also required. To be gentle is to be mild-mannered such that you don't easily lose your temper. It is to be soft-hearted and not given to offensive communication. Kindness is being in the habit of being friendly, generous and affectionate. "Whoever has a complaint against anyone, just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you" (:13).

Equipping of Saints

God only gave "some" (Eph 4:11) five-fold gifts. How does a person know he has one of those gifts? Jesus told Ananias that Paul was "'a chosen instrument of Mine'" (Ac 9:15). I was taking some Bible courses on-line from a school, and the instruction in one course was that their denomination wouldn't recognize anyone being in the ministry until they had earned a degree, which assumes that they had followed through to get their credentials. According to this denomination in Paul's case it wouldn't matter if "the stewardship of God's grace . . . was given me" (Eph 3:2), or "the stewardship from God [was] bestowed on me" (Col 1:25), or "I was appointed a preacher" (2Ti 1:11) and "this grace was given to preach" (Eph 3:8), since his statement that he "was made a minister" (:7) on its own wouldn't have been recognized by the denomination.

God gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers "for the equipping of the saints for the work of service" (Eph 4:12). Some say the first two have fulfilled their purpose in founding the church and these people are called cessationists. Nonetheless, anyone in these five categories would have the qualification to train the saints. But does that mean that you couldn't understand anything yourself by studying the Bible on your own? I've heard some pastors say to their congregations that it was their exclusive responsibility to provide Bible instruction. In one church I attended it was made clear that only the pastor could officially counsel the flock. One day I saw an attendee downtown and bought him a cup of coffee and piece of pie and shot a game of pool with him. He was mentally challenged and should have made an appointment with the pastor. One day he saw me driving down the street and almost ran in front of the car. Unfortunately a month or so later he jumped off a bridge downtown into a waterfall and killed himself. Its like the veterans who died while waiting for their VA hospital appointments. In one sermon that church's pastor quoted a scripture saying that anyone who didn't cooperate with his recommendations would be disobedient. I operated the bookstore and checked out a great number of tapes on that sermon and soon almost half the church left. Much later I told the pastor what those people had concluded and he replied he hadn't said anything wrong. Then he died and the next pastor was requiring potential members to sign a document promising to follow his leadership. Many church splits are caused by so-called leaders trying to control the "laypeople." Once I visited churches in a nearby town and their overseers had created a document for potential members to sign promising to seek counseling before jumping to another church.

The "work of service, [is] to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ" (Eph 4:12-13). "We are to grow up in all aspects into Him" (:15) as a body that "grows with a growth which is from God" (Col 2:19). It is for "building up" (Eph 4:12) so that "the whole building, [is] being fitted together [and] is growing into a holy temple in the Lord" (2:21) "into a dwelling of God in the Spirit" (:22).

The New Self

Who would want to be "excluded from the life of God" (Eph 4:18) and "having no hope and without God in the world" (2:12)? However, there are those who "knew God" (Ro 1:21) "because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them" (:19) but "they did not honor Him as God or give thanks" (:21). There is the person who thinks he knows better "taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind" (Col 2:18). However, "they became futile in their speculations" (Ro 1:21). Peter told the Jews of "your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers" (1Pe 1:18) and Paul said the Gentiles walked "in the futility of their mind" (Eph 4:17). As a result of this futility "their foolish heart was darkened" (Ro 1:21) and they became "darkened in their understanding" (Eph 4:18). "Having become callous" (:19) they became "excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them because of the hardness of their heart" (:18). It is a conscious decision. Their speculations can be composed of deceptive "doctrine, by the trickery of men" (:14) which is why Peter warned "prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit" (1Pe 1:13). "Let no one deceive you with empty words" (Eph 4:19). They "have given themselves to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness" (:19). By "speaking out words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality" (2Pe 2:18). "In all this they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you" (1Pe 4:4). "Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them" (Eph 5:11).

When they chose the wrong path they lost touch with God "because of the ignorance that is in them" (Eph 4:18) due to the "hardness of their heart" (:18). The NKJV calls it the "blindness" of their heart. However, hardness seems to imply that they have set up a barrier to truthfulness having "given themselves over" (:19). Blindness seems to be a side effect of "craftiness in deceitful scheming" (:14) "by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron" (1Ti 4:2). The "hardness of their heart" (Eph 4:18) results in "being darkened in their understanding" (:18) producing "ignorance" (:18) which indicates they are "misguided" (Heb 5:2) because they don't "believe and know the truth" (1Ti 4:3) since they "did not receive the love of the truth" (2Th 2:10). They are "separate from Christ" (Eph 2:12) and walk "according to the course of this world . . . [via] the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience" (Eph 2:2). "Having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent" (Ac 17:30). "Do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance" (1Pe 1:14). "Lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit" (Eph 4:22). "Be renewed in the spirit of your mind" (:23). "Laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one with his neighbor" (:25). "You were formerly in darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord" (5:8) consisting "of all goodness and righteousness and truth" (:9). "The Spirit is truth" (1Jn 5:6) and "truth is in Jesus" (Eph 4:21). "The new self . . . has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth" (:24).