Friday, June 30, 2017

EMA Day 3: Andy Gemmill - Ephesians Session 3 - (3:1-13)

Andy Gemmill – Ephesians session 3 - Ephesians 3:1-13

A big question always there in the Christian life, under the surface: God, is your heart really in this enterprise? Why don’t you do some more visible reigning supreme and save a few more people, help your people more, defend your cause more powerfully? Is God really committed to this?

Are we doing something wrong?

Pl’s imprisonment at the heart of this letter, the reason for his writing

No longer like Acts 19. Has it all gone wrong?

Acts 20 warning that things will change after Pl’s departure: he is going to prison – Pl goes to jail at the hands of his Jewish Ephesian opponents

4 or 5 yrs on, Pl in prison in Rm

Had Pl been prevented from writing before?

6:21 - Tychicus – has he brought news from Eph which has provoked Pl to write?

Human conflict – those who call themselves the circumcision

Pl’s imprisonment – for longer than he had been in Eph – Pl no longer looks like the victorious minister of the risen and reigning X

Pl’s message is relatively new. The Ephesians have only been Xians for about 5 yrs.

The Judaizers seem more impressive than Pl and seem to have tradition and history on their side

3:1, 13; 4:1

3:13 the key purpose statement of the letter – the second imperative of the letter

Pl wants them not to lose heart because of his sufferings but rather be strong in the Lord and in his might, standing firm in the gospel he gave them.

This is fundamentally a do not lose heart letter. This is the do not lose heart passage.

Pl’s message seems a new-fangled novelty.

Where is the power in Pl and his message?


V8 unsearchable

Manifold wisdom of God

Immeasurable love

Big bold expansive language of God and his love; weak language about Pl: the prisoner, the sufferer, the leaster of all the saints – constraint

These things are not just juxtaposed but linked. He is a prisoner for their sake, suffering for them which is their glory.

His sufferings are linked to the wonder of what God has done for them

(1) Pl’s message is new, but its always been in God’s plan

Mystery – not a puzzle to investigate – a secret that was kept hidden – v5, not made known before but now revealed to the Apostles and especially to Pl vv3-4

V9 newly revealed but not new

Just cos my middle name hasn’t been revealed doesn’t mean it hasn’t always been there

V6 – the inclusion of the Gentiles through the gospel – not news that Gentiles can be in God’s plan

Is 2 – nations flooding to Zion, law going out

How the gentiles can be in – through the gospel – is newly revealed

1v13 – the Ephesians were included by hearing and believing the gospel and sealed by the HS – God sets up his dwelling when someone hears a message over the garden fence – not becoming Jewish etc.

Pl the Apostle to the Gentiles

(2) Yes, I am in prison, but it remains a powerful message, even though it doesn’t seem so

The power seems to have gone but it remains v8 – progression of ideas: Pl is responsible to preach X to the Gentiles and to bring to light for all the plan of the mystery of the creator – by Pl’s preaching to the Gentiles the plan of God is made visible – through the preaching of the gospel the church comes into being and the plan of God is revealed, v10, even to the powers in heaven

Who is this who can do this?

The power and plan of God will be fully revealed on the final day, but the powers can see the seed and sign of it now

Cf. Tsunami – the sign of the coming Tsunami is the sea receding, going out

Jew and Gentile sitting down for tea together doesn’t seem earth shattering to us, but to the powers, it shows 1:10 is coming: Christ is unifying humanity and all things

Every time you behave together in a 4:2 way etc., no stealing, lying, loving wife etc., the power of God is displayed to the powers. Jesus is Lord he has delivered people from slavery. He will be seen to be Lord of all.


(a) Be reassured by faith not by sight. God’s power may not seem obvious. 1:18 – we need the eyes of our hearts open to God’s power

How often do we look for reassurance in visible things rather than the invisible but soon to be revealed victory of J?

(b) The presence of an invisible audience – the powers – makes very action significant. The Lord sees and the powers see. The unseen is worth keeping going at. Every small unnoticed thing done for the building of the body is part of a bigger battle.

Vv11-13 sum up this argument. God’s eternal plan is being fulfilled. Bold confident access to God. Real if not yet fully seen. It looks bad now, but don’t lose heart.

The prisoner of X Jesus / the Lord – visibly Pl is the prisoner of Rm. He is the prisoner who belongs to the Lord and endures imprisonment for the Lord. But he is also the Lord’s captive. He has been imprisoned by J. Pl has himself been conquered, defeated, taken prisoner, set free – no longer enslaved by sin but now by Jesus. Pl’s imprisonment flows from his ministry. Pl’s preaching has got him in to trouble. His suffering is for the Gentiles, from his Gentile ministry. But further his sufferings are congruent with him having been humbled by a conquering king whose prisoner he is. Not just the prisoner of Caesar but of the Lord. Humbled.

End of the book of Acts – Pl humbled and imprisoned. As for Jesus, faithfulness means suffering, false accusations, imprisonment.

Why doesn’t God stand up and fight?

This is how he fights with humility and gentleness. X and all X’s people. Cross then glory. Life through death.

This pattern overflows to all X’s servants.

4:1-8, 11-2, psalm 68 – psalm of procession to temple, journey from Egypt to promised land, warfare and victory, conquered enemies, celebration of triumph centred on the temple sanctuary, tribute from all the world, praise from all the nations

Who is this warrior? Ps: Yahweh - V8 – X

Who are the conquered? Pl is head of the list

The ones the Lord gives to his people are themselves the conquered: apostles, prophets, but also evangelists and pastor teachers, and no doubt youth workers and women’s workers too

We are conquered enemies of J. Humbling’s and sufferings should not surprise us.

Pl sufferings are for them, their glory.

If we are suffering in ministry, we are in such good company!

God’s power is on display in ordinary church life and relationships. The humiliations of the Apostle show the power of God.

J God’s conquering king is supreme.

We are part of a much bigger unseen battle. God is fighting. All that goes on really does have significance.

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