Commentary on Ephesians 3:1-12
The need for unity and equality continues to paralyze both the human family and the Church.
In Ephesians 3: 1-12 the believer is confronted by the apostle Paul’s prayer for the Church to be open to the mystery, power, and a new form of identity believers share in Christ Jesus. The prayer is oriented toward Gentiles but in reality, it is to inform believers of the mission of God’s grace to invite both Jews and Gentiles into the Church. As strangers and aliens to one another, Christ’s death and resurrection made it possible for humanity to relate to each other on the basis of Christ. It is no wonder then that, Paul repeats the word “mystery,” to signal to Gentiles and all nations that God’s plan if not dream has always been to unite all peoples into one name. It is through Jesus Christ that the Church is able to be the arena to reveal God’s plan in and around the world.
While Paul interprets his calling to the Gentiles, he also points to the “mystery” of God revealed to him and empowered him to preach the gospel. The same mystery is accessible to all who are eager to understand God’s plan into the world and the church is the authentic place where God’s mystery revealed. First, the mystery is revealed when reconciliation is made possible and inevitably invites all peoples to understand themselves to be fellow heirs and participants in building the Kingdom of God. The calling of the Church as a gift to all humanity is the hallmark of Ephesians 3: 1-12, and it is also an invitation to the 21st century Church to view itself as a sacramental missional, evangelical and spiritual place.
Like Paul, clergy leaders and believers are called to be grasped by the amazing mystery of the reconciliation of hostile nations and allow themselves to be moved to prayer through which God’s strength and power through the Holy Spirit may move forward with the ministry of God’s Kingdom. Christologically, believers are invited to be open to the Holy Spirit through whom faith is made manifest and the spirit’s power is manifested in and through all that they do. That said, the Church is indeed unique in that God’s salvation and revelation of the Holy Spirit are made manifest in the and through the reconciling ministry of the Gospel.
Without reconciliation of nations, peoples, tribes, ethnicities and genders, ‘the knowledge and fullness of God,’ will remain a mystery even to the leaders of the Church. It is when people experience reconciliation that they become part of the Church and eventually be drawn into the work of peace, justice and love. In other words, Ephesians 3: 1-12 calls the 21st century to reexamine the nature of its existence and possibly to come to the realization that a self-existing church will not last.
The mission of the Church is to make God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit known into the world and across the globe. In all its facets, Ephesians calls believers to a life of love manifested in the welcoming and accepting all peoples. As the message of the New Testament centers on God’s mission of uniting all humanity, so does Ephesians in that the “mystery of God” is a clarion call to authentic witness in a world of tragic disconnections and chaos. Falling down on our knees in prayer like what Paul did with the hope of experiencing harmony among Global nations is the call of Ephesians.
The Church is indeed the place where we can dream to experience and witness the fullness of God’s purposes unfolding and hence calling us into the God’s salvation and formation of an authentic ecclesial community.