Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians 3: 4-11 (NIV)
4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. 6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. 8 Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We servants of Jesus Christ who are not children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob by birth are reminded, in this season of Epiphany, that we are recipients of God’s grace in more respects than one. Because, and only because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, he has overlooked our sins and he has made us, even though we are Gentiles, heirs together with Israel in the promise in Christ Jesus.
The Apostle Paul wrote of this to the churches. “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 3: 6). He compared Gentile followers of Christ Jesus to wild olive shoots grafted onto the root of a cultivated olive tree, by which he described the elect of Israel. Moreover, Paul saw a time when those of Israel who did not persist in unbelief would be grafted again into this cultivated olive tree. He also warned those represented by the wild olive tree grafts (Gentiles) not to revert to unbelief for, if God did not spare the natural branches, he would not spare Gentiles either (Romans 11: 17-24).
Paul reveals God’s intention for all who are servants of Jesus Christ “that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 3: 10).
This is an awesome role! The riches of God are to be revealed and proclaimed to the world through Gentiles. But this revelation and proclamation is not only to the physical world! This is a mission, wrote the Apostle Paul, not only to proclaim the gospel of Christ Jesus to other nations. This is a mission to demonstrate the gospel of Jesus Christ to the spiritual powers and especially to those now hostile to God.
Our behaviour, our conduct, our speech and our attitudes are to be so much like those of Jesus that even the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms become totally convinced of Jesus’ kingship and of the all-surpassing wisdom of God.
As we enter a new year let us resolve to take up this challenge wholeheartedly, strengthened by God through his Holy Spirit.