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Big Idea:

The Church is God’s wisdom displayed to the world.

Key Verses:

3:10 – 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.

Discussion questions for group (If you want them):

– What’s the mystery that Paul is talking about? (Also see Colossians 1:24-27) Why would it be considered a mystery?
– If you were an Israelite, what would be your reaction to Gentiles being included so “easily” in the people of God?
– In Paul’s thinking, what role does the church play in God’s plans for the world?
– How does unity between Jew & Gentile display God’s purposes for the world?
– What is the freedom and confidence before God Paul speaks about in verse 12?

Application questions:

– How do you think our opinion of the church has been affected by our culture?
– Do you think your opinion of the church matches Paul’s?
– Do you feel like your suffering and/or broken-ness means God will use you less?
– How can we encourage each other in suffering and struggles to look towards hope?
– How does Jesus’ broken-ness and sacrifice encourage us?

Notes / Observations:

[ut_togglegroup] [ut_toggle title=”vv.1-6 – The mystery of the Gospel: Gentiles become co-heirs.”] v.1 – After this verse, Paul is interrupted as he speaks about his own ministry & situation in relation to what God is doing in the world. He’ll pick this up again in 3:14.

v.2 – Paul uses the term ‘administration’ (NIV) also in Ephesians 1:10 and 3:9. It has two angles in Ephesians 3, God’s plan and administration for the world, but also Paul’s role in that. That is, that he’s the apostle to the Gentiles.

v.4 – The mystery he’s talking about here was referenced back in 1:9-10 and unpacked in 2:11-22. That is, that all things are being brought under Christ, and that includes people from all differences races and places.

v.5-6 – Paul isn’t saying the Gospel is completely out of left-field. In fact much of his writing talks about it being the fulfilment of the promises and hope found in the Old Testament. What he’s saying is that how God would bring about the blessings of the Old Testament were a mystery up until Jesus came, and God started including people by faith into his kingdom.

v.6 – “As the gospel is proclaimed, Gentile men and women, who hear its message and appropriate it for themselves, are united with the Lord Jesus in his death and resurrection. Thus, the gospel not only declares what is God’s gracious plan, announcing the content of the mystery of Christ; it is also the instrument by which God achieves his purpose of bringing Gentiles to faith and incorporating them into his Son. It is through the active proclamation of the gospel that God draws men and women to himself (cf. 2 Thess 2:14).” O’Brian

[/ut_toggle] [ut_toggle title=”vv.7–9 – Paul’s role in the revelation of this mystery.”] v.8 – Paul’s understanding of grace exalts the work and office given him while robbing him of any possibility of pride in himself. He understands deeply what he wrote about in Ephesians 2:1-10.
[/ut_toggle] [ut_toggle title=”vv.10-12 – God’s intent: His wisdom made known to the heavenly realms.”] v.10 – The term church here “should probably be taken as the heavenly gathering that is assembled about Christ and as a local congregation of Christians, in which Jews and Gentiles are fellow-members of the body of Christ… Through the church signifies that the very existence of this new multiracial community in which Jews and Gentiles have been brought together in unity in one body is the manifestation of God’s richly diverse wisdom.” O’Brian.

v.10 – The word translated “manifold” (NIV) has the idea of being multi-coloured, intricate, diverse. As the church should be.

v.11-12 – The wisdom of God is found in Christ and because of Christ.
[/ut_toggle] [ut_toggle title=”vv.13 – So Paul’s circumstances should be seen in light of that. Not how we might perceive them.”] v.13 – Paul sees his situation in light of what God is doing in the world. Just as the church doesn’t look amazing to others, he knows it’s the wisdom of God. And just as his situation (in prison) doesn’t seem fantastic to others, he sees the church growing and being strengthened, so he just puts his life into that perspective.
[/ut_toggle] [/ut_togglegroup]