The apostle Paul was one of the most influential writers, speakers, missionaries, and church planters that the world has ever known. Yet, in Ephesians 3 he calls himself “the least of all the saints” (v 8).
- What words would you use to describe Paul? Successful? Significant? Important? Other?
- Why do you think Paul used the phrase “the least” to describe himself?
Paul’s life had been transformed by the grace of God. He knew that God wanted others to experience God’s grace. In Ephesians 3:1, he interrupts himself to talk about God’s grace. He is just about to tell the believers the reason that he is praying for them, and he stops mid-sentence to make sure they know all about the grace of God.
Let’s take a look at what Paul means in verse 2 when he asks, “You have heard, haven’t you, about God’s grace that was given to me for you?” so that we can learn all that God wants to teach us, and so that we can live out these verses in our daily lives.
As you read Ephesians 3:1-7, notice the words used to describe the grace that Paul had been given. As you read Ephesians 3:8-13, pay attention to how Paul explains the grace he wants others to know.
Ephesians 3:1-13 (HCSB)
1 For this reason, I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— 2 you have heard, haven’t you, about the administration of God’s grace that He gave to me for you? 3 The mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have briefly written above. 4 By reading this you are able to understand my insight about the mystery of the Messiah. 5 This was not made known to people in other generations as it is now revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: 6 The Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and partners of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 7 I was made a servant of this ⌊gospel⌋ by the gift of God’s grace that was given to me by the working of His power.
8 This grace was given to me—the least of all the saints—to proclaim to the Gentiles the incalculable riches of the Messiah, 9 and to shed light for all about the administration of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things. 10 This is so God’s multi-faceted wisdom may now be made known through the church to the rulers and authorities in the heavens. 11 This is according to His eternal purpose accomplished in the Messiah, Jesus our Lord. 12 In Him we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. 13 So then I ask you not to be discouraged over my afflictions on your behalf, for they are your glory.
GOD’S GRACE GIVEN TO ME
Take a moment to reflect on God’s grace that was given to Paul. (And every follower of Jesus Christ can truly say, “This is the grace that was given to me!”) Notice what Paul understood about grace, for whom grace is available, and more. Reflect on each truth by taking a close look at the verses written above and referenced below.
- grace is a gift (v 2)
- grace is a mystery revealed (v 3) – Jesus is the Messiah!
- these are insights worth writing down (v 4)
- taught by the apostles and prophets through the power of the Spirit (v 5)
- grace is available to all (v 6)
- we are God’s servants (v 7)
- God empowers us to serve Him (v 7)
GOD’S GRACE GIVEN FOR YOU
As you take another look at verses 8-13, you will see that God uses Paul to share some key insights about God’s grace with the Ephesians (and with us!). Paul realizes that God didn’t just give grace to him for his own benefit. Paul clearly saw his responsibility to proclaim the grace of God to people all over the world, even to people who were very different than him.
A quick look at the grace that is given:
- incalculable riches of the Messiah (v 8).
- a “light” inside you comes on, so that you see the truth about Jesus (v 9)
- you can know your Creator (v 9)
- you can know God’s wisdom (v 10)
- your life has purpose (v 11)
- you have boldness, access and confidence before God (v 12) – you can know God personally
- you may have afflictions (like Paul experienced), but even if you do you will see that those have a purpose too (v 13)
PRAY AND OBEY
- Have you received God’s grace?
- Have you told someone else lately how great God’s grace is?
Take a moment to pray that God will give you a chance this week to tell someone of the wonderful grace of God. Then, watch what happens next. He may just answer your prayer sooner than you think.
Be ready to tell them this — the same grace that God has given to me, He will give to you!