Paul wrote this letter to the church at Ephesus, a church he had planted a few years before, in order to strengthen their unity. He had planted the church for the mission of making disciples of the people of the city of Ephesus, the Roman province of Asia, and beyond. Paul saw this church as a key component in fulfilling the Great Commission in that part of the world. But that vision would not become reality until the Ephesian believers came together with a unified understanding of their identity as a church. To that end, the first half of this letter (chapters 1-3) paints a grand picture of what the church truly is: people who have been saved by grace, transformed by the gospel, and fused together in Christ.
In chapter 3, Paul enhances that image by relating how very special it is to be a part of the church of Jesus Christ. He explains that in spite of his efforts and sacrifice (he was writing this letter while a prisoner of Rome because of his work for Jesus), the church did not come about by human effort; it was not the invention of the apostles or the idea of any preacher. The church is nothing less than THE original plan of God for making His redemption (the gospel) known to the world (v.10). Paul referred to the formation and mission of the church as a “mystery” (v.3, 4, 9), a plan that was revealed in God’s perfect timing. In Christ and through the apostles, God unveiled His plan of redemption that had long been hidden.
(Note: As New Testament believers who have the advantage of a rearward perspective, we can look back and see how God was working His plan through the Old Testament patriarchs and prophets all along. As interconnected members of the Church in the 21st Century, we are living out the plan God initiated in the beginning!)
What Paul was saying to the Ephesian believers was, “God’s plan for saving the world is YOU!” The world will come to know God through the witness of the church (v.10). This is God’s eternal purpose (v.11):
that joined-together, saved-by-grace believers (v.6)
who have Jesus in their hearts (v.17)
would bring glory to God (v.21)
by sharing His boundless love (v.18-19)
in the power of the Holy Spirit (v.16).
Today, thank God for His grace and remember that His plan is you!