V. 7 "Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of His power"
The first word of this text "whereof" calls attention to the subject matter of the foregoing verses of this chapter, and that subject is "the mystery of Christ."
And for the second time in this series of studies this subject, "the mystery of Christ", will occupy the greater part of the lesson. The consensus of theological scholarship is, that the "mystery of Christ," is the "church which is his body" (Eph. 1:22-23). That the Gentileís would be recipients of the blessings of redemption As well as the Jews is abundantly revealed in the O.T. Scriptures (See last weeks lesson ó these quotation could be multiplied indefinitely). Christ preached this truth during his sojurn on Earth (Mt. 12:18), and commissioned His church to preach it (acts 1:8)
Thus we see the mystery is not that Gentiles be saved in this age, and made co-partakers of the blessings of redemption in Christ. The O.T. Scriptures are replete whit this revelation. Considering the evidence, and its irrefutability, the only Conclusion which can be rightfully attained is, the mystery of Christ is the Church. If we stopped here, and pressed no further into the mystery, our Profit would be little, and our affinity with the Protestant world, great. But God has been pleased to stir our minds and cause us to seek to identify His church.
This theory nullifies the grace of God (Ro, 11:6), and teaches the Church is constituted of everything from sprinkled infants to Baptist hating Popes. This theory allows for no distinction between the thousands of Baptist martyrs, and those who killed them. This theory (all the saved in the church) was invented by the Devil To undermine the truth that the church is a unique body, called out From, Not only the world of the ungodly, but from Christendom in general.
The church is an Ekklesia that is it is a "called out" assembly. It is not a universal invisible, non-assembling, and unrecognizable body, as the protestant view contends. Such a theory is a contradiction within itself. For the designation "body" demands both, Visibility and assembly. A body is not constituted of diverse parts much less of diverse parts scattered all over the face of the earth. The church which is the body of Christ is visible, assembles, and is fitly framed together.
Eph. 1:22ó23 "And hath put all things under his feet, and gave
Him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body,
the fulness of him that filleth all in all,"
In this scripture the church and the Lordís body are one and the same. Bearing in mind that the word "church" is a substitute for the word assembly or congregation. Had the Greek word "ekklosia" been honestly translated into the English it would have without variance been translated either "assembly" or "congregations" and we, would never have Heard the word " church", except from the study of the German language of which the word is a derivative. But honest translation would have Wreaked havoc with Protestantismís pet theory of a universal invisible Church.
Our English word "body" comes from the Greek word "sorna," and in
1st Cor. 12:27 Paul says to the Corinthian assembly, "now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular."
The word "soma" in the Greek simply meant, entity, whole, or complete. So Paul says to the church at Corinth," ye are a complete body of Christ," and thus it would be understood by the Ephesian assembly that when Paul said, ". . , the church is his body," they would have Without reservation understood it to mean that they were the Lordís Body in Ephesus, complete and qualified to carry on the business of The head of the body.
Eph. 3:6 "that the Gentiles should be fellow, heirs, and of the same bodyÖ" The word "body" in this text is not taken from the Greek Word "soma", which means complete but rather from "sussomos," which means "united in the same body." (W. E. Vineís dictionary New Testament Words p137 under "body"). The simple truth is, two alien nationalities (i.e. Jews and Gentiles) had been brought together in the same body, their alienation and enmity being put to death by the sacrifice of Christ, and now in lieu of hostility, unity and peace prevails.
Eph. 2:16 "and that he might reconcile both (Jews & Gentiles) unto God in one body (the church at Ephesus) by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby."
Eph. 4:4 "there is one body....." There was some contending at the Time for two kinds of bodies. Some contended that Judaism had not been set aside, and that Christianity was satanic, and should be prohibited by civil law; some Jews were more liberal, while believing that Judaism was superior to Gentile Christianity, they nevertheless recognized that many Gentiles were being called out by God, and formed into particular bodies, however the Liberal Jew contended that the old lines of segregation should be maintained. It was against these errors that Paul so valiantly fought, declaring God had revealed to him the secret which had been hidden from the beginning of the world. That the church was a new enterprise in a new economy, wherein Jews and gentiles are united in one body.
The conference at Jerusalem (acts 1.5) called to consider this difficulty settled the issue for the true churches of Christ, and we hear James say in casting his vote with Paul and peter, "Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles have turned to God" (V. 19) So we conclude, the "mystery of Christ" is, that Jews and Gentiles would be united together in one body, the church, the Lordís Ekklesia.
Vs. 8 "unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this
grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles, the
unsearchable riches of Christ."
Paul was no less an apostle than any of the original school of --apostles, and he was constantly aware of the dignity of the office. When he says; that he was "less than the least of the saints," he does not belittle the office, but magnifies it. It is as if he said, "I am astounded that I who was preeminent among them who hated Jesus, and, every Jew and Gentile disciple of His, should be Called to such an high office, especially to the office of Apostle To the Gentiles"
Paul speaks of his office as a gift of Godís grace, he says, "unto me... is this grace given" (vs. 8). In the light of his unworthiness and his experience of Godís infinite grace, Paul was not satisfied to address himself as the least of all saints, he considered his place to be below the very least of saints. He said in another place, "this is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom lam chief" (1st Tim, 1:15).
Those which have experienced, the grace of God in the redemption of their souls, will not argue with Paulís theology, they all with one voice give forth a resounding amen to Paulís preaching of Total and hereditary depravity of man in his fallen state. But all of them, without a single exception is waiting for a face to face meeting with Paul, so as to ask him is he sure about claiming the title "least of all saints," and "chief of sinners." For each of Godís redeemed sheep feel as if this office belongs to them exclusively.
The thrill in Paulís heart, resulting from being called to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ to the Gentiles is most apparent in verse eight. Apostle to the Gentiles was Paulís unique office, and it too, along with the "mystery of Christ" was hid in God from the foundation of the world, Paulís exercise of his high Privilege of proclaiming that the messiah of the Jews is also the Saviour of Gentiles afforded. Him much joy.
John the Baptist was the herald of Christ to the Jews, and Paul is the herald of Christ to the Gentiles. Paul says, "......I should preach among the gentiles, the unsearchable riches of Christ." The word "preach" as related to the gospel means to "announce good l tidings." And Paul knew the purpose of his call, and wasted no time in executing it.
"Unsearchable riches of Christ," the riches of Christ are too vast to be measured. This is the God Paul preached to the gentiles, one that was sovereign, and one who could. Reach way down with his arm of Mercy, and recover the vilest of Jews, and the most idolatrous Gentile. In the "unsearchable of Christ" are sufficient resources for all of our needs in time, and in eternity.
The riches of his grace are unspeakable, unfathomable, inexplorable, uncharterable, and full of glory.
It is like a man setting out to mark the outer perimeters of a lake, and discovers as he follows the edge of the lake around the turn of a mountain the lake is but an inlet of a vast less ocean.