The Ephesian Revelation


Sunday 05/28/23

Message: The Ephesian Revelation

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The Ephesian Revelation

In our last service we covered Ephesians 3 and we focused upon the importance of the unity which the New Covenant brought about between Jews and Gentiles. It was a knowledge which, even though the Old Testament spoke about it, it was still a mystery. It largely remained a mystery even among devout and sincere Jews for the single fact that God had hidden it from eternity past, but had in these last days revealed the truth of it largely through Paul.

I will remind you of this by reading a few quick excerpt from chapter 3 before moving on.

Ephesians 3:1-13, “(1) For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles  (2)  if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you,  (3)  that by revelation the mystery was made known to me, as I wrote before briefly.  

(4)  When reading this, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ  (5)  (which was not disclosed to people in former generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit),  (6)  namely, that through the gospel the Gentiles are fellow heirs, fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus.  

(7)  I became a servant of this gospel according to the gift of God’s grace that was given to me by the exercise of His power.  (8)  To me – less than the least of all the saints – this grace was given, to proclaim to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ  (9)  and to enlighten everyone about God’s secret plan – the mystery that has been hidden for ages in God Who has created all things.  

(10)  The purpose of this enlightenment is that through the church the multifaceted wisdom of God should now be disclosed to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly realms.  (11)  This was according to the eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord,  (12)  in Whom we have boldness and confident access to God by way of Christ’s faithfulness.  

(13)  For this reason I ask you not to lose heart because of what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.”

Like I said last week I focused mainly upon what the mystery was – that the Jews and Gentiles would be made one IN Christ. One body, one people, one household of faith. Now this does not seem like such a mysterious revelation to us 2,000 years later. It has been an established doctrine, well known since the first century, but to these people you could hardly have presented a truth which would have seemed more radical if not down right controversial. 

It was on behalf of this that many Jews rejected the Gospel through Paul. It is literally quite possible that many of them would have been FAR more likely to receive the message as Good News, if it had excluded the Gentiles or at very least kept them at a distance and in a submissive, second-class citizen role.

I from their perspective this was their baby! They had carried the torch for generations. They had done the time, sustained the reproach of nations and the judgment of God in their times of unfaithfulness. Surely they deserved a preeminent role in this kingdom.

Perhaps Jesus’ parable of the field owner who hired those at the end of the day receiving the same pay as those who had labored all day, was at least in part, pointing to this reality.

But before moving on, I wanted to go back and look again at two other parts of this passage which I did not draw attention to last time.

1st that the things Paul was suffering by being in chains in the writing of these letters – even this one to the Ephesians, was for their glory. Meaning, that it was at least in part due to his preaching this mystery that he was in chains, but the truth revealed in this mystery is the glorification of the Gentiles WITH the Jews. Thus, it was for their glory!

Also note, as we have several times, that the eternal purpose of God in this mystery was to reveal God’s multifaceted wisdom to the angelic hosts – both fallen and not.

As I was reviewing Ephesians again yesterday in preparation for today I happened to read Guzik’s entry on this point and boy was I amazed to read many of my other thoughts on this written down by another man who I very much respect.

Guzik on this passage (edited and lightly ammended)…

God is a Being of infinite wisdom and glory, and He wants His creatures to know His great and manifold wisdom. One purpose in His great plan of the ages is to reveal this wisdom.

God does this for the glory of His creatures, because the glory of the creature is directly connected to the glory of the Creator.

The ancient Greek word translated here as MANIFOLD, has the ideas of intricacy, complexity, and great beauty. 

But, it also must be made known. DeanAlford points out that the words might be made known are emphatic, strongly contrasting the idea of hidden in Eph. 3:9.

This explains how God will reveal His wisdom, and to whom He reveals it. He will reveal it by His work in the church, and He will reveal it to angelic beings (principalities and powers).

Of course, God also wants to reveal this wisdom to the church. But in the big picture, God doesn’t use the angels to reveal His wisdom to the saints, but He does use the saints to reveal His wisdom to the angelic beings, both faithful and fallen angels. This reminds us that we are called for something far greater than our own individual salvation and sanctification. We are called to be the means by which God teaches the universe a lesson, and a beautiful lesson at that.

We are surrounded by invisible spiritual beings, and they intently look upon us. Here, Paul draws back the invisible curtain that hides these beings just as Elisha prayed at Dothan, LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see. (2Kings 6:17) These angelic beings see us perfectly and know us far better than we know them.

Moule says, “What then have they to learn from us? Ah, they have to learn something which makes them watch us with wonder and with awe. They see in us indeed all our weakness, and all our sin. But they see a nature which, wrecked by itself, was yet made in the image of their God and ours. And they see this God at work upon that wreck to produce results not only wonderful in themselves but doubly wonderful because of the conditions.” (Moule)

Sometimes Christians get the crazy idea that God saved them and works in their life because they are somehow such great people. The angels see right through this. We might believe that it is because of us; the angels know better. We may think our lives are small and insignificant; the angels know better. We may doubt our high standing, seating in heavenly places; the angels see this spiritual reality with eyes wide open.

“It is as if a great drama is being enacted. History is the theatre, the world is the stage, and the church members in every land are the actors. God Himself has written the play, and He directs and produces it. Act by act, scene by scene, the story continues to unfold. But who are the audience? They are the cosmic intelligences, the principalities and powers in the heavenly places.” (Stott)

“The Angels are instructed in God’s wisdom . . . by the fact of the great spiritual body, constituted in Christ, which they contemplate, and which is to them the theatre of the glory of God.” (Alford

“The history of the Christian church becomes a graduate school for angels.” (Stott, quoting Mackay)

This means that angelic beings are interested and instructed by the lives of Christians. This is why the conduct of the church is so important: because angelic and demonic beings are looking on, and God’s intent is to teach them through us. Several passages refer to this:

    • For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. (1Cor. 11:10)
    • The things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the HolySpirit sent from heaven; things which angels desire to look into. (1Peter 1:12)
    • I charge you before God and the LordJesusChrist and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality. (1Timothy 5:21)

We should take this responsibility seriously, for angels are given the responsibility to carry souls to heaven at death (Luke 16:22) and are the reapers of the final harvest (Matt. 13:39-43).

Spurgeon once asked “What, think some of you, would angels say of your walk and conversation? 

Well, I suppose you don’t care much about them, and yet you should. For who but angels will be the reapers at the last, and who but they shall be the convoy to our spirits across the last dark stream? Who but they shall carry our spirit like that of Lazarus into the Father’s bosom? Surely we should not despise them….

O be not, ye converts, ignorant of the word of God; be not oblivious of the operations of God in your own souls! The angels desire to look into these things. Do you look into them?”

The mystery reveals and furthers God’s eternal purpose in Jesus, previously described in Ephesians 1:10 – that in the fullness of the times, God will gather together (essentially, to sum up or resolve) all things in Jesus.

The mystery of the unified Body of Christ is according to that purpose. It is a preview of what Jesus will ultimately do in the fulfillment of summing up all things in Himself.

“The church thus appears to be God’s pilot scheme for the reconciled universe of the future, the mystery of God’s will to be administered in the fullness of the times when the things in heaven and the things on earth are brought together in Christ.” (Bruce)

There is a sense in which Paul can say that this eternal purpose is already accomplished. Its fulfillment is a certainty (as shown by the initial work of bringing Jew and Gentile together in Jesus), so he can speak of it as already finished.

The fact of this unity is shown by the truth that we (Jew and Gentile collectively) have the identical boldness, access and confidence before God – because it has nothing to do with national or ethnic identity, only with faith in Him (Jesus).

The word for boldness has the idea of “freedom of speech.” We have the freedom to express ourselves before God, without fear or shame. “The Greek word ‘parresia’ translated by ‘boldness’ means really ‘free speech’ – that is, the speaking of all. It is the blessed privilege of prayer.” (Gaebelein)

These are things which I very much believe are very important truths outside of the commonly held knowledge in the body of Christ, and that is a shame.

Now with this unity and its reason fresh in your minds – along with its cause which is knowledge of and conformity to Christ, let us begin reading the next chapter.

Ephesians 4:1-32, “(1) I, therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received,  (2)  with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love,  (3)  diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us.”  

As by now you have no doubt discerned, Ephesus was a city occupied by both Jew and Gentiles and so it follows that the body of Christ at Ephesus was also a mixture. While all true believers love one another and that there is no earthly issue which could completely extinguish or even fully veil that love, there are things which would present themselves in such a widely eclectic group to warrant warnings and encouragements.

Ephesians is written to a group of believers Paul served along with Aquila and Priscilla during his 2nd missionary journey. As he returned in this 3rd missionary journey Paul continued there for over 2 years, which allowed the gospel to spread beyond Ephesus into the greater area surrounding it. 

You may remember when we were going through Acts last year that there was a city whose response to the Gospel was so profound that they had a public bonfire where they brought their scrolls on witchcraft and other pagan writings to destroy them. That was in Ephesus. The message was entitled – Message of the Kingdom produces contrite hearts at Ephesus.

To aid your memory, and to give you all the more backdrop for those Paul was writing these words in Ephesians 4, I will quote to you from Luke’s account of that early visit to Ephesus.

Acts 19:1-21, “(1) While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul went through the inland regions and came to Ephesus

He found some disciples there  (2)  and said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” 

They replied, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”  

(3)  So Paul said, “Into what then were you baptized?” “Into John’s baptism,” they replied.  

(4)  Paul said, “John baptized with a baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.”  

(5)  When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus,  (6)  and when Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they began to speak in tongues and to prophesy.  

(7)  (Now there were about twelve men in all.)  (8)  So Paul entered the synagogue and spoke out fearlessly for three months, addressing and convincing them about the kingdom of God.  (9)  But when some were stubborn and refused to believe, reviling “the Way” before the congregation, he left them and took the disciples with him, addressing them every day in the lecture hall of Tyrannus.  

(10)  This went on for two years, so that all who lived in the province of Asia, both Jews and Greeks, heard the word of the Lord.  

(11)  God was performing extraordinary miracles by Paul’s hands,  (12)  so that when even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his body were brought to the sick, their diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them.  (13)  But some itinerant Jewish exorcists tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were possessed by evil spirits, saying, “I sternly warn you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.”  

(14)  (Now seven sons of a man named Sceva, a Jewish high priest, were doing this.)  (15)  But the evil spirit replied to them, “I know about Jesus and I am acquainted with Paul, but who are you?”  

(16)  Then the man who was possessed by the evil spirit jumped on them and beat them all into submission. He prevailed against them so that they fled from that house naked and wounded.  

(17)  This became known to all who lived in Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks; fear came over them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was praised.  

(18)  Many of those who had believed came forward, confessing and making their deeds known.  (19)  Large numbers of those who had practiced magic collected their books and burned them up in the presence of everyone. When the value of the books was added up, it was found to total fifty thousand silver coins.  

(20)  In this way the word of the Lord continued to grow in power and to prevail.  

(21)  Now after all these things had taken place, Paul resolved to go to Jerusalem, passing through Macedonia and Achaia. He said, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.”

It was such a display that Paul was deeply moved and it was THEN that Paul set his heart to go to Jerusalem. Paul often reported to the apostles and elders in Jerusalem all God was doing through his ministry among the Gentiles and this was towards the top of the list of things he greatly wanted to share. 

It would seem that it probably produced, at least an initial unity between Jews and Gentiles which surpassed anything Paul had witnessed to date and that may have all the more added to his desire to report the results to the primarily Jewish believers in Jerusalem

This may have been what caused even a man such as Paul to be able to set aside the copious amount of warnings he received to NOT go to Jerusalem. There is a great lesson there to be taught and learned from here… but not today.

So with that backdrop, Paul is writing this most powerful of letters to this Ephesian church from prison and encourages them to continue in their unity – Jews and Gentiles, by saying,

“(4)  There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope at your calling;  (5)  one Lord, one faith, one baptism,  (6)  one God and Father of all, Who is above all and through all and in all.  

(7)  Now grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of the Messiah’s gift.  

(8)  For it says: When He ascended on high, He took prisoners into captivity; He gave gifts to people. 

(9)  But what does “He ascended” mean except that He descended to the lower parts of the earth?  

(10)  The One Who descended is the same as the One Who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things[in the continuous present]

(11)  And He personally gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors-teachers,  (12)  for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ,  (13)  UNTILwe all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.  

(14)  Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit.  (15)  But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him Who is the head–Christ.  

(16)  From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself IN LOVE by the proper working of each individual part.  

(17)  Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer walk as the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their thoughts.  

(18)  They are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the hardness of their hearts.  

(19)  They became callous and gave themselves over to promiscuity for the practice of every kind of impurity with a desire for more and more.  (20)  But that is not how you learned about the Messiah,  (21)  assuming you heard Him and were taught by Him, because the truth is in Jesus:  (22)  you took off your former way of life, the old man that is corrupted by deceitful desires;  (23)  you ARE BEING renewed in the spirit of your minds;  (24)  you put on the new man, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.  

(25)  Since you put away lying, Speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, because we are members of one another.  

(26)  Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger,  (27)  and don’t give the devil an opportunity.  (28)  The thief must no longer steal. Instead, he must do honest work with his own hands, so that he has something to share with anyone in need.  

(29)  No rotten talk should come from your mouth, but only what is good for the building up of someone IN NEED, in order to give GRACE to those who hear.  

(30)  And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit, Who sealed you for the day of redemption.  

(31)  All bitterness, anger and wrath, insult and slander must be removed from you, along with all wickedness.  (32)  And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.”


Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!