Yesterday, we looked at the word dispensation, which can be translated steward or stewardship, and speaks of our responsibility to complete the task God has given us to do. We also focused our prayers on Ephesians 3:2, which deals specifically with the dispensation of God’s grace given to Paul for the sake of the Gentiles.
But today, we will look at the next phrase, Ephesians 3:3-4, which reads:
How that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ).
In these two verses, we find the word revelation used once and mystery used twice. But this is not the first time Paul used these words in his letter to the Ephesians. In Ephesians 1:17, Paul speaks of praying the Lord would give the “spirit of wisdom and revelation” in the knowledge of Christ. And in Ephesians 1:9, we find God “having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to the good pleasure which He purposed in Himself.”
As we previously discovered, the word mystery is not something forever unknown. Instead, it denotes “something hidden or not yet fully manifest.” It’s knowable truth, but just not to everyone. This mystery is a truth God has reserved to reveal at a particular time, to a specific group of people, or person, for His unique purpose.
This wondrous mystery, unknown in the Old Testament, was finally revealed to Paul by the revelation of the Holy Spirit. And this mystery is the Kingdom of God includes, not just Jews, but also Gentiles. That God truly is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34-35), and the Kingdom of God is far greater than our prejudices, our racial discord, or our cultural preferences.
The Revelation of the Mystery
So what does the word revelation mean? Revelation (apokálupsis) means “an uncovering, unveiling, or the disclosing of something previously not known.” We don’t know how Paul received this revelation, whether an angel dictated it to him, or the Holy Spirit confirmed it in his spirit, or he received it through a dream or vision. We’re not sure how it happened. But we do know it happened. It’s almost like in Acts when the elders of the church were praying and fasting, and the Holy Spirit spoke to them collectively, saying, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (Acts 13:2). It appears the entire group understood what the Holy Spirit said. How did that happen? Was it an audible voice? Maybe a confirming spirit in them? Or was it something else? We don’t know. The Scriptures don’t tell us. But what we do know is everyone received the Holy Spirit’s message about Paul and Barnabas, so they all agreed in unity and sent them on their way (Acts 12:3). Something similar might have happened here. It was a revelation of God’s truth revealed to His intended audience.
Do you realize, one trait of being a believer in Christ is hearing from our Father? We are in tune with God and His Spirit in a way the rest of the world isn’t, and can’t quite comprehend. We have an understanding, an enlightenment, that comes from the Holy Spirit living in us that takes random circumstances in this chaotic world and reveals to us His order and purpose through them. We can look at the Book of Revelation, for example, and clearly delineate the signs and symbols and literal interpretation of future events soon to come to pass. After all, that’s the way God intended. He promised to bless those who read and those who hear the words of the prophecy (Rev. 1:3). A promise not given to any other part of God’s Word.
And this gift is not only for Paul, but also for you and me. Remember, the “message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18). Why? Because God reveals His truth to us through His Word. To understand His Word is one of the greatest gifts you and I have received from Him.
This New Year, as you make resolutions and vows about Bible study and prayer and other things regarding your relationship with the Lord, remember you have been given a special gift. You can have the truth of God revealed to you by the Holy Spirit in such a way it will forever change your life. In the Scriptures, you will find the answer to every question asked by man, ever! There is nothing in life God has not revealed to us in His Word. The Scriptures reveal wisdom, the keys to a happy marriage, instructions on how to raise children, how to discover meaning and purpose in life, how to love your spouse— everything knowable is in His Word.
Time to Pray
When you begin your day with the Lord, ask Him to show you how overwhelmingly beautiful and inspiring and brilliant is His Word. Plead with Him to give you a hunger for His Word, unlike anything you have ever experienced before. And when you read His Word, either Old or New Testament, beg Him to reveal Himself to you and to give you the revelation of the mystery of His love for you, a love undeserved, unmatched, and eternal.
Only in His Word can you find the source of the “abundant life” Jesus promised (John 10:10). It’s ours for the asking. Join with me in making this quest for the “abundant life” in Him our passion for 2020.