by Jeff Dominguez
Chapter 3 – The Immeasurable Love of God
In the previous chapter, the mystery of the church was unraveled. We’ve learned that contrary to traditional Jewish belief, the church is not a reorganization of the Jewish community. Rather, it is an entirely new entity where there’s no more distinction between Jews and Gentiles.
In this chapter, Paul will reveal another shocking revelation that will further prove how good God truly is.
I. The Shocking Revelation: Jews and Gentiles are CO-EQUAL Heirs! (vv1-13)
“For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in[b] God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.”
To a Jew, to hear that the newly established Church of Jesus Christ accepts Gentiles is already shocking. After all, their customs and teachings have forbidden them from associating with them for hundreds of years (Dt. 7:1-5). But in this chapter, Paul revealed that the Gentiles are not just welcome to the church of Jesus, but they are also co-equal heirs with them!
In verses 1 to 5, Paul made a few remarks to prepare his readers for the big revelation in verse 6. First, he reminded them of his ministry, which was to minister to the gentiles (v1) and as an official apostle of Christ (v5). Next, he reminded them that as an apostle sent by Christ Himself, God made known to him these revelations that he is now teaching in his letters, including this one that he will reveal momentarily (v3-4). Paul did this because the mystery that he is about to reveal is not an easy thing to believe and accept. He needed to remind them of his credentials so he can prove to them that this revelation is true and not something that he made up. And so, what is this big revelation? According to verse 6:
“This mystery is that the GENTILES ARE FELLOW HEIRS, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” (ESV)
In the New Living Translation, it states:
“And this is God’s plan: BOTH GENTILES AND JEWS WHO BELIEVE THE GOOD NEWS SHARE EQUALLY IN THE RICHES INHERITED BY GOD’S CHILDREN. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus.”
Wow! Isn’t that shocking?! Not only that God allowed them to become part of His family, but He also made them co-equal heirs! To understand the magnitude of this revelation, let’s take a look at this example.
Let’s say that you are the only heir of the richest man in the country. Then one day, your father saw an abandoned child in the streets. Out of his grace, mercy, and compassion, he decided to adopt that child. He made that child live in your house. He gave him a room of his own, buy him the same clothes as yours, and eat at the same table with the rest of the family. In other words, he treated that child as his own. But here’s the exciting part: your father also made that child a co-equal heir with you! in other words, he will also receive what you will receive!
This is what God did to the Gentiles. For many years, the Jews saw themselves as the true people of God and everyone else as outsiders. That is why to hear that God adopted Gentiles as His children and even made them co-heirs is truly shocking not just for the Jews, but also for the Gentiles. From the perspective of the world, to do what the rich father did was insane. We have heard of rich celebrities adopting children but none of them did what God did for all of us (making us co-heirs). This is why God deserves all the praise and glory.
Verse 7 to 13 is a follow-up explanation by Paul. He is simply explaining why God kept this a mystery. And according to him, “God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display His wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was His eternal plan, which He carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord” (v10-11, NLT).
II. The Immeasurable Love of God (vv14-21)
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of His glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
Now, how do we suppose the people reacted to this revelation? While many of us were surprised, Paul did the most appropriate response: and that is to worship God. According to him in verse 14, this truth made him bow his knees before the Father. And it’s true. Worship is the right response to God’s goodness. However, Paul anticipated that many people would find this revelation hard to believe (and even comprehend). But this is where he explained that God’s love is immeasurable and is something that we can never fully understand. That is why he prayed for us that Christ may dwell in our hearts and become rooted and grounded in His love. Then, he prayed for us to “have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is” (v18, NLT).
Let us be clear though that Paul is not asking us to understand and examine the reason why God allowed Gentiles to become part of His family. That is completely God’s decision and something that we cannot question or object to. What Paul is praying for us to comprehend is God’s love. Whether Jew or Gentile, none of us deserve to be forgiven and accepted by God. But because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, God made a way for us to become part of His family. Like Paul said in the last part, God is able to do far more abundantly than what we can ask or think. And lastly, we don’t even need to fully comprehend God’s love to realize how good and loving He is. Even if we just experience 1% of His love, I’m certain that it is still greater than any love that we can experience in this world.
God Bless!! 🙂