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.
(Ephesians 3:4-6 ESV)
Paul had mentioned a mystery in this letter previously [Ephesians 1:9, 3:3,4] and in today’s verse he explains what that mystery is: salvation through Jesus Christ is available to all people, not just the Jews.
In the Old Testament God created a distinction between Israel and the other nations. God gave them distinct rules, distinct dietary restrictions, distinct ceremonies, and distinct commandments.
More than that, God demonstrated His existence as well as His power, knowledge, and love in the way He treated Israel [Leviticus 3:3-23].The earthly nation of Israel essentially represented the heavenly family that will be with God through eternity.
God worked through Israel to bring His message to the entire planet but that did not mean that only Jews would be with God in heaven. On the contrary, God always planned on making salvation available to everyone [Isaiah 49:6; Zechariah 2:11 et. al].
But somewhere along the way the Jews began to take too much pride in their position with God. They began to look down on the Gentiles. Likewise, the Gentiles considered the Jews to be strange due to their unique culture. By the time Jesus arrives on the scene there is great animosity between the Jews and their neighbors.
So the statement that God, through Paul, is making here is astounding. Despite their differences and their hate for each other, God loves both Jew and Gentile and offers the promise of salvation – through Jesus – to both groups. God’s kingdom is not exclusive. It is inclusive. It is open to anyone who wants to enter into it.
This does not mean, though, that there are many paths to heaven. There are not. The only way is through Jesus, as Jesus Himself told us [John 3:16, 14:6]. But it does mean that salvation is available to everyone who sincerely acknowledges their sinfulness and accepts God’s standing offer of forgiveness.
God loves everyone and wants us all to be saved [1 Timothy 2:3-4]. This includes Muslims. And gay people. And corporate executives. And atheists. It includes your mother-in-law and your boss. It includes the guy on the news who killed his wife and kids. It includes you.
Regardless of who you are or what your background is, you can come into a relationship with God through His Son Jesus and thereby become a fellow heir – a member of God’s eternal family. It doesn’t matter what man-made group you were born into. Being born a Jew is not sufficient. Being born an American is of no consequence. All that matters is whether you are “born-again” as it is only through the gospel that people become members of God’s family [John 3:3].
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.