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DEVOTIONS FOR MEN
To modern American ears, the phrase "the mystery of Christ" might sound almost quaint. When we hear the word mysteries, we tend to think of crimes to be solved by legendary sleuths like Sherlock Holmes or The Hardy Boys. Worse, when we hear the word "Christ" we tend to think picture the historical person of Jesus Christ more than instantly start contemplating His role as THE Christ. This was not the case for the people of Ephesus.
To the Greeks and Romans in that era, mysteries were deep truths and questions about the unknown and unknowable. If they knew the word Christ, they knew it was a translation of the Hebrew word Messiah and that it meant something about the Savior they were looking for. The mystery of Christ, then, was something deep and unknown about the long-awaited Jewish Messiah that--if revealed--would be a MAJOR revelation. Nothing quaint about that; this was big news. And it was:
Ephesians 3:2-6 (NLT) Surely you have heard about the administration of God's grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation...in reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
Imagine the impact of this passage the first time it was read to a multi-ethnic church made up of Messianic Jews and new non-Jewish converts. Imagine hearing that all the laws and rituals that had once divided them so sharply were merely pictures of the difference between holy and not holy, between those who follow God and those who do not--not practices that were near and dear to God's heart, in and of themselves. Imagine hearing for the first time that such outward, confusing, and exclusive practices as circumcision were not actually as important to God as everyone assumed--that they just represented His desire to set His people apart---that they would be "in the world but not of it."
With all this in mind, please take a moment to click the link below re-read the following passage. (One of the most commonly quoted scriptures, its context is rarely mentioned.) Then, after reading it, pray through Paul's prayer for the Ephesians for someone you love. Ephesians 3:14-21.