For Christ’s Sake, a Prisoner Part I – (Ephesians 3:1-3)
For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you; that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief.
When Paul wrote this epistle he was quite literally a prisoner for Christ. This letter was written from a Roman prison. A prison where Paul was waiting to go before the Emperor of Rome. His crime? Preaching the Gospel to a fallen world, one that is at enmity with God. And even worse preaching it to Gentiles like us. However, Paul knew that his imprisonment was not under the control of any government, but ultimately under the control of Jesus Himself. And that His imprisonment would serve as a vehicle to preach the Gospel all the way to Rome. Paul understood that ultimately God is sovereign and therefore God is in control. And because of this experience and others like it, much of the Gospel was spread by Roman soldiers during the early years of the church. As we read these passages, it’s important to note that Paul was quite literally a prisoner for the sake of the Gentiles, because he was falsely accused of bringing a Gentile onto the Temple grounds in Jerusalem. Paul was falsely accused by Jewish leaders seeking any opportunity to harm him. They wanted to kill him for his faith in Jesus, thereby hoping to silence the preaching of the Gospel of Christ.
Paul was accused by other Jewish men, who were angry because of his ministry of preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles. The word used for “stewardship” here in these passages, is “dispensation” and that’s the word which appears in other translations. However, both words mean the same thing, which is to carry out faithfully, the responsibilities given to us by God. Paul was given stewardship directly by Jesus Himself. Paul was chosen by the risen Christ to preach God’s message of salvation to the Gentiles. Paul was a Pharisee, one of the most zealous of the sects in Judaism. Paul was a person who hated Gentiles, a person who wanted to kill Christians and a person who was making a name for himself in Judaism by doing exactly that. And yet of all people, Paul was called directly by God to bring the light of salvation to the Gentiles. Paul was called directly by Jesus Himself on the road to Damascus, where he was heading to persecute Christians. That call changed his life and from that point forward Paul’s mission was declaring the mystery of God, which is Jews and Gentiles, as well as all tribes, tongues and nations are one in the church, because we are all one family, brought together by God, through our faith in Jesus. We are one family in Christ, all given a new spirit and all governed by one spirit who is the Holy Spirit.