We can all remember moments of momentous change in our lives. One such for me was getting married, when of course everything changed. However even amidst all that change some things that had always been but were unknown to me, now became plain to see. Sometime into married life my wife began to poke me while I was sleeping. I would wake up and ask “What did you do that for?” Sandra would then say “You are snoring” to which I would respond, “So?” Sandra’s response was “Well stop it!” Before getting married I didn’t know that I snored, but I’m sure I did. Marriage brought new things to light, a revelation of what had always been. Something similar is going on in our passage of Ephesians 3:1-13.
There is first the incredible change brought about though the ministry of Jesus. Paul knew that he was privileged to be part of a monumental shift in history:
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, as I have already written briefly. 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. (Ephesians 3:2-6 NIV)
The things Paul has just mentioned in the previous chapter, that there was now only one body, and that people could come into that body no matter their background, was a very big change indeed. What a privilege it was for Paul and all the apostles to be in on that.
However, in doing something new many people assume that God somehow changed his mind between the Old and New Testaments. This is not the case, rather God was revealing what had been in his mind all along:
I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. (Ephesians 3:7-9 NIV)
When we refer to a mystery today we sometimes are thinking of something that simply cannot be known. However, in our passage, the word mystery refers not to what cannot be known, but rather what is not yet known. We can think of a mystery novel, where we keep reading until all is made clear. In Jesus, God was not coming up with a new idea, but rather making clear what his intentions had been all along . As Paul says the mystery “for ages past was kept hidden in God.” In doing a new thing through Jesus and the Holy Spirit, God was revealing more fully and more clearly the kind of love he had for us from the start. Our lives may be marked by change, but God has loved you from the get go!