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Ephesians chapter 4 verses 1 to 8 - Service - What is Holding me Back - JS Gillespie  


Paul, the anointed apostle to the gentiles, called as a prisoner, but he walked worthy of it!  

Whatever God gives you to do – walk worthy of it!  

In walking worthy as the servant of Potiphar in his household that was part of the path to greater service over Egypt  

In walking worthy as the servant of Moses that was the path to leading the nation onto victory in the promised land 

In walking worthy as the servant of Elijah that was Elisha’s path to becoming the man of God for the nation.  

In walking worthy as a captive in Babylon that was the path for Daniel to become a prince and a prophet.  

The Lord does not entrust as with much if we do not prove faithful in that which is least.  

For service in His church 4 key attributes: 

Lowliness – Don’t get puffed up 

How Paul served at Ephesus: 

“Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews” (Acts 20:19) 

It was the solution to the divisions at Philippi: 

“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” (Philippians 2:3)   


Lowliness - Don't get puffed up

Meekness – Don’t blow up


Longsuffering – don’t give up  

Forbearing – Put up 



All 4 of these attitudes to other are the expression of one attribute which is “love” (4:2)  

This is a love which has as it’s source the Lord Himself (3:16ff)  

A love which comes in back in Ephesians 3:17 

Lenski points out that the love in Ephesians 3:17 is our love towards Christ / God, just as the thought continues that it is our understanding or comprehension of God in verse 18 that flows from this love of verse 17 and so it must be our love for God.  

Something happens in these verses 16 to 17 that brings out this response of love towards Christ. The only significant event is the answer to that prayer for strength (Ephesians 3:16). In that answer by the Lord to our need we are assured of His love to us, His care, His commitment, and we are able to get over that stumbling block of Adam in Genesis 3 where we harbour the grudge, that just maybe we have a God who holds back on us and who cannot be trusted, who does not always want the very best for us!  

Vs 3 – We do not produce the unity, that is already given by the Spirit, rather we keep the unity.  

Vs 4 to 6 – 7 fold unity  

Verse 7 to 8 – the Grace Christ gives are manifest in His gifts  

Gifts given for use amongst His people.  

Verse 8 helps me understand the strange phrasing of Ephesians 2:2; the interesting title for Satan in Ephesians 2:2 “the Prince of the Power of the air” 

Why not Satan? 

Why not the Devil?  

What is the significance of the “Prince of the Power of the air”? 

Herein is the domain of Satan; above the kings of this earth, below the throne of the God of heaven!   

As believers we have been removed from and taken from that domain! Our status is not that of REFUGEE! Our status is that of REDEEMED! We are no like those souls we here of who escape from North Korea, from the concentration camps or the oppression of China or Iran where they escape but the regime stands as powerful as ever! We escaped but it stands as strong as ever! This is not the case with Satan!  

The bestowal of spiritual gifts by Christ (4:8) is linked to the ascension of Christ. This is distinct from Hebrews chapter 2 where it is the resurrection of Christ breaking through death and the grave, the gifts here are given subsequent to the ascension of Christ as He ascends (4:8) and leads captivity captive. This is not the grave nor death, the ascension is after the resurrection this is the leading of captivity captive after His death and resurrection as He ascends, through the domain of “the Prince of the power of the air”! 

Let me draw an illustration from Israel heading from the Exodus to the promised land! A story through which we can read the whole of the Ephesian epistle! The narrative of Exodus to Joshua is onwards and upwards, pressing forward through the red sea and the wilderness. Yet do something for me! Just for a moment, as you drive inexorably forwards, just for a moment, glance into the rearview mirror! What do you see? Israel are not refugees! Israel are the redeemed of God! Refugees leave their country as it was, intact. Israel has ransacked Egypt and left behind them a scene of total devastation! The grave yards are full of the firstborn of Egypt, the cattle slaughtered, the stink of rotten frogs and polluted rivers  and the Red Sea floating with corpses. Egypt has been subdued.  

In gifting to His people His gifts of Grace for the up building of His people and the spread of the gospel Christ has removed the enemy and forces that would hinder that work! That means there is nothing left to hinder us as His people!  

Dr J Stewart Gillespie

Ephesians chapter 3 vs 14 to 16 - It Brings me to my Knees - J Stewart Gillespie  

For this cause I bow the knees, introduces Pauls prayer of intercession for the believers at Ephesus. It has taken prison, persecution and affliction to bring him here, on his knees before God. On his knees is the place of prayer. On his knees is the place of power. Paul is bold in prayer and interecedes not that the Ephesians may be strengthened according to their weakness but that they may be strengthened according to God's Glory! It is this strength that turns a shepherd into a giant slayer, that brings Samson his greatest victory and turns Lazarus's death into something glorious! 

Dr J Stewart Gillespie 

Bridgend Gospel 

Hall New Cumnock 

Ephesians chp 3 vs 1 to 11 - When the Prison becomes a Treasure House - JS Gillespie  

Excitement is palpable in Ephesians chapter 3 

The apostle goes off topic, caught up with the excitement of the unsearchable riches of Christ

"for this cause" (3:1) is not continued until verse 14 

For this cause:

On the basis of 2:11-22, the tremendous blessings and benefits of being a Christian 

  1. Peace with God 
  2. Privilege of prayer 
  3. Place in His church 
  4. Presence of God 

Almost like a trip to tower of London where there is many a jewel on display 

We noted previously the setting of Ephesians chapter 3 is that of the Tower of London! A place once a:

  • Prison

And now a :

  • Treasure House

At the centre, a display behind thick glass impenetrable, the regal crown of the United Kingdom, adorned atop by the Koh-I-Nor diamond

Here in Ephesians chapter 3 we find a very similar place! 

For Paul this place is both a:

  • Prison (Ephesians 3:1)

And a:

  • Treasure Store (Ephesians 3:8) of the unsearchable riches of Christ 

Ephesians chapter 3 does differ from the Tower of London:

  • Ephesians 3 is both a prison cell and a treasure store similtaneously. We have the prison and the riches simultaneously! 
  • Don't need easy jet to reach it! 

It is as Paul peers through the bars of the prison cell that in his suffering, in his pain and in his problems and in:

  • Prison

He sees 

  • Purpose

Through the prison bars he sees purpose! 

Men had their PLAN but God has His PURPOSE!

This section (Ephesians 3:1 – 11) 

  • Begins with Prison (3:1)
  • Ends with Purpose (3:11)  - God’s purpose in Christ of which Paul, his life and ministry are now an integral part! 

Suffering can be bearable if we perceive purpose:

  • A man who has a reason why to live can deal with almost any how 
  • Leonid Rogozov – self appendectomy 1961 – the suffering had purpose and was worth it! 
  • When we see the purpose in the pain and problems perhaps we can be encouraged to percevere 

From this prison cell Paul will expound to us the unsearchable riches of Christ! 

He acknowledges that

  • Christ is Sovereign over his imprisonment (3:1) – he could have complained about the Roman authorities, the Jewish accusers, Satanic forces (Ephesians 6) but above and beyond them all he recognises the sovereign hand of God. “the prisoner of Christ Jesus” (3:1) note the Greek word order, first “Christ” in His Messianic authority (Psalm 2), with kingly and sovereign power:


  • Anointed Priest (Psalm 110)
  • Anointed King (Psalm 110; Psalm 2) 
  • Anointed Prophet 
  • All together in Christ 


  • Not simply a prisoner of Rome, nor even of the forces of Satan but of Christ, and then “Jesus”. God makes even the "wrath of man" to praise Him. Instead of the prison obstructing his ministry the prison has facilitated it! 
  • The Saviour is present with Paul in his imprisonment, so this prison experience is full of an appreciation of Christ. As a "prisoner of Jesus Christ" almost as if Christ, jailor like, holds Paul in that place, solitary confinement was not possible for Paul, it was always with Christ! Like his experience in 2 Timothy “Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.” 2 Timothy 4:17. This is an expeirence not unlike that of Mark 6:31 "come yourselfs apart and rest a while" Sometimes maybe for te busy servant, runing about, pouring Himself out, burning the candle at both ends, sometimes the only thing that will sort it out is "the jail". Here in the prison cell Paul is caught up with the person of Christ! 


Christ is:

  • Sovereign over the imprisonment
  • Saviour in the imprisonment - present and pervasive 

Paul is a “prisoner for you Gentiles” (3:1)

Is this an investment worth making? 

Investing in God’s work is worthwhile. 

In God’s purpose, God’s people are worthwhile. 

CT Studd – gave up a fortune and a career in cricket 

Jim Elliot:

  • ‘He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose’
  • He is no fool who parts with that which he cannot keep, when he is sure to be recompensed with that which he cannot lose.’

Paul was investing his life in something worthwhile 

‘Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more, it is a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing’ 

Macbeth Act 5 Scene 5 

Maybe not too far from the truth, for many a:

  • Wasted life 
  • Frittered life 
  • Futile life

Squandered on utter triviality 

It seems the more trivial the pursuit today, the greater the reward and accolade:

  • People pretending to be someone else in a story of make believe 
  • Story tellers 
  • Fantasists 
  • Glory of fleeting sporting achievements 
  • Many sacrifice their time and talents in trivial pursuits

By contrast Paul has invested His life and not squandered it (3:1), invested for Glory and not squandered for time.

Paul has invested it in something of lasting value, the work of God. 

Paul has taken Christ at His word

  • ‘purchase of me gold tried in the fire’
  • ‘lay up for yourself treasure in heaven’ 

The Christian life is not a life wasted but a life invested!

This prison becomes a:

  • Pulpit
  • Printing Press 
  • School
  • Sanctuary 

This prison becomes a place where:

  • Christ is experienced 
  • Christ is expounded 

A place not only of:

  • Incarceration 
  • Consecration 



To expound Christ I must first needs experience Christ 

Not simply as CS Lewis put it: 

  • Fall in love with God 
  • Fall in love with telling about God 
  • Fall in love with the telling 


From this imprisonment comes a presentation of the:

  1. Innocense - creation to fall, no law for no need of law
  2. Conscience - fall to the law. Some would also see: 
  1. Age of government - "if man shall she blood by man shall his blood be shed". Unconvinced that this represents a significantly distinctive dispensation. Government certainly developes through Genesis and beyond: Babel and Pharoah etc but from the days of Cain, retribution was a reality with the mark of Cain.
  2. Promise to Abraham - definitely not a distinct dispensation, it does not involve the means of Divine administration of this world, selective, although very important but particular to Abraham. If we recognise this as a dispensation I would think you would need another for Melchizedek as well. 


On the basis of Romans chapter 5 I would see warrant in a single dispensation from conscience to law. 

  1. Law
  2. Grace
  3. Tribulation - withdrawal of the Holy Spirit and the church – the Divine response to the rejection of Christ
  4. Millenial reign of Christ
  5. Eternal state 
  • Not only what God is doing but the why, dispensations have a purpose, for the Glory of His Son. Not only are they distinctive means of Divine Administration but administration with an end in view.
  • The dispensation of law is our school master leading us to Christ. In the law we have wonderful pictures and patterns of Christ in the sacrifices, offerings and tabernacle. 
  • The dispensation of Grace is all of Christ 
  • The Glory of God revealed in the eternal state with all focused on Christ! The foundations are the apostles of the lamb, the throne is of the lamb and the lamb is the light thereof! 
  • The broad panorama of the unsearchable riches of Christ.
  • The 14 mysteries
  1. Mysteries of the Kingdom
  2. Mystery of Israel regrafted (Romans 11) 
  3. Mystery of the Gospel to all nations (Romans 16) 
  4. Mystery of the Cross (1 Corinthians 2) 
  5. Mystery of the Rapture (1 Corinthians 15) 
  6. Mystery of His Will (Ephesians 1) 
  7. Mystery of Christ (Ephesians 3) 
  8. Mystery of the Church as the Bride of Christ (Ephesians 6) 
  9. Mystery of Christ in us (Colossians 1) 
  10. Mystery of Iniquity (2 Thessalonians 2) 
  11. Great Mystery of Godliness (1 Timothy 3:16) 
  12. Mystery of 7 stars and churches (Revelation 2) 
  13. Mystery of God (Revelation 7) 
  14. Mystery of Babylon the Great (Revelation 17) 
  • The 2 great mysteries: 1 Timothy 3:16; Ephesians 5
  • The 1 mystery of a great thing: Revelation 17 - note the disctinction here, not a great mystery sa is Christ and His people but now in dealing with iniquity and evil - the mystery of great thing! A different category all together! 

What are these mysteries? 

A 'definition' is often given:

  • Truth once concealed and now revealed.

This is more accurately a feature of some of the mysteries of Christ rather than a definition. 

It is a paraphrase of Ephesians 3:5 and is thus a feature of the mystery of Christ. 

3 reasons why 'truth once concealed and now revelead is not a definition of the mysteries. 

  1. Non specific, too generic - if this is our definition 

it would include almost all OT prophecy, given to some degree in obscurity eg "a virgin shall conceive and bring forth a son"! What did that means.

It would include the types and prophecies of the OT eg Genesis 22.

  1. Inaccurate - not all mysteries are now revealed - 2 Thessalonians chp2 - mystery of iniquity, 1 Timothy 3:16 and the mystery of Babylon the great!
  2. Cryptic - it seems an odd way to define a mystery by describing them as not mysteries! Paul, John and the Lord describe them consistently as mysteries, and still in the present tense eg 1 Timothy 3:16. It is a bit of a mystery to me to define a mystery as not a mystery. That is a mystery! 

Does a definition of the mysteries really matter? 

You should have been a hair dresser, you're so good with split hairs. 

A definition / understanding is worth pondering, if we get that wrong we may miss what the mysteries are actually about.

What are the mysteries. 

Consider the 3 core mysteries:

2 Great Mysteries 

1 Mystery of a Great thing 

  1. Great is the mystery of Godliness 


  1. Great mystery of Christ and His Church 
  • Redemption of a people
  • Reconciliation
  • Relationship with God forever 


  1. Mystery of Babylon the Great 
  • Removal of all that opposes Christ, rejects Christ and Rebels against Christ.


If I were to ask you to summarise the message of the bible for me? God's plan as revealed within the pages of this book. How would you do?

  • An hours ministry 
  • A systematic theology 

How about in 3 points? 

I don't think you could do much worse that those 3 points! Even if it is my message and I'm quite pleased with it!

God's purpose for this universe from creation to redemption and beyond.

From eternity to eternity! 

These mysteries are not simply truths once concealed and now revealed, these mysteries are the answer of God to the question why? how? who?

The mysteries are God's plan for the universe.

This is the 'hidden' knowledge of the Christian faith, the true mysteries!

Maye God had purpose in the prison cell?

It was in the prison that:

  • Joseph became a prophet 
  • Daniel a type of Christ 
  • Silas established the church at Philippi
  • Paul unfolded the unsearchable riches of Christ 
  • Onesimus was transformed from sinner and slave to saint. 

Makes you think that maybe God has a purpose in the prison cell at times?

Maybe in my:

  • Loneliness
  • Isolation
  • Separation
  • Despair
  • Illness
  • Restriction 

In my ‘prison’ type experience, maybe God will have purpose here too! 

Like Joseph in Genesis, there was purpose in his problems. 

Like Moses in Deuteronomy 8:2ff 




“for this cause” (Ephesians 3:1) 

  1. Peace with God 
  2. Privilege of Prayer 
  3. Place in the Church 
  4. Presence of God 

Paul doesn’t finish this sentence until 3:14 “for this cause I bow my knees” 

Paul sees the Power of God – the sovereign hand of Christ in his experience “of Christ Jesus”. Paul lives in the reality of a teaching he will give us later on in Ephesians 6:12; “we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers against the rulers of the darkness of this world...” Rome was but a pawn in a far bigger game. Neither Rome, Jewish 

  1. more clearly that the “excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us” (2 Co 4:7). Here is the church growing and blossoming despite the fact that Paul has been taken out of the equation!


  1. “So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” (Phil 1:13-14). There were those who sat on the fence! How do we get them off the fence? Set the fence on fire! No longer able to sit upon the fence.  


  1. “All the saints salute you, -- chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household” (Phil 4:22) Even with Paul’s imprisonment, the gospel goes out and souls are being saved! 


  1. Is it not interesting that today we read Pauls prison epistles! Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon and 2 Timothy! World population in AD 70 – about 250 million. Up until today about 7 billion bibles printed. The YOU bible version claims to have been installed on approximately 725 million devices! If Paul had never been in prison the maximum reach of his preaching ministry from Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon and 2 Timothy would have been a few thousand! 


  1. Perceives the Purpose of his prison cell and problems! We don’t always have that luxury of course, being able to see what our trial is all about! Acknowledging the sovereignty of God of course over our trials gives us the assurance that “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28). In faith we have the assurance of purpose! 




  1. Paul shows us a fresh PERSPECTIVE on the service of God (v8). Paul develops and grows in the PEACE and PATIENCE of God! Perhaps if we were an apostle like Paul, with such gift, knowledge, opportunity we would expect unlimited success and blessing, yet we notice Paul’s approach to his ministry (3:8) – God owes him nothing! All that he has he has been given, this ministry is all of God’s grace, with humility he has the perspective that God owes him nothing! 

Verse 2:

Dispensation” : “οἰκονομία” : administration

Paul recognises in this verse ‘dispensations’

The ‘dispensation of the Grace of God’ stands in contrast to something else mentioned earlier; a distinctive way in which God revealed Himself and His plans and purposes in days gone by; “the law” (Ephesians 2:15) which excluded Jew and Gentile from fellowship with Him. 

Dispensations are ways by which God operates or administers this world. God remains the same and unchanged but the means by which He operates, or what He does does not remain the same! 

  • God does not perpetually flood the world 
  • God does not continually demand animal sacrifices
  • God does not constantly plague Egypt
  • God does not continue to send His Son into the world 


At different times God operates by distinctive means.

The word dispensation does not appear that often in the NT, although significantly it does appear 7 X in the NT; Luke 16:2; Luke 16:3; Luke 16:4; 1 Corinthians 9:17; Ephesians 1:10; Ephesians 3:2; Colossians 1:25.

There are different ways of seeing these dispensations in scripture. 

I can identify at least 7 (maybe 8) distinct dispensations, administered by God in distinctive ways:

  1. Age of Innocence (Creation to the fall)
  2. Age of Conscience / government from fall to the law, some see government as a distinct dispensation from Noah to the Law with the command to punish murder by death, although I do note that some form of government was already in force pre fall as indicated by the mark on Cain. 
  3. Age of Law from Exodus 20 to Christ 
  4. Age of Grace from the advent of Christ 
  5. Day of Tribulation 
  6. Millenial Reign 
  7. Eternal state 


Verse 3 – The Mystery

Paul references here the Mystery of Christ (3:4) which is a reference to Jews and Gentiles together in one body (3:6)

Why Christ? 

Christ or Messiah is the anointed one:

  • Psalm 2:2 – The anointed King 
  • Psalm 110 – parallels Psalm 2 – the word Christ not mentioned but refers to the Priest and King 
  • Daniel 9:24 – 26 

As Messiah Christ incorporates the roles of all of those previously anointed:

  • Prophet
  • Priest
  • King 

The believer is being brought into the blessings and benefit of this anointed one, prophet, priest, King and sacrifice for our sins (Daniel 9) we have not been excluded! 

A mystery:

  • Truth once concealed and now revealed? 

This is certainly true of the church and this mystery of Christ (3:4-5) but:

  • Not necessarily a great ‘definition’ of mystery per se!

Perhaps better to understand the idea of mystery within the setting of the time of the NT writings when many of the religions of that day had a core set of ideas or revelations kept for the initiated. These were ideas that were at the core or heart of the religious system but unknown to the uninitiated. 

These mysteries then form the back bone, the structure to God’s plan for the universe in Christ. They are in effect the answer as to the reason why / how / what God is doing with this universe. 

We could identify perhaps 14 distinct mysteries. 

  1. Mystery of the Kingdom (Mark 4) 
  2. Mystery of Israel (Romans 11)
  3. Mystery of the Gospel to all nations (Romans 16:25) 
  4. Mystery of the Cross (1 Corinthians 1 + 2) 
  5. Mystery of the Rapture (1 Corinthians 15) 
  6. Mystery of Christ in you (Colossians 1:27)
  7. Mystery of His will (Ephesians chp 1) 
  8. Mystery of Christ (Ephesians chp 3) 
  9. Mystery of the Bride (Ephesians chp 5) 
  10. Mystery of Iniquity (2 Thessalonians 2:7) 
  11. Mystery of Godliness (1 Timothy 3:16)
  12. Mystery of the 7 Churches (Revelation chp 1)
  13. Mystery of God in judgment (Revelation 10:7) 
  14. Mystery of Babylon the Great (Revelation 17:5)


The 3 greats form the backbone of theses mysteries:

  1. Great mystery of Godliness (1 Timothy 3:16) 

The Revelation, Resurrection, Ascension, Exaltation and Glorification of Christ 

  1. Great mystery of Christ and His people (Ephesians 5)

The Redemption and reconciliation and relationship of Christ with His people 

  1. The mystery of Babylon the Great (Revelation 17)

The Removal, Rejection and Retribution of all that rebels against Christ. 

If I were to ask you to give me a summary of the bible, could you do much better? 

Not a bad summary of the bible!

A summary of the bible in 3 points!

I doubt you could do any better! 

Here is Gods plan for the universe.

Here is the message of the bible 



What is God doing?

Why is God doing it? 

How is God doing it? 




V8  “the unsearchable riches of Christ” 

Paul is tasked with this great challenge of preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ to the Gentiles. 

Notice his perspective on himself as he unfolds these riches! 

unto me who am less than the least of all saints” (3:8

God owes Paul nothing! 

God does not owe him:

  • An easy life
  • A smooth passage
  • Blessings
  • Prosperity
  • Popularity 

All Paul has, he has by the grace of God!

He is indebted to God, and not God to him! 

Prison is acceptable when grace is undeserved (v8) 

Perhaps there is a link between Paul’s appreciation of who he is (3:8) and Paul’s appreciation of who Christ is? 

  • A small view of self
  • A big view of Christ

Do we not need to be empty to then be filled? 

  • Paul – when I am weak then I am strong 
  • Elijah knew God’s power and presence in the famine, drought and persecution by Jezebel
  • Moses encountered God as a fugitive in the backside of the desert 
  • Let him that lacks wisdom ask of God who gives liberally and upbraideth not (James 1:5) 

Was it not:

  • The blind man who saw the light of the world (John 9)
  • The dead man who knew the resurrection power of Jesus (John 11)
  • The hungry crowd who could testify to Christ as the living bread (John 6)
  • A thirsty woman who drank of the living water (John 4) 
  • Empty water pots that were filled to the brim by Christ with wine. (John 2) 
  • An anxious and fearful upper room of disciples who enjoyed that peace of Christ which goes beyond all understanding! 


What is Paul sharing of Christ? 

What are these riches?

Are they things which Christ possesses?

  • Cattle on the 1000 hills (Psalm 50:10)
  • All that the Father hath are mine (John 16:25) 
  • The whole world belongs to Him (John 1) 
  • All things made by Him (Col 1:16)

I have never heard Paul ‘preach’ but we do have his epistles to read. They do not seem to be filled with the riches Christ possesses or creates but rather the riches of His:

  • Character 
  • Attributes 
  • Person 
  • Work 

ie riches of:

  • Who Christ is 
  • What Christ has done 

Riches are commodities we would attach value to either because of their:

  1. Uniqueness
  • Outstanding beauty 
  • Scarcity 
  • Complexity 
  1. Relative worth - money 
  2. Absolute worth 
  • Heb 11:26 – Moses found greater riches in the reproach of Christ than the treasures in Egypt 

There is absolute worth in Christ! 

Illust: Jews heading to Auschwitz willing to give away all of their material possessions for a drink of water! 

all that a man hath will he give for his life” (Job 2:4) 

Jesus is:

  • In our hunger He is the Bread of life
  • In my thirst He is the Living water 
  • In my death He is the resurrection and the life 
  • In my wandering He is the good Shepherd 
  • In my sin He is the Saviour 
  • In my weakness He is my helper 
  • In my sorrow He is the comforter 
  • In my emptiness He is the fullness that filleth all in all 
  • In my path He is the Way 
  • In my despair He is our Hope 
  • In my fear He is our peace 
  • The true vine sustaining His people 
  • Possesses the words of Eternal Life
  • Resurrection and the life
  • Creator
  • Judge 
  • Upholds all things by His power 
  • Holds the keys of hell and of death (Rev 1:18) 
  • He is our peace 
  • He is our redeemer 
  • Our substitute 
  • He is our hope 
  • The door into heaven 
  • Our Great High Priest 
  • Our Good Shepherd 
  • Our Great Shepherd 
  • He is our comforter 
  • King of Kings
  • Lord of Lords 
  • Bright and morning star 
  • In my need of a lamb He is Jehovah Jireh (Genesis 22)
  • For those who need healing heading out of Egypt He is Jehovah Rapha 
  • For Gideon who saw the angel of the Lord and was afraid to die He is Jehovah Shalom 
  • For David facing Goliath He is the Lord of Hosts (1 Samuel 17:45) Jehovah Sabaoth
  • For those who need salvation He is Jehovah Tsidkenu 
  • Hebrews 1 – titles of Jehovah 
  • Revelation 17 – title of Jehovah 

Everything I need for time and for eternity is found in Him!

Fascinatingly it is Moses who teaches me the true value of these unsearchable riches in Christ! 

By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;
25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;
26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.” (Hebrews 11:24-26)

Moses had in Egypt:

  • Place
  • Position
  • Privilege
  • Power
  • Pleasure
  • Possessions 

Here is an encouraging thought; if all I feel that I have of Christ is His reproach: 

  • His tears and sorrow
  • His rejection and alienation
  • His pain and suffering 
  • The hatred of men
  • The contradiction of sinners
  • The mocking and jeering
  • Betrayal and unfaithfulness
  • If the only grasp I feel of His things is His Cross
  • If the only taste of Christ is the taste of His tears 
  • When you feel you follow with a cross rather than for a crown
  • The only fragrance of Christ you perceive is the anointing for His burial
  • The only emotion the tears of His suffering 
  • Heaven and it’s precious jewels seem a long way away
  • The wiping away of all tears beyond your reach 
  • The streets of gold are somewhere else 
  • River of living water refresh another people in another city in another place 

If out of all of His riches I lay hold only of His reproach then compared to all that I could ever have in this world, this far out weighs in value and worth the world in its:

  • Place
  • Position
  • Privilege
  • Power 
  • Pleasure 
  • Possessions 


Paul, imprisoned in Ephesians chapter 3 recognises the sovereign power of Christ over that prison and discovers the Saviour in that prison! This section of Ephesians chapter 3 begins with prison and ends with purpose! There is purpose in the prison! Purpose for Joseph, Daniel, Onesimus, Silas and Paul. From that prison pours the unsearchable riches of Christ, an appreciation of the dispensations of God's Grace and of the mysteries of the New Testament, 14 in number, 2 great mysteries and 1 mystery of a great thing. 

Dr J Stewart Gillespie

Ephesians chp 2 vs 11 to 22 - Dont Just go to Church be the Church - JS Gillespie   

Ephesians chapter 2 is a call first to reflection and to remember. Remember what once you were, dead in trespasses and sins, what you now are, raised up with Jesus Christ in the heavenly places and ask the question; so what? Does this make a difference to my life?

In Ephesians chapter 2 we see that the Christian enjoys 4 great spiritual privelages and blessings: 

1 - Peace with God 

This peace is both verticle; between the Christian and God and horizontal, between believers. We see a picture of this peace in the peac offering of Leviticus chapter 3 with the removal of the diaphragm or caul above teh kidneys. 


2 - Privelage of prayer 

This access to God by His Holy Spirit can be and is manifested in at least 5 distinct forms of prayer:

  1. Thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6)
  2. Worship (Hebrews 13:15)
  3. Intercession (Romans 8:26)
  4. Supplication (Philippians 4:6)
  5. Confession (1 John 1:9)

Here is a challenge to enjoy the blessings and privelages God has for us in Christ. 

3 - Place in God's church, as believers we are not expected simpy to ‘go to church’ nor simply to be part of the congregation, but rather to be part of the concrete, an integral component of the church which He is building! 

4 - Presence and reality of God in His church and amongst His people.

Systematic teaching from the letter to the Ephesians 

Dr J Stewart Gillespie

26th March 2024

A Taste of our Inheritance to come - Ephesians chapter 1 verse 18 - J Stewart Gillespie  

Noticed already how we can divide Ephesians: 

Chapters 1 to 3 – Doctrine 

Chapters 4 to 6 – Practice 

Practice is built upon our doctrine 

What we believe determines how we live 

We have seen some dramatic examples of this over the last century: 

  • Camp Davidians – mass suicide to enter into some gate in heaven 
  • Holocaust – believing Jews and others were sub human 
  • Islam – belief in Mohammed and Koran, Jihad and Muslim lands resulted in terrorism, oppression and murder. 

What we believe determines how I live 

See that here in Ephesians 4:1; 20-22 

Doctrine affects practice 

The WORD determines the WALK 

What we saw, as the WORD was misrepresented the WALK was unrecognisable. 

Let us be careful, doctrine determines practice

We noted too a further:

Pattern or Template: 

The journey of Israel from Egypt to Canaan, under Moses and then under Joshua:

  1. Redemption – Exodus 12 
  2. Sanctification 
  3. Construction of Tabernacle 
  4. Dimensions of Divine Love 
  5. Service in the tabernacle (Ephesians 4:1ff)
  6. Walk / Journey – chapters 4 and 5 
  7. Battle (chapter 6) 

We could see the structure of the epistle through the pattern of the 3 prayers of Ephesians:

  1. WHY God saved you – Reason for our salvation – following after the doctrines of election, predestination, adoption, inheritance, redemption 
  2. WHAT our redemption is all about – Preparation for the Christian walk, the heart of the Christian experience 
  3. HOW we succeed – the Victory in our walk 

Or consider:

  2. DEVOTION – Our RELATIONSHIP with Christ 
  3. DISCIPLESHIP / DUTY – The REALITY of faith and victory 

Hope (v18) 

Keep your hope before you! 

If you lose your hope you lose your way! 

‘A man who has a reason why to live can deal with almost any how.’ (Friedrich Nietzsche)

Hope – do we have hope? 

A hope set before us??

Was it not:

Hope that sustained Noah through 40 days of rain

Hope that sustained Moses and Israel through 40 years in the wilderness

Hope that sustained Job through 40 chapters of suffering 

Hope sustained Paul (Phil 1:21) in His lifelong service for Christ 

Hope sustained men and women of faith in their race in the midst of persecution and trial (Hebrews 12:1) 

Hope sustained great men and women of faith (Hebrews 11)

That Hope is: “the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (v18) 

This is a strange and difficult phrase, could mean one of 2 things:

  1. God has an inheritance in or amongst the saints, ie that the saints are God’s inheritance. This is of course true but maybe doesn’t fit too well with the context in 1:11, 14, rather than what God gets. 
  2. The inheritance belonging to and from God, shared amongst the saints, ie not what God gets but what we get. This is similar to 
    1. “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.” Acts 20:32 and 
    2. “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” Acts 26:18 

It is our inheritance ie what we get rather than what God gets that has been the theme so far of Ephesians chapter 1 and it is to our inheritance, ie what we get that the Ephesian letter will lead us into in chapter 6, ready and equipped for battle to cease our inheritance in Christ.

Surely verse 18 could have been clearer? 

As a consequence of this we are presented with a fascinating truth which is infused through the rest of Ephesians, that the inheritance of God’s people is collective!

God’s people were not designed to go it alone! 

Salvation is an individual and personal encounter and experience! The Christian life begins with an individual experience but it does not continue as such! We will forever share in a collective experience of Christ and a collective inheritance. 

This thought leads me into the truth of the church “His body” (1:23) 

Eternally our inheritance is among the saints! 

Presently God has placed us among the saints (v23) 

It is amongst the saints that we receive a foretaste of this inheritance. It is amongst the saints we find: 

  • The Presence of Christ with His people (1:23) 
  • The Privilege of access (2:13-16,18) 
  • The Presence of Christ in His people (3:14ff) 
  • The Revelation of Christ in the Church (chapter 4) 


  1. Revelation (chp 1) 
  2. Relationship (chp 3) 
  3. Reality (chp 6) 

We find a taste of that in the church 

In the church the tremendous multiplicity of gift (Ephesians 4:10 ff) brings a great revelation of Christ to His people. 

We don’t believe in one man ministry:

  • Pastors are in the plural 
  • No NT precedent for one teaching elder or pastor – elders plural (when they can be) 
  • Gifts are plural, all believers are gifted and the expectation is that we will use those gifts 

Here in Ephesians chapter 4 we see the reason for this. The use of this diversity of gift amongst God’s people is needed to reflect the full glory of Christ in order that His people may be brought to Christ likeness! 

That you may know what is the hope of His calling and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints. Ephesians chapter 1 verse 18 points the Christian to the present experience of the future expectation of his inheritance. The inheritance God has for His people will be forever shared collectively amongst His people. This experience we taste of today in His Church, the body, building and bride of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is in the church that the full variety and diversity of spiritual gifts are given to glorify and reveal Jesus and build up the Christian, transforming and conforming them to the image of Jesus! 

God indeed is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied with Him! 

Dr J Stewart Gillespie

Spirit Lead me from Redemption to Redemption - Ephesians chapter 1 verses 13 to 14 - J Stewart Gillespie  

“The Holy Spirit of Promise”

Consider the Spirit of God, such a vast subject! 

The actions and manifestation of the Holy Spirit, are the actions and manifestations of God! 

The subject is immense!

  1. His role in Creation (Genesis chp 1) 
  2. His role in inspiration (2 Peter 1:20ff) 
  3. His role in the Incarnation (Luke 1:35) 
  4. His role in spiritual gifts and the Gift of prophecy 
  5. His role in Sanctification 
  6. His role in Consecration 
  7. His role in the Conviction of sin (John 16:8)
  8. His role in Conversion
  9. His role in Regeneration (John 3) 
  10. His role in Comfort and consolation (John 14)
  11. His role in Education (John 14:26; 1 John 2:27) 
  12. His role in the Ministry of Christ (John 14) 
  13. His role in Spiritual gifts (1 Co12) 
  14. His role in Prayer (Romans 8) 
  15. His role in Leading and guiding (Romans 8)
  16. His role in the transformation of character – fruit of the Spirit (2 Co 3:17-18)

The Spirit of God has many and varied roles and is active wherever God is active. To fully understand or systematise the Spirit of God we would have to fully understand God! 

What we have in Ephesians is something a bit more focused however. 

The Spirit of God is the believer’s:

  1. Pledge
  2. Proof 
  3. Person

He is our:

  1. Guide 
  2. Guardian 
  3. Guarantee

The ministry of the Spirit of God in the life of the Christian is a ministry from: 

Redemption (Ephesians 1:7) 


Redemption (Ephesians 1:13-14)

We are redeemed (Ephesians 1:7) 

We are to be redeemed (Ephesians 1:14) 

Redemption has 2 aspects:

  • What we are redeemed from – Egypt – slaves to pharaoh 
  • What we are redeemed to – The promised land – servants of the Lord 

In redemption there is an out and there is an in! 

Out of Egypt and into the promised land. 

Out of slavery to Pharoah and into the service of the Lord 

The ministry of God’s Holy Spirit thus runs:

  • From redemption (1:7) to redemption (1:14) 
  • From time to eternity 
  • From earth to heaven 

“The Holy Spirit of God whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Eph 4:30). He is with us all that journey through! 

He is the "Holy Spirit of promise" (1:13)

Certainly He is the promised Holy Spirit: 

  • John 14:16
  • John 15:26
  • John 16:13
  • Luke 24:49
  • Acts 19:1ff 

But in the context of Ephesians chapter 1 He is more than the promised Holy Spirit. He is the guarantor of God’s promises:

  • earnest” – ‘arrabon’ – engagement ring 
  • He is the promised guarantee that the leaving we have endured will lead to an entering in to an inheritance which we can expect.
  • He takes us from redemption to redemption

That path guided by the Holy Spirit for the Christian is a picture which we see over in Genesis chapter 24, in the unnamed servant who leads Rebekah from Haran / Nahor to Canaan.

The Holy Spirit will lead us through too. 

  1. Salvation 

Set apart unto salvation – 2 Thess 2:13 

Conviction of sin (John 16:8)

Regeneration (John 3)

  1. Revelation of Jesus Christ (John 16:15; 14:26)
  2. Sanctification 

Sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit (1 Co 6:11)

Leave the world, the flesh and the Devil behind and drawn into the presence of Christ 

  1. Relationship 

Romans chapter 8

Prayer (Romans 8:26) 

  1. Consecration and transformation 

The inner working of the Spirit of God 

“The Spirit of ... power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim 1:7) 

Power – Ephesians 3:16 

Love – Ephesians 3:17 

Sound mind – Ephesians 3:18 

Consider 2 Corinthians 3:16ff – conformed to the image of Christ 

  1. Gifts of the Spirit for the Church 

Cf. 1 Corinthians 12:1ff 

The Spirit of God operative in the church, drawing believers together in the community of the church.


  1. Character moulded 

The transformation of the believers character 

The conformation of the Christian to Jesus 

The victory over the flesh (Romans 8:13) 

Cf. The fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22)

  1. Conduct shaped 

The transformation of conduct 

Led by the Spirit (Romans 8:1ff)

Filled by the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18ff) 

  1. Spiritual warfare 

Spiritual battle – conflict and warfare 

  1. Illuminating the Word of God 

A fairly extensive list of the ministry of the Holy Spirit 

That list of the working of the Holy Spirit is effectively an outline of the entire letter of the Ephesians! 

The Holy Spirit will lead us through too. 

  1. Salvation and sealing (Ephesians 1:13)
  2. Revelation of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:17) 
  3. Sanctification (Ephesians 2: 1-10)
  4. Relationship and prayer (Ephesians 2:11-3:13 )
  5. Consecration and transformation (Ephesians 3:14-21)
  6. Gifts of the Spirit for the Church (Ephesians 4:1-16)
  7. Transformation of Character (4:17-31)
  8. Transformation of Conduct (5:1-20)
  9. Spiritual warfare (6:10-20)
  10. Illuminating the Word of God (6:17) 

The Spirit of God leads us in Ephesians to lay hold of our blessings in Christ. 

Let us impose a template on the Ephesian letter – take it from the life of Moses, the journey of the nation of Israel: 

  • Redemption from Egypt – Ephesians chp 1 
  • Sanctification from Egypt and Pharaoh – Ephesians chp 2 
  • Building a sanctuary – Ephesians chp 2 
  • Inner Holy of Holies – a place of 
  • Walk through the wilderness – battling Amalek chapters 4 + 5 
  • The final victory in spiritual battle and taking the land  (Ephesians 6)

What do I take from this? 

  • Without God’s Spirit I can do nothing 
  • The first work of the Spirit of God after salvation and sealing is the revelation of Christ 
  • There are no shortcuts 
  • I cannot move from salvation to victory without sanctification, fellowship, relationship, transformation and a walk consistent with my profession!




Ephesians chp 1 vs 1 to 3 - Tapping into our Treasure Trove in Christ, An Introduction to Ephesians - JS Gillespie  

An introduction to Paul's letter to the Ephesians. We consider an outline of the epistle, the main themes of the letter to the Ephesians and the structure of the letter. We note the division of the letter into doctrinal and practical sections and the the rich treasure trove of blessings which are ours as 'blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.' Part of our systematic study through the letter to the Ephesians. 

Notes on Ephesians chapter 1 verses 1 to 3:

Ephesians – Ephesus from a natural perspective was a strange place to send this letter to!

Ephesus was a place of:

  • Pagan Temples 
  • Pagan gods
  • Pagan statues 
  • Artemis 
  • Cult of Caesar 
  • Physical altars and temples 

The letter to the Ephesians was spiritual:

  • His people become His temple / building. 
  • God indwells His people!

This new way was not so much a RELIGION as a RELATIONSHIP with the one true and living God and that was counterculture and revolutionary!

Such was the impact of the gospel at Ephesus! 

  1. Chapters 1 to 3 – Doctrinal 
  2. Chapters 4 to 6 – Practical:

These 2 main sections are joined together by the prayer of 3:14-21, the keystone of the Ephesian letter.


Some of the old preachers used to remind us that practice is dependant upon doctrine. There is probably nowhere else that this is so clearly seen as in the letter to the Ephesians. It is evident in the very structure of the epistle. The concluding three chapters of practice rest in the first 3 verses of doctrine.

4:1 – illustrates the connection between doctrine and practice quite clearly! 



  1. God’s Plan of Adoption – chps 1 to 2
  2. The Privileges of Adoption – chps 2 to 3 
  3. The Practice of Adoption and Salvation – chps 4 to 6

No nation rises higher than its gods! 

If your god commits:

  • Murder
  • Incest
  • Theft
  • Adultery
  • Drunkenness
  • Capricious 
  • Cruelty
  • War 

If these are your gods, then you really don’t have much to walk worthy of, your standards aren’t very high. 

Bring that to a contemporary setting; if you believe that life has no meaning, no purpose, no destiny and that no one is in control, that we are but the random products of a million chemical reactions and accidents, you may rightly as the question; ‘what is the point to it all?’ From thence it is but a small step to despair and oblivion! 

“Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ” (1:1) 

Some struggle with the teaching of Ephesians chapter 1:

  • Election 
  • Predestination 
  • God’s choice to salvation 

Some do their best to evade the clear and simple teaching of this chapter:

  • Arminianism – God chooses those whom He foreknows would choose Him!
  • Corporate election – God chooses the means of salvation, ie Christ but not those who are to be saved. God chooses Christ and we choose to be in Christ. 

We really don’t need the whole bible to disprove these ideas and establish the principle of Divine, sovereign, personal, individual election to salvation. 

We just need one book – Ephesians.

We just need one chapter – Ephesians chapter 1.

We just need one verse – Ephesians chapter 1 verse 1!

God clearly did not choose Paul because Saul would choose God!

God did not clearly appoint the means of salvation and leave Saul of Tarsus to find Christ! That is a million miles away from the events recorded in Acts 9. Not only did Saul ‘not seek after God’ (Romans 3:11) but Saul actively rebelled against God and rejected Christ (Acts 9:13). 

Paul’s apostleship is “by the will of God” as all salvation and calling is “by the will of God”.

“to the saints, to the faithful in Christ Jesus” (v1) 

“The Saints” 

  • Holy ones – set apart for God 
  • What God makes us 
  • We do not make ourselves saints 
  • God does that 
  • What God does for me!

“To the faithful” 

  • What we do for God 

Consider John chapter 6 “will you also go away?”

Consider Luke chapter 17 and the 10 lepers and only 1 returns.

There were many faithful in the New Testament:

  • Timothy
  • Epaphroditus
  • Paul
  • John 
  • Priscilla and Aquila

I believe it is a terrible tragedy when we claim what God did for us as Saints and then deny and reject what we are to do for God as “faithful”.

In Ephesians faithfulness to God in Christ is very much with the setting of the church:

  • Playing our part in His body as members 
  • Being part of the temple in worship 
  • Gifts God has given to us (4:1-16) 
  • Walk in chapters 4 to 6 


Verse 3: “blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” 

Consider the Flor del la Mar, sunk in 1511 off of the coast of Malaysia, full of stolen treasure from the Sultan of Malaca. It contained gold, silver, precious stones valued today at about £2 billion. It is yours for the taking. Problem is, that treasure is as far down as our treasure is up! How do we get to it? 


Dr J Stewart Gillespie

1 Timothy chapter 3 - The Unsearchable Riches of Christ - J Stewart Gillespie  

Paul the Prisoner (v1-2) 
Paul the Prophet (v3-6) – forthtelling the mind of God 
Paul the Preacher (v7-13) – what he has received he now speaks 
Paul the Priest (v14-21) – undertakes a priestly activity 

 Not just about Paul, applicable to us: 

A Suffering Saint (v1-2) Lessons for us in our suffering 
A Privileged Saint (v3-6) Privileges believer brought into 
A Serving Saint (v7-13) The service of Christian life. 
A Praying saint (v14-21) The apostle’s burden for evangelism & for others has as a consequence v14, “For this cause.” 

The sanctuary is the preparation place for service 

Prayer is the prerequisite for preaching 

Paul the Prisoner: A Suffering Saint (v1-2) 

Situation – imprisoned, unjustly accuse, restricted movements. 

Had been given the task of evangelising the Gentile world, but now immobilised & incarcerated imprisoned. 

Depressed? Disheartened? Discouraged? Defeated? 

Through his suffering we can see a remarkable prisoner who can see: 

               The Purpose in a Prison Cell 

If there’s purpose in a prison cell, there’s purpose in a believers suffering 

Seen it at Philippi (Acts16) – Philippian Jailor & household saved. 

v13 continues the thought. 

Paul thought of his role as apostle to the Gentiles (v1). He could see his sufferings for their greater glory (v13) & for the building of the church, “For you Gentiles.” (v1)   

Thought developed in Phil Chapter 1, tells us exactly how this happened: 

His sufferings brought him into a whole new mission field (1:13). 

By the end of the Philippian epistle he is able to send greetings from, “They that are of Caesar’s household,” (Philippians 4:22). 

Was this experience in prison described in the Philippian epistle, one of the occasions when Satan overstepped himself? 

Apostle Paul was then brought in chains to Rome. 

By this means he was placed at the very centre of the Empire and thus able to exert an influence in perhaps even in Caesar’s household. 

God moves, and a fledgling Church is established. 

Right in the very midst is the apostle himself. 

Proverbs 16:7, “When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” 

Paul can see the hand of God in it all. 

His sufferings encouraged others to go out to a whole new mission field (Phil1:14). 

His sufferings brought Glory to Christ by the way he conducted himself during those sufferings (Phil1:20). 


 A purpose in Paul’s sufferings, a purpose in ours. (Rom8:28) 

 Don’t always know the purpose in them - Job 

Paul the Prophet:  A Privileged Saint (v3-6) 

 “Wrote afore in few words,” (v3) – refer back to chp2, when he wrote of Jew & Gentile in 1 body. 

v5 – A Brief Definition of Mysteries in General. 

 Not esoteric knowledge. Truth previously hidden & now revealed. 

 Not something only for the select few. 

 Not like the Masons. 


v6 – A Brief Definition of this Mystery in Particular. 

 Dealt with in Eph2:11-22. 

 Note 3 words with the Greek prefix of “sun,” (v6), cf 2:5,6. Three great  ‘Together’ words 

“Fellow heirs,” & 
“Same body,” & 
“Partakers of His promise.” 

 “Same body,”- only here in the New Testament. This is the earliest occurrence of this word in Greek literature. This word is not known in secular Gk. Could this be a new word for a new revelation? 

 Almost as though Paul is saying the Greek language is inadequate to describe this new revelation. 

 Perhaps we could best translate the word as “concorporate” – Jew & Gentile on equal terms. Not so much the idea of the Gentile being brought into Israel. 

“The Gentiles have not been added to an already existing entity; they are fully equal, joint members, totally necessary for the life of the body.” (Lincoln p181) 


 v6 – The Content of the Mystery 

 v4 – The Communication of the Mystery 

 The mystery is ‘revealed unto’ the apostle (v3) but it is to be ‘understood’ by the believer (v4). 

 The Privilege of the NT believer to understand & enjoy these truths previously hidden. (1Pet1:12) 

 Paul expects us to enjoy them: “when ye read,” (v4) not, “if ye read” 

Paul the Preacher : A Serving Saint (v7-13) 

 Principle of scripture: what God pours in is to be poured out (Jo7:38).  

 Note the humility with which the service of Paul is marked. 

“minister,” or “servant” this is not a clergyman of course, no such division between laity and clerisy was known in the days of the New Testament church. 1 Timothy 3 envisages many teachers or overseers and many deacons in 1 assembly. No 1man ministry ministry, not one man over 1 church or even one man over many churches! This would deny the truth of 1Corinthians 12. 

According to the “Gift” (v7) 
“the Grace of God.” (v7) 

 What his service is all about (v8): 

 The Missionary: “Unto me who am less than the least…” – A correct view of self. Paul takes a SUPERLATIVE & turns it into a COMPARATIVE – “leaster,” – another new word (cf. v6) 

 The Mission: “I should preach” – A fervour for our mission, single minded, undistracted & focused. 

 The Mission Field: “among the gentiles” – Clearly identified. If the unsaved are the mission field, why preach the gospel to converted we may wonder? 

 The Message: “Unsearchable riches of Christ.” – An appreciation of what we have. 

 “Unsearchable,” (v8) – Unfathomable, inexhaustible 

 “A wealth the limit of which no man can ever find,” (Wm Barclay). 

 “Suggests the picture of a reservoir so deep that soundings cannot reach the bottom of it. No limit can therefore be put to its resources.” (Lincoln) 

 Perhaps true to say the “unsearched riches of Christ,” for many. 

 Have a little glimpse into the “Unsearchable riches,” in Ephesians: 

Christ Personally: 

Christ as Prophet (2:17) 
Christ as Priest (2:11) 
Christ as King (5:5) 

Christ & His Relationship to the Church: 

Christ as Head of the Body (1:22) 
Christ as Chief Corner Stone of the Temple (2:20) 
Christ as Bridegroom to the Church (Chp5) 

Christ Presented As: 

Lord of Life: 2:5 
Lord of Love:  3:17ff 
Lord of Light: 5:14ff 

Christ Is The: 

Sphere of our Blessings (1:3) – All due to our relationship with Christ. 
Purpose of our Sanctification  (1:4) 
Origin of our Salvation (1:7; 5:23) 
Focus & End of the Dispensation (1:10; 3:9) – “Whatever’s the world coming to?” 
Object of our Adoration (1:12) – Now & forever. 
Means of Reconciliation (Chp2:11-22) 
Route of Communication (2:18; 3:12) 
Means of Creation (3:9) 
Bestower of our Gifts (4:7ff) 
Example of Dedication (5:2) 
Source of Illumination (5:14) 
Standard of Affection (5:25) 

This is what we have to offer men & women. Christ & nothing else. Especially not entertainment/Social Club 

 As Jew & Gentiles are saved by the preaching of the gospel, & incorporated into, “one body,” (v6), so the “administration” (not “fellowship,”) of the mystery is         ‘seen’ (v9). 

 Are these the longest verses in Bible??? (v9-11). They span in time from ‘creation’ onto ‘now’ and ultimately to ‘eternity’! 

 “the principalities and powers,” look on, (v10). From their appreciation of spiritual truth, perhaps not just evil angelic forces as per 6:12. (cf. Matt16:23) 

 When world was created, angelic powers present. 

 In garden of Eden Satan interested (Gen3:1ff) 

 Cherubim observed the fall & implemented the judgment (Gen3:24) 

 Perhaps in days of Noah angelic forces were interested in man (Gen6:4) 

 Angels involved with Abraham, Lot & destruction of Sodom (Gen18&19) 

 Michael in days of Daniel (Dan12:1) 

 Angels observe the birth (Lk1:11,19, 26; 2:9), temptation (Matt4:11) & sufferings (Lk22:43), & death (Jo20) of Christ. 

 Angelic forces saw man fall, creation crumble, world corrupted, Christ crucified. Was God’s work to come to nought? 

 But now “by the church” they see the, “manifold wisdom of God,” 

 “Manifold” – “much-variegated,” or “multi-coloured” 

 They see the working out of God’s “eternal purpose,” in Christ (v11), cf. 1:10. Thought of God’s purposes for believers in chp1 – at a practical level, but here is God’s one, “Eternal Purpose.” 

Paul the Priest : A Praying saint (v14-21)


Notes from a message preached on Ephesians chapter 3 in our systematic series of bible studies in Paul's letter to the Ephesians, audio recordings free to download as mp3 files or listen online to the bible teaching preached in the Bridgend Gospel Hall New Cumnock. 

Yours by Grace in Christ  

Dr J Stewart Gillespie

Ephesians Chapter 2 Vs 11 to 17 - He is our Peace - J Stewart Gillespie  

Afraid to live? 
Afraid to die? 
We have the answer. “He is our peace.” 

Ephesians chapter 2 verse 11: 
“Remember,” – Good to remember, “the hole of the pit whence ye are digged,” (Isa51:1). 

This is of course not so much remembering our sin! Rather remember the “mercy” (v4), “love” (v4) and “grace” (v5,8) of God. 

“The humility which springs from the removal of our sins must ever be deeper than that which springs from the discovery of them. The former connects us with God: the latter has to do with self.” (CH Mackintosh p313) 

Sometimes we might be tempted to think that now we’re saved, we’ve something to glory in, but all we are is what Christ has made us (2:8,10) 

“Gentiles,” & “Circumcision,” is “in the flesh.” 

This DIVISION of humanity is at the level of the FLESH. (2:11-17) 
The new and eternal DIVISION of humanity is at the level of the SPIRIT. (2:1-10) 
1. Those who are DEAD – Spiritually (v1-3) 
2. Those who are ALIVE in Christ – Spiritually (v5-10) 

Reconciliation therefore must also be at the level of FLESH (v15) 
“Flesh,” - Sometimes used of muscle tissue; It is used in this way in the last mention of, “flesh,” in NT (Rev19:21). 
More often in the Bible the idea od the flesh is used of the “fallen human nature,” eg when speaking of the “Works of the flesh,” (Gal5:19), cf Eph2:13 

Flesh can also be used in the sense of a “living humanity,” John 1:14, Hebrews 5:7, Ephesians 5:30, the word ‘flesh’ is used in this sense here. 

Note the 5 fold condition, mainly relative to the flesh: 

“Without Christ,” – refers to the Messianic hope in the context, cf. Romans 9:5 “The God of Hope,” (Rom15:13). “Without God,” thus, “no hope,” 

“Christless, stateless, friendless, hopeless & Godless.” (W. Hendricksen) 

“No Hope,” A deep source of problems and of despair in our society. A deep seated problem underpinning spiraling suicide rates amongst the young, drug addiction, and alcohol abuse. Do we have a genuine care and thought for others? If so ought not this to spur us onto evangelism? 

Position (v13) 
“But now,” – The turning point of Division at the level of the Flesh 
cf. 2:4 – Turning point of Division, at the level of the Spirit. 
Position – “in Christ Jesus,” 
Reconciliation: Notice the Sphere of Reconciliation (v14-15) 

“in His flesh” & “in Himself” (v15) 

“He is our peace,” – Peace in a person, compare John 20:19, Isaiah 9:6 

PEACE with God & PEACE with one another this is OBJECTIVE PEACE 
There is also the personal experience of that peace consider the illustration of this in Mark 4:35,39,5:1 

“And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still,” (Mark 4:39) : This is a SUBJECTIVE PEACE. 

When Christ presents redeemed humanity to God, doesn’t present a humanity that is divided. Chris presents a united humanity to God. 
It is significant that it was at the level of the flesh there was division (2:11). 

Thus division is put away at the LEVEL OF THE FLESH (2:15). 
Consider also the division at the LEVEL OF THE SPIRIT (2:5). 

“Flesh”(v15), significant choice of words. Not just the death of Christ, as indicated by, “Body,” or “Blood,” but indicates the life of Christ (John1:14, Hebrews 5:7, Ephesians 5:30), given in death (Romans 7:4), to abolish the law, but continuing on as a new humanity (2:15). Cf. Luke 24:39. 

“These ordinances had their sphere of action in the flesh. But Christ (as living in connection with all that), being dead, has abolished the enmity to form in Himself of the two – Jew and Gentile – one new man…” (JND) 

Consider the Peace Offering of Leviticus chapter 3: 

Peace that on the basis of shed blood (Leviticus 3:8) 
Peace that was on the basis of a sacrifice (Leviticus 3:6) 

In the peace offering we note that God and the Priest and the offerer all having a portion (Leviticus chp7). This is a unique scenario in the law of the offerings! 

We are able to describe a procedure characteristic of the Peace Offering, found also in the Sin Offering (Leviticus 4:9), but only as the sin offering relates back to the Peace Offering (Leviticus 4:10). 
This procedure is performed upon the sacrificial animal. We note that in the Peace Offering that the priest is always to be careful to remove, “The caul above the liver,” (Leviticus 3:4,10,15). 

There is only one organ that is above the liver & kidneys; that is the DIAPHRAGM 
The priest was always careful to take the animal, to remove the diaphragm, the organ that divided the animal in 2 parts, chest and abdomen, “the middle wall of partition,” and to make, “both one.” The New Testament believer would understand this. 
There was to be no division in the peace offering. 
What Christ has made, we keep. 
“in His flesh” & “in Himself” (v15) - the Sphere of Reconciliation 
Saved Jew & Saved gentile both in Christ; brought together with that dividing wall between them taken down forever as it was in the peace offering, both are now part of a New Humanity in Christ. 

The Means of Reconciliation (v16) 

“By the Cross,” – The Means cf. “In his flesh,” (v15) – The Sphere 

“The Cross,” – Put away the law, which prevented Jew & Gentile coming together, (Rom7:4) 

“The Cross,” – Put away sin, which prevented Jew & Gentile coming to God, (Heb9:26) 

Bible teaching from Paul's letter to the Ephesians chapter 2. "He is our Peace". A message from our systematic bible study in the Ephesian epistle. Join us as we preach and study through the letter to the Ephesians, in this expository verse by verse Bible Teaching series. Yours by Grace in Christ, Dr J Stewart Gillespie.