Paul made tents for a living. It wasn’t how he defined his work. His work was to help people understand the good news that God has for those who came into his life. It wasn’t even something he was talented at. It was a gift from God. He wasn’t qualified to do it but God gave him everything he needed to succeed.
God’s goal is that our goal be to one of helping people understand and respond to God’s message. My work is not what I do for a living. My work is to take advantage of the gifts He gives me and press on. It is His way in His world and that is good news.
The Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and partners in the promise in the Messiah Jesus through the good news. I was made a servant of this good news by the gift of God’s grace that was given to me by the working of his power.
This grace was given to me—the least of all the saints—to proclaim to the Gentiles the incalculable riches of the Messiah, and to shed light for all about the administration of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things. Christian Standard Bible. (2020). (Eph 3:6–9). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
We have discovered that the Messiah’s work on the cross accomplished much more than the salvation of individual sinners. It reconciled Jews and Gentiles to each other and to God. It is this truth that Paul presents here, and you can imagine what exciting news it would be! The truth of “the mystery” reveals to believing Gentiles that they have a wonderful new relationship through Jesus the Messiah.
To begin with, they are fellow-heirs with the Jews and share in the spiritual riches God gave them because of His covenant with Abraham. In Jesus, being a Jew or a Gentile is neither an asset nor a liability, for together we share the riches of the Messiah.
The Gentiles are also fellow-members of the body of Jesus, the church. “There is one body” (Eph. 4:4). Our human birth determines our racial distinctions, but our spiritual birth unites us as members of the same body. Jesus is the Head of this body, and each individual member shares in the ministry. Finally, in their new relationship, the Gentiles are partakers of God’s promises.
Once they were outside the covenant, with no claims on the promises of God; but now, in the Messiah, they share the promises of God with the believing Jews. In Romans 11:13–15, Paul explains that believing Gentiles share in the spiritual riches that God gave to Israel. But in Romans 11:1–12, Paul explains that God has not, because of the church, negated His promises to Israel. The church today shares in the spiritual riches of Israel, but one day God will restore His people and fulfill His promises concerning their land and their kingdom.
“The mystery” not only gives believing Gentiles a new relationship, it also reveals that there is a new power available to them. This power is illustrated in the life of Paul. God saved him by grace and gave him a stewardship, a special ministry to the Gentiles. But God also gave Paul the power to accomplish this ministry.
The word “working” here is energeia from which we get our word “energy.” The word “power” is dunamis which gives us our words “dynamic” and “dynamite.” The mighty resurrection power of Jesus is available to us for daily life and service.
Finally, there is available to the Gentiles new riches: “the unsearchable riches of the Messiah” (Eph. 3:8). Paul called them “exceeding riches” (Eph. 2:7) but here he describes them as “unfathomable.” The words can also be translated “untraceable,” which means that they are so vast you cannot discover their end. (Some students suggest that “untraceable” might also carry the idea that “the mystery” cannot be traced in the Old Testament since it was hidden by God.)
Are these riches available to every believer? Yes! In fact, Paul makes it clear that he himself had no special claim on God’s wealth, for he considered himself “less than the least of all saints” (Eph. 3:8). The name Paul (Paulus) means “little” in Latin, and perhaps Paul bore this name because he realized how insignificant he really was.
Paul calls himself “the least of the apostles” (1 Cor. 15:9), but at least he was an apostle, which is more than we can claim. Here he calls himself, not “the least of all saints,” but “less than the least of all saints” (Eph. 3:8), and he later calls himself the “chief of sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15). Understanding the deep truths of God’s Word does not give a man a big head; it gives him a broken and contrite heart.