“When I think of all this, I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus for the benefit of you Gentiles… assuming, by the way, that you know God gave me the special responsibility of extending his grace to you Gentiles. As I briefly wrote earlier, God himself revealed his mysterious plan to me. As you read what I have written, you will understand my insight into this plan regarding Christ. God did not reveal it to previous generations, but now by his Spirit he has revealed it to his holy apostles and prophets. And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus. By God’s grace and mighty power, I have been given the privilege of serving him by spreading this Good News. Though I am the least deserving of all God’s people, he graciously gave me the privilege of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasures available to them in Christ. I was chosen to explain to everyone this mysterious plan that God, the Creator of all things, had kept secret from the beginning. God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord. Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. So please don’t lose heart because of my trials here. I am suffering for you, so you should feel honored.”

Ephesians‬ ‭3:1-13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

When people read the writings of the Apostle Paul, they are often overtaken by his articulate wisdom. God chose to gift him with an ability that was put to great use for the body of Christ. However, the man that God called was not the man who wrote the epistles and preached the gospel to the gentiles. Paul was a changed man. An earlier iteration of him was responsible for heinous crimes against the early church, and it is in this context that we can see Paul’s struggle and his heart. His past as a persecutor of the church greatly informs his love for it, his passion for it, and his angst about it. Firstly, Paul tried to destroy it. This is a gift he can never give correct and it is a prime reason why he feels he is unworthy to share the gospel. Secondly, sharing the gospel gives him the ability to bolster the church against any future attacks. This won’t fix the damage, but it can be preventative. Lastly, he is unworthy to spread it and yet this makes him its perfect representative. Because he can’t claim to be its protector (he hunted its people down), its savior (he killed those he could find) or its best advocate(he is a criminal against God), this forces the message that Paul gives to be accepted on its own merits. It also drives Paul to be honored and to teach us to be humbled. Like all of us, Paul understands the true reality. In truth, the first thing that brings us together is not our salvation, but our need for it. We are all criminals against God. This is how we can all be saved through Jesus. The fact that we can even have redemption is amazing grace. The fact that we inherit and participate with his gospel in our sanctification is astounding. We should all feel privileged. This is part of the reason God chose Paul to spread the message of salvation. No one really understood it better than him. No one felt as indebted to it, or so thankful to participate in it.

Published by Josh McGary

MY NAME IS JOSH MCGARY. First, I am a Pastor of a small church in Portland, Oregon named Aletheia Bible Fellowship. We call it ABF. I have been a pastor there for the better part of 20 years. I am very eclectic. What I love, I love loudly and immersively. I have notable collections of toys, funko pops, and vinyl. I also infamously love pop culture, comic books, technology, the arts, psychology and philosophy. https://sleek.bio/joshmcgary

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