Your story—from mystery to revelation (Eph. 3:1–13)

We continue in our two week series through Ephesians 1–3, with guest writer Dr. David Starling.

Your story—from mystery to revelation | Eph. 3:1-13

Our passage today (Eph. 3:1–13) is the last of the three salvation-stories that Paul includes within this central section of the first half of the letter. Each of the stories has a particular focus and is told with a particular purpose. This story, like the two stories of the previous chapter, is built as a once/now contrast. Unlike the others, however, it is a story that begins with a focus not on the Ephesians but on Paul, and on the stories of his sufferings as a prisoner for the gospel that will have reached the Ephesians and might have unsettled or dismayed them. The story that Paul goes on to remind them of is thus a story about the privilege and purpose of being an instrument of God’s revelation; it is a story that helps them make sense of his own sufferings, and reminds them of the part that they also have to play in the revealing of the saving wisdom of God.

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For this reason… (Eph. 2:15, 3:1, 14)

We continue in our two week series through Ephesians 1–3, with guest writer Dr. David Starling.

For this reason… | Eph. 2:15, 3:1, 14

Today we focus on just one phrase, “For this reason…”, repeated by Paul three times in the first three chapters of the letter, as a kind of introduction to the prayers that he prays for the Ephesians.

Before you turn to Ephesians to explore what Paul says about his reasons for prayer, it would be worth taking a moment or two to ponder your own: if you had to give a reason for what you pray, and for why you pray for the things that you pray for, what would it be?

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That he may strengthen you with power (Eph. 3:14–19)

We continue in our two week series through Ephesians 1–3, with guest writer Dr. David Starling.

That he may strengthen you with power | Eph. 3:14–19

Yesterday our focus was on the reason Paul gives for why he prays. Today our focus is on what he says to the Ephesians about the content of his prayers.

Two themes in particular stand out within this second prayer-report that Paul includes within the first half of Ephesians (the first is in 1:15–23). Both of them focus not on his readers’ outward circumstances (though of course it’s not wrong to pray about those things) but on their inward, spiritual strength and understanding. They are not prayers that his readers will be prosperous and comfortable, that things will go smoothly for them, that they will get everything that they want; both of them are prayers that they will be strong and secure in their relationship with God—ever stronger and ever deeper.

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Now to him… (Eph. 3:20–21)

We continue in our two week series through Ephesians 1–3, with guest writer Dr. David Starling.

Now to him… | Eph. 3:20–21

The core of the first half of Ephesians, as we have already seen a few days ago, is made up of three salvation stories that Paul strings together in 2:1–10, 11–22 and 3:1–13, to ground his readers’ understanding of themselves and their understanding of their present circumstances in the story of what God has done for them. But those salvation stories do not make up the totality of Ephesians 1–3: wrapped around them are concentric layers of prayer and doxology (i.e. praise):

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