Gifts of God’s Grace
“Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace…” (Ephesians 3:7)
Bible Reading: Ephesians 3:6-8
Paul has spoken of a mystery (something hidden in the mind of God) that has been revealed to him and God’s “holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” (Ephesians 3:5). Here he tells us what that mystery is and how he came to be a minister of it.
The mystery, he tells his readers, “is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (v. 6). This is precisely what he had been writing about in 2:11-22 as mentioned last time. That the Gentiles are “fellow heirs” and members of the “same body” as the Jews underline that they are partakers with them of “the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” There is nothing essentially new here.
Paul continues, “Of this gospel, I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given to me by the working of his power” (v. 7). Here he shifts focus from the content of the mystery back to his role as a “minister” of that mystery through the gospel.
In doing so, he draws special attention to this being the result of an act of God’s grace. Not only is the gospel the story of God’s grace to fallen sinners, but every ministry connected with it is also an expression of his undeserved favour – it is a “gift of God’s grace.” As the following verse elaborates, Paul was ever conscious that he was undeserving of such an honour. “To me,” he writes, “though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ…” (v. 8).
Elsewhere, Paul brings up this same point. To the Corinthians, he can write of himself as “the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God” (1 Corinthians 15:9). Then later, writing in his first letter to Timothy, he speaks of how, though a “blasphemer, persecutor, and an insolent opponent,” he nevertheless “received mercy” (1 Timothy 1:13). He did so, he continues, “…because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (v. 14). He adds that Christ’s purpose in this was that he “might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life” (v.16).
What was true of Paul is true of us all. The gifts and ministries given to us by Christ are all rightly called “grace gifts,” and the ministries that arise from them are likewise “grace ministries.” For there are none of us deserving of being blessed with such things.
It is Christ’s mercy to us that we are given anything by him and able to do anything for him.
- Do you consider yourself worthy of receiving spiritual gifts and ministries from the Lord?
- How should this influence how you speak of your gifts and how you seek to fulfil your ministries?
– Andrew Young