Ephesians 2:19–3:7 (NKJV)
19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.Ephesians 2:19-22
Paul writes to all Gentile Christians in this letter to the Ephesians a message of inclusion and acceptance. They are no longer strangers or aliens to the body of Christ. He uses a civic image, granting that Gentiles are citizens in this household just as validly as the Jews who were saved. He uses an organizational image as he grants that their membership in the household is valid. He then uses a construction image, saying that their foundation is secure, for their lives are built on the doctrine taught by the apostles and prophets, with Jesus as the chief cornerstone. The church is built on Christ, and is built soundly as a temple in the Lord, a place where the Holy Spirit can dwell and work. This multi-image explanation of the place the Gentile Christians hold in the body of Christ validates not only their salvation but also their right to act and minister and witness in the body for the glory of God.
1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles—2 if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, 3 how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, 4 by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), 5 which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: 6 that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, 7 of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.Ephesians 3:1-7
Paul then takes the rationale of the Gentiles’ validity as saints and states his reason for ministering to them as his life’s calling. He calls himself a “prisoner of Christ.” This does not necessarily mean that he is in some sort of physical bondage to minister to the Gentiles, but it does describe the compulsion with which he feels called to this purpose. It is as if he almost has no choice, for the call of God compels him to follow. Instead of being a burden thrust upon him, though, Paul describes this treacherous path and constantly-opposed ministry as a dispensation of grace, to him and to the Gentiles, that he was called to this purpose. He calls the Gentile inclusion a mystery of Christ which had been hidden in ages past, but is now revealed by the Spirit to the apostles and prophets. The Gentiles are heirs to the promise as well! Revelation through Christ says that Gentiles are just as welcome at the cross as anyone else. Paul reiterates that he has received the grace of God in being called to minister to the Gentiles, a sometimes thankless and difficult assignment. But just as much as Paul has been rejected, beaten, stoned and left for dead, nearly torn in pieces by angry mobs, and wrongfully imprisoned, he loves and is dedicated to his work just as much.
What this means for the reader today is powerful. There is no restriction on who can be saved. God does not exclude anyone from the opportunity to come to Christ in repentance and be forgiven of sin. Witnesses can call sinners home. Preachers can preach to any individual in any setting on earth. Salvation through Jesus Christ is available to every living human being in the world! Therefore, rejoice that you are allowed the hear the gospel. Rejoice that you can give the gospel to others. Be clear that salvation is available to everyone, and preach it from the housetops. We are no longer strangers, thank God.