Ephesians 3:8–21 (NKJV)
8 To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; 10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, 11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. 13 Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.Ephesians 3:8-13
Paul’s mission and calling is to communicate the gospel, the ultimate purpose of the work of Christ. The good news of salvation through Christ, and the fellowship with God accomplished by it, is the message that all the world should hear. Through the gospel, we have access to grace, to the fellowship with Christ that comes through salvation. Paul’s sacrifices suffered in order to deliver this wonderful message of hope are reasonable, full of reward in spite of the pain. He encourages his readers to not lose heart at his tribulation, for it brings them closer to the glory of the Lord.
14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.Ephesians 3:14-21
20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Here is the payoff: all the prayer, labor, suffering, and sacrifice are worth it to see souls converted, disciples strengthened, and Christians fully understanding the depth of the love of God. God intends for His people to be firmly planted in His love, and to experience the unknowable richness of His love. Paul wants to communicate to his disciples the fullness of God available to them by the grace of Him who gave it. The love of God is unfathomable. Man’s understanding and vocabulary are insufficient to describe the greatness of His love. Yet God, in His great grace, allows us to experience His love without restriction. Paul sums up this passage with the famous sentence that speaks to God’s unlimited love and ability. He uses words of depth and fullness to describe God’s ability to exceed our wildest dreams. God is above and beyond anything we can imagine. He can make our dreams come true ten times over. He is transcendent, higher, greater, more than humanity or humanity’s thoughts, yet He is imminent, personal, near, and working in humanity as men and women invite Him in. As such, God is worthy of all the glory, honor, and praise we can give Him now and forevermore. The church is His domain, and we are His subjects. Bow and give homage to Him, for He alone is eternally worthy of our praise!
The juxtaposition of unworthy man (Paul, Gentiles, principalities and powers) over against a great and mighty God brings our place in this universe into perspective. We are mere creations of God, subject to His will and purpose, and also His punishment and destruction if disobedient. Yet this great, transcendent figure comes near to us and allows us to exist in relationship with Him, drawing us near and having fellowship with us. This gracious God is different and more than anything we can know, and He loves us. This is the miracle of grace. This is the justification for the horrific death and subsequent resurrection of Christ. He loves us. Lowly man and an awesome God meet at the foot of the cross and at the door of the empty tomb, all because He loves us. Glory to the transcendent, imminent, powerful God we serve!