Verse for today – “For this reason, I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles (Eph. 3:1).”
Have you ever headed out to the kitchen and along the way you were distracted? Distracted so much that you went in a different direction and did not make it to the kitchen for another hour? This appears to have happened to Paul in chapter 3 of Ephesians. He begins with today’s verse, “For this reason… etc.” but then does not continue the thought until verse 14, where Paul basically says, “For this reason I started praying the following prayer for you,” and then he shares his prayer. You might ask, “What happened?” The answer is that Paul inserts a long parenthetical statement. In verse 2 Paul interrupts himself to discuss a calling from God OR a commission from God that is also relevant to his prayer. You might want to read verse 1 and then skip to verses 14 and 15, to understand that flow of thought before we continue with our discussion of verse one. Please notice that the reason for Paul’s prayer is all the things we were discussing in chapter 2! If we are going to become a mighty building of God with other Christians, we will need God’s help! OK, are you ready to move forward? Good.
Next in verse one, Paul describes himself as, “the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles.” If you have read the book of Acts, you may remember that God sent Paul and his team on a mission to share God’s message and love with as many as possible in other cities. Paul always started by speaking to the Jews, but the Gentiles were his most ready listeners, and many of them became Christians. The Jews were often jealous of this development. Whole cities were coming out to hear Paul and his team speak. Large churches were started. AND, Paul told the Gentiles they did not have to fulfill all the Old Testament laws. Because of this, many of the Jews who rejected Christ as their Savior were furious with Paul. They often tried to stop his work and even tried to kill him.
One day when Paul was in Jerusalem, worshiping at the Jewish temple, the Jews grabbed him and tried to put him to death. He was rescued by Roman soldiers and held for questioning. This began Paul’s long journey of imprisonment and high-profile trials. The Jews often came and made accusations; Paul defended himself, often sharing God’s message of salvation with Roman leaders and listeners. During this time, Paul began calling himself “the prisoner of the Lord.”
All of this brings Christians to some important questions. Are you willing to speak about Jesus with others? How will you deal with the trials and difficulties of life? Are you walking closely enough with your Savior to know His leadership and live on His strength? These topics also are addressed later in the book of Ephesians. God has not left us alone!