The New Twist in the Mystery

By Mark D. Roberts

September 12, 2018

Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms…

Ephesians 3:8-10


Ever since I was young and devoured the Hardy Boys mystery books, I have loved a good mystery. It can take the form of a novel, a movie, a play… you name it. Part of what I love about a mystery is trying to figure it out in advance. But, in truth, the best mystery is one that includes a twist, something I had not anticipated, something that makes perfect sense in the narrative but comes as a complete surprise.

A man reading a book outside.We have such a mystery in Ephesians 3. Here, Paul refers several times to the mystery that God revealed to him and which, in turn, he is revealing to the world. The core of this mystery is that “through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus” (3:6). This bringing together of formerly alienated peoples offers a striking illustration of the cosmic mystery of God that was uncovered in Ephesians 1: God’s plan “to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ” (1:10). The unity of Jews and Gentiles reflects and epitomizes the unifying of all things in the universe.

But a new twist comes in Ephesians 3:10: “[God’s] intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.” God’s grand plan for the universe, God’s mystery, God’s manifold wisdom, will be revealed to the whole cosmos, including supernatural powers, through the church.

Through the church! Now that’s an unexpected twist in God’s mystery, if you ask me. I don’t find it intuitive to think of the church as playing such a central role in God’s plan for the cosmos. Yet, according to Ephesians 3:10, the church is right in the core of God’s redeeming, restoring, unifying work. In tomorrow’s Life for Leaders devotion, I’ll consider a bit further why the centrality of the church can come as such a surprise to us. For now, I’d encourage you to consider prayerfully what this text is teaching about the church and how this instruction might make a difference in your life.

Something to Think About:

Are you surprised that the church plays such a pivotal role in God’s plan for the redemption of the cosmos?

How can the church be a demonstration of God’s wisdom to the world?

If you did understand the church in light of Ephesians 3:10, what difference might this make in your daily discipleship?

Something to Do:

Pray for your church today, that it will be a demonstration of the gospel to folks in your community.


Gracious God, thank you for the surprises in your grand story of salvation. Of course, the biggest surprises have to do with Christ, his birth, life, death, and resurrection. But today, we discover another twist in your mystery: the centrality of the church in your plan to reveal your wisdom throughout the universe. Help us to understand what this means. Help this truth to fill our minds and transform our lives.

Today, I pray for my own church as well as for every church throughout the world, that we might live up to our role as the megaphone through which you communicate the gospel. Help us to be faithful in response to this amazing calling. Amen.


Explore more at The High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project:
Body Parts and Church Functions

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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