I've been reading Paul's letters to churches the last couple of months. When I got to Paul's letter to the church at Ephesus, I found that I was staying in chapter 3 for a while.
I've read this passage many times and in that familiarity I've often moved quite quickly through it. This time when I got to Ephesians 3, I slowed down. I read the chapter out loud a few times. And noticed some incredible things I've missed before in it.
Before you read the rest of this post, I want to encourage you to read Ephesians 3. In your Bible, or follow this link to it. Read it out loud and listen to the words if you can.
The things I noticed as I read are the topic of the next few posts here.
What I noticed when I read this isn't anything that hasn't been there all day long, but it is something God used to speak so clearly to me.
Paul begins this chapter talking about how God has now included the Gentiles along with the Jews in His way of salvation. He talks about how it is through the work of Christ on the cross that all are brought together in one family.
I've often struggled with getting through the first part of this chapter because it didn't seem to be the really important part of it all. But this time as I read the chapter all as one, I realized that these verses set the foundation for the rest of the chapter.
It is because we have been brought together as one family through Christ that anything that follows makes sense.
It was a radical shift in thinking for the day that Jews and Gentiles were both a part of God's chosen and holy people. That's one reason why Paul takes the time to focus on this. He knew that for his original audience it was important to begin here.
God showed me why it was important for me to begin here to as I carefully read each word this time. The starting place for everything that follows in this chapter is this understanding that we are one body as Christ followers. Christ's work brings us all together as one big family.
And within that big family, we have smaller groups that we in close relationship with. This forms the foundation of what Paul says in the rest of the chapter. And it's an important foundation, because we weren't meant to live this life as followers of Christ alone.
It's also because we're living in a community with one another that we can begin to understand other things we find in Scripture. They just wouldn't make sense if we lived this life alone.