10. Marks of Faithful ServantsRelated Media
For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable 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, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory. (Ephesians 3:1-13)
What are marks of faithful servants—those who will hear God say, “Well done!”?
In Ephesians 2:11-22, Paul teaches how Jews and Gentiles, who were formerly antagonistic towards one another, were now both part of Christ’s body. God made the two one. This teaching was tremendously controversial in the early church. In fact, the Jews had Paul arrested, in part, for teaching it (cf. Acts 21:29).
In Ephesians 3:1-13, Paul explains his authority to teach this mystery. He emphasizes that it is a stewardship from God. Ephesians 3:2-3 in the ESV says, “assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation.” The NIV calls this stewardship an “administration.” Paul calls himself a steward of this mystery and later a servant of the gospel (3:7).
It appears that Ephesians 3:2-13 is a parenthesis to his original thought. In verse 1, he says, “For this reason.” Then, almost abruptly, he explains his authority as a steward and servant of the gospel, as if some were not aware of it. Then he returns to his original thought in verse 14 with “For this reason,” as he shares his prayer for God’s church.
In Paul’s parenthesis, we learn about his stewardship, or servanthood, of God’s mystery. Not only do we learn about Paul’s servanthood, but also, through his example, we learn about how we can be faithful servants.
In the Parable of the Talents, God describes each believer as a servant, or steward, given various gifts and responsibilities. He will bless the faithful and declare to them, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matt 25:23). As we serve our Master, God, it should be our desire to be faithful and honored by him.
Similar to Paul, God gave us his gospel, his power, and his gifts to serve him and others. And, as stewards, we must be faithful. First Corinthians 4:2 says, “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (KJV). One day, at Christ’s second coming, he will survey our stewardship. Were we faithful stewards of all he gave us? The faithful will be commended and rewarded, and the unfaithful will be rebuked and lose their reward (Matt 25:24-30).
While considering Paul’s parenthesis about his stewardship, we discern marks of a faithful servant—and these should both encourage and challenge us.
Big Question: What marks of faithful servants can be discerned from Paul’s description of himself and his ministry?
Faithful Servants Suffer Willingly for Christ and Others
For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles (Ephesians 3:1)
In verse 1, Paul says he is a prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of the Gentiles. Paul suffered for Christ and also for the Gentiles. The very reason Paul was in prison was because he taught that Gentiles now shared the same spiritual privileges as Jews. While in Jerusalem, he was accused of bringing an Ephesian, Trophimus, into the temple (cf. Acts 21:29). This was an accusation the Jews fabricated because of their animosity towards him and his teachings. Paul was not only in prison for the Gentiles, but for the Ephesians specifically.
Paul willingly taught the truth even if it offended others and caused him suffering. He was willing to be persecuted for Christ. When Christ originally appeared to Paul in a vision, he showed Paul how much he would suffer for his name. Acts 9:15-16 says:
But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
In 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, Paul describes much of his suffering. He says,
Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.
One of the problems with much of the church today is its unwillingness to suffer. The church wants its “Best Life Now,” and therefore is not willing to suffer for Christ and others. Faithful servants will experience suffering. Matthew 5:10 says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Suffering for righteousness marks those who are part of God’s kingdom. In fact, Christ says that if one is not willing to take up his cross and follow him, he cannot be his disciple (Luke 14:27).
Therefore, there will be aspects of suffering in the life of every true believer. Faithfulness has a cost, and every true servant bears it. Sometimes it means being considered weird or different because of our views or beliefs. Sometimes it results in physical suffering. First Peter 4:3-4 says,
For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you.
Faithful servants will experience some form of suffering—some form of our Lord’s cross—and Jesus promises blessings to those who do. He says,
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12)
Are you willing to suffer for your Master and for others? Those who do so will be blessed—approved—by God.
Application Questions: Would you say that persecution towards Christians is growing or lessening? In what ways have you experienced suffering for your faith?
Faithful Servants Trust God’s Sovereignty
For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— (Ephesians 3:1 )
Interestingly, Paul calls himself a prisoner of Christ Jesus. He didn’t see himself as a prisoner of the Jews or of Rome. He was in prison because Christ allowed it—Christ was his captor.
We see this attitude in many of God’s faithful servants. When Job’s camels were kidnapped by raiders, he didn’t blame them. He saw God as in control. He said, “The Lord gives and he takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). When Joseph’s brothers begged for mercy for selling him into slavery, he said, “What you meant for bad, God meant for good” (Gen 50:20, paraphrase).
These servants saw God as sovereign over everything, even the workings of evil men and Satan himself. This is important because if God’s servants don’t see him as sovereign, they often become bitter when bad things happen. They focus on their own failures, the evil works of men, and the evil works of the enemy, and their focus on God is lost.
Hebrews 12:15 says, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Bitterness in the heart causes people to miss the grace of God, and it also causes trouble and defiles many. Instead of being bitter, faithful servants see God’s sovereignty over everything. Paul knew he was a prisoner of Christ—not of Rome or the Jews.
Do you see God as in control of all things? Our God holds the king’s heart in his hand like a watercourse (Prov 21:1). Even the roll of the dice is of him (Prov 16:33). Our God is sovereign, and he works all things for the good of those who love him (Rom 8:28).
Application Questions: In what ways do you find God’s sovereignty even over evil comforting? How do you reconcile God’s sovereignty with human and demonic responsibility?
Faithful Servants Seek to Understand God’s Mysteries
Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 3:2-6)
Interpretation Question: What does Paul mean by the word “mystery”?
Next, Paul teaches how he received grace to understand the “mystery of Christ” (v. 4). What is Paul referring to by the word “mystery”? Unlike the English meaning of “mystery,” which refers to something not understood, a biblical mystery refers to a secret previously hidden in the past but now revealed. This secret is that “through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus” (v. 6). Of course, God’s plan has always been to bless the Gentiles through Abraham’s seed (Gen 12:3, 22:18), but the Old Testament doesn’t specifically teach that Jews and Gentiles will become one body and co-heirs together.
It was this truth that the Jews found so hard to understand and accept. In the book of Acts, we see God begin to reveal this mystery. He reveals it first to Peter—leading him to preach the gospel to the Gentile Cornelius and his family (Acts 10). Then the Jerusalem church, with James, affirms that the Gentiles do not need to become Jews to follow God—they are co-heirs with the Jews (Acts 15). Christ reveals this truth more fully through Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles.
Paul says, “surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me” (Eph 3:2). As mentioned, the word “administration” can be translated “stewardship.” By God’s grace, Paul received this mystery as a stewardship from God.
However, this is not only true of Paul but also of every believer. First Corinthians 4:1-2 says: “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (KJV).
We are called to be stewards of everything taught in Scripture—to protect it and teach it to others. Now, I am not sure how Paul received this mystery. Galatians 1:17 indicates that he was taught by Christ for three years in Arabia, so he must have received most of it through special revelation. However, God unveils these mysteries to us through his Word, and therefore we must study it. Second Timothy 2:15 says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” The servants that will be approved are the ones who study and correctly handle God’s truth.
The Great Commission is to “make disciples of all nations … teaching them to obey everything I commanded you.” (Matt 28:19-20). In order to teach people to obey everything he commands, we must by necessity know all of God’s Word. The Great Commission is not just about sharing the gospel; it is about leading people to Christ and discipling them according to his Word.
Are you a faithful servant? Faithful servants devote themselves to studying and understanding God’s mysteries, just as the early church, “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42).
Are you devoted to God’s Word? Are you seeking to understand its mysteries? Sadly, many Christians say, “Doctrine doesn’t matter. All that matters is to love one another.” This is not true; in fact, understanding God’s Word directs and increases our capacity to love. It equips the man of God for all righteousness (2 Tim 3:17). Faithful servants study God’s Word so they can understand its truths and live lives that are pleasing to God.
Application Questions: Why is it important to study God’s Word and to understand its mysteries? What is your spiritual discipline like in studying the Word? How can you strengthen it?
Faithful Servants Are Made by God
I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. (Ephesians 3:7)
One of the things that stands out about Paul’s testimony is that he says, “I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace” (v. 7). The word “became” can also be translated “was made” (ESV). The verb is passive—meaning that God acted upon Paul to make him a servant of the gospel. It is hard not to think of Christ’s words to his original disciples. “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Mk 1:17). Acts 26:16 records these words of Jesus to Paul, ‘‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you.” When Paul was blinded on his way to Damascus, Christ appointed him to be a servant and a witness. God chose to make him into a faithful servant of the gospel.
Paul says that receiving the message—the mystery—was by grace (Eph 3:2-3), the calling to be a servant of the gospel was by grace (3:7), and the power to do the work came from God as well (3:7). Paul was made a servant by God. John MacArthur adds:
It was not Paul’s education, natural abilities, experience, power, personality, influence, or any other such thing that qualified him to be a minister of Jesus Christ. He was made an apostle, a preacher, and a servant by the will and power of His Lord.1
And this is true of every faithful servant of God. God makes his servants. Ephesians 2:10 says, “We are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which he prepared beforehand that we should walk in.”
Application Question: How does God make his faithful servants?
1. God makes faithful servants through trials.
James 1:4 says, “But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (KJV). We must allow patience, or “perseverance,” to have her perfect work in us. God develops his servants through trials and difficulties. God allowed Joseph to be a slave and a prisoner in preparation for saving many as second in command in Egypt. God allowed Moses to spend forty years in the wilderness to prepare him to lead Israel. God allowed David to be persecuted by Saul in preparation for his ascent to the throne. In trials, God humbles his people and teaches them to depend solely on him—not their gifts or abilities. He makes his servants in the fire.
2. God makes faithful servants through waiting seasons.
God made Abraham wait for twenty-five years for his son, Isaac, and Abraham is still waiting for his seed, Jesus, to fully bless all the nations. Joseph had to wait years before his father and brothers bowed down before him as in his dream. David waited to become king. In waiting, we learn to trust God and not ourselves.
3. God makes faithful servants through his Word.
Second Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness so the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” When God prepares someone for good works, he trains him through the Word. He gives him an insatiable desire for it, and enables him to study it faithfully. Job says that he has treasured the Word of God more than his daily bread (Job 23:12). David says he praises the Lord seven times a day for his righteous laws (Psalm 119:164). God calls Joshua to meditate on the law day and night and to obey it, with the promise that he will prosper if he does so (Josh 1:7-8). Faithful servants are made through faithful study of the Word of God.
4. God makes faithful servants through discipleship.
Typically, God makes a faithful servant by training him through other faithful servants. Proverbs says, “As iron sharpens iron so one sharpens another’s countenance” (Prov 27:17). Elijah discipled Elisha. Jesus discipled the twelve. Paul discipled Timothy, and Barnabas discipled Mark. God makes his servants through the discipleship of other faithful men and women of God.
Are you allowing God to prepare you to become a faithful servant?
Application Questions: In what ways have you seen God preparing you for servanthood? How can you more actively submit to this preparation?
Faithful Servants Work through God’s Power
I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. (Ephesians 3:7)
Not only does Paul call himself a servant of the gospel by God’s grace, but he also says that God’s power works in him to serve (v.7). This is also true of every faithful servant of the gospel. They don’t operate within their own power, but consciously strive to work through God’s power.
In John 15:5, Jesus says, “‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” The faithful servant knows the difference between Christ’s power and his own. Working in his own strength is marked by frustration, anxiety, and fruitlessness, but Christ’s power brings peace and fruitfulness. The faithful servant knows the difference, and labors to continue in Christ’s power alone.
Paul previously taught the Ephesians about this power. In Ephesians 1, he prays that they may comprehend the great power at work in them, the same power that raised Christ from the dead (v. 19-20). In Ephesians 3:16, he prays for them to “turn on” this power. “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.”
This is true of every faithful servant; they operate in the power of God. Listen to what Paul says of himself in Colossians 1:29: “To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.”
Application Question: How can we allow God’s power to work through us?
1. God’s power works through believers as they recognize their weakness.
In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul tells how he prayed for God to take away his thorn in the flesh—a demon that was tormenting him. However, God replied, ‘‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’”
Many times God allows trials for this very purpose in our lives. He allows difficulties and hardships so we can recognize our weakness. Apart from trials and difficulties, we are often too independent—too “strong” for God to work through us. Therefore, he humbles us through difficulties and trials so his power can be made perfect in our lives. Sometimes, he may actually call us to serve in areas where we are weak or even incompetent, so his power can be clearly displayed. However, many times we must step out in faith to experience God’s power—like Peter stepping out of the boat to walk on water (Matt 14:29).
2. God’s power works through those who pray.
In Mark 9, we learn that the disciples failed to cast a demon out of a young boy. After Christ healed the boy, they asked, “Why couldn’t we cast it out?” Christ replied, “This kind only comes out through prayer” (v. 29). Christ probably wasn’t saying that the disciples hadn’t prayed to cast out the demon. The problem seems to be that they had ceased to live a lifestyle of prayer. Christ had previously left the nine while he and Peter, James and John went up the mountain for his transfiguration (v. 2). While Jesus was on the mountain, nobody woke the disciples up early to read the Word and pray. Most likely they became spiritually lazy and therefore lacked power. Similarly, our lives must be marked by faithful prayer for God’s power to work through us.
3. God’s power works through those who have faith.
In a parallel passage, Christ told the disciples that if they had faith the size of a mustard seed, they could move mountains (Matt 17:20). It seems that not only had they ceased to pray faithfully, but they also had little faith. The power of this demon had created doubt in the hearts of the disciples, and therefore they didn’t really believe God could work through them.
Most Christians are like this; they believe God for their salvation, but when it comes to their daily bread, their needs, or the needs of others, they doubt God’s faithfulness. Christ said that he could not perform many miracles in his hometown because of their lack of faith (Mk 6:5). We often are like this as well. In order to have God’s power work in us, we must believe the promises in God’s Word.
4. God’s power works in those who abide in his Word.
We mentioned this earlier, but it is worth repeating. Scripture “equips” the man of God for all righteousness (2 Tim 3:17). It empowers us and strengthens us to do God’s work. We must live in God’s Word to minister in his power.
Are you allowing God’s power to work through you? Christ says that apart from him you can do nothing (John 15:5). Faithful servants know the difference between God’s power operating in their lives and their own power. Therefore, they ardently seek to live and serve through God’s power alone.
Application Questions: In what ways is God challenging you to allow his power to work in your life? What steps will you take to become more of a channel of God’s power?
Faithful Servants Are Humble
Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, (Ephesians 3:8)
Next, Paul says something that is linguistically impossible but, at the same time, theologically possible, when he calls himself “less than the least of all God’s people.” It literally means the “leaster” or “less than the least.”2
This demonstrates another characteristic of a faithful servant: he is humble. James 4:6 says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” When a servant is humble, God’s gives him grace. Paul already mentioned how he received grace to understand and share the mystery. This is true for all who humble themselves before God and others; they receive grace.
This is not a false, conjured-up humility; rather it is a true humility that comes from being in the presence of God. Paul was keenly aware of his weakness and failures because of his walk with God. Similarly, when Isaiah saw God, he declared, “Woe to me! I am ruined for I have unclean lips, and I come from a people of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5, paraphrase). When Peter realized that Jesus was God, he cried out, “Away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man” (Lk 5:8). Being in God’s presence humbles us, as we clearly see our sin and weakness displayed against his perfection. This was true of Paul. In fact, in 1 Timothy 1:15, he calls himself the chief of sinners.
However, when a servant ceases to be humble and starts to see his good works as coming from himself instead of God, he forfeits God’s grace. God opposes the proud (cf. James 4:6)—he fights against them so that they will become humble.
Application Question: How can we develop the humility of a servant?
1. As mentioned, humility comes from continually living in God’s presence.
This is done through prayer, fellowship, studying God’s Word, and living a holy life.
2. Humility comes from not comparing ourselves with others.
In 2 Corinthians 10:12, Paul says, “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.”
When we continually compare ourselves with others, we either become discouraged and insecure, or prideful. In order to become humble, we must focus solely on God and his work; this results in humility and receiving more of God’s grace.
3. Humility comes as a result of discipline as we put others before ourselves.
In order to grow in humility, we must practice humility by submitting to others and putting them first. First Peter 5:5 says, “Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’”
Humility is a discipline. Instead of demanding our rights and privileges from others, we must instead submit to them and seek their benefit over ours. This is a continual discipline, but as we practice it, God’s grace will be given abundantly to us.
Application Questions: Why are we so prone to pride? What makes it so difficult to grow in humility? How is God calling you to further develop humility in your life?
Faithful Servants Share God’s Mysteries with Everybody
Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable 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, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. (Ephesians 3:8-12)
Here, Paul says that grace was given to him to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ to the Gentiles and to everyone else (v. 8-9). The word “preach” is euangelizō, which means to “announce good news.”3 Paul was called to proclaim the gospel—the good news of Christ—to all who would listen.
When Paul describes the message as the “unsearchable riches of Christ,” he uses an interesting coupling. The Believer’s Commentary shares this (via Blaikie):
Two attractive words, riches and unsearchable, conveying the idea of the things that are most precious being infinitely abundant. Usually precious things are rare; their very rarity increases their price; but here that which is most precious is also boundless—riches of compassion and love, of merit, of sanctifying, comforting and transforming power, all without limit, and capable of satisfying every want, craving, and yearning of the heart, now and evermore.4
“The unsearchable riches of Christ” includes everything we receive at salvation. Paul refers to much of this in the first chapters of Ephesians. Believers were elected before time; delivered from spiritual death and from following the world, Satan, and the flesh; forgiven; redeemed; made alive with Christ; and seated in the heavenly places with Christ. Paul continually teaches these truths to believers so they will know their identity in Christ. And he teaches them to unbelievers so they will follow Christ.
However, the good news Paul proclaims doesn’t stop there. It includes unveiling God’s eternal purpose of making his “manifold” (literally “multi-colored”) wisdom known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms (v. 10).
Interpretation Question: Who are the rulers and authorities God is teaching through the church?
This clearly refers to angels, both good and bad. Paul refers to them again here in Ephesians 6:12: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Saving a people from out of the world and uniting Jew and Gentile in the church were planned before time in order to teach the angels. Even today the angels continually learn from the church. First Peter 1:12 says,
It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.
Angels desire to look into and understand the gospel. Since their primary function is to worship God, they desire to learn and understand everything about him. And as they learn more, they worship more fully. God works in the church to display not only his multi-colored wisdom, as he takes two people groups at animosity with one another and makes them one in Christ, but also his grace. In Ephesians 2:6-7 Paul says,
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
It has been said that before man, the angels knew very little about God’s grace. The angels who rebelled didn’t receive mercy—they received judgment. The angels understood God’s righteousness, holiness, and wrath. But through the church, they learn about God’s grace. They are involved in our worship services (cf. 1 Cor 11:10, Heb 1:14), and they peer in, trying to more fully understand the riches of the gospel. This has been God’s plan from eternity. The church is essentially the angels’ graduate school.
Paul was commissioned to share these truths not only with the Gentiles but with everybody, and this is true for us as well. We should study God’s Word so we can declare his multi-colored wisdom to everyone, and as we share it, even the angels learn (cf. 1 Peter 1:12).
Are you sharing the Word of God with everybody?
Some feel incompetent, and not knowledgeable enough to teach. However, there is always somebody who knows less than we do. We must find that person and teach him, even if he is an unbeliever. The great commission is to make disciples and to teach them to obey everything Christ commanded (Matt 28:20). Every Christian is called to be a teacher (cf. Heb 5:12). This is what God’s faithful servants do.
Application Questions: Share your evangelism and Bible teaching experience. How is God calling you to share more faithfully with others?
Faithful Servants Are Selfless
I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory. (Ephesians 3:13)
Finally, we cannot but notice Paul’s concern for the Ephesians in this verse. He says, “I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.” Paul was in prison, yet he was worried about the Ephesians’ happiness and glory.
This is the epitome of a servant. Servants don’t serve for their own glory, but for the glory and satisfaction of others—and this was true of Paul. He suffered for the Ephesians, even risking his own life so they could hear the gospel and fulfill God’s plan for them.
This must be true of us as well. Paul says this in Philippians 2:3-5:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus
Faithful servants do nothing out of selfish ambition, but in humility consider others better than themselves. This was the attitude of Christ, who suffered and died so that we could know God and have eternal life. Our Lord was the ultimate servant.
How is God calling you to seek the glory of others? John the Baptist said this of Christ, “I must decrease and he must increase” (John 3:30). We must have this mindset as well, not only about Christ, but also others.
How is God calling you to develop this selfless mindset in order to be a faithful servant—one who will be honored and rewarded by him?
Application Questions: Who is God calling you to serve by seeking their glory over your own? How is God calling you to get rid of your selfishness?
What are marks of a faithful servant, one to whom God says, “Well done”?
- Faithful servants suffer willingly for Christ and others.
- Faithful servants trust God’s sovereignty.
- Faithful servants seek to understand God’s mysteries.
- Faithful servants are made by God.
- Faithful servants work through God’s power.
- Faithful servants are humble.
- Faithful servants share God’s mysteries with everybody.
- Faithful servants are selfless.
Copyright © 2016 Gregory Brown
Unless otherwise noted, the primary Scriptures used are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ®, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by the International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (NASB) are from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked KJV or AKJV are from the King James Version or Authorized (King James) Version of the Bible.
All emphases in Scripture quotations and commentators’ quotations have been added.
1 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1986). Ephesians (p. 94). Chicago: Moody Press.
2 Stott, J. R. W. (1979). God’s new society: the message of Ephesians (p. 119). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
3 Accessed 1/13/2016 from
4 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 1927–1928). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
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