Thursday, July 07, 2016

According to - Ephesians 3:7

"of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God's grace which was given to me according to the working of His power" (Ephesians 3:7)
This verse if a bit difficult to properly understand from the Greek, in that the Greek text has no capitalization or punctuation. The New King James version translates this verse as, "according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power" (Ephesians 3:7 NKJV) using "by" for the second "according to". Darby translates it this way, "according to the gift of the grace of God given to me, according to the working of his power" (Ephesians 3:7 Darby) inserting a comma between the two "according to" phrases. I think what is important to understand is that Paul realized that there were two things at work in his ministry.

First was the grace of God who called him and appointed him a minister. Paul did not choose to be an apostle, God chose him, and his choosing was not because he was the most qualified or the most worthy for the calling. In fact, it was just the opposite. He saw himself as the last one who should be chosen for such a ministry; a realization that made the grace of God all the more precious to him. God chooses us not because of our ability or our worth but because of His ability and His worth. What ever ministry we have been given, had given to us by the free and unmerited favor of God. Therefore, we have no reason to boast in ourselves, as if we ourselves in anyway merited it. Our boasting is only in the Lord.

Secondly, there is the working of God's power in our lives. The Greek word for "working" is the same word from which we get our word for "energy" and the Greek word for "power" is the same word from which we get our word for "dynamite." When the Holy Spirit comes to live inside of us, there is an explosion of power in our lives that enables us to work the works of God. God's energy is deposited in our lives for effectual service through the power which He provides. God does not just call us through His grace, He also gives us the strength and ability to live out that calling. Paul wrote, "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me." (1 Corinthians 15:10) Paul labored with incredible energy and power to bring about the effect for which Christ had sent him to minister, but it was not in his own strength, energy, and power that he labored, but in the energy of the power of Christ that resided within him. God does not merely call us to ministry, he also gives us everything we need to accomplish that for which He has called us. If there is any fruit or success in our ministry, it is not ours to boast about, as if we had done it in our own strength. Our boasting is only in the Lord.

Paul describes himself as a minister. This Greek word is the same word from which we get our word for "deacon" and means to be a servant or an errand boy. Sometimes we view ministry as an elevated position within the Body of Christ. Because of our predisposition to see church as a hierarchy of ecclesiastical positions, we tend to see ministers as being above the congregants, To be a minister is to be elevated above the flock. However, this is not how Paul saw it. Paul understood that he was called to a lower place, to the place of a servant, to a place of serving the needs of others. Paul understood what Jesus said about what it meant to be great in the Kingdom of God, "Abut the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant." (Luke 22:26) Perhaps if we started calling ministers "servants" it would help transform how we think about ministry and how we think about the construction and organization of the church.

David Robison

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