In Part 1, we learned that Gentiles are no longer cut off from the commonwealth of Israel and Gentiles are no longer strangers to the covenant of promise. This week, we’ll look at what Ephesians 3 says concerning the covenant of promise.
After explaining that Jews and Gentiles are now made into one body, Paul begins to expound upon the “mystery” that had been made known to him. This mystery (from mysterion in Greek, meaning “something hidden” α) “was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit”(verse 5).
In verse 6 he explains what this mystery is: that the Gentiles are now 1) fellow heirs, 2) members of the same body, and 3) partakers of the promise. This is directly related to the topics in chapter 2. We are not only no longer strangers to the covenant of promise, we are partakers of the promise. This means that Gentiles partake in the covenant God made with Abraham. We are heirs to the same inheritance as Israel. We are members of the same body as Israel.
What is the covenant of Promise? It is the Abrahamic Covenant:
Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Genesis 12:1-3
To your offspring I will give this land. Genesis 12:7
Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you. Genesis 13:14-17
Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be. Genesis 15:5
To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates…Genesis 15:18
Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God. Genesis 17:4-8
Ephesians 2-3 teaches that the Gentiles are co-heirs with Israel in the promises God made with Abraham. Dispensational theology teaches that Israel and the Church are separate and that the church will not inherit these promises. This is opposite to the teaching found in Ephesians 2-3. This is why I am not Dispensational. Next, we will look at Galatians 3 to see exactly how the Gentiles are included in these promises.
α. Blue Letter Bible. “Dictionary and Word Search for mystērion (Strong’s 3466)“. Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2010. 28 Jun 2010. < http:// www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?