Yesterday, we looked at the word dispensation, which can be translated steward or stewardship, and speaks of our responsibility to complete the task God has given us to do. We also focused our prayers on Ephesians 3:2, which deals specifically with the dispensation of God’s grace given to Paul for the sake of the Gentiles.
But today, we will look at the next phrase, Ephesians 3:3-4, which reads:
How that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ).
In these two verses, we find the word revelation used once and mystery used twice. But this is not the first time Paul used these words in his letter to the Ephesians. In Ephesians 1:17, Paul speaks of praying the Lord would give the “spirit of wisdom and revelation” in the knowledge of Christ. And in Ephesians 1:9, we find God “having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to the good pleasure which He purposed in Himself.”
As we previously discovered, the word mystery is not something forever unknown. Instead, it denotes “something hidden or not yet fully manifest.” It’s knowable truth, but just not to everyone. This mystery is a truth God has reserved to reveal at a particular time, to a specific group of people, or person, for His unique purpose.
This wondrous mystery, unknown in the Old Testament, was finally revealed to Paul by the revelation of the Holy Spirit. And this mystery is the Kingdom of God includes, not just Jews, but also Gentiles. That God truly is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34-35), and the Kingdom of God is far greater than our prejudices, our racial discord, or our cultural preferences.
The Revelation of the Mystery
So what does the word revelation mean? Revelation (apokálupsis) means “an uncovering, unveiling, or the disclosing of something previously not known.” We don’t know how Paul received this revelation, whether an angel dictated it to him, or the Holy Spirit confirmed it in his spirit, or he received it through a dream or vision. We’re not sure how it happened. But we do know it happened. It’s almost like in Acts when the elders of the church were praying and fasting, and the Holy Spirit spoke to them collectively, saying, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (Acts 13:2). It appears the entire group understood what the Holy Spirit said. How did that happen? Was it an audible voice? Maybe a confirming spirit in them? Or was it something else? We don’t know. The Scriptures don’t tell us. But what we do know is everyone received the Holy Spirit’s message about Paul and Barnabas, so they all agreed in unity and sent them on their way (Acts 12:3). Something similar might have happened here. It was a revelation of God’s truth revealed to His intended audience.
Do you realize, one trait of being a believer in Christ is hearing from our Father? We are in tune with God and His Spirit in a way the rest of the world isn’t, and can’t quite comprehend. We have an understanding, an enlightenment, that comes from the Holy Spirit living in us that takes random circumstances in this chaotic world and reveals to us His order and purpose through them. We can look at the Book of Revelation, for example, and clearly delineate the signs and symbols and literal interpretation of future events soon to come to pass. After all, that’s the way God intended. He promised to bless those who read and those who hear the words of the prophecy (Rev. 1:3). A promise not given to any other part of God’s Word.
And this gift is not only for Paul, but also for you and me. Remember, the “message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18). Why? Because God reveals His truth to us through His Word. To understand His Word is one of the greatest gifts you and I have received from Him.
This New Year, as you make resolutions and vows about Bible study and prayer and other things regarding your relationship with the Lord, remember you have been given a special gift. You can have the truth of God revealed to you by the Holy Spirit in such a way it will forever change your life. In the Scriptures, you will find the answer to every question asked by man, ever! There is nothing in life God has not revealed to us in His Word. The Scriptures reveal wisdom, the keys to a happy marriage, instructions on how to raise children, how to discover meaning and purpose in life, how to love your spouse— everything knowable is in His Word.
Time to Pray
When you begin your day with the Lord, ask Him to show you how overwhelmingly beautiful and inspiring and brilliant is His Word. Plead with Him to give you a hunger for His Word, unlike anything you have ever experienced before. And when you read His Word, either Old or New Testament, beg Him to reveal Himself to you and to give you the revelation of the mystery of His love for you, a love undeserved, unmatched, and eternal.
Only in His Word can you find the source of the “abundant life” Jesus promised (John 10:10). It’s ours for the asking. Join with me in making this quest for the “abundant life” in Him our passion for 2020.
The following are a few 2019 Bible Reading Plans from various sources. Make a commitment today to faithfully read the Scriptures more next year than you did this last year.
After all, the mantra “no pain, no gain” also applies to spiritual disciplines.
Genesis Through Revelation Bible Reading Plan
Read through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation with daily readings of three to four chapters. From www.heartlight.org.
52 Week Bible Reading Plan
Read through the Bible in a year with daily readings from the Epistles, the Law, History, Psalms, Poetry (Job, Proverbs, etc.), Prophecy, and the Gospels. From www.bible-reading.com.
Chronological Bible Reading Plan
Read through the Bible in chronological order. This is one of my favorites. From www.esv.org.
Duration: One year | Download: PDF
Historical Bible Reading Plan
The Old Testament readings are much like the order found in Israel’s Hebrew Bible and the New Testament readings are in the order in which the books were written. From www.blueletterbible.org.
Robert Murray M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan
This is the classic M’Cheyne Bible reading calendar that will let you read the New Testament and Psalms twice and the Old Testament once. From www.edginet.org.
5 Day Bible Reading Program
Read through the Bible in a year with readings five days a week. From www.BibleClassMaterial.com.
And a special thanks to Ligonier ministries for the reminder.
Often we find ourselves focusing on the temporal things in life and not on the eternal. We seem to devote most of our time and energy on the things that pass, things that fade away, things that are transitory at best and have an expiration date, and not on what truly matters and what lasts. Why is that?
Matthew 5:18 – “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”
Jesus said the law, the Word of God, is something that will outlast even heaven and earth. Then, according to Psalm 138:2, God said He honors His Word above His name. So what does all of this mean? And what are the implications for each of us? To find out more, keep listening.
The following is a study on Matthew 5:18.
To download the slides for this message, click – HERE
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Some of the most compelling statements from Jesus about our life in Him and His life in us are found in John 15. In this chapter He says:
John 15:4-5 – “Abide in Me (or, to remain, to rest, to dwell, to live. Also means to spend time with, to continue steadfast, to persevere, to tarry, to remain in or with someone, to remain united with someone, being of one heart, one mind, and one will. It defines something that remains where it is, continues in a fixed state, or endures), and I (abide) in you. As the branch cannot (or, no, not, ever, an impossibility) bear fruit of itself (or, on its own), unless (condition) it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much (or, many, exceeding, abundant) fruit; for without Me (or, apart, separate, by itself) you (your name) can do (or, to make, to produce, to prepare, implies action) nothing (or, no one, none at all, not even one, not in the least).”
Note the following:
(command and invitation) “Abide in Me, and I in you.
(example from nature) As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine,
(application) neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
(clarification and identification) I am the vine, you are the branches.
(promise) He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit;
(warning) for without Me you can do nothing.”
But this is only the beginning. There’s so much more to learn. Are you interested? Then keep listening.
The following is a study on John 15:4-5.
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To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding.
The Lord tells us in His preamble of Proverbs that one of the purposes of this great book is for us “to know wisdom and instruction” and “to perceive the words of understanding” (Prov. 1:2). And bam!— there it is again, right before our eyes— another troubling yet vital four-letter word.
But this time the word isn’t love, but know. What does it mean to know something, to know wisdom and instruction for example? What does it mean to be in the know, to have knowledge, or to acknowledge someone or something?
Our contemporary definition of know is “to be aware of something through careful observation, inquiry, or information; to develop a relationship with someone through meeting and spending time with them, to be familiar or friendly.”
“Oh, ask me, I know the answer to that question.”
“You don’t have to remind me, I know I have to pick them up at the airport at 5:00pm.”
“I know who you are, I recognized you from your Facebook profile.”
“I know all about Abraham Lincoln, I read about him in my textbook.”
But there are several different words that are translated know in the Scriptures: in the Greek, primarily edio (1492 in Strong’s) and ginosko (1097 in Strong’s) and in the Hebrew, yada (3045 in Strong’s). Plus, the Hebrew word yada is essentially the same as the Greek word ginosko. So let’s take a few minutes and dig a bit deeper into the difference between knowing something edio or knowing someone ginosko (or yada) and why that is even important.
To Know With Your Head or Your Heart
This is the question that defines these two words and describes the different aspects of what it means to know. Is it merely head knowledge, the accumulation of facts and raw data? Or can I know someone on a more personal level, with more intimacy and passion? Can I know them by my experience with them and not just know facts about them.
In the Greek, edio (1492) is defined as “to see, to perceive with the eyes or the senses, to observe, to get or gain knowledge of something, to understand.” It’s a mental, cognitive retention of some facts. It’s head knowledge, or book learning. It’s preparing for your final exam by memorizing all the answers and then forgetting them immediately after the test is over. It’s knowing, for example, that George Washington was the first President of the United States yet that fact having absolutely no impact on your daily life. “Yeah, I know all about George Washington. I saw his picture and watched the movie. But so what? Who cares?”
But there’s another word translated know that means something altogether different. The word ginosko (1097) means “to know in a completed sense, to know everything and to know in full, to learn to know; it means to know by intimate experience or expression; to choose, to approve, to love, to embrace, to desire, to place one’s favor upon.”
One can know something by studying the facts (edio) and one can know by choosing to live the experience (ginosko) and loving every minute of it. One is dry, academic and sterile (edio) and the other is complete, life- changing and exhilarating (ginosko).
Let me give you just a few examples.
Matthew 1:25 – “And (Joseph) did not know her (ginosko – or, to know by intimate experience or expression, to choose, to love, to desire, to place one’s favor upon) till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.” This word, in both the Old and New Testament, is used as a euphemism for sexual relations between two people. “Now Adam knew (yada) Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain” (Gen. 4:1). When Adam knew Eve it was obviously more than memorizing a few facts about her, wasn’t it?
Luke 8:46 – “But Jesus said, ‘Somebody touched Me, for I perceived (ginosko – or, to know by intimate experience or expression) power going out from Me’.” Jesus knew (ginosko), not by reading a book or sitting in a classroom (edio), that something had happened to Him— He personally experienced power going out from Him to the woman with the issue of blood. He knew (ginosko), without being told, power had gone out from Him because He experienced it Himself.
“I Know My Sheep”
And then there are the incredible passages that show the choice, desire, love, approval and favor associated with Jesus knowing (ginosko) those who belong to Him. This is not cognitive or head knowledge, this is something deeper, something much more intimate. This is Jesus knowing, choosing, loving, approving, and desiring those He places His favor upon, those called the elect in Him (Rom. 8:33).
John 10:14 – “I am the good shepherd; and I know (ginosko) My sheep, and am known (ginosko) by My own.” Jesus knows (ginosko) those that belong to Him. He knows (ginosko) them intimately, He has chosen them, approved of them, embraced them, and has placed His favor upon them. And the elect, those He has chosen for His own, also know (ginosko) Him in return. They don’t just know (edio) about Jesus, they know (ginosko) Jesus by intimate experience and expression. They also choose Him, desire Him, love Him and belong to Him.
But note this: Jesus knows (edio) everything and everyone. After all, He is God and He is sovereign. But He only knows (ginosko) those who are His own, those who belong to Him, those He has chosen, His sheep.
But it gets even better.
John 10:15 – “As the Father knows (ginosko) Me, even so I know (ginosko) the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.” As the Father completely and fully, with intimate experience and expression, knows (ginosko) the Son, so the Son, the third Person of the Trinity, also knows (ginosko) the Father in the same way.
“I Never Knew You”
One more before moving on.
Matthew 7:23 – “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew (ginosko) you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'” This certainly doesn’t mean there was some body of knowledge in the universe or some group of people the Son of God was unaware of. It doesn’t mean there was something He had to learn, something that slipped His mind, some skill He had yet to master, or something He simply forgot. “Uh, I’m sorry. What was your name again?” No, Jesus knows (edio) all. He is God and, among other things, He is omniscient.
This use of ginosko means there are some whom He has not chosen. Some He doesn’t have an intimate, loving experience with. Some upon whom He has not placed His favor and some He does not desire or approve of. And who are these? Jesus said, “You who practice lawlessness! (Matt. 7:23). You who reject His love, mercy and sacrifice. You who are lost, unredeemed, and unrepentant of your sins.
To Know Wisdom and Instruction
So you see, when you come across the word know in the Scriptures, please understand it can have a far deeper meaning than simply being aware of something because you have carefully observed it or have memorized certain facts that pertain to it. The word you read can mean to know (edio) in a general, mental, cognitive way or it can mean something much deeper (ginosko) that involves experience, intimacy, volition, and love.
And also remember that ginosko in the Greek is essentially the same word as yada in the Hebrew. So when we read in the Proverbs: “To know (yada) wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding”— it means we are to know (yada) in a completed sense, to know everything and to know fully, to learn to know; it means to know by intimate experience or expression; to choose, to approve, to love, to embrace, to desire, to place one’s favor upon.
And what are we to know (yada) like that? Wisdom and instruction. And what do wisdom and instruction mean and how can we choose to have an intimate experience with both and to know (yada) them completely and fully as the Scriptures command?
Stay tuned. Because that’s exactly what we’ll be examining tomorrow.
- When you read the word know, do you mentally define it as edio or ginosko? Which one do you naturally default to?
- What resource do you use to discover the deeper meaning of the Greek and Hebrew words in our Bible?
- How long have you been using that resource? What do you like about it and what are its shortcomings?
- Is taking more time to study your Bible difficult for you? And, if so, do you know why? Do you put the same effort into studying God’s Word as you would, for example, a college History exam? And again, if not, do you know why?
- On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate your desire for God’s Word at this point in your life? What was it three months ago? One year ago? Are you growing in your faith or standing still? And finally, what are you prepared to do about it?
Next Step Challenge
During your personal Bible reading time, commit to make it a practice of looking up each instance of the word know and mark in your Bible if it’s ginosko or edio or maybe another Greek word. You may even choose to write above them the Strong’s reference number: 1097 for ginosko and 1492 for edio.
Then look and see if you can find any other words that translate ginosko (such as comprehend, learn, realized, notice, understood, etc.) or edio (such as see, behold, perceive, etc.) to help your further understand the meaning of the Scripture you study.