The Apostle Paul is under house arrest in Rome, chained night and day to a Roman soldier, but Paul declares that he is “the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles”. Paul begins this section with the phrase “for this reason”, which naturally draws our attention to the previous verses and the discussion about the divide between Jews and Gentiles that is now abolished because of Christ’s sacrifice. Paul states clearly that he is in prison because of His message, the gospel; he is imprisoned for preaching about Christ.
The religious leaders in Jerusalem felt threatened by Christ’s teachings, they didn’t believe that Jesus was the Messiah and pressured the Romans to arrest Paul and bring him to trial on false charges of treason. Paul appealed his case to Caesar which was his right as a Roman citizen. Even though he was under arrest, Paul maintained the firm belief that God was in control of all that happened to him. Paul declares in 2 Timothy that even though he is imprisoned, “God’s message is not imprisoned!” and from Philippians he states “that my situation has actually turned out to advance the gospel”.
Paul writes that by God’s grace he was given the commission to bring God’s message of truth to the Gentiles; this revelation was made known to Paul, revealed to him by the risen LORD Jesus on the road to Damascus. In Acts, we learn that Jesus said to Ananias, “this man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before Gentiles and kings and the people of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name”. Paul is very confident of his calling, in his letter to the Galatians he says, “But when the one who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I could preach Him among the Gentiles”. Even though Paul has been restricted in his travels, for more than two years, first confined in Caesarea and now in Rome, God has provided many opportunities for him to preach Christ. He continues to make converts to Christ during this time; there are many new believers even extending into the imperial guard and Caesar’s household. Now Paul is encouraging all believers to stand firm, to continue to be faithful and to not be ashamed of the Gospel, even though his circumstances are not good his ultimate goal continues; the Gospel is advancing.
Paul is hoping that this letter will help the Ephesians to understand “my insight into the mystery of Christ which was not disclosed to people in the former generations”. “That God would bless the Gentiles, then, was not a new revelation, what then was the new revelation, the mystery hitherto concealed? It was this, that God’s blessing of the Gentiles would involve the obliteration of the old line of demarcation which separated them from the Jews and the incorporation of the Gentile believers together with Jewish believers, without any discrimination, in the new comprehensive community of God’s chosen people”. (F.F. Bruce) The mystery that Paul is speaking about is that “the Gentiles are fellow heirs, fellow members of the body and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus”.
Jesus said in Matthew, “But your eyes are blessed because they see, and your ears because they hear. For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it”. What a glorious privilege we have in this generation, to be able to study and understand these deep mysteries of God that our faithful ancestors and prophets longed to understand. We know and understand because it has been revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and will cause you to remember everything I said to you”.
Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that had been kept secret for long ages, but now is disclosed, and through the prophetic scriptures has been made known to all the nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be glory forever! Amen. Romans 16:25-27