Racial Reconciliation – Part 4 (Ephesians 3:1)

Racial Reconciliation – Part 4 (Ephesians 3:1)

In order to better understand Ephesians, we must first turn to why Paul is imprisoned and the circumstances leading up to his arrest in Acts 21-22.
Rumors upon his return to Jerusalem
Paul was returning to Jerusalem with money for the poor Jewish believers there. This money had been collected from different Gentile churches (1 Corinthians 16.) When he arrived in Jerusalem the elders tell him that the Jews have heard rumors that he has rejected Judaism and the Bible. They wanted him to accompany four men through a Jewish ceremony in the temple to help dispel these false rumors. Paul agreed to do this.
Riot in Jerusalem
While in the temple, several Asian Jews saw Paul in the temple. They had previously seen Paul talking to Trophimus, a Gentile from Ephesus, and they wrongly assumed that Paul had brought him into the temple. They started a riot, and all the Jews tried to assault Paul. The occupying Roman guard immediately moved to squash the riot and arrested Paul assuming he was the instigator. Paul clarified with the Romans that he was not leading an insurrection and asked for permission to address the crowd.
Paul’s defense
Paul told the Jews of His Jewish heritage and obedience to the Law. He spoke of his training as a Jewish rabbi and his persecution of Christians. As he spoke the crowd listened attentively because he was speaking to them in Hebrew, the Jews’ heart-language. He told how God warned him to leave Jerusalem because his own people would not receive him. Paul argued that the Jews knew of his zeal for the Law of God and would not reject him.
Paul’s imprisonment
Everything went well until Paul told the Jews that God told him to go share the Gospel with the Gentiles. Immediately they rioted, shouting that a person like this should not be allowed to live. This began Paul’s imprisonment for the Gospel.
Back to the Ephesians
This brings us back to Ephesians and everything that Paul has been saying about racial reconciliation. It is easy for a Jew to confront Gentiles about their racism and demand they change. However, Paul is here pointing out that he is in prison literally because of his Gospel-informed views on race, specifically his friendship with the Ephesian Trophimus. Racial reconciliation is not a political stance or a social justice issue for Paul; it is nothing less than the Gospel.
Application:
There are many similarities between Paul’s story and the society in which we live. We must realize that the Gospel is about reconciliation, man with God AND man with man. We must be willing to stand against racism even if it means persecution. Why? Because it is the Gospel. Are you willing to publically stand for racial reconciliation in Christ? Will you take the lead in racial reconciliation? Will you repent and seek forgiveness for racism? Will you come to Jesus for a new heart?

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