This morning, I suffered a bit of a rebuke at the hands of my Greek lexicon. Reminded again that what I want to so readily think is about me is more often than not really about we.
This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
(Ephesians 3:6 ESV)
Partakers of the promise. That’s the phrase I started noodling on after my readings.
Paul calls it a mystery. Something God always had in mind but was hidden. Hinted at throughout His revelation, but through the gospel revealed in the fullness of its manifestation. The mystery that Gentiles were always intended to be joint heirs with God’s “chosen people” of Israel. Those who were once outsiders now declared insiders through faith in the finished work of Christ. No longer Jew and Gentile, just one body in Christ. All partakers of the promise. The promise made accessible through the gospel. The promise founded in Christ Jesus.
So, where do I go immediately? Well, I’m a Gentile. I’ve believed. Therefore, I am a partaker of the promise. Praise God! Let me bask in the wonder of a being a partaker. That’s what I’ll chew on this morning.
As I’m wont to do then, I look up the word for partakers in the Greek lexicon within the Bible program on my computer. What additional insight can I get from the original word that will remind me of how blessed I am? Did I mention the subtle rebuke part?
The original word is a two-part word. One part meaning sharing or partaking. The other part meaning with or beside. The translations which render it as “sharers together” (NIV), “fellow partakers” (NASB), or “partners” (CSB) provide the fuller sense more clearly. And if I had really paid attention to the context more carefully (i.e., “fellow heirs”, “same body”), the more consistent sense. Yes, I am a partaker of the promise, but I am a partaker with other partakers. Me partaking is designed to be done as we partake together.
How quick am I to make my salvation an individual sport rather than a team sport? Pretty quick!
How much of the world’s ways have crept into my thinking when I see my personal relationship with Jesus as something to first and foremost be personalized? My identity found more readily in who I am rather than in the community I belong to. My faith something to be individualized rather than exercised in the context of other believers.
For sure, I get to partake in the promises. But my release from the bondage of sin was designed so that I could partake in freedom with other partakers. My rescue from the tyranny of the flesh was so that I could be part of a spiritual body. My redemption from the empty offerings of this world was so that I could look forward to a heavenly inheritance with fellow heirs.
While heavens rejoices over one soul saved (Lk. 15:10), it is through the church–the collective community of born again believers–that the multi-faceted wisdom of God is made known to the rulers and authorities in heavenly places (Eph. 3:10).
We are partakers of the promise together.
By God’s grace. For God’s glory.