1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— 2 if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you; 3that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief.
The first word that stuck out to me in this passage was the word mystery. I find it difficult to think that things like God’s grace are left to be a mystery, since God tells us all about it in His Word. For starters, I looked it up in the dictionary. My study bible notes that the word “mystery” in those times didn’t necessarily mean what it does today. One of the definitions I found under mystery was, “any truth that is unknowable except by divine revelation.” I think this definition fits what Paul is saying here.
The point that Paul is beginning to make (this is the beginning of a new chapter of the book and subsequently the beginning of a new thought), is that through Christ, we are all able to live in the glory of God, not just His chosen people, Israel. This is why he is specific in verse 1 that his calling is to preach the gospel to Gentiles.
Verse 3, to me at least, is represent of Paul’s calling or purpose in life. He mentions, “as I wrote before in brief.” I quickly looked back to see if I missed something but I don’t think Paul quite mentions what I think he is referring to here in this letter. Possibly it was a previous letter. My thought is that he is referring to his “Damascus road experience” when he was converted by Christ. This is what I believe he is talking about in reference to “mystery,” his divine appointment or purposed calling by God. What was that calling?
The stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you. I think it is unique how he words this, something that can be easily overlooked. His choice of the word stewardship signifies that it is not his grace, but rather God’s that was gifted to him to flow through him to others. We have seen before and we will see again in this letter that as Paul is revered as an apostle, that he also reminds us that he is no better than us, that we are all the same, and that God has gifted us equally in the same manner.
We are all gifted with the same grace which He calls us to give each other. Certainly, as we are all unique, He has given us the capacity to do it in different ways. However, the core is the same: God has gifted us with His grace and we are to be stewards of that grace by giving it to others. A common phrase I have begun to hear more and more lately is “pay it forward,” meaning to take what has been given to you and bless someone else with it. Paying forward God’s grace is the ultimate example of this. I still find it interesting how this is considered stewardship, though.
Usually, the word stewardship refers to properly managing something. In this case, however, Paul is talking about actually giving it out. In its very nature, grace is not something that is given for the means of receiving something in return. Grace is freely given in love. God calls us to be stewards of His grace by giving it away.
How are you being a steward of the grace God has gifted to you? Have you even opened the gift yet?