Our theme this year is equipping the saints for works of ministry. The text comes from chapter 4 of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. But there is a lot of context leading up to the passage on unity that comes through equipping of the saints. In chapter 3, Paul said that “the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly” (Ephesians 3:3 ESV). Paul told them that the mystery wasn’t even made known to the sons of men in generations past, but was only made known to the prophets and holy apostles by the Spirit. The mystery, Paul concludes, is “that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel” (vs. 6).
Paul goes on: “To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (vs. 8). It’s important to note that Paul didn’t feel like he was the very least of every Christian. He actually was. We know this from the blunt, matter-of-fact statement he made. The word he used only appears once in all of the Bible. It literally means “less than the least.” Paul wasn’t using hyperbole. He actually killed Christians. He was full of venom and zeal. Paul singlehandedly wrecked families for the rest of their earthly existence. And God used him.
Paul is clear that God’s grace is the only reason he was chosen to be a mouthpiece to spread the gospel. Paul, writing from prison, is equipping the Ephesians to be equippers. If he, the least of the least, can do it, so can the “upper” saints! The mystery of the gospel binds everyone together as heirs of the kingdom of God! If God can use Paul to reach a massive group of Gentiles, he can use you too! God’s power is made perfect in weakness!