The background of this letter to the Ephesians is that there had been a bit of tension between Jews and gentiles in a number of things. The congregation of Ephesus was, from the start, comprised of both Jews and gentiles. At that time, mixing Jews and gentiles together in worshiping God was not normal. Jews were not even supposed to be in the same home as gentiles. We see this tradition in the story of Cornelius and Peter and the fact that the rest of the disciples were surprised by Peter’s having gone to the home of a gentile to eat. It is clear that gentiles and Jews lived apart from one another.
Verses 1–21 speak a lot about a mystery that was made known by God. The “mysteries” of God are evident in a number of passages in the Bible. Psalm 25:14 tells us “The mystery of the Lord is for those who fear Him”. God reveals mysteries to those who draw near to Him. He has especially revealed mysteries to the biblical prophets who have written many of them down for us so that we can get insight into what God has done, is doing, and has yet to do. Yeshua also revealed many mysteries of God to his disciples.
The mystery mentioned in Ephesians is the good news of God’s plan to draw all of mankind near to Him, Jews and gentiles alike, through Yeshua. Jews and gentiles united in worship of the God of Israel was unthinkable before Yeshua’s earthly ministry. Today, this is easy to accept because we live in a time when both Jewish and gentile believers stand side by side in worship of God. It is by the grace of God that believers get to know the mysteries of God that are sometimes contrary to the norms of this present age. Yeshua came to draw all near to him, both Jew and gentile. God wants all of us to partner with His plan of salvation for all of mankind. He wants us to share this plan with others throughout the world, what He has done and what He will do. He desires that all will understand this mystery that has been unveiled to us by His grace.