Access to the God of Grace
In three New Testament passages, Paul utilizes the Greek word prosagoge—translated “access” or “introduction” (cf. Rom. 5:2; Eph. 2:18; 3:12). It literally means “a leading or bringing into the presence of” (Vine). In secular Greek, prosagoge was used to describe a place where ships landed while approaching a harbor—a safe passageway, free of enemy vessels. Paul employs this term to describe the access we—believers—have to the Father and into His grace.
Common to the three Scriptures which use prosagoge is the concept of dependence on Christ. It is solely “through” Him and “in” Him that one obtains access. This matches perfectly with Jesus’ statement, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn. 14:6). Since Christ is the one Mediator between God and mankind, He is the only way into the Father’s grace (cf. 1 Tim. 2:5-6).
Access (as described in the New Testament) is also contingent on faith. In two instances, prosagoge is connected with the phrases “by faith” and “through faith” (cf. Rom. 5:2; Eph. 3:12). While faith is not specifically mentioned in the other passage, it is implied by the phrase “access in one Spirit to the Father” (Eph. 2:18). Only through individual faith in Christ produced by the Spirit’s word will we benefit from God’s grace (cf. Eph. 3:12; Rom. 10:17). This kind of faith leads to righteousness, peace with the Lord, and the hope of glory (cf. Rom. 5:1-2).
Prosagoge is not the end, however. It is merely the passageway to the goal of grace and glory. We come “to the Father” and “into this grace” that we may “rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Eph. 2:18; Rom. 5:2). Just as ships used the landing site to travel to the harbor, we—believers—move through the access of Christ into grace. Grace justifies, saves, strengthens, and provides comfort and hope (cf. Rom. 3:24; Eph. 2:5; 2 Cor. 12:9; 2 Thess. 2:16). As partakers of grace, like Paul, we can say, “In it we are making our stand” (Rom. 5:2).
Lastly, a passive meaning is implied in the term prosagoge. We cannot earn an introduction to the Father nor can we force our way into His grace. We are led, by God’s mercy, into His favor: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). “Put no confidence in the flesh” (Phil. 3:3). “We have boldness and access with confidence” in the Lord (Eph. 2:18).
Amazingly, Jesus allows us—weak, ungodly sinners—to gain entrance into divine favor (cf. Rom. 5:1-2, 6, 8). This does not mean, however, that once we reach the “harbor of grace” we cannot “drift away” or “suffer shipwreck” (cf. Heb. 2:1; 1 Tim. 1:19; Gal. 5:4). We must always remain thankful to God for the access we have into grace and then continue to stand in it (cf. Rom. 5:1-2).