Ephesians

Ephesians 1:8-9 All Wisdom and Insight

7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him

11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation–having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
Ephesians 1:7-14

Observations

  • God has lavished grace upon us past, present, and future. In the past, He chose us (Eph 1:4) and predestined us (Eph 1:5). In the present, we have redemption and forgiveness (Eph 1:7) and made known the mystery of His will (Eph 1:9). In the future, there will come a fullness of the times (Eph 1:10) and the inheritance will be obtained, that we will be a praise to His glory (Eph 1:12).

    Past | Present | Future
    3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation–having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

    Ephesians 1:3-14

  • God acts from an infinite well of wisdom and insight. It was in all wisdom that He made known the mystery of His will. Partial wisdom and partial insight would not have been good enough!
  • We are not ignorant or stupid. God has made known to us the mystery of His will.
  • He did not do this on a whim. He used infinite forethought, infinite wisdom. We may think that it is a mistake to have some such person in the body of Christ, but God has included all of us together using infinite wisdom.
  • All wisdom and all insight indicates an exhaustive and infinitely complete amount of forethought.
  • We think, He should maybe not tell us how extraordinarily forgiven and redeemed and accepted we are. He should keep a bit of law over our heads to keep us in line. He made this known at the perfect time in the perfect way to the people He designated, and it is beyond question or mistake.
  • The mystery of His will! His ultimate purposes have been greatly hidden and shrouded, and He has revealed them to us, of all people!
  • Notice this language: “He made known.” This is more than simply revealing it. You can unveil something, even something extraordinary, and it can remain hidden and ignored and even misunderstood. But God knows how to market things. He didn’t just unveil it. He wrapped it in riddles and parables and crosses and blood and such. But, He exercised His power and not only unveiled it, but by the supernatural intervention of the Spirit He drew men, He manifested understanding to men, He made it known.
  • He made it known. We may think these are great and deep mysteries, great theological constructs, which we do not and cannot understand. But this is not the scripture. He didn’t just reveal it to confused masses and leave us to our own subjective false interpretations. He revealed it, but more than that, He made it known. Christian epistemology is supernatural.
  • His will was known by Himself from before the foundation of the universe. But, it was kept hidden, it was a mystery. It is His very will, His intention, His purposes, which have been made known to us.
  • We have been given very important knowledge, the very secret of God.
  • All of this, the foreknowledge, the keeping of the secret, the making known of the secret, was done with more than wisdom and forethought – it was all done for the purpose of kindness. If we read anything but kindness and love and lavish grace into God’s ways, we miss His revelation altogether.
  • The kindness of God is shown forth “in Him”. Christ is the expression and the encapsulation and the very revelation of the great and mysterious kindness of God towards us.
  • God looks forward, has a vision, and waits for the proper time for things. In this waiting, there is no frustration, because He has a plan.
  • God is concerned with time, and with doing things in the right time. He has a view when things are not the right time, and when things are the the right time. Sometimes from His vantage point, the time is not full for something.
  • The end point of everything is the “summing up” of all things in Christ.
  • There are earthly things which are not summed up in Christ. There are also heavenly things which are not summed up in Christ.
  • According to this, there is a progression of time in heaven, and there is a time when things are not yet summed up in Christ even in heaven.

Questions

What is the mysterion?

musterion | moos-tay’-ree-on |
from a derivative of muo (to shut the mouth); a secret or “mystery” (through the idea of silence imposed by initiation into religious rites):–mystery.

What is this idea of “administration suitable to the fulness of the times?”

God’s plan ‘for the fullness of the times’, when time merges into eternity again, is to unite all things in him (Christ), things in heaven and things on earth (verse 10). The Greek verb translated ‘unite’ (anakephalaioō) ‘is rich in allusion and significance’. 3 It was rare in secular Greek. According to Moulton and Milligan, although unknown in non-literary documents because too sophisticated for them, yet ‘the commonness of kephalaion (“ sum”, “total”) would make the meaning obvious even to ordinary readers’. Thus the verb anakephalaioō meant ‘to bring something to a kephalaion’, ‘to sum up’, either in the sense of ‘summing up in reflection or speech’ (‘ to condense into a summary’— Thayer) or in the sense of ‘the gathering together of things’. The only other New Testament occurrence of the verb is in Romans 13: 9, where all the commandments of the law’s second table ‘are summed up in this sentence, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”  ’ The context of Ephesians 1 certainly seems to suit the notion of ‘gathering together’ better than that of ‘condensing’. For a little later, in verse 22, Paul will be affirming that God has made Jesus Christ ‘the head (kephalē) over all things for the church’. So here he seems to be saying that ‘the summing up of the totality takes place in its subjection to the Head’. 4 Already Christ is head of his body, the church, but one day ‘all things’ will acknowledge his headship. At present there is still discord in the universe, but in the fullness of time the discord will cease, and that unity for which we long will come into being under the headship of Jesus Christ.

Stott, John (2014-04-02). The Message of Ephesians (The Bible Speaks Today Series) (Kindle Locations 516-530). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

Have all things now been summed up in Christ? Was the cross and resurrection the fulness of the times? Or is there more summing up of more things to come? In other words, is Paul referring to current things or things still to come here?
I think the Stott quote above handles this question nicely.

Reflection

There is a vast difference between walking around thinking that you have made a decision for Jesus, and thinking that God chose you in Christ before the foundation of the cosmos. There is a vast chasm between thinking that you maintain your own salvation and thinking that you have someone stronger and better and smarter than you (by a universe!) who has thought out your salvation from before the beginning of time. This passage paints a very different picture than the usual immediate-experience obvious-transformation Christianity we usually hear. Past, present, and future, God has loved us and taken pleasure in us and determined immense kindness towards us that we ourselves did not engineer and which we do not deserve.

He has not merely revealed His will. Suppose a brilliant sculptor had finished his masterpiece, and determined a date to unveil it. He walks in and with a dramatic flair, he rips the cloth away, revealing his finished work! Only – there is no one there to see it. It has been revealed, but it has not made it known. God concealed His ultimate plan for grace until the coming of Christ. When Jesus came, He spoke in parables and riddles. Furthermore, His glories and his grace are concealed in crosses and blood and death and crazy stories of resurrection. But to us who believe, He has not simply revealed these things – He has made them known. He has caused us to understand the power and sufficiency and beauty of the cross of Christ.

Whatever is meant exactly by Paul’s words about God’s plans and the fullness of the times, we can rest in the fact that God has the future figured out. He is extremely patient, like a master composer, weaving voices and building drama until the right time when all things come together. Christ Jesus is that tremendous crescendo, that great moment, that great time when you must stand and applaud despite yourself.

If we know Christ in the now, we can exult in the fact that we know the greatest and highest One in heaven.

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