Lesson 13: The Wisdom of the Mystery Revealed: Part 2 of 3 (series: Lessons on Ephesians)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

“Who created all things” is clear enough; but it is not quite so clear why the declaration is introduced in this place. Some suppose that it refers to the new creation, and that the sense is, that God transforms and manages this new creation entirely through Jesus Christ. But the expression contains a truth of much greater importance, and naturally conveys the idea that all things were made by God, and that this was only a part of His great and universal handiwork. The meaning is, that God formed all things, and that this purpose of extending salvation to the world was a part of His great plan, all along, and was under His control. The reason for injecting this word about the creation would appear to be “to indicate the relation of the matter in hand to the mightiest works of God. This is no trifling matter; it connects with God’s grandest operations.” In fact, all through Paul’s writings there prevails the impression that the saved in Christ are a part of infinite plans, all creation, even previous intelligent creations (such as angels) being destined to share a common purpose with the redeemed when God shall sum up all things “in Christ.”

The reason for injecting this word about the creation would appear to be “to indicate the relation of the matter at hand⸺God’s plan of Salvation⸺to the mightiest works of God. This is no trifling matter; it is on par with God’s grandest works.” In fact, all through Paul’s writings there prevails the impression that the saved in Christ are a part of infinite plans, all creation, even previous intelligent creations (such as angels) being destined to share a common purpose with the redeemed when God shall put all things “under Christ.” I make no pretense of being able to explain such things.

“By Jesus Christ,” reveals that He is the One “Who created all things.” There is a striking resemblance between this verse and Colossians 1:15-16{3]. Some versions leave out this phrase; but it is not “very” material whether it is retained in this place or not, as the same truth is taught elsewhere (see John 1:3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2). If it is to be retained, the meaning is that the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, was the great and immediate agent in the creation of the universe.

10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,

“To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers{4] in heavenly places,” makes reference to, not civil magistrates, much less evil angels, but the good angels, the angels in heaven. The meaning is that it was with this thought in mind, or that this was the purpose for which all things were made. One grand purpose for the creation of the universe was so that the wisdom of God might be clearly shown by the church. It was not enough to demonstrate it by the formation of the sun, the moon, the stars, the earth, the seas, and the mountains. It was not enough to show it by the creation of intelligent beings, the formation of immortal minds on earth, and the various ranks of the angelic world. There were aspects of the divine nature which could be obtained only in connection with the redemption of the world. That's why the universe was created, and why man was made, not merely to illustrate the divine perfections in the work of creation, but in a still more illustrious manner, in the work of redemption. And that is the reason for the deep interest which the angelic hosts have always shown in the salvation of man.

“Might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,” not the perfection of the wisdom of God, nor Jesus Christ the wisdom of God, nor the Holy Scriptures; but the Gospel, which was produced by the wisdom of God. The Gospel is gloriously displayed in many ways, and some of them appear below.
The Gospel is present:
• In its doctrines (such as election).
• In basing it not upon their works, but His own grace, for the magnifying of His grace.
• In redemption. This is seen in the person of the Redeemer, who is both God and man.
• In the manner in which it is achieved, being both for the glory of God’s grace and mercy, and for the honor of His justice and holiness.
• Anywhere Satan is humiliated and shocked, sin is condemned, and the sinner saved.
• In justification, whereby sinful men become just with God. God is just and yet the justifier of him that believes; the ungodly is justified, and yet not justified in his ungodliness, but from it.
• In the pardon of sin, in which iniquity is forgiven, and yet vengeance is taken on men's lies; it is an act of mercy, and yet of justice; it is by price paid, and yet of free grace; and similar things may be said of all other doctrines of the Gospel.
And the Gospel may be called “manifold,” because of its various doctrines and promises and because of the instances of wisdom in them, and the various persons to whom it is made known, and the various times in which it has been displayed. And now, the Gospel is more clearly known, or made known to the angels by the church of God, through the ministry of the word preached in it, with angels in attendance, for they desire to look more deeply into the mysteries of it; and by the displays of the wisdom and grace of God unto His church and people.

In the redemption of the church, there is not merely one form or one phase of wisdom. It is wisdom, ever-varying, ever-beautiful. There was wisdom manifested when the plan was formed; wisdom in the selection of the Redeemer; wisdom in the incarnation; wisdom in the atonement; wisdom in the means of renewing the heart, and sanctifying the soul; wisdom in the various dispensations by which the church is sanctified, guided, and brought to glory. The wisdom thus shown is like the ever-varying beauty of changing clouds, when the sun is reflected on them at evening. Each aspect is full of beauty. One bright cloud differs in appearance from others; yet all tend to fill the mind with elevated views of God.

11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:

“According to the eternal purpose” is only five words, but they have been interpreted in several ways:
• “This was in accordance” (NASV)….”
• “This was according to” (RSV)….”
• “In conformity to that timeless purpose which He centered in Christ Jesus”

God has not had to change His plans in reaction to unexpected opposition from men or angels. The church is an essential part of God’s eternal purpose. It is the “one body” in which God planned to save all believers⸺“For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body” (Ephesians 5:23). God's Plan, which becomes visible in the church, is not some whim of God, but the result of God's eternal purpose (Ephesians 1:11). God brought this part of His plan to fruition through our Lord’s earthly ministry. Specifically, the Jews’ rejection of their Messiah resulted in the postponement (from the human viewpoint) of the messianic (Davidic) kingdom and the beginning of the church. The blessings of grace, which, for Christ’s sake, God bestows on those who believe, are the fruits of His eternal purpose, and are given not merely to save them, but to show to the universe the perfections of His character since they could not otherwise be made known. All that God does in the work of our redemption, by which He sets forth his manifold wisdom, He does according to what he had from eternity past determined that He would do, and then to do them just as they have been planned.

God's great saving power in all of history is focused in and through Jesus Christ and His church!!! The church was not substituted for the kingdom because the Jews rejected His initial proposals. The church was not a stop-gap measure until the kingdom could be introduced at the second-coming of the Lord. He has no new plans. He has had no plans revised because of man’s rejection of His Son.” Here are some interesting observations concerning the “Church” and the “Kingdom of God”:
• They share a common origin in date and place (Isaiah 2:2-3; Acts 2:1-47).
• They share an identical boundary and territory (Daniel 2:44; Mark 16:15).
• They share the same ownership (John 18:36; Matthew 16:18).
• They share common rulership (1 Timothy 6:15; Ephesians 5:23).
• They have the same requirements for entrance (John 3:5; Acts 2:38).
• They share the same membership when it comes to citizenship in fellowship (Colossians 1:13-14).
• They share the same memorial supper (Matthew 26:29; 1 Corinthians 11:20-27)
• They anticipate the same time of deliverance (1 Corinthians15:24; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)”

“Which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord”; not only according to the eternal Wisdom of the Father, but as intended in God’s decree that He would be the Head of the church, and through Him God would in time execute his eternal purpose.

Instead of “which he purposed,” it should be, “which He wrought,” or made, for the word is quite distinct from “purpose,” and is in itself ambiguous, capable of meaning either ordained or worked out. Either sense will suit the passage; but the latter is perhaps better, since the idea throughout the passage pertains to the completion and manifestation of the mystery of God’s purpose in the Lord Jesus Christ.

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