Mark R Lindsey

God’s purpose in revealing the Mystery. Interrogating Ephesians 1:9

In Ephesians on February 21, 2015 at 4:36 pm
Ephesians 1:3-10
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed 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 upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
1. What can we learn from the parallel words and structure between these side-by-side passages? Verses Ephesians 1:7-10 Parallel to Ephesians 1:11-12.
2. “In all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will…” Why is God’s wisdom and God’s insight called into question or emphasis?
— By citing God’s wisdom and insight, Paul seems to be anticipating an argument that some element of knowing about all this was risky or uninformed or unwise: grace, predestination, forgiveness.
— Paul refers to one risk of distortion in Roman 6:1. Grace abounds as sin abounds; so should we keep sinning?
— Ephesians 3:10. Paul was making the gospel known to all peoples so that God’s WISDOM will be made known to heavenly rulers and authorities
— 1 Corinthians 1:20-25. (A) Christ is God’s power and God’s wisdom. (B) When God is revealed as an Executed Messiah, it looks foolish to human wisdom, because God did not want to use human cleverness and intelligence to reveal himself.
— A major theme is God’s PURPOSE and PLAN. Perhaps the focus on God’s wisdom and insight is to remind us that God knows what he’s doing in order to accomplish his plan and objectives. But it must be a non-obvious method chosen to accomplish his plan, or else we wouldn’t need to be reminded of God’s insight and wisdom.
— God’s big eternal, visible plan (πρόθεσις prothesis) has been to involve the universal church in demonstrating his wisdom. THROUGH THE CHURCH God’s wisdom is on display to “rulers and authorities in heavenly places”, Ephesians 3:10. 
— Is the gospel part of an answer to Lucifer’s rebellion? (We are talking heavenly rulers and authorities here, maybe the same ones we wrestle against in Ephesians 6.)
>> Bringing us in on the mystery of His will was strategic to God’s long term objective and purpose. He specifically chose to help us understand Christ and the inclusion of all peoples. 
3. Christ Jesus was a setting forth, public display, of God’s purpose (εὐδοκία eudokia). What does that mean?
— “Purpose” or Gk Eudokia seems to do with a happy, pleasant purpose.
— Jesus lived a life primarily of welcoming and displaying love.
— “Christ” may be a summary word for the entire ministry and concept and implications of the Messiah and Jesus’ life and His work and our future in him. 
>> If so, this is saying that the revealed gospel of Christ — uniting all things in him — is a plan that will continue until time is fulfilled.
4. What is the mystery of his will?
— Perhaps it’s Ephesians 1:10 — “a plan for the fullness of time to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”
— Romans 16:25-26. Ephesians 3:6. Colossians 1:24-27. The mystery is to unite Gentiles and Jews into the church
5. Is there only one mystery?
— The mystery of godliness seems distinct. 1 Timothy 3:16.
— “secrets” is plural in Matthew 13:11, Luke 8:10, 1 Corinthians 4:1, 1 Corinthians 13:2.
>> This seems to refer to the one major mystery — that all things and all nations will by united in Christ.
6. If God is now making known the mystery, from whom was it kept before? 
…and why was it a mystery before?
— Prophets and kings longed to see Jesus’ work on earth. Matthew 13:17, Luke 10:24.
— Prophets foretold facts that were not for themselves, but for us in the era of Jesus’ human life. And Angels were interested in understanding but we’re restrained. 1 Peter 1:10-12.
— Faithful people saw glimpses of the full gospel. Hebrews 11:13.  
7. Why did God “make known to us the mystery of his will?”
— It was “according to his purpose”
>> See #2. It was part of God’s eternal strategy.
8. In this verse, we’re told “we have redemption…according to riches, which he lavished…making known to us the mystery.” Some translations make it present-progressive tense: “making known” (ESV, Amplified, ASV). Others use a past or past-perfect tense, “He made known” (NIV, CJB, KJV, NASB). Which is right?
— The verb translated “making known” or “having made known” is gnōrisas, γνωρίσας, which is an active aorist participle. ( )
— This can be translated multiple ways — sometimes showing some continuation and sometimes showing completion. ( )
— Was the mystery of his will made known to us before redemption, afterward, or as part of it and in the midst of it?
—  Ephesians 1:17,18 is a prayer for open eyes, and more understanding. If the mystery of his will had been fully made known, would we need more understanding? (a) Perhaps it’s been fully revealed, but we need God’s help to understand it. (b) Perhaps it’s not yet fully revealed to us, but like redemption (Redemption 8:23) there’s a future element of understanding the mystery (Revelation 2:17).
— This now-and-not-yet reminds me of “Forgive us our sins” in the disciples’ prayer
9. What does “making known the mystery of his will” have to do with “redemption through His blood”?
— Making known to us the mystery of his will is a wise, insightful lavishing of the riches of his grace.
— The riches of his grace defined and controlled (Gk preposition ‘kata’) the forgiveness and the redemption.
>> So both the “making known” as well as well as the “forgiveness and redemption” are results of the lavishing of the riches of his grace.
10. God has made known to us “THE mystery of his will.”  But aren’t there other mysteries (See #5)? 
…If the chosen/elect “us” are just an arbitrary set given the belief, while the belief is held back from others
11. What exactly was set forth in Christ? 
…Was it the purpose?
…if it was the purpose, what does that mean?
— The purpose is a plan for the fullness of time. (Ephesians 1:9-10)
12. Why would God keep secrets from anybody?
— Concealing brings glory to God. Proverbs 25:2 
— The disciples were to understand the secrets, but not the skeptics. Matthews 13:10. 
— 1 Corinthians 1:20-25. (A) Christ is God’s power and God’s wisdom. (B) When God is revealed as an Executed Messiah, it looks foolish to human wisdom, because God did not want to use human cleverness and intelligence to reveal himself.
13. Why would God choose to reveal a secret to some?
— Searching out hard things brings honor to men. Proverbs 25:2
— God is pleased to withhold understanding, but reveal it to others. Matthew 11:25-27
14. How do you know you understand the secret?
— Matthew 13:10-17. Don’t have a dull heart. Don’t close your eyes.
— James 1:5-6. Trust God to provide wisdom, and ask him for it.
15. How do you share the gospel with someone to whom God has not yet revealed the secret?
…or is the gospel itself the revelation of the secret?
— You go to find closed eyes, and open them. You go to help them RECEIVE A PLACE among the sanctified. Acts 26:17-18
— You declare it boldly. Ephesians 6:18-20.
— You preach it. Ephesians 3:7-10. Colossians 4:3-4.
>> We get to play a major part in revealing the secret.
16. Does this mean we know it all, now at the mystery has been revealed?
— Ephesians 2:17-18 highlights, immediately next, that he’s praying for the Ephesians to have more capability to know and understand. 
>> God may have revealed one mystery, but we’re not capable of understanding all of everything; even the really good stuff, without further growth and enablement by God.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: