Tuesday, 5 July 2016
…that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. Ephesians 1:10
The verse, like the previous verses, is not a stand-alone thought. It is connected to what has been said. Taking it together with the previous verse we read –
“…having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.”
Vincent’s Word Studies goes into detail concerning the first words of this verse by saying, “Eis does not mean in, but unto, with a view to. Dispensation has no article. The clause is directly connected with the preceding: the mystery which He purposed in Himself unto a dispensation.”
What he is saying is that the translation of the KJV and the NKJV (which is cited above) is faulty and clumsy. It should more aptly read, “…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…” (NASB)
God laid out a plan with a view towards the fulfillment of that plan. At the right time, that plan would come to its fullness. As we are still awaiting the return of Christ, that time has not yet been realized, but the work of Christ is what makes that end view both possible and certain. Everything is being reconciled through the work of Christ.
The term “dispensation” means “administration” or “stewardship.” It is used in the management of a household. God’s plan has been worked out and formed with this end in view. Each step has been carefully and logically worked out in human history for the purpose of gathering “together in one all things in Christ.” The Greek word for “He might gather together” gives the idea of summing up. When an orator closes his speech, he will sum up what he has spoken. In essence, “I have talked about all of these things for the past hour, and this is the final point I am making concerning those things.”
God has chosen a way of showing us our desperate need for His grace, given to us through Christ. There was the Garden of Eden; there was the fall; the turning to wickedness; the flood; the Tower of Babel; the dispersion of the peoples; the call of Abraham; the forming of the covenant people and their sojourn in Egypt; their release from captivity in Egypt; the giving of the law; the time of the judges; the time of the kings; etc. Every step of the way has been methodically given to show us what He has done and why.
All of these things were steps along a journey to lead us to the giving of His Son. Through Christ and what He has now accomplished, all things are being gathered into one, “both which are in heaven and which are on earth.” The word for “all things” is in the neuter gender, and it therefore goes beyond the idea of all “persons.” It is a complete restoration of all creation. Vincent’s word studies details what this means –
“God contemplates a regathering, a restoration to that former condition when all things were in perfect unity, and normally combined to serve God’s ends. This unity was broken by the introduction of sin. Man’s fall involved the unintelligent creation (Romans 8:20). The mystery of God’s will includes the restoration of this unity in and through Christ; one kingdom on earth and in heaven – a new heaven and a new earth in which shall dwell righteousness, and ‘the creation shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.’”
The entire creation is prepared for restoration because of what Christ has done. Christ came in the fullness of times in order to set that final plan in motion, and all of it will be accomplished through Him.
Life application: If things seem out of control, take time to consider this verse. God has a plan which He has been working on since the very beginning. In the coming of Christ, and in His triumph over sin and the devil, the victory is assured. We are simply living in a part of that plan. It is a time of grace where God is building a church made of the people He has redeemed through this time of grace. At some point, the number of people will be realized and we will move into a new part of this plan. Don’t worry about the troubles around you. God has it all under control!
Lord God, in reading Your word and in seeing the final promises which are still ahead of us, we have a hope which transcends this world in which we live. Yes, there is wickedness everywhere, but You are allowing that to continue so that many will come to You through the grace of Christ. When the right moment comes, Your plan will enter a new phase. Until then, we have the sure confidence that what Christ did in the past guarantees what will come about in the future. No fear here! We are safe because of Jesus’ work. Amen.