Friday, 19 August 2016
…to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, Ephesians 3:10
The words “to the intent” explain the thoughts of verses 8 & 9 concerning the grace given to Paul in relation to the sharing of the gospel to the Gentiles. It also refers to their being gathered together with the Jews to form a single, united, and whole church. It was for this “intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church.”
The word for “manifold” is found only here in the New Testament. It is polupoikilos. It comes from two words, polus, meaning “much in number,” or “many” (think of the word “poly”); and poikilos, meaning “multi-colored,” or “variegated.” It was used in the Greek Old Testament when referring to Joseph’s multi-colored robe.
The intent of this then is that many aspects of God’s wisdom are revealed in the forming of the church. There is wisdom in how it began, there is wisdom in the selection of the people, there is wisdom in how the message is conveyed, etc. Each aspect of the construction of this heavenly temple, made of individual people, displays the wisdom of God in Christ the Lord. It is as if a heavenly tapestry of colors is slowly being formed into a grand and beautiful painting where all the details come into the clearest focus.
It is through this organism that His manifold wisdom is displayed “to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places.” This is now the fourth of five times that Paul has mentioned the epouraniois, or “heavenly realms.” Within the sphere of these heavenly realms, there are “principalities and powers.” Which are viewing what goes on in the material creation. But in particular, their attention is directed to God’s working in the redemption of man.
God had selected a group of people from the beginning by which He would reveal Himself to the world. There was one select line of chosen people and all others were left unattended to as far as special revelation is concerned. The principalities and powers in the heavenly realms (certainly this is referring to both good and bad entities as can be seen from many passages of Scripture, but Job 1:6 is sufficient to demonstrate this) viewed what God was doing. They were aware of the writings of the prophets, and knew that God was doing something, but they could not deduce what it was. This is seen for example in 1 Peter 1:12 –
“To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into.”
In 1 Corinthians 4:9, Paul continues with this thought by saying that he and the other apostles “have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men.” The heavenly beings watched the apostles, curiously studying what they were doing in order to see how God’s wisdom would be revealed through them. A heavenly theater has been set to view this worldly spectacle. Now, in this new dispensation known as the church age, the absolute marvel and majesty of the wisdom of God was put on full display.
So the question to be asked is, “What is it about the church that demonstrates this manifold wisdom of God?” The answer is that when all of heaven thought God was doing a single thing through a single group of people, and which would have a very limited effect on humanity, it turned out that what He had done was of unlimited scope in regards to the people of the earth.
The single selected line was set apart unto God while all the other people of the world went about making up their own religions and falling further and further away from God. And yet, through Jesus Christ, all of these who were far away have been brought near through His blood. The fact that both Jew and Gentile are reconciled to God in exactly the same way is the most astonishing thing of all. None of those in the heavenly realms could ever have guessed it, and yet it was promised in the very writings of God through the Jewish people.
Life application: The Bible gave all the necessary information for those who read it to know what was promised, but it didn’t give the specifics of how it would come about. Only in Christ do the Scriptures make any sense. We should now cherish those words even more. When we see what was once concealed, but now revealed through Christ, we should be more and more astonished at the marvelous workings of God in human history.
Lord God, the plan that You had set, even from the very beginning of creation, was slowly laid out in human history. And as the years passed, You revealed a bit more of it with each new story and each new prophecy. And yet, even the angels who looked into what You were doing could not figure out what was coming. Now, through Jesus, Your manifold wisdom is revealed to the world. How marvelous is Your plan! How great is Your hand upon us! How splendid is the church which You are building! Thank You for Christ Jesus, our hope of glory. Amen.