Saturday, 20 August 2016
…according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, Ephesians 3:11
The verses of this paragraph are a continuous thought and should be kept in that context. To fully grasp what is said here, uniting it with the previous verse will help –
“…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, 11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The “wisdom of God” is made known to the “principalities and powers in the heavenly places” by what is occurring in the building of the church. Paul now states that this “wisdom of God” is “according to the eternal purpose” of God. The idea is that from the eternal state itself, God had a plan to reconcile all things to Himself. That plan is being worked out in the stream of time which He created.
What we see as random and often even chaotic, is completely known to God. It is further not out of control at all. An example of this is Joseph being sold by his brothers. They intended evil, and Joseph certainly did not understand his plight, but God had already figured it into the plan. Each step is a part of “the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Jesus is the focal point between the eternal state and what occurs in the stream of time. This is why Paul could say in 1 Corinthians 10 that the Rock which followed Israel was Christ. He has always been there, working out His plan. However, the word for “which He accomplished” carries a sense of ambiguity. It could mean either being “ordained” or being “worked out.”
In other words, Scholars debate whether this is saying that God’s eternal purpose was “ordained” in Christ Jesus or whether it is “being worked out” in Christ Jesus. The latter is probably the true sense. God’s purpose was ordained from the eternal state. However, Christ is the means by which all was created and by which all is being worked out.
This seems the most likely because the word for “purpose” is prosthesis. It means “a setting forth.” It is the word used to indicate the show-bread (the consecrated bread) of the temple in Jerusalem, such as in Matthew 12:4. What is occurring is according to God’s presentation of His eternal purpose as if the setting of the showbread; Christ Jesus the Lord (who is God) is the One to work out that purpose within the stream of time.
Life application: There may seem to be random, and even chaotic, events in the world around us, but God has it all under control. Don’t lose heart if the world continues to come against You. God’s plan includes your eternal security if you are in Christ Jesus the Lord.
Lord God, Your word tells us that You have an eternal plan which is being worked out in the stream of time. All things are known to You and nothing is either random or chaotic. Instead, each thing that occurs is being directed by You and is completely under control. Help us to remember this when things appear otherwise. You are God and You are to be trusted. Grant us peace to accept this as we face the uncertainties of life. You have our eternal destiny completely under control. Thank You for this reassurance. Amen.