We Know the Mystery ~ Ephesians 1:9-10
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us in all wisdom and insight. He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 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 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:3-14
Review of where we have been…
We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing. Paul includes…
God choosing you before the foundation of the world
Adopting you as a son or daughter
You have been redeemed by the blood of Christ bringing forgiveness of sins.
These things God has done these things, Paul says, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of His glory, and according to the riches of His grace which he lavished on you.
All that Paul has mentioned thus far is leading up to the main point of this section and the greatest spiritual blessing yet, the summing of all things in Christ.
I. He made known the mystery – Vs. 9a He made known to us the mystery of His will.
a. Defining “mystery”
i. “Mystery” is mustērion (μυστηριον), “a secret purpose of God which when uncovered is understood by the Spirit-taught believer.” (Wuest’s Word Studies)
1. Remember that this is in the context of a passage in which Paul is praising God that we have been blessed with many spiritual blessings. So here he says that we have another spiritual blessing, a revealed mystery. We should realize that the mystery was not a mystery to God but to us. It is God who has done the revealing and it was His will that was revealed.
2. The question is, then, what is the mystery that has been revealed and why is it in Paul’s list of spiritual blessings?
b. Revealing the mystery
i. Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:25-27
ii. that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, Colossians 2:2
iii. So what is the mystery of God’s will that has been revealed? Christ Himself. Christ in you, the hope of glory.
iv. There are many mysteries we read about within the word of God.
1. In the New Testament about the mystery of the kingdom of heaven.
2. There is the mystery of lawlessness and sinfulness that abounds in our nation today.
3. There is the mystery of Christ and His church that we're reading about here.
4. But now, in Christ, we have been blessed through all the blessings in the mystery of God's will, revealed in Christ.
v. That's why Paul says, in 1 Corinthians chapter 4 and verse 1, that we have become 'the stewards of the mysteries of God'. Not only has He taken us into His confidence, and He has given all wisdom and grace and lavished it upon us, and all the spiritual insight that we can hold and handle if we would only take it.
1. But the very fact is this: that, through all that wisdom, there is this channel of this one primary thing that He has revealed to us, something that has never ever been told of in all the Old Testament except through types and foreshadowing, but we have it all in Christ. We enter into the reality of it. We know what it is to know Him, and we, a people who never knew God, we have been made the stewards of the mysteries of God.
Why did God do this? Look at the end of vs. 9. He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him
c. Revealed according to His kind intention
i. By this time in our study you should realize that this is a thread running throughout this opening passage. Notice the re-occurring emphasis Paul places on God’s gracious intentions.
1. Vs. 3 says He has blessed us
2. Vs. 5 says in love he predestined us…according to the kind intention of His will.
3. Vs. 6 says His grace has been freely bestowed on us
4. Vs. 8 says he has lavished all these things on us
5. Vs. 9 says according to His kind intention
6. You can see the thread can’t you? Paul wants us to know and join with him in thanksgiving for God’s glorious spirit of giving!
ii. Paul is careful to say again that all of these spiritual blessings are “purposed in Him”. It is only through Jesus that we can receive these blessings.
Let’s look again at our passage. Beginning in the middle of vs. 9,
(9b) “according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him (10) 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.”
What Paul does next is gets us…
II. Looking ahead to the fullness of times – this part of vs. 10 doesn’t read well in the NASB so let me give you a couple of different translations that will help.
ESV - as a plan for the fullness of time
NIV - to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment
a. God’s plan
i. What Paul is saying is that God has an established a long-range plan. If you work in a corporate setting one of the things that often consumes a major amount of time is working on the long-range plan for the company. Each manager has the responsibility to understand the 5 and 10 year plan and work in his/her span of control to achieve that plan. The premise is that if you aim at nothing you are certain to hit it. The planning process is very detailed and is always being tweaked to account for what is really happening. The difference between our long range plan and God’s long range plan is that he never has to tweak his plan. He established that plan when? Before the foundation of the world. His plan has never changed, never been tweaked, never been discussed at a long-range planning conference, has never been in danger of not being carried out.
b. Managing His plan
i. The word administration comes from the Greek word that is also translated, stewardship, economy, dispensation (KJV) or order
1. The first century Greeks used the word to refer to the house servant responsible to see that the family ran smoothly. For example, the food was prepared, the clothes were washed, and everything was clean and in order. That person managed the household to be sure things happened the way they were supposed to. That’s what Paul means here. God is managing his master plan until the time is full.
2. Look at it this way [hourglass?] This hourglass represents God’s plan. We know the sand represents time but it also represents the plan of God moving forward. At some point in his plan, as Paul tells here, the mystery that was Christ was revealed to us. Just as there is a time when the sand runs its course, the fullness of time is when God’s plan is completed.
Look at vs. 10 again and note that we will know when the time is full. Do you see it? Paul says that revealing the mystery to us causes us to look ahead to…
III. The summing up of all things in Christ
God’s saving purposes, planned from eternity, had as their final goal the uniting of all things in heaven and earth in Christ. ~Peter O’Brien
Had the mystery not been revealed to us we would have no interest in what was going to happen in the future, unless it directly affected my future here on earth. Now that I know Christ and have learned of his promises, in particular his return, I have every reason to look forward to it.
a. God is preparing-he is managing his plan.
i. We know the content of the mystery but God has not finished working out his plans just yet. The sand is still running through the hourglass. Listen to Galatians 4:4
But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, Galatians 4:4
ii. God had a predetermined plan for His Son to be born. Jesus was born at just the right time, not a minute early or late. When everything had been prepared-when all of God’s plans previous to Jesus birth had been completed-Jesus came to earth.
iii. That is what God is doing now, in time and space, in the context of human history and through the lives of human beings like you and me, his plan is unfolding. Not only are we blessed to know that God has a plan, we are blessed again knowing that we are a part of it!
b. Christ will come
i. This is God’s promise to us
1. Jesus himself says [You] will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And he will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. Matthew 24: 30-31
2. When the time is full. When God’s plan for the preparation of the world is complete Christ will return and sum everything up in Himself.
Why is this in Paul’s list of spiritual blessings?
Because it is part of God’s plan for His children to live eternally with Him. This is the hope that is within us, this is the believer’s future. Are you praising Him this morning for such a promise and blessing?