“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he richly poured out on us with all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he purposed in Christ as a plan for the right time- to bring everything together in Christ, both things in heaven and things on earth in him.”
I know it has been a long time since my post on Ephesians 1:4-6, but in that one I talked about blessings God bestowed on us in the past, present and future. Verses 4-6 refer to past blessings. These verses refer to the present blessings. We have redemption through his blood. What does the word redemption mean? Redemption means deliverance by payment of a price. In the second part of that first verse it tells what the redemption, the payment is for. It’s for the forgiveness of our sins. The price paid was the shedding of Christ’s blood when he died on the cross for our sins. Galatians 4:4-5 says “When the time came to completion, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” It is because we have been adopted that we have redemption.
He richly poured out on us the riches of his grace. Riches is used twice. We were undeserving, yet he poured out the riches of his grace on us. John Stott points out in his book that in earlier verses God predestined us for sonship and he chose us to be holy. He writes, “It is unthinkable that we should enjoy a relationship with God as his children without accepting the obligation to imitate our Father and develop a family likeness.” Later in Ephesians we will explore this further when Paul tells us to be imitators of God. Philippians 2:5 tells us to adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus and then in the following verses goes on to tell what that looks like. In Colossians 1, Paul asks the church at Colassae to walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing every good work, and growing in the knowledge of God (1:10). And Galatians 5:22-23 describe the fruit of the Spirit as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are ways we are growing more like him.
The next section of the passage reads, “He made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, that he purposed in Christ as a plan for the right time…” What is this mystery? We will see it more clearly in Chapter 3. Verses 3-6 state, “The mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have briefly written above. By reading this you are able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ. This was not made known to people in other generations as it is now revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. The Gentiles are co-heirs, members of the same body, and partners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” The mystery that is now revealed is that Jesus came to save both the Jew and the Gentile.
There have been hints of this all through the Old Testament. Although the Jews were God’s chosen people, he used and saved Gentiles many times. Rahab was a Canaanite prostitute who helped the spies as recounted in the Book of Joshua. She is listed in the lineage of Jesus in Matthew. So is Ruth, who was a Moabite woman who married an Israelite. Elijah, in 2 Kings 17, went to a widow in Zarephath because God told him to go there. He didn’t go to an Israeli widow, but a Gentile one. He also healed a Syrian leper named Naaman. Jesus refers to both of these stories in Luke 4. In fact, Jesus reveals this mystery many times during his life. He tells parables about it (the wedding feast and the vineyard owner). He refers to “other sheep” in John 10. He says, “But I have other sheep that are not from this sheep pen. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. Then there will be one flock, one shepherd.” Jesus is referring to the Gentiles that will be brought into the fold. Jesus first revealed who he was to a Samaritan woman. And right before he ascended to heaven, he tells his disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” (Matthew 28:19). He is commanding them to reach everyone, not just the Jews.
Lastly, it says “to bring everything together in Christ, both things in heaven and things on earth in him.” The NASB uses the phrase “the summing up of all things in Christ.” I like the way John Piper of Desiring God Ministries phrased it. The sum of all things is Christ. Everything in the past points to him. Everything in the present points to him. And everything in the future will point to him. I just finished an excellent book by J. Warner Wallace called “Person of Interest.” He was a cold-case homicide detective, and he uses his skills to go through evidence in history, without relying on the New Testament, to prove that Jesus is who he says he is. He uses science, history, music, among other things to show that it all points to Jesus being the Messiah. It is such a perfect example of these last verses. Well, we’ve covered a lot of ground today. I’m hoping to be more consistent with my posts now that the holidays are over.
Grace be with you!