I was chosen to explain to everyone this mysterious plan that God, the Creator of all things, had kept secret from the beginning. God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display His wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.Ephesians 3:9-10
I used the title I did for this Gem not because I am pretentious enough to think I have unravelled the mystery completely and explained it to you. I hope what I have done in these three gems is simply to show you a degree of complexity that now you have to spend time thinking about. I would be delighted if my humble efforts have sparked some thoughts in you that make you want to take it further than I have done. That would be great. Share your insights with me if you have more to say. Let’s start dialoguing on the matter. If I have sparked a greater degree of focus on your part for this passage of Scripture I am pleased.
What does Paul refer to here?
I think Paul is referring to a number of things with this second use of mystery. I called it the mystery of “Grace” which is the word used in the original. The grace of God to include Paul as an apostle to the Gentiles, the grace to the Gentiles to be allowed to share in the inheritance and more. But there are other layers to the mystery which need to be included as well. God’s mysterious ways, the timing of the mystery, the fact that He kept it hidden for so long, waiting for the right moment. There are many layers of mystery to this gospel of God and the means He has chosen to reveal it.
What about all this is a mystery? // How exactly is it mysterious?
I think another focus of this mystery is not only the fact that God kept it hidden for long ages past (clearly a theme of Paul’s in other letters too. – See Romans 3:25, 26 – Gem 156 and 157) God’s plan is comprehensive and long term that is for sure. He has all the elements of it covered. Even to the point of covering those who could not have known until the time was right. But there is another element of this mystery Paul refers to here. That is found in verse 10. “God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display His wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” All of this was to be revealed through the body of Christ. God meant for the church to have a major part in all this. Now that is sure part of the mystery. Read verse 10 carefully. That we, the Church, should be used to display His wisdom (and by inference His mystery) to “all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places”. Maybe this is more the mystery than anything else. Take time to ponder on this thought.
We will look at it in the next Gem. It needs more focus than just passing it over quickly. It is not just a passing comment of Paul’s. It is integral to the theme of Ephesians. This verse (3:10) is linked to Paul’s thoughts expressed in chapter 6 related to spiritual warfare and the armour. It is related to the spiritual connections of the declaration of God’s will of everything being under Christ’s headship. Yes this also includes the unseen rulers and authorities in heavenly places. The scope of His headship and the need for everything to be submitted to him extends that far. That is the reason in the diagram I shared with you in Gem 623 I include the link between the church and the “Authorities”, “Rulers”, “Powers” and “Spiritual Forces”. It is all integrated into God’s grand plan (see also Gem 622). Do you recognise where I get these terms from? Do you see now how it all clicks together?
We will look specifically at Eph 3:10 and it’s significance tomorrow before we move on. I want to introduce the depth of what Paul is saying here and show you further how it relates to the whole of the book of Ephesians.
As I indicated above, it is not that I think the mystery is now unravelled once and for all. I am merely opening up a whole new look at how all the pieces go together. We will conclude this part in the following Gem before we move on to new elements. But it is clear there is more to come as we keep moving through the book of Ephesians.
Keep pondering this mystery.
Adventure is not outside man; it is within.George Eliot
We are born, we live, we die among the supernatural.Napolean Bonaparte
I would rather live in a world where my life is surrounded by mystery than live in a world so small that my mind could comprehend it.Harry Emerson Fosdick
The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.Albert Einstein