This was His eternal plan, which He carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord. Because of Christ and our faith in Him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.Ephesians 3:11-12
According to His eternal plan? What was His eternal plan? What is Paul talking about? Time for you to connect the dots and do some thinking about it. You need to put the pieces together. All too often we read Scripture out of sense of duty; that is what I have to do. Read the Word in my Quiet Time. But I/you don’t necessarily pay attention to everything we read. We may skip over parts, especially the theological parts. And we certainly don’t connect up one segment with another. We just keep reading. I have asked people about their Bible reading patterns and found that many do this especially with Paul and the other letters. The Gospels and Acts are easier to understand, we think, because large chunks of them are narrative. But there are elements we miss in the simplicity of our approach. This approach does not work with Paul. Paul is harder to understand, even Peter says so (2 Peter 3:16). There is also depth of meaning that we miss on the parts we think are easy to understand. The Bible is layered with levels of meaning. It yields its treasures to those who bother to dig.
Take the time to see what Paul is saying with this statement “This was His eternal plan”. The obvious question is what is Paul referring to by this comment? Look at the various versions and see how they have handled it. Look at the commentaries and come to your own conclusion. The time to look at the commentaries is after you have done your own work. If you look at them beforehand, you assume they are telling you the “right answer”. That is not the way the commentaries work. The commentaries are people’s interpretations or comments on what the text means. But you soon learn you have to look at a number of them not just one. Just looking at one commentary and assuming you have the final answer on what a particular text of the Bible means is folly and shows your lack of understanding of what commentaries are.
Commentaries are just like churches or preachers or Bible Gem writers. They give a particular perspective or interpretation of the meaning of a Bible passage. You have to read what is written or listen to what is preached to you and then check it out against what the Scripture says in its entirety. Much like the Bereans did in the book of Acts with what Paul said. [Again that is why we are calling what we are doing now – Berean Insights]. We all come from a particular viewpoint and Biblical tradition, determined by the theological position we hold or our assumptions or definitions of particular key terms. No-one is exempt! Certainly not me. Just reading through the Gems I have written about the gifts of the spirit (Bible Gems 424–445) will show you Ian’s theological position on the “gifts of the spirit”. That maybe different from what your church may teach or the theological position they hold. The danger is then we are prone to write off what others of a different theological persuasion have to say about it because it is not “approved” or the same as my tradition. That is sad. It would be better if we bothered to find out the other theological viewpoints. It would only serve to make us stronger having checked out all the options.
I try as much as possible to simply comment on the text of Scripture and leave out the interpretation. But that is impossible, to comment on Scripture we have to know what we believe on a multitude of issues or debates or definitions of terms or theological positions held. This is why in Beth Talmud (the House of Interpretation) the Jewish student was required to learn the interpretations of rabbis so they knew all the various angles on a particular verse or passage of Scripture. (See Gem 27). What did all the rabbis have to say about this passage? Know what the options are. The same is true of the commentaries. Reading one only gives you that person’s interpretation. For that reason it is important for us to know what the commentators in right field or left field or in the middle have to say about it. Many times the interpretation is spread across the board according to the issue being discussed. I am privileged as a translator to have access to resources which lay out those differences and point to the reason behind the verses as to why some think this and some think that. But those resources are not available to all people (the result of the publishers requests in exchange for translators being able to use the summarized material). But a quick look at a number of different commentaries will give you that information. Of course no one wants to buy a series of commentaries because of the cost. We think we can get away with just a one volume succinct commentary. If we thought about that, reason would tell us that can’t be the case. Know too that many commentaries are available to you to download for free from http://www.e-sword.net/
However often a thorough reading of the Biblical text itself will reveal what it is you are looking for in terms of the meaning or the point in question. This section, Ephesians 3:11-12 is one of those. If you take the time to look you will be able to work of for yourself “the eternal plan”. What does this comment of Paul’s relate to? Reading across chapters boundaries and section headings (pericopes) in our Bibles is necessary to do in order to get the full meaning.
Why does Paul then say . . . “because of this . . . we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence”? Take the time to work it out. Connect the pieces of what he has been saying.
Continuing story in the next Gem.
My alarm clock wakes me up, but my goals get me out of bed.A R Bernard
Know the eternal plan; God’s will for you.Ian Vail
When you think about a problem over and over, that’s called worry.Bob Gass
When you think about God’s Word over and over, that’s called meditation.Bob Gass
Never fear shadows. They simply mean there’s a light shining somewhere nearby.Rick Godwin