Hi Jim, I’ve been a follower of your site for a long time now (almost 10 years, it’s hard to believe) but I’ve never seen a commentary on Ephesians 1:9-10 which is one of my favorite passages. (Actually I just had a tattoo of the Koine Greek phrase put on me, but that’s another subject entirely). I especially like the focus of grace in the word ‘anakephalaiosasthai’ in which ‘all things’ (ta panta) are “summed up” or “filled up” in the anointed One (en to Christo). The term ‘anak…’ was actually used in a ancient Greek mathematics as a term reserved for the sum of all the parts. Often, this sum was written above all the figures listed, so it has a certain ‘head of all things’ to it, too. I find this passage to be one of the most universalist phrases in the New Testament and I like that, especially with my history. I was a Lutheran Pastor (ELCA) for over ten years and my career was destroyed by addiction to alcohol and opiates. Through suffering, I discovered again the grace of God that had always been there, and, especially was there through suffering. That was one of the reasons I got the tattoo, I want to remind myself that the end of the story has already been written and I can just enjoy the show with others as we live in the world. I’d like to hear your commentary on this, if you have the time, because I think this is an under appreciated passage that fits your message nicely. Keep up the good work, I always enjoy reading your posts. Peace of Jesus, Dan M.
I so appreciate you sharing this part of your experience with me. I am well aware of the destructive effects of addiction, as my wife and I are still dealing with it in my youngest daughter. It thrills me to hear that God’s grace has become so dear to you through it all. Yes, the suffering teaches of his grace and love, doesn’t it? :)
Years ago, I put half of the Ephesian letter to music, the most memorable being the first half of the first chapter (Ephesians 1:3-14). We used to sing it most every week for a group of believers we met with back in the early 80s (if you were interested in hearing it, I could send you the file. Let me know). Anyhow, I was so impacted by how that whole passage flowed from one reality to another. The way it was written, it simply moves as one continuing sentence. It’s all tied together.
I re-uploaded the Ephesians song not too long ago. You can find that here: Ephesians Song
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 should 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 upon 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 fulness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon 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 should 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 NASB77
Blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm … already. He had determined this before we did one thing or had considered one thought. He set this in motion before the “katabole” —usually translated foundation, although the meaning, casting down, may very well relate to the entrance of death through sin. Either way, God put this into play before sin brought death to mankind. He not only already knew, but also had planned for death to be swallowed up in victory through the life of his son, Jesus Christ. His blessing is not a reward but is totally of his grace. To consider it any other way would make grace something other than grace. That he has chosen us to be holy and blameless before him testifies to the working of his spirit within us. The promise made later to man had been in his heart before this world fell apart. He didn’t choose us for this so that we might TRY to be holy and blameless, but that we would be. His love set the course by which our adoption as sons through Christ Jesus would be made real. Keep in mind that God’s determination for us has everything to do with all things being summed up in Christ. Feel yourself being carried along in the unstoppable determination of his grace and purpose in Christ. For Christ was not an afterthought, he is the key, the centerpiece, the one upon which all of human history finds meaning and purpose. For this is God’s will, and it all leads to the glory of his grace. If it testifies to his grace then it cannot be based upon anything other than his grace. If it is to the praise of HIS grace, grace that has been freely bestowed upon us, then it was bestowed in the full knowledge that we were not deserving of it. Each one of us will have our own story of how that grace rescued us from all our futile efforts to either hinder it or even attempt to help it. What we have gone through in this world has given us the song to sing to the grace that has saved us, and continues to deliver us from the futility of the fleshly mind that he has put to death.
My friend, I will continue with more tomorrow, for the time is running away from me, and my evening is just about done.
Okay, let’s see if I can pick up where I left off.
His grace … which He FREELY bestowed on us IN the Beloved …
Hear the connection between us and him in that phrase. His grace is bestowed on us by having been put in Christ. He is the vine, we are the branches. Where does one end and the other begin? Can we even think in terms of trying to separate the one from the other without destroying the reality created by him? When you consider the grace that has been lavished upon you, keep it in relation to having been joined and that grace will reveal itself … for grace and truth came through Christ Jesus. He himself is the meaning of grace. :) And in him we have found redemption, the forgiveness of our trespasses. In him, everything is made right, for through his blood he has turned that which was worthless into that which is of the highest value.
If there was ever a story that had redeeming value to it, it is the story of how Christ Jesus has not only taken our offenses away but has also built his grace upon them! As much as it all might seem to be a total waste or an unredeemable tragedy on our part, his grace is not destroyed but is shown to be overwhelming. All of this has been brought about by the riches of His grace has been freely bestowed upon us. Freely bestowed upon those who were too far gone to be redeemed or forgiven by anything this world has to offer. All of this truth and grace in Christ by which we have been delivered from this world forms an unbreakable chain that connects one thing to the next. For the riches of his grace have been lavished upon us in all wisdom and insight.
There is no actual break in sentence structure for the ending phrase of verse 8 is also the connecting phrase with the next. For it is through the grace that has been lavished upon us in all wisdom and insight that he has made known the mystery of his will to us, which is all according to his kind intention. Notice how it is said to have been made known. Already. The mystery of his will is not some difficult to determine course of action on our part, for it is none other than Christ in us, the hope of glory! The mystery of his will has been laid out throughout this whole discourse. It is the grace that was unknown in times past, and still unknown to the mind of the flesh. It is absurd to the natural mind, but it is power to us! For we have been given the mind of Christ so that we might know the things freely given to us. And this revelation is not accidental by any means, for God purposed it all in his son, the one in whom we are found.
Everything that he has purposed in Christ is being brought to fruition as God is working toward the summing up of all things in Christ. This present evil world is even now passing away as God is working all things to our good. Behind everything that seems so impossibly contrary to his predetermined purpose in Christ there is a rolling out of his freely bestowed grace that will be revealed in such a way as to bring all things together. We, as the recipients of this grace, will sing to the glory of such a grace that has not only not been hindered or defeated in this world but also will be shown to have been made known through it all. Christ will not be revealed as some kind of insignificant religious figure in history, but rather he will be shown for what he is: the very meaning and purpose of humanity itself. Everything will be brought into the reality of Christ as the image of God … and man as having been made in that image.
Okay, enough for this evening … it’s almost time for dinner.
Your brother, Jim :)