Ephesians 1:9
Having made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he has purposed in himself:
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(9) Having made known unto us the mystery of his will.—In the same connection we read in 1Corinthians 2:7, “we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery.” The word “mystery” properly signifies a thing which (see Ephesians 3:5; Colossians 1:27) “was hid from all ages, but is now made manifest.” So our Lord evidently uses it (in Matthew 13:11; Mark 4:11; Luke 8:10). For the rest, except in four passages of the Apocalypse (Revelation 1:20; Revelation 10:7; Revelation 17:5; Revelation 17:7), it is used by St. Paul alone, and by him no less than twenty-one times, of which ten belong to this Epistle and the parallel Epistle to the Colossians—always in connection with such words as “knowledge,” “declaration,” “dispensation.” The ordinary sense of the word “mystery”—a thing of which we know that it is, though how it is we know not—is not implied in the original meaning of the word; but it is a natural derivative from it. Reason can apprehend, when revealed, that which it cannot discover; but seldom or never can it comprehend it perfectly. In this verse the mystery is declared to be accordant to the good pleasure of God’s will, which (it is added) “He purposed in Himself.” In this seems to be implied that (see Ephesians 3:19) though in some sense we can know it, yet in its fulness “it passeth knowledge.”

Ephesians 1:9-10. Having made known to us — By his Word and Spirit; the mystery of his will — The gracious scheme of salvation by faith, the appointment of which depended on his sovereign will alone; termed a mystery, because it was but darkly revealed under the law, is now totally hid from unbelievers, and has heights and depths in it which surpass all the knowledge even of true believers. “The whole doctrine of the gospel, taken complexly, is called the wisdom of God in a mystery, 1 Corinthians 2:7; not because any part of it is unintelligible, but for the reasons mentioned in the note on that verse.” “The same appellation is given to particular discoveries made in the gospel. For example, the salvation of the Gentiles through faith, without obedience to the law of Moses, is called a mystery. Romans 11:25; Romans 16:25. So likewise is the great discovery, that such of the saints as are alive on the earth at the coming of Christ, shall not die, but be changed, 1 Corinthians 15:51; and 2 Thessalonians 2:7, we have the mystery of iniquity; and Revelation 1:20, the mystery of the seven stars; and Revelation 10:7, the mystery of God; and Revelation 17:5; Revelation 17:7, mystery, Babylon, the woman, the beast, and the false prophet. To this latter group, the appellation of mystery is given with singular propriety. For as the initiated [into the heathen mysteries] were instructed by having certain mystic shows set before them, the visions in the Revelation of the seven stars, and of the woman, and the beast, and the false prophet, representing the future state of the church, are all very aptly termed mysteries.” That in the dispensation of the fulness of times — When that time was fully come, which he, in his wise appointment and distribution of things, had judged most suitable and eligible; or in this last administration of his fullest grace, in which all the former dispensations terminated, which took place at the time most proper for it. “The word οικονομια, here rendered dispensation, signifies the plan which the master of a family, or his steward, has established for the management of the family. Also it signifies a plan formed for the management of any sort of business. In this passage it signifies the plan which God had formed for accomplishing the salvation of believers.” — Macknight. He might gather together in one — Greek, ανακεφαλαιωσασθαι, he might recapitulate, or unite again under one head; all things in Christ — All persons, whether angels or men, whether living or dead, with all things that are connected with or concern them; both in heaven and on earth — This is considered by some as a Jewish phrase, to express the whole world; and Locke thinks it may be equivalent to Jews and Gentiles, which is the meaning adopted also by Macknight, who says, “According to this interpretation, the gathering of all things under Christ, means both the forming of believing Jews and Gentiles into one catholic church, and the bringing of them both into the heavenly country through the mediation of Christ.” Beza, by things in heaven, understands the saints in heaven, who died before Christ came into the world, and who are not to be made perfect till the resurrection. But the interpretation adopted by Whitby, Chandler, Doddridge, Wesley, and many others, seems more probable, namely, that by things in heaven, both in this passage and Colossians 1:20, the angelical hosts are to be understood; and by things on earth, believers of all nations, who, with the angels, shall at length be joined in one great society, or church, for the purpose of worshipping God through all eternity, agreeably to Hebrews 12:22. “Both angels and men were at first in sweet and harmonious subjection to the Son of God, the great Creator of both; but man having broken himself off from this society, the Son of man, by his humiliation and sufferings, recovers all who believe in him, and in his human nature presides over the kingdom to which, in the world of glory, they and his angels belong. This interpretation presents so noble a view, that no other will bear a comparison.” — Doddridge.1:9-14 Blessings were made known to believers, by the Lord's showing to them the mystery of his sovereign will, and the method of redemption and salvation. But these must have been for ever hidden from us, if God had not made them known by his written word, preached gospel, and Spirit of truth. Christ united the two differing parties, God and man, in his own person, and satisfied for that wrong which caused the separation. He wrought, by his Spirit, those graces of faith and love, whereby we are made one with God, and among ourselves. He dispenses all his blessings, according to his good pleasure. His Divine teaching led whom he pleased to see the glory of those truths, which others were left to blaspheme. What a gracious promise that is, which secures the gift of the Holy Ghost to those who ask him! The sanctifying and comforting influences of the Holy Spirit seal believers as the children of God, and heirs of heaven. These are the first-fruits of holy happiness. For this we were made, and for this we were redeemed; this is the great design of God in all that he has done for us; let all be ascribed unto the praise of his glory.Having made known to us the mystery of his will - The word "mystery" (μυστήριον mustērion) means literally something into which one must be "initiated" before it is fully known (from μυέω mueō, to initiate, to instruct); and then anything which is concealed or hidden. We commonly use the word to denote that which is above our comprehension or unintelligible. But this is never the meaning of the word in the New Testament. It means there some doctrine or fact which has been concealed, or which has not before been fully revealed, or which has been set forth only by figures and symbols. When the doctrine is made known, it may be as clear and plain as any other. Such was the doctrine that God meant to call the Gentiles, which was long concealed, at least in part, and which was not fully made known until the Saviour came, and which had been until that time "a mystery - a concealed truth" - though when it was revealed, there was nothing incomprehensible in it. Thus, in Colossians 1:26, "The mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints." So it was in regard to the doctrine of election. It was a mystery until it was made known by the actual conversion of those whom God had chosen. So in regard to the incarnation of the Redeemer; the atonement; the whole plan of salvation. Over all these great points there was a veil thrown, and people did not understand them until God revealed them. When they were revealed, the mystery was removed, and men were able to see clearly the manifestation of the will of God.

Which he hath purposed in himself - Without foreign aid or counsel. His purposes originated in his own mind, and were concealed until he chose to make them known; see 2 Timothy 1:9.

9. "He hath abounded," or "made (grace) to abound toward us" (Eph 1:8), in that He made known to us, namely, experimentally, in our hearts.

the mystery—God's purpose of redemption hidden heretofore in His counsels, but now revealed (Eph 6:19; Ro 16:25; Col 1:26, 27). This "mystery" is not like the heathen mysteries, which were imparted only to the initiated few. All Christians are the initiated. Only unbelievers are the uninitiated.

according to his good pleasure—showing the cause why "He hath made known to us the mystery," namely, His own loving "good pleasure" toward us; also the time and manner of His doing so, are according to His good pleasure.

purposed—(Eph 1:11).

in himself—God the Father. Bengel takes it, "in Him," that is, Christ, as in Eph 1:3, 4. But the proper name, "in Christ," Eph 1:10, immediately after, is inconsistent with His being here meant by the pronoun.

Having made known unto us; having revealed to us outwardly by the preaching of the gospel; inwardly, by the illumination of the Spirit.

The mystery of his will; the whole doctrine of grace and salvation by Christ, which is a secret to others, and had still been so to us, had not God discovered it to us in the gospel.

According to his good pleasure; the good pleasure of God is the fountain of all spiritual blessings which flow out to us, as well as it is of our being first chosen and appointed to be the subjects of them.

Which he hath purposed in himself; this signifies a firm, settled will in God, either merely of God, and moved by nothing out of himself, or his keeping this purpose in himself till the time appointed for the publication of it. Having made known unto us the mystery of his will,.... The Gospel, which is a mystery, a hidden mystery, the mystery of God and of Christ, and the mystery of the Gospel; the several doctrines of it are called the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven; such as are concerning the trinity of persons in the Godhead, the union of the two natures in Christ, his sonship and incarnation, the saints' union and communion with him, the work of the Spirit of God upon the soul, the calling of the Gentiles, and the conversion of the Jews, the resurrection of the dead, and the change of living saints: and the Gospel is the mystery of the will of God; of his will in saving sinners by Christ; and it declares that he does all things in salvation, according to his sovereign will and pleasure; chooses, redeems, justifies, pardons, and calls whom he pleases; and this is made known by the ministry of the word, and by the Spirit, as a spirit of wisdom and revelation, in the knowledge of Christ and his Gospel: the discovery of which is,

according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself; both with respect to the persons to whom it is made known, and with respect to the time when he makes it known; both these are as he pleases, and as he has purposed in his own breast; the Gospel is sent when and where he has determined within himself it shall go; and persons are called by it according to his purpose and grace.

Having made known unto us the {m} mystery of his will, {13} according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:

(m) For unless the Lord had opened to us that mystery, we could never have so much as dreamed of it ourselves.

(13) Not only the election, but also the calling proceeds from grace alone.

Ephesians 1:9. In that He has made known to us the mystery of His will. The aorist participle signifies an action coincident and completed at the same time with ἐπερίσσ. See on Ephesians 1:5.

ἡμῖν] applies, as in the whole connection, to the Christians generally; but in this case the extraordinary kinds of making known, which individuals among them had experienced (such as Paul himself, who was instructed διʼ ἀποκαλύψεως, Ephesians 3:3; Galatians 1:12), are left out of account.

τὸ μυστήρ. τοῦ θελήμ. αὐτοῦ] τοῦ θελήμ. is genitive objecti. And the mystery that concerns the divine will is the counsel of redemption accomplished through Christ, not in so far as it is in itself incomprehensible for the understanding, but in so far as, while formed from eternity, it was until the announcement of the gospel hidden in God, and veiled and unknown to men. See Romans 16:25 f.; Ephesians 3:4 f., 9, Ephesians 6:19; Colossians 1:26. By the prophets the mystery was not unveiled, but the unveiling of it was merely predicted; here at the proclamation of the gospel the prophetic predictions became means of its unveiling, Romans 16:25 f.

κατὰ τὴν εὐδοκ. αὐτοῦ] belongs not to τὸ μυστ. τοῦ θελ. αὐτ. (Bleek), in which case it would stand in a tautologic relation to τοῦ θελ. αὐτ., but rather to γνωρίσας κ.τ.λ., stating that God has accomplished the making known in pursuance of His free self-determination. Comp. on Ephesians 1:5.

ἣν προέθετο ἐν αὑτῷ] would be in itself redundant, but serves for the attaching of that which follows; hence no comma is to be placed after αὑτῷ. It is not, however, to be written as αὐτῷ (as by Lachmann, Harless, Tischendorf), since here the αὐτός? cannot appear as the third person, as would be the case if the text had run in some such form as κατὰ τὴν πρόθεσιν αὐτοῦ, and as was previously the case with the thrice occurring αὐτοῦ. If αὐτῷ were to be read, a subject different from God would be meant; as, indeed, Chrysostom and his successors, as well as Luther, Calovius, Bengel, and others, in reality understood it of Christ, although the latter only comes in again at Ephesians 1:10, and that by name.

προέθετο] set before Himself (Romans 1:13), purposed (namely, to accomplish it) in Himself, i.e. in His heart (anthropopathic designation). This purpose, too (πρόθεσις, Ephesians 1:11), is to be conceived as formed before the creation of the world; without this idea, however, being expressed by προ, which is not even to be taken temporally, but locally (to set before oneself), comp. on προχειρίζομαι, Acts 3:20. There is incorrectness, for the very reason that ἐν αὐτῷ does not apply to Christ, in the translation of Luther (comp. Vulgate): “and has brought forth [herfürgebracht] the same by Him,” though προέθ. in itself might have this meaning. See on Romans 3:25.Ephesians 1:9. γνωρίσας ἡμῖν: having made known unto us. Better, “in that He made known unto us”. As in Ephesians 1:5 the aor. part, is modal, not temporal, expressing an act not conceived as prior to that intimated by the definite tense, but coincident with it and stating the way in which it took effect. The ἡμῖν means to us Christians generally, not to us Apostles particularly, and the knowledge in question is spiritual understanding or insight. It was in giving us to know a certain secret of His counsel that God made His grace to abound toward us in all wisdom and discernment. The revelation of this secret to our minds meant the bestowal on us of all that is implied in wisdom and intelligence.—τὸ μυστήριον τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ: the mystery (or secret) of His will. The gen. is the ordinary gen. objecti, the mystery touching or concerning His will; not the gen. subjecti, the mystery originating in His will, nor the appositive gen., as if it were simply another form for “His hidden will”. The word μυστήριον, which in classical Greek meant something secret, especially the secrets of religion communicated only to the initiated and by them to be kept untold, is used in the Apocryphal books of things hidden, e.g., the counsels of God (Wis 2:22; Jdt 2:2), and in the NT occasionally of things not clear to the understanding (1 Corinthians 13:2; 1 Corinthians 14:2), or of the mystic meaning of things—sayings, names, appearances (Ephesians 5:32; Revelation 1:20; Revelation 17:5). But its distinctive sense in the NT is that of something once hidden and now revealed, a secret now open. In this sense it is applied to the Divine plan of redemption as a whole (Romans 16:25; 1 Corinthians 2:7; Ephesians 6:19; Colossians 1:26; 1 Timothy 3:9; 1 Timothy 3:16, etc.), or to particular things belonging to that Divine plan—the inclusion of the Gentiles (Romans 11:25; Ephesians 3:3; Ephesians 3:9), the transformation of Christians alive on earth at Christ’s return (1 Corinthians 15:52), the union of Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:32). It does not convey the idea of something that we cannot take in or understand even when it is declared to us. It is peculiarly frequent in the kindred Epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians, ten out of the twenty-six or twenty-seven occurrences being found in them. Nor is it confined absolutely to the things of grace. Paul speaks also of the “mystery of lawlessness” (2 Thessalonians 2:7). The redemption accomplished through Christ—this is the secret hidden for ages in the Divine Counsel and now revealed. This also is the truth, the disclosure of which to our understandings meant so large a gift of grace in the way of insight and spiritual discernment.—κατὰ τὴν εὐδοκίαν αὐτοῦ: according to His good pleasure. This is to be attached neither to the μυστήριου τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ, which needs no further definition, nor to the following προέθετο, κ.τ.λ., but to the γνωρίσας, precisely as the previous προορίσας was declared to be κατὰ τὴν εὐδοκίαν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ (Ephesians 1:5). The opening of this secret to us after the silence of ages had its ground and reason in nothing else than the gracious counsel or free purpose of God.—ἣν προέθετο: which He purposed. This verb προτίθεμαι occurs only thrice in the NT, and all three instances are in the Pauline Epistles: once of human purpose (Romans 1:13), once of the Divine action (Romans 3:25), and once (here) of the Divine purpose. The eternal purpose of God is in view, as the context shows. The προ in the compound verb, however, does not express the idea of the pre-temporal. It appears to have the local sense—setting before oneself and so determining.—ἐν αὐτῷ: in Himself. Some make it “in him,” that is, in Christ (Chrys., Luth., Bengel, Hofm., Light., Wycl., Vulg., etc.), and this would be quite in accordance with the subsequent statement of the eternal purpose as one which God “purposed in Christ Jesus the Lord” (Ephesians 3:11). But God and His will are the subjects in view here, and the mention of Christ seems too remote for the αὐτῷ to refer naturally to Him. The purpose is God’s own free determination, originating in His own gracious mind. The reading ἐν αὑτῷ is adopted by Mey., Ell., etc., while ἐν αὐτῷ is given by Lachm., Tisch., WH, Harl., etc. The question whether the NT knows any other form than ἑαυτοῦ as the reflexive of the third person is still debated. It is urged (e.g., by Bleek, Buttm., etc.) that the NT does not use αὑτοῦ, but only ἑαυτοῦ in most cases or at least the vast majority, on such grounds as these, viz., that the MSS. have ἀπό, ἐπί, ὑπό, etc., and not ἀφʼ, ἐφʼ, ὑφʼ, before αὐτοῦ; that in the second person we find only σεαυτοῦ, not σαυτοῦ; and that the first and second personal pronouns are often used in the NT instead of the reflexive, though not when the pronoun is immediately dependent on the verb. Lightfoot concludes that “αὐτοῦ, etc., may be used for ἑαυτοῦ, etc., in almost every connection, except where it is the direct object of the verb” (see his note on Colossians 1:20). On the other hand, Ell. is of opinion that the reflexive form is in place “where the attention is principally directed to the subject,” and the non-reflexive where it is “diverted by the importance of the details”. Winer, while admitting that in most passages αὐτοῦ, etc., would suffice, would write αὑτοῦ, etc., certainly in a few cases such as John 9:21 (αὐτὸς περὶ αὑτοῦ λαλήσει) and Romans 3:25 (ὃν προέθετο ὁ Θεὸςεἰς ἔνδειξιν τῆς δικαιοσύνης αὑτοῦ), and would prefer it also in such passages as Mark 7:35; Luke 12:34; Luke 19:15; Romans 14:14; Revelation 11:7; Revelation 13:2; as also here in Ephesians 1:9. See Buttm., p. 111; Win.-Moult., p. 188; Bleek, Heb., ii., p. 69.9. Having made known] An aorist participle. The time-reference is to the actual revelation of the Gospel. Cp. e.g. Romans 3:21; Romans 16:25-26; 2 Timothy 1:10. And see last note.

unto us] the believing Church; as throughout this passage. No special reference to St Paul, or other Apostles, is intended. The “us” of Ephesians 1:9 must be identical with the “we” of Ephesians 1:11-12.

the mystery] I.e., as always in N. T., a truth undiscoverable except by revelation; never necessarily (as our popular use of the word may suggest) a thing unintelligible, or perplexing, in itself. In Scripture a “mystery” may be a fact which, when revealed, we cannot understand in detail, though we can know it and act upon it; such a fact as that of 1 Corinthians 15:51, where we have it revealed that an inconceivable change will take place, at the last day, in the bodily condition of the then living saints; a change quite beyond the inferences of reason and also beyond the reach of imagination. Or it may be, as here, something much more within our understanding. But in both cases it is a thing only to be known when revealed. What this “mystery” is will be seen just below.

which he had purposed in himself] Better, which He purposed in Him, i.e. in the Son. The “purpose” of the Father was “in the Son,” inasmuch as it was to take effect through the Son, incarnate, sacrificed, and glorified; and further, as it concerned a Church which was to be incorporated “into Christ.” The whole context illustrates this phrase. For the “purpose,” cp. Ephesians 1:11; Romans 8:28; Romans 9:11; 2 Timothy 1:9.Ephesians 1:9. Γνωρίσας, having made known) This word depends on hath abounded. The same word occurs, ch. Ephesians 3:3; Ephesians 3:5; Ephesians 3:10, Ephesians 6:19.—τὸ μυστήριον, the mystery) ch. Ephesians 3:3-4; Ephesians 3:9, Ephesians 6:19; Romans 16:25; Colossians 1:26-27.—ἣν, which) good pleasure.—προέθετο) [purposed] proposed to Himself. Thence purpose, Ephesians 1:11.—ἐν αὐτῷ, in Him) in Christ. [But Engl. Vers. “purposed in Himself,” i.e. God the Father.]Verse 9. - Having made known unto us the mystery of his will. The wide extent of God's grace was a mystery, i.e. a hidden counsel, before Christ came and died, but it is now made known. In this, and not in the modern sense of mystery, the word μυστήριον is used by Paul. The thing hidden and now revealed was not the gospel, but God's purpose with reference to its limits or sphere (see Ephesians 3:6). According to his good pleasure which he purposed in himself. The whole phraseology denotes that, in this transaction, God was not influenced by any external considerations; the whole reason for it sprang from within. The threefold expression brings this out:

(1) according to his good pleasure (see ver. 5);

(2) he purposed, or formed a purpose;

(3) in himself, without foreign aid, "For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counselor?" (Romans 11:34). Having made known

The participle is explanatory of which He made to abound, etc.: in that He made known.

The mystery of His will

For mystery, see on Romans 11:25; see on Colossians 1:26. Another key-word of this epistle. God's grace as manifested in redemption is a mystery in virtue of its riches and depth - as the expression of God's very nature. The mystery of the redemption in Christ, belonging to the eternal plan of God, could be known to men only through revelation - making known. Of his will; pertaining to his will. Compare Ephesians 3:9.

Purposed (προέθετο)

Only here, Romans 1:13; Romans 3:25 (note).

In Himself (ἐν αὑτῷ)

The best texts read αὐτῷ in Him; but the reference is clearly to God, not to Christ, who is expressly mentioned in the next verse.

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