Ephesians 3:10
To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
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(10) In this verse St. Paul passes on to consider the manifestation of God in Christ as brought home not only to the race of man but to the angels—“the principalities and powers in the heavenly places”—who are described (1Peter 1:12) as “desiring to look into” the consummation of the gospel mystery. In the same sense the Apostles, in their ministration of the gospel, are said to be a spectacle to angels and to men (1Corinthians 4:9); and in a magnificent passage in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 12:22), Christians are encouraged in their warfare by knowing it to go on before “the city of the living God” and “an innumerable company of angels.” The angels are, therefore, represented to us as not only ministering in the Church of Christ, but learning from its existence and fortunes to know more and more of the wisdom of God. Hence we gain a glimpse of a more than world-wide purpose in the supreme manifestation of God’s mercy in Christ, fulfilled towards higher orders of God’s rational creatures, aiding even them in progress towards the knowledge of God in Jesus Christ, which is life eternal. (There is a notable passage on a kindred idea in Butler’s Analogy, Part i., c. Iii. § 5.) This world, itself a speck in the universe, may be—perhaps as a scene of exceptional rebellion against God, certainly as a scene of God’s infinite goodness—a lesson to other spheres of being, far beyond our conception. Possibly this view of angels as our fellow-learners in the school of Christ may have been specially dwelt upon in view of the worship of angels of which we read in Colossians 2:18; but it accords well with the wide sweep of thought characteristic of this Epistle, literally “gathering up all things in Christ.”

The manifold wisdom.—The word “manifold” (properly, many-coloured, or wrought in many details) is used here (and nowhere else) for the wisdom of God, as “fulfilling itself in many ways” (the “sundry times and divers manners” of Hebrews 1:1). It is manifested, therefore, in the infinite variety both of the teaching and the life of the Church—manifold, yet one, as embodying but one life, the life of Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 3:10-12. To the intent that now — Under the gospel dispensation, the last and best dispensation of divine grace and mercy to fallen man; unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places — To all the various orders of angelic beings; might be made known by the church — Namely, by what is done in and for it; the manifold wisdom of God — Discovering itself gradually in such a beautiful and well-ordered variety of dispensations. By this the apostle seems to intimate that the Church of Christ is the grand theatre in which the divine wisdom is most signally displayed, including, doubtless, the manifestation made therein of the whole process of Christ for the accomplishment of man’s redemption and salvation. According to the eternal purpose — The original plan adjusted in the Divine Mind, and to be executed in due time in and by Jesus Christ our Lord; in, or through whom we have boldness and access with confidence — Such as those petitioners have who are introduced to the royal presence by some distinguished favourite; the word παρρησια, rendered boldness, implies unrestrained liberty of speech, such as children use in addressing an indulgent father, when, without fear of offending, they disclose all their wants, and make known all their requests.

3:8-12 Those whom God advances to honourable employments, he makes low in their own eyes; and where God gives grace to be humble, there he gives all other needful grace. How highly he speaks of Jesus Christ; the unsearchable riches of Christ! Though many are not enriched with these riches; yet how great a favour to have them preached among us, and to have an offer of them! And if we are not enriched with them it is our own fault. The first creation, when God made all things out of nothing, and the new creation, whereby sinners are made new creatures by converting grace, are of God by Jesus Christ. His riches are as unsearchable and as sure as ever, yet while angels adore the wisdom of God in the redemption of his church, the ignorance of self-wise and carnal men deems the whole to be foolishness.To the intent - Greek, "that" Ἵνα Hina. The sense is, that it was with this design, or that this was the purpose for which all things were made. One grand purpose in the creation of the universe was, that the wisdom of God might be clearly shown by the church. It was not enough to evince it by the formation of the sun, the stars, the earth, the seas, the mountains, the floods. It was not enough to show it by the creation of intelligent beings, the formation of immortal minds on earth, and the various ranks of the angelic world. There were views of the divine character which could be obtained only in connection with the redemption of the world. Hence the universe was created, and man was made upon the earth, not merely to illustrate the divine perfections in the work of creation, but in a still more illustrious manner in the work of redemption. And hence the deep interest which the angelic hosts have ever evinced in the salvation of man.

That now - the word "now" - νυν nun - is missing in the Vulgate, Syriac, and Arabic; and is omitted by many of the fathers; see Koppe. If it is to be retained, it means that this display is to be made under the gospel. "Now, since the Messiah is come; now, under the Christian dispensation, this revelation is to be made to distant worlds."

Unto the principalities and powers - To the angelic hosts - the intelligent beings that surround the throne of God; see the notes at Ephesians 1:21.

By the church - By the incarnation of the Redeemer to save it; by I the mercy shown to it; by the wise arrangement made to recover his people from the fall; and by all the graces and beauties which that redeemed church will evince on earth and in heaven.

The manifold wisdom of God - Literally, "much-variegated." It means the "greatly-diversified wisdom." It does not mean merely that there was "great" wisdom, but that the wisdom shown was diversified and varied; like changing, Variegated colors. There was a "beautiful and well-ordered variety of dispensations" toward that church, all of which tended to evince the wisdom of God. It is like a landscape, or a panoramic view passing before the mind, with a great variety of phases and aspects, all tending to excite admiration. In the redemption of the church, there is not merely one form or one phase of wisdom. It is wisdom, ever-varying, ever-beautiful. There was wisdom manifested when the plan was formed; wisdom in the selection of the Redeemer; wisdom in the incarnation; wisdom in the atonement; wisdom in the means of renewing the heart, and sanctifying the soul; wisdom in the various dispensations by which the church is sanctified, guided, and brought to glory. The wisdom thus shown is like the ever-varying beauty of changing clouds, when the sun is reflected on them at evening. Each aspect is full of beauty. One bright; cloud differs in appearance from others; yet all tend to fill the mind with elevated views of God.

10. The design of God in giving Paul grace to proclaim to the Gentiles the mystery of salvation heretofore hidden.

now—first: opposed to "hidden from the beginning of the world" (Eph 3:5).

unto the principalities and—Greek adds "the"

powers—unto the various orders of good angels primarily, as these dwell "in the heavenly places" in the highest sense; "known" to their adoring joy (1Ti 3:16; 1Pe 1:12). Secondarily, God's wisdom in redemption is made known to evil angels, who dwell "in heavenly places" in a lower sense, namely, the air (compare Eph 2:2 with Eph 6:12); "known" to their dismay (1Co 15:24; Col 2:15).

might be known—Translate, "may be known."

by the church—"by means of," or "through the Church," which is the "theater" for the display of God's manifold wisdom (Lu 15:10; 1Co 4:9): "a spectacle (Greek, 'theater') to angels." Hence, angels are but our "fellow servants" (Re 19:10).

manifold wisdom—though essentially one, as Christ is one, yet varying the economy in respect to places, times, and persons (Isa 55:8, 9; Heb 1:1). Compare 1Pe 4:10, "stewards of the manifold grace of God." Man cannot understand aright its single acts till he can survey them as a connected whole (1Co 13:12). The call of the Church is no haphazard remedy, or afterthought, but part of the eternal scheme, which, amidst manifold varieties of dispensation, is one in its end.

Principalities and powers in heavenly places; good angels, Colossians 1:16 1 Peter 3:22.

Might be known by the church; not effectually, as a teacher or instructor of angels present in church assemblies; but objectively, as a mirror in which they might behold and contemplate the manifold wisdom of God.

The manifold wisdom of God: exceedingly, or many ways, various. The Divine wisdom is in itself one simple thing, but appearing in so great variety of works, it is said to be various. This may be best understood of the whole economy of men’s redemption, and God’s governing his church in several ages, the several forms of the church, the various ways of revealing the Divine will, the different measures of light let out in different times, the different dispensations of the covenant of grace before the law, under the law, under the gospel, to the Jews, to the Gentiles, &c.

To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places,.... By whom are meant, not civil magistrates, much less evil angels, but the good angels, the angels in heaven; See Gill on Ephesians 1:21.

might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God; not the perfection of wisdom, nor Jesus Christ the wisdom of God, nor the holy Scriptures; but the Gospel, which is the pure produce of the wisdom of God; which is gloriously displayed in the several doctrines of it; as in election, in choosing men in Christ for the security of their persons, in founding it not upon their works, but his own grace, for the security of his purpose, and in pitching on such persons as he has, for the magnifying of his grace: and in redemption, which is seen in the person of the Redeemer, who is both God and man; and in the manner in which it is effected, being both for the glory of God's grace and mercy, and for the honour of his justice and holiness; and wherein Satan is mortified, sin is condemned, and the sinner saved: and in justification, whereby sinful men become just with God: God is just, and yet the justifier of him that believes; the ungodly is justified, and yet not justified in his ungodliness, but from it: and in the pardon of sin, in which iniquity is forgiven, and yet vengeance is taken on men's inventions; it is an act of mercy, and yet of justice; it is by price, and yet of free grace; and the like may be observed of all other doctrines of the Gospel. And it may be called "manifold", because of its various doctrines and promises and because of the various instances of wisdom in them, and the various persons to whom it is made known, and the various times in which it is displayed: and now under the Gospel this is more clearly known, or made known to the angels by the church of God, through the ministry of the word in it, on which angels attend, being desirous to look more diligently into the mysteries of it; and by the displays of the wisdom and grace of God unto his church and people.

{2} To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the {c} manifold wisdom of God,

(2) The unsuspected calling of the Gentiles was as it were a mirror to the heavenly angels, in which they might behold the marvellous wisdom of God.

(c) God always had only one way to save men by: but it had various shapes and forms.

Ephesians 3:10. Ἵνα] not ecbatic (Thomas, Boyd, Zanchius, Estius, Koppe, Rosenmüller, Flatt, Meier, Holzhausen), introduces the design, not, however, of τῷ τὰ πάντα κτίσαντι, as, in addition to those who understand κτίσ. of the ethical creation, also Harless would take it.[178] The latter sees in Τῷ ΤᾺ ΠΆΝΤΑ ΚΤΊΣΑΝΤΙ ἽΝΑ Κ.Τ.Λ. an explanation “how the plan of redemption had been from all ages hidden in God; inasmuch as it was He who created the world, in order to reveal in the church of Christ the manifoldness of His wisdom.” But the very doctrine itself, that the design of God in the creation of the world was directed to the making known of His wisdom to the angels, and by means of the Christian church, has nowhere an analogy in the N.T.; according to Colossians 1:16, Christ (the personal Christ Himself) is the aim of the creation of all things, even of the angels, who are here included in τὰ πάντα. But as ΓΝΩΡΙΣΘῇ evidently corresponds to the ἈΠΟΚΕΚΡΥΜΜΈΝΟΥ, and ΝῦΝ to the ἈΠῸ ΤῶΝ ΑἸΏΝΩΝ, we cannot, without arbitrary disturbance of the whole arrangement of this majestic passage, regard ἽΝΑ ΓΝΩΡΙΣΘῇ as other than the design of τοῦ ἀποκεκρ. ἀπὸ τῶν αἰώνων ἐν τῷ Θεῷ. This statement of aim stands in exact significant relation to the vocation of the apostle, Ephesians 3:8 f., through which this very making known to the heavenly powers was partly effected. The less is there reason for taking ἵνα γνωρ. κ.τ.λ., with de Wette (on Ephesians 3:11) and Hofmann, Schriftbew. I. p. 361 (who are followed by Schenkel), after earlier expositors, as defining the aim of the preaching of Paul, Ephesians 3:8 f.; in which case, besides, it would be offensive that Paul should ascribe specially to his work in preaching as its destined aim that, in which the other apostles withal (comp. in particular Acts 15:7), and the many preachers to the Gentiles of that time (such as Barnabas), had a share. The joining on to the adjectival element ἀποκεκρ. κ.τ.λ. produces no syntactical incongruity, but is as much in keeping with the carrying forward of the discourse by way of chain in our Epistle, as in accord with the reference of so significant a bearing to Ephesians 3:8 f.

ΓΝΩΡΙΣΘῇ ΝῦΝ] The emphasis is not upon ΝῦΝ (Rückert and others), but upon ΓΝΩΡΙΣΘῇ, in keeping with the ἈΠΟΚΕΚΡ.: in order that it should not remain hidden, but should be made known, etc.

ταῖς ἀρχαῖς κ. τ. ἐξουσίαις] See on Ephesians 1:21. The angelic powers are to recognise in the case of the Christian church the wisdom of God;—what a church-glorifying design, out of which God kept the μυστήριον from the beginning locked up in Himself! To the heavenly powers (comp. 1 Peter 1:12), which therefore are certainly not thought of as abstractions, the earthly institute is to show the wisdom of God; an even, however, is quite arbitrarily inserted before ταῖς ἀρχ. (Grotius, Meier). The explanation of the diabolic powers (Ambrosiaster, Vatablus, not Estius), which Vorstius, Bengel, Olshausen, Hofmann, Bleek at least understand as included, is entirely foreign to the context (it is otherwise at Ephesians 6:12), even though ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις (comp. Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 1:20) were not added. Throughout the whole connection the contrast of earth and heaven prevails. Wrongly, too, we may add, secular rulers (Zeger, Knatchbull), Jewish archons (Schöttgen, Locke), heathen priests (van Til), and Christian church-overseers (Zorn), have been understood as here referred to (comp. Ephesians 1:21); while Koppe would embrace “quicquid est vi, sapientia, dignitate insigne,” and would only not exclude the angels on account of ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρ.

ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρ. is, as always in our Epistle (see on Ephesians 1:3), definition of place: in heaven, not: in the case of the heavenly things, which are to be perceived in connection with the church (Zeltner, comp. Baumgarten), and such like (see in Wolf). It is most naturally to be combined (comp. Ephesians 6:12) with ταῖς ἀρχ. κ. τ. ἐξουσ., in which case it was not needful to place ΤΑῖς before ἘΝ ΤΟῖς ἘΠΟΥΡΑΝΊΟΙς, seeing that the ἘΝ ΤΟῖς ἘΠΟΥΡΑΝ., more precisely fixing the definition of the notion of the ἈΡΧΑΊ and ἘΞΟΥΣΊΑΙ (for even upon earth there are ἈΡΧΑΊ and ἘΞΟΥΣΊΑΙ), is blended into a unity of notion with those two words (Fritzsche, ad Rom. I. p. 195), so that there is no linguistic necessity for connecting, as does Matthies,[179] ἘΝ ΤΟῖς ἘΠΟΥΡ. with ΓΝΩΡ.

The question why Paul did not write simply ΤΟῖς ἈΓΓΈΛΟΙς is not to be answered, with Hofmann, to the effect, that the spirits ruling in the ethnic world are intended, because such a special reference of the general expression τ. ἀρχ. κ. τ. ἐξουσ. must have been specified (by the addition of τῶν ἐθνῶν, or something of that sort); but to the effect, that the designation of the angels on the side of their power and rank, in contradistinction to the ΔΙᾺ Τῆς ἘΚΚΛΗΣΊΑς, serves for the glorifying of the ἐκκλησία. The Designation corresponds to the fulness and the lofty pathos by which the whole passage is marked. In Ephesians 1:21, also, an analogous reason is found, namely, the glorifying of Christ. It is to be observed, in general, that the name ἄγγελος does not occur at all in our Epistle.

ΔΙᾺ Τῆς ἘΚΚΛΗΣΊΑς] The Christian church (i.e. the collective body of believers regarded as one community, comp. 1 Corinthians 12:28; 1 Corinthians 10:32; 1 Corinthians 15:9; Galatians 1:11; Php 3:6; Colossians 1:18; Colossians 1:24,—hence not betraying the later Catholic notion) is, in its existence and its living development, as composed of Jews and Gentiles combined in a higher unity, the medium de facto for the divine wisdom becoming known, the actual voucher of the same; because it is the actual voucher of the redemption which embraces all mankind and raises it above the hostile contrast of Judaism and heathenism,—this highest manifestation of the divine wisdom (Romans 11:32 f.). To the angels, in accordance with their ministering interest in the work of redemption (Matthew 18:10; Luke 15:7; Luke 15:10; 1 Corinthians 11:10; Hebrews 1:14; 1 Peter 1:12), the church of the redeemed is therefore, as it were, the mirror, by means of which the wisdom of God exhibits itself to them.

πολυποίκιλος] Eur. Iph. T. 1149; Eubul. in Athen. xv. p. 679 D; Orph. v. 11, lx. 4. It signifies much-manifold, i.e. in a high degree manifold, quite corresponding to the Latin multivarius. That it signifies very wise (Wolf, Koppe, Rosenmüller) has been erroneously assumed from Aesch. Prom. 1308, where ποίκιλος means crafty. As πολυποίκιλος, the wisdom of God manifests itself to the angels through the church, inasmuch as the counsel of the redemption of the world is therein presented to them in its universal realization, and they thus behold the manifold ways and measures of God, which He had hitherto taken with reference to the Jews and Gentiles, all now in their connection with the institute of redemption,—all uniting in this as their goal. The church is thus for them, as regards the manifold wisdom of God, the central fact of revelation; for the πολυποικίλους ὁδοὺς Θεοῦ, which they before knew not as to their ultimate end, but only in and by themselves (and how diverse were these ways with the Jews and with the Gentiles!), they now see in point of fact, through the church (“haec enim operum divinorum theatrum est,” Bengel), as ΠΟΛΥΠΟΊΚΙΛΟς ΣΟΦΊΑ. Thus by the appearing of the ἘΚΚΛΗΣΊΑ as a fact in the history of salvation, the wisdom of the divine government of the world has been on every side unveiled and brought to recognition. Entirely without warrant, Baur assumes, p. 429, that the Gnostic σοφία, with its heterogeneous forms and conditions (comp. Iren. Haer. i. 4. 1), was present to the mind of the writer.

[178] So also Baur refers it, p. 425, but explains the thus resulting aim of the creation from the doctrine of the Valentinians.

[179] The whole apprehension of our passage by Matthies is mistaken. He refers τῷ τὰ πάντα κτίσ. to all that God has either created in the natural reference of the term, or accomplished in a spiritual respect for the salvation of men. According to his view, ἵνα applies to τῷ τὰ π. κτίσ.; the ἀρχαὶ καὶ ἐξουσίαι are “the high and mighty ones who live in the world, or even in an invisible spiritual manner play their part in the same;” τὰ ἐπουράνια is to be taken “as the actually subsisting aggregate of all that is heavenly—as the kingdom of God.” In the heavenly kingdom the wisdom of God becomes manifest by means of the church, and particularly to these high and mighty ones, because these are now, in the heavenly kingdom founded by Christ, brought, by means of the church, to the consciousness of their powerlessness.—Thus, in fact, there are, as well in the notion of κτίζειν as in that of ἀρχαὶ κ. ἐξουσ., two wholly different conceptions combined, in opposition to the hermeneutic principle of the unity of the sense; τὰ ἐπουράνια is arbitrarily generalized in a spiritualistic way, and the thought that the ἀρχαὶ καὶ ἐξουσίαι are brought to the consciousness of their powerlessness is purely imported, and the more mistakenly, inasmuch as it is God’s σοφία, not His δύναμις, of which it is here said that it is made manifest to the ἀρχαὶ καὶ ἐξουσ.

Ephesians 3:10. ἵνα γνωρισθῇ νῦν ταῖς ἀρχαῖς καὶ ταῖς ἐξουσίαις ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις: in order that now unto the principalities and the powers in the heavenlies might be made known. To make the manifold wisdom of God known where formerly it was not understood is now declared to be the object in view. But the object of what? The creation of all things, says Harless; who connects the ἵνα γνωρισθῇ immediately with the τῷ τὰ πάντα κτίσαντι. But, while it is true that redemption is sometimes exhibited in relation to creation (John 1:1-14, etc.), and while Christ Himself is presented at times not only as the author and ground of creation but also as its end or object (Colossians 1:16), the idea resulting here on that view would be that the purpose of God in creating all things was the proclamation of His wisdom to the angelic world by the Church. This, however, would be a statement without any parallel elsewhere in the NT. It is better, therefore, to connect the sentence immediately with the τοῦ μυστηρίου τοῦ ἀποκεκρυμμένου, as is done by Meyer and many more. In that case the idea would be that the “mystery” was long hidden indeed, but hidden only with the design of being made known, and that on the widest possible scale—to angels no less than to men—in due time (cf. the general statement of principle in Mark 4:22). There is much to be said in support of this, e.g., the antithesis of the νῦν to the ἀπὸ τῶν αἰώνων, and the γνωρισθῇ to the ἀποκεκρυμμένου, etc. But it is best to take the verse as referring to the previous ἐδόθη ἡ χάρις αὕτη, etc. (Ell., Alf.; and substantially De Wette, Hofm., etc.). The main idea in the paragraph from Ephesians 3:7 onwards is unmistakably that of the marvellous call and commission of Paul, and the wonder of the grace that made an Apostle and preacher of him is magnified the more by the Divine purpose revealed in that commission, to wit, the making known the manifold wisdom of God in His ways with sinful men and with the outcasts of the Gentile world in particular. It is objected indeed that this is to make Paul claim for his own preaching and as his own special work what belonged to other Apostles and preachers no less than to him. But all that is stated here goes in point of fact to enhance the idea of Paul’s own personal insignificance, the extraordinary and unmerited nature of his call, and his absolute indebtedness to grace. “For this sublime cause,” as Alford admirably expresses it, “the humble Paul was raised up—to bring about—he, the least worthy of the saints—that to the heavenly powers themselves should be made known, by means of those whom he was empowered to enlighten”—the manifold wisdom of God. The ἀρχαί and ἐξουσίαι can only mean good angels (cf. under Ephesians 1:21 above); and these names of dignity (the term ἄγγελος is not used in this Epistle) are appropriate here as suggesting again the greatness of Paul’s commission, and perhaps also (as Mey. thinks) the glory put upon the ἐκκλησία. That the ἀρχαί and ἐξουσίαι cannot mean any orders of earthly powers—Jewish, Gentile or Christian rulers or the like, is shown by the ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις. Nor can they refer to demonic powers, whether by themselves alone or as part of the angelic world, for this would scarcely be consistent with the mention of the Church, and further the Divine power would in that case be more in point than the Divine wisdom. Nor again is there anything in the context to suggest that Paul has in view the angels that ministered the law and the elemental powers honoured by the heathen (V. Soden). The ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις here, as elsewhere in the Epistle, has the sense = in heaven; see under Ephesians 1:3 above. The ἐν, therefore, has its proper local sense, and is not = in respect of, as if the clause meant “in the case of the heavenly things”. As the phrase makes one idea, too, with the ἀρχαῖς and ἐξουσίαις, defining them as heavenly, it requires no ταῖς after the ἐξουσίαις.—διὰ τῆς ἐκκλησίας: through the Church. The Church, therefore, that is, as is evidently meant here, the whole body of believers in the unity in which Jew and Gentile are now made one, is the means by which the Divine wisdom is to be made known and Paul’s commission in that respect made good. The Church, which it was his high Apostolic vocation to build up by bringing multitudes of Gentile believers into its membership—the Church in which the breaking down of ancient barriers and the removal of the old enmity were now seen, was itself the living witness to the Divine σοφία, the “mirror,” as Calvin puts it, “in which angels contemplate the wonderful wisdom of God”. And that Divine wisdom is described as πολυποίκιλος (a word found only this once in the NT)—not with any reference to Gnostic ideas of σοφία (as Baur imagined), for the use of such a term as this in that connection is of later date (Iren., Haer., i., 4, 1); nor simply in the sense of very wise, for which Aesch., Prom., 1308, is mistakenly cited; but as = multivarius, multiformis (Vulg.), having a great variety of forms. The adj. is used of the rich variety of colours in cloths, flowers, paintings, etc. (Eurip., Iph. T., 1149; Eubulus, ap. Athen., 15, p. 679 D; Orph. Hym., vi., 11; lxi., 4). In different ways had God dealt with men, with the Jew in one way and with the Gentile in another, in the long course of the ages. But in all these He had had one great end in view. Now in the Church the realisation of that end is seen, and in that great spiritual harmony angels can perceive the manifoldness and majesty of that Divine wisdom which by ways so diverse had been working to this great result. That angels have an interest in man’s redemption and desire to look into it is stated in 1 Peter 1:12. Here it is indicated that they are capable of an enlargement of insight into it.

10. now] In the great “fulness of the times;” the age of the Gospel.

the principalities and powers] See on Ephesians 1:21. Here, as there, the reference is to “governments and authorities” in the world of holy Angels. “These things angels covet to look into” (1 Peter 1:12); as we find them doing, for example, in the closing visions of Daniel. To their pure and powerful but still finite intelligences the work of man’s Redemption is not only a touching interest, an object of benevolent attention; it is indescribably important, as a totally new and unique revelation of the Mind and Ways of their Lord, and perhaps (though here the hints of Scripture are few and dark) as indicating how their own bliss stands secure.—See some excellent pages on this last subject in The Incarnation of the Eternal Word, by the Rev. Marcus Dods, (1835) pp. 7–25.

in heavenly places] See on Ephesians 1:3.

might be known] The verb implies the gift of information ab extra. The angelic mind, like the human, needs and is capable of such information.

by the church] Better, through. The means of information to these exalted students is God’s way of redemption and glorification for His saints of our race; His action for and in “the blessed company of all faithful people.” The thought is one to stimulate the feeblest and most solitary Christian; while yet its chief concern is with the aggregate, the community, in which the grace which works freely and primarily in the individual attains its perfect harmony and speaks to the heavenly “watchers” (Daniel 4:13, &c.) with its full significance.

the manifold wisdom] Lit., “the much variegated wisdom.” The adjective is stronger (by the element “much,”) than that in 1 Peter 4:10 (“manifold grace”). It occurs only here in N.T. The reference probably is to the complicated problem of man’s redemption, met and solved by the “unsearchable riches” of the work of Christ. Alike as a race and as individuals, man presented difficulties innumerable to the question, how shall God be just, and the justifier, and sanctifier, of this race? But every difficulty was, and is, met in “Christ, the Wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24; 1 Corinthians 1:30).

Ephesians 3:10. Νῦν) now, first: comp. Ephesians 3:5.—ταῖς ἀρχαῖς καὶ ταῖς ἐξουσίαις, to the principalities and powers) good, or even bad; but in a different way to the one, as compared with the other.—διὰ, by) from those things which happen to the Church; for it (the Church) is the theatre in which the Divine works are displayed. Comp. 1 Corinthians 4:9.—πολυποίκιλος) Syr[45] Vers. renders it, full of varieties.—σοφία, wisdom) The angels are particularly conversant about this object.

[45] yr. the Peschito Syriac Version: second cent.: publ. and corrected by Cureton, from MS. of fifth cent.

Verse 10. - To the intent - indicative of the purpose of the remarkable arrangement or dispensation according to which the eternal Divine purpose, which had been concealed from the beginning of the ages, was now made known - that there might b e made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places; that a lesson might be given to the unfallen angels. Their interest in the scheme of man's redemption is often referred to (1 Peter 1:12). Even the highest powers of heaven have yet much to learn respecting God. The dispensation of God's grace to man is one of their lesson-books. Dr. Chalmers shows ('Astronomical Discourses') how this meets the objection that so dread a sacrifice as the life of God's Son could not have been made for one poor planet; in its indirect bearings we do not know what other orders of beings have derived most vital lessons from this manifestation of the attributes of God. However men may scorn the salvation of Christ and all that belongs to it, the highest intelligences regard it with profound interest. By the Church the manifold wisdom of God. Through the Church, now constituted, according' to the revealed mystery, of Jew and Gentile, all redeemed by Christ's blood and renewed by his Spirit, there is exhibited to the angels the manifold wisdom of God. The precise line of thought is this: God from eternity, had a purpose to put Jew and Gentile on precisely the same footing, but concealed it for many ages, until he revealed it in the apostolic age, when he appointed Paul his minister to announce it. The purpose of this whole arrangement was to enlighten the principalities and powers of heaven in the manifold wisdom of God. How in his manifold wisdom? In this way. During these preparatory ages, when God's gracious dealings were with the Jews only, all kinds of false religions were developing among the heathen, and their diversified influence and effects were becoming apparent in many ways - the divergent tendencies of men, especially in religious matters, were being developed; but in the new turn given to things by the breaking down of the middle wall in Christ, the manifold wisdom of God was shown in transforming many of these most diverse elements, unifying them, building them up into a great spiritual body, into a holy, most beautiful, most symmetrical temple. When all things seem to be flying asunder into the most diverse and antagonistic elements, God gives a new turn, as it were, to providence, and lo! a glorious symmetrical and harmonious structure begins to rise. Ephesians 3:10To the intent that

Connect with the matter of the two preceding verses. Grace was given me to preach Christ and to enlighten men as to the long-hidden mystery of the admission of the Gentiles, in order that now, etc.


In contrast with all ages.

Principalities and powers

Good angels. See on Ephesians 1:21.

By the Church (διά)

Better, through, as Rev. By means of the Church. This agrees with what was said of the Church as the fullness of God, Ephesians 1:23.

Manifold wisdom (πολυποίκιλος σοφία)

A very striking phrase. The adjective occurs only here, and means variegated. It is applied to pictures, flowers, garments. Ποίκιλον is used in the Septuagint of Joseph's coat, Genesis 37:3. Through the Church God's wisdom in its infinite variety is to be displayed - the many-tinted wisdom of God - in different modes of power, different characters, methods of training, providences, forms of organization, etc.

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