Ephesians 1:10
This marks the period during which the summing up of all things is to be accomplished - the period of the dispensation of grace.

I. THE TERM SUGGESTS THE IDEA OF A PLAN OR SYSTEM, NOT CONSISTING OF MERE FRAGMENTARY AND UNRELATED PARTS, BUT A THOROUGHLY COMPACT AND ORGANIZED SYSTEM, IN WHICH THE INDIVIDUAL PARTS HAVE THEIR DUE PLACES IN THE WORKING OUT OF A DESTINED RESULT. Just as in creation there is a unity of plan with certain typical ideas and regulative numbers lying at its basis, so there is in God's dispensation a certain succession of times and seasons working out the purposes of his will. "God is the Steward of all time." The God who has made of one blood all nations of men "hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation" (Acts 17:26). Christianity marks a new era in history, dividing it into two unequal parts, the appearance of Christ marking the turning-point between them.

II. THIS DISPENSATION DATES FROM THE FULLNESS OF TIMES, THAT IS, FROM THE PERIOD WHEN ALL THE TIMES DESTINED TO PRECEDE IT HAD RUN OUT. The pre-Christian ages have seen their end in Christ's advent, which' becomes thenceforth "the fullness of times." It was a chronological as well as a moral fullness. The epoch in question is the best time in the Divine calendar; for it is God's time, and he is the Lord of all time. The age that saw the advent of the Savior was ripe for the event. It was "the time appointed by the Father" (Galatians 4:2). The Roman power had opened highways for the gospel in every land by its immense conquests and its large toleration, while Greece gave the world the richest of languages to become the vehicle for New Testament inspiration. Meanwhile religion had outlived itself, and skepticism mocked at the decaying superstitions of the people. "The world by wisdom knew not God." All Gentile experiments in living had been tried, but with the unvarying result of disappointment. Meanwhile there was at the heart of heathenism a mysterious longing for some change in the world's destinies, and the eyes of men turned instinctively to the East. Whether this tendency sprang up among the dispersion of the Jews over the East and the West, or from some instinctive longing, it was God's will that the Gentiles should, with a conscious need of redemption, feel after him for themselves, "if haply they might find him" (Acts 17:27). Among the Jews, likewise, there was a significant "waiting for the consolation of Israel;" idolatry had totally disappeared; new and more liberal ideas prevailed, in spite of the bigotry of the sects; and many hearts were prepared to welcome the" Desire of all nations." "The full age had come," when the heir would enter on his inheritance. Thus the advent was in every sense "the fullness of times." It was "the due time" when Christ died for the ungodly. The world had waited long for it. The purpose of God had only to receive its fulfillment by the coming of Christ. Equally so still is there a longing in the heart of men for a Savior. Men may try experiments in life; they may taste of its pleasures; they may try to extract from it all the wisdom the world can give; but there is still a void which nothing can fill till he comes whose right it is to possess and subdue and save the soul for himself. - T.C.







That in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ.
Heaven and earth are to be restored to each other as well as to Him. The knowledge of God and the sanctity which have come to us in this world of conflict and sin are to flow into the great stream of pure angelic life; and the joy, the strength, the wisdom, and the security, alike of angels and of men, will be indefinitely augmented. As yet, we and they are like countries so remote or so estranged from each other that there has been no exchange of material or intellectual treasures. What the poverty of England would be if we had been always isolated from the rest of the human race we can hardly tell. It is by the free intercourse of trade, and the still freer intercourse of literature, that nations become rich and wise. Sunnier skies and more luxuriant soils give us more than half our material wealth, and we send in exchange the products of our mines and the works of our industry and skill. From sages who speculated on the universe and human life in the very morning of civilization, from poets whose genius was developed in the ancient commonwealths of Greece, our intellectual energy has received its most vigorous inspiration; and our religious faith is refreshed by streams which had their springs in the life of ancient Jewish saints and prophets, and of Christian apostles who lived eighteen centuries ago. What we hope for in the endless future is a still more complete participation in whatever knowledge and love of God, whatever righteousness, whatever joy, may exist in any province of the created universe. Race is no longer to be isolated from race, or world from world. A power, a wisdom, a holiness, a rapture, of which a solitary, soul, a solitary world, would be incapable, are to be ours through the gathering together of all things in Christ. We, for our part, shall contribute to the fulness of the universal life. To the principalities of heaven we shall be able to speak of God's infinite mercy to a race which had revolted against His throne; of the kinship between the eternal Son of God and ourselves; of the mystery of His death and the power of His resurrection; of the consolation which came to us in sorrows which the happy angels never knew; of the tenderness of the Divine pity which was shown to us in pain and weariness and disappointment; of the strength of the Divine support which made inconstancy resolute in well doing, and changed weakness and fear into victorious heroism. And they will tell us of the ancient days when no sin had cast its shadow on the universe, and of all that they have learnt in the millenniums of blessedness and purity during which they have seen the face of God. The sanctity which is the fruit of penitence will have its own pathetic loveliness for righteous races that have never sinned; and we shall be thrilled with a new rapture by the vision of a perfect glory which has never suffered even temporary eclipse. Their joy in their own security will be heightened by their generous delight in our rescue from sin and eternal death, and our gratitude for our deliverance will deepen in intensity as we discover that our honour and blessedness are not inferior to theirs who have never broken the eternal law of righteousness. Our final glory will consist, not in the restoration of the solitary soul to solitary communion with God, but in the fellowship of all the blessed with the blessedness of the universe as well as with the blessedness of God.

(R. W. Dale, LL. D.)

I. GOD HAS SET SEASONS IN WHICH HE WILL ACCOMPLISH ALL HIS WILL (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 17). As He brings things natural, spring, summer, autumn, winter, everything in season, so all the works He will do about His children, whether it be the punishing of wickedness for their sake, the delivering of His children from evil, the giving them benefits, He will bring them all forth in the fit appointed seasons.

1. To design times is His prerogative: as a master of a fatally has the right to fix the particular time at which this or that shall be done.

2. He only knows the fittest seasons for the accomplishment of His plans.(1) Let this reprove our weakness in thinking God sometimes delays too long.(2) Let us learn to wait on God. We would not in winter have midsummer weather, for it would not be seasonable; so in the winter of any trial with which we are visited we should not wish the sunshine of this or that blessing before God sees it may be seasonably bestowed, remembering that the man who believes does not make undue haste.

II. GOD, BY OPENING THE GOSPEL, BRINGS US HIS CHRIST.

1. By nature we are severed(1) from God: prodigal sons;(2) from Christ, like sheep in the valleys of death, running after the wolf, and leaving the Shepherd of our souls;(3) from one another, a man being by nature a wolf to his brother-man, his feet swift to shed blood.

2. The order in which we are gathered.(1) The opening of the gospel gathers us into one faith.(2) By faith, as a spiritual sinew or nerve, it unites us to Christ, making us one person with Him, as in law man and wife are one.(3) It unites us with God, inasmuch as we are one with His Son.(4) By being gathered to Christ, we are gathered to the whole Body of Christ, to all who exist under Him. What a wonderful power of union is there in the gospel!

III. ALL WHO SHALL BE GATHERED TO CHRIST ARE BROUGHT TO HIM BY THE GOSPEL. Only one gospel, and that gospel is for all.

II. Observe — WHO IT IS IN WHOM WE ARE GATHERED. In Christ, who —

1. Has abolished the enmity between God and us, and so removed that which divided us; and —

2. He calls us, and effectually draws us home in His time.(1) Let us then, to preserve our union, walk with Christ, and keep by Him. Even as it is in drawing a circle with compass and lines from the circumference to the centre, so it is with us: the nearer they come to the centre, the more they unite, till they come to the same point; the further they go from the centre in which they are united, the more they run out one from the other. So when we keep to Christ, the nearer we come to Him, the more we unite; but when we run forth into our own lusts and private faction, then we are disjoined from the other.(2) Since in Christ, our Head, we are joined as members of one and the same body, we mug act as members. The members of one and the same body have no mutual jealousies; they communicate with each other; the mouth takes meat, the stomach digests, the liver makes blood, the eye sees, the hand handles; they wilt not revenge themselves one against another, but mutually bear each others' burdens, so that their affection each to other is not diminished. God, who is love itself, teaches us these things.

(Paul Bayne.)

Jesus Christ is the fulness of

(1)knowledge;

(2)time;

(3)law;

(4)nature;

(5)grace;

(6)man;

(7)God.

(A. F. Muir, M. A.)

This is a disclosure of the magnificent and sublime design contemplated by God through means of the gospel. It is the "mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself." Our own individual salvation constitutes but a fragment of a vast and glorious scheme, which in due course shall be fully achieved. The influence of that atonement to which we owe our redemption is here seen extending itself far and wide in the universe of God, and forming the grand harmonizing and uniting bond among all the objects, however various, of His goodness, mercy, and love. Nay, we are perhaps here taught that its power is to be exerted and displayed in the final subjugation of all things without exception, including the reduction of sin and evil to their own place, as well as the ingathering of all that is good — under the universal sovereignty of God.

I. There is A GENERAL PLAN OR SCHEME, PROMOTED BY THE GOSPEL, and here called "the dispensation" or economy "of the fulness of times." It is, with reference to a plan, or dispensation, or economy, which God has in view, that He has made known to us the mystery of redemption. Every intelligent householder has some plan, according to which he directs all his energies and Jays out all his arrangements. His house, his farm, his estate, are managed and controlled for some definite object, and all his operations are conformed to some view or idea which he has formed for his own guidance. Different seasons of the year and various times come round upon him, but he keeps intelligently and firmly to his ruling purpose, and is not satisfied until the result of his plan has been fully realized. So God Himself, in the government of His whole household — the universal Father and the Lord of all — is represented as having a certain plan or economy, in accordance with which He is pleased to work through successive times, until the result He contemplates be finally attained.

II. WHAT, THEN, IS THIS GRAND RESULT CONTEMPLATED BY THE DISPENSATION OF THE FULNESS OF TIMES? It is "to gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth even in Him." But what are we to understand by this? What is the import of "to gather together in one"? And what maybe the full scope of "all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth"? The word rendered "to gather together in one" occurs once again in Romans 13:9, where it is rendered "briefly comprehended." "If there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." There its import is plain; for all the commandments are summed up, "briefly comprehended," "reduced to a head," "gathered together in one" in those two great commandments, love to God and love to man, of the last of which the apostle was giving instances. These two commandments are heads on which all the rest depend, from which they hang, in which they are summed up. This idea of summation, representation, headship, seems to belong essentially to the import of the word, and must not be lost sight of in the passage before us, where we read of the gathering up in one of all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth. But as it is plain that "all things" do not naturally belong to Christ, but on account of sin the things on earth at least are in a state of alienation, separation, revulsion, we must here necessarily suppose that the word implies the idea of "bringing back" from that state and gathering up into the opposite state of union, harmony, love.

1. The angels may be included in this gathering together in one. Although the unfallen angels do not stand in need of redemption from sin or misery, yet they need to be preserved from the risk of falling, and may well be supposed to owe their security and infallibility in some way to Christ.

2. There is no question concerning the including, or gathering up in one, all the redeemed of mankind. Separated though they may have been in life — according to the times in which they have existed, the countries they have dwelt in, the names and outward distinctions they have borne — their union to Christ, and to each other, has been real. It will, at length, become visible.

3. But it seems intended in this passage, as it is in keeping with the representations of Scripture elsewhere, that the material creation is to share in the glorious ingathering of "all things in Christ."

III. THIS GATHERING UP OF "ALL THINGS" IS "IS CHRIST," EVEN "IN HIM."

1. Consider the wondrous person of Christ as the God-man, joining mysteriously the Creator and the creation — the Maker and His work in one — by an indissoluble and eternal union.

2. But consider, secondly, that Christ, thus completely fitted to represent the creation of God, by the assumption of the human nature, has been actually constituted head of all things, with all-sufficient power to accomplish the whole plan of God.

(W. Alves, M. A.)

He will yet gather together again, in one, all things in Christ, filling them from His own fulness laid up in Him; gladdening them with His own joy; quickening them with His own life; beautifying them with His own glory; and sustaining them with His own power and resources. Great indeed must be our Lord, in whom and through whom such purposes are to be fulfilled! And divinely inspired must be the record in which they are revealed! Towards the fulfilment and manifestation in us of that purpose, all God's past dispensations of grace have tended. Note their order.

1. By the Holy Ghost given us and through the gospel, He gathers His people into one faith and one baptism.

2. By faith, as by a spiritual nerve or sinew, He unites us with Christ, making us to become one flesh with Him, as it is written (Ephesians 5:29, "No man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth it and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the Church").

3. He doth so unite us with Christ as to make us sons-in-law and daughters-in-law; nay, He makes us so much nearer to Himself, by how much God and Christ are more nearly united, than any natural father and son can be. As it is written: "I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one."

4. By our being thus gathered together in Christ, we are gathered into the whole body of Christ, and to all that exists under Him, and His angels become our "ministering spirits"; nay, more, we are gathered to all, who in God's predestination belong to Christ, and all things are ours.Oh, the depths of the riches of the wisdom and goodness of our God! There is a climax in our text.

1. His grace in creating us, as Adam in innocency and angels before they fell.

2. His upholding grace, in preventing the fall of elect angels; and His long-suffering grace towards fallen sinners.

3. But beyond all, was that manifestation of the exceeding riches and glory of His redeeming grace, in the gift of His Son, and His revealed purpose to regather us again to Himself in Him, the purchase of His blood, and the partakers of His Divine nature. Creating grace has been surpassed by preventing grace; and preventing grace again by restoring and adopting grace; and thus God has made known unto us the mystery of His will, and "His thoughts which are to usward."

(M. Rainsford, B. A.)

The mediation of Christ is represented in Scripture as bringing the whole creation into union with the Church or people of God. In the dispensation of the fulness of times it is said that God would "gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in Him." Again, "it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell; and (having made peace through the blood of His cross) by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether things in earth, or things in heaven." The language here used supposes that the introduction of sin has effected a disunion between men and the other parts of God's creation. It is natural to suppose it should be so. If a province of a great empire rise up in rebellion against the lawful government, all communication between the inhabitants of such a province and the faithful adherents to order and obedience must be at an end. A line of separation would be immediately drawn by the sovereign, and all intercourse between the one and the other prohibited. Nor would it less accord with the inclination than with the duty of all the friends of righteousness, to withdraw their connection from those who were in rebellion against the supreme authority and the general good. It must have been thus with regard to the holy angels, on man's apostasy. Those who at the creation of our world had sung together, and even shouted for joy, would now retire in disgust and holy indignation. But, through the mediation of Christ, a reunion is effected. By the blood of the cross we have peace with God; and being reconciled to Him, are united to all who love Him throughout the whole extent of creation. If Paul could address the Corinthians, concerning one of their excluded members, who had been brought to repentance, "To whom ye forgive anything, I also"; much more would the friends of righteousness say, in their addresses to the Great Supreme, concerning an excluded member from the moral system, "To whom thou forgivest anything, we also!" Hence angels acknowledge Christians as brethren, and become ministering spirits to them while inhabitants of the present world.

(A. Fuller.)

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