Saturday, July 3, 2010

Our shared purposes and blessings, verses 8-12

Ephesians 1:8-12 (NASB)

8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight
9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him
10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him
11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,
12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.

Before we begin this passage, let me say it is good to be back after a tumultuous time of getting setup here in France. As crazy as it all seemed to me, fellow ex-pats made me realize such tomfoolery was "normal".

8 ης επερισσευσεν εις ημας εν παση σοφια και φρονησει

We see very clearly and distinctly what Paul views as important -- significant for the believer: wisdom and understanding abundantly given by God through Jesus Christ. Where does Paul EVER equate our physical and material to the "quality" of our faith? Certainly not here, nor in his other contributions to the New Testament. Rather, Paul says the two things 'lavishly' given to the believer are wisdom and understanding. The Greek verb translated "lavished" by NASB is επερισσευσεν, which is in the aorist past tense, that is to say, it is in the punctiliar past tense. The root of the verb, περισσευω, means to "give in excess, over and above what is measured or required, excessively, abundantly such that there is no lacking". Further, being in the past tense, this is something that one does not wait to gain or earn, neither in total nor degree. Upon our redemption in Christ, He pours ALL wisdom and understanding upon us -- more than we know with what to do.

Wisdom is the coupling of knowledge and just/right judgement. Understanding, per the Greek noun φρονησις, embodies the notions of thinking, processing, perception. It begs the question, does it not? If wisdom and understanding has been given to each believer in inexhaustible abundance, why do we so often act as though we have none at all? Any talent, skill, ability or opportunity can be wasted, so is the testimony of our humanity.

9 γνωρισας ημιν το μυστηριον του θεληματος αυτου κατα την ευδοκιαν αυτου ην προεθετο εν αυτω

Again, we see what Paul values and what we should value: knowing the mystery of His will, according to His pleasure. And again, we note that God is generous in His blessings, with the use of aorist past participle in γνωρισας "having made known"; there is no hint of achievement, no idea of secretive access to this mystery, except in the hands of God "according to His pleasure". This is the manner of access and revelation into the mysteries of the will of God: He avails His mystery to us on the basis of grace, and blesses us further as it is His pleasure to do so: a pleasure that cannot be guilefully gained, nor indebted to anyone. He gives, on the basis of His pleasure and His purpose, in the realm of the work of Jesus Christ.

10 εις οικονομιαν του πληρωματος των καιρων

Literally, "in the management of the fullness of time", with εις being used with the accusative οικονομιαν indicating a dynamic 'management' as opposed to εν with the dative, which would have suggested something more passive, and things "managed as time unfolded". Indeed, God is in control!

11 εν αυτου εν ω και εκληρωθημεν προορισθεντες κατα προθεσιν του τα παντα ενεργουντος κατα την βουλην του θεληματος αυτου

Only the 1901 American Standard Version translates εκληρωθημεν, a past tense verb in the passive voice, correctly "we were made a heritage (inheritance)" [parenthesis are mine], whereas its more recent incarnation, the NASB (above) states "we have obtained an inheritance, clearly in the active voice". We, those redeemed by Christ, are an inheritance, a heritage unto Him; His salvation is not an inheritance for us. What great security lies within this phrase, correctly translated! Further, it it is harmony with the participle that follows, also in the past passive voice: προορισθεντες "having been predetermined/ordained". A more literal translation of this verse would read:

"In Him in Whom also we have been made an inheritance having been predetermined according to the purpose of the One Who is working all things according to the counsel/advice of His will"

This same "will" is a part of the mystery He also makes known to us, that we are already partakers in eternity, and if we are listening and obedient, already participating actively in the seen and unseen realms of the age that is and the age to come.

12 εις το ειναι ημας εις επαινον δοξης αυτου τους προηλπικοτας εν τω Χριστω

To what end is His will for us? That we might be the praise of His glory, those who hoped in Christ beforehand (before-hoped). He predestined us to be saved in Christ, and in turn, we "pre-hoped" in Him, but all of this is to His praise, the praise of His glory.

After all of the above, what are the purposes and blessings we all share?
  • We have been given, abundantly, wisdom and understanding
  • We have had the mystery of His will revealed to us, according to His pleasure and purpose
  • We were made an inheritance unto Christ
  • We are the praise of His glory, by His will, His counsel, His purpose -- His grace

May we live in all with which He has blessed us.