“To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,”

“Now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places”
Literally:  “So that now to the rulers and to the authorities in the heavenlies”–The mystery was made known to Paul (v. 3) and now he wants it sounded forth to all powers.

         This reveals another purpose of the mystery:  God’s created beings (angels) are learning something of the wisdom of God through the Church.  They not only see the love of God displayed and lavished upon us, but the wisdom of God is revealed to His angels.|
        Paul is simply saying that God intended the principalities and powers, including the angelic beings of both heaven and hell (ref. 6:12).  Even the angels, fallen and unfallen, did not have knowledge of the Mystery until it was given by God to the Church through Paul.  Now God wants the vast unseen hosts to see what He is doing here on earth in His Church.  The angels have seen the wisdom of God in many ways, but only in the Church can they see His manifold (many sided) wisdom.

NOW:  (hina)—Literally:  “that;”  or,  “to the intent.” 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.

PRINCIPALIES; POWERS:(archais…ekousiais)—Literally: “rulers; authorities.”

        Who are these principalities and powers?  Some think evil angels are intended, because they are thus denominated, v. 12. Others think good angels are meant; for as these heavenly beings are curious to investigate the wondrous economy of the Gospel, though they are not its immediate objects–“… the gospel sent unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into”  (I Pet. 1:12).
        It is quite consistent with the goodness of God to give them that satisfaction which they require.  And in this discovery of the Gospel plan of salvation, which reconciles things in heaven and things on earth,   these pure spirits are greatly interested, and their praises to the Divine Being rendered much more abundant.  One of God’s great plans is to reveal His wisdom to the angelic hosts of heaven.  This is one of those passages which represent the angelic orders as studying with deep interest the dealings of God with men in the work of redemption.

        “Searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow”
        “Unto whom it was revealed that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost went down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into( (I Pet. 1:11-12)

We know that angels:
1.     Watch the local churches.
2.     Watch over the local churches.
3.     Watch the activities of the local churches.
4.     Watch the believers in the local churches.

They learn about the blessing of God by watching what God is doing through us.  We are a spectacle to the angels–“For I know that God hath set forth us the apostles, last, as it were appointed to death, for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men” (I Cor. 4:9).

        “might be known by the church”
        Literally: “might be made known through the church”
By means of God's dealings with the church, i.e., by what is done in the church, which is really the theater for the display of the wisdom of God.

        That is, by the Christians and by the wonderful things done in the Church; and by the apostles, who were its pastors. As the fruit of God's wisdom revealed in the gospel, and especially by the union of Jews and Gentiles in one body.
        The angels, both fallen and unfallen, had no knowledge of the mystery of salvation and the church until it was given by God to the Church through Paul.  Now God wants the angels to see what He is doing here on earth in His Church.  The angels have previously seen much of the wisdom of God in many ways, but now it is only through the Church that they can see His manifold (many-sided) wisdom. The believers,  i.e.,  the Church, are lesson books in which the cherubim and seraphim will read with astonishment the wisdom and love of God; this was the eternal design of the great Lord of all, and He will not allow His purpose in any measure to be thwarted.

        “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
        “So shall My Word be that goeth forth out of My mouth:  it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper
{in the thing} whereto I sent it”–(Isa. 55:10-11).

“the manifold wisdom of God”      
Literally:  “the manifold wisdom of God” —Might be made known.

         It was made known, (1) To the Gentiles by preaching the gospel. (2) To Jews. This is implied in the “all” of  3:9. (3) “To principalities and powers in heavenly places;" that is, to angelic beings. Laying great and infinite plans, and accomplishing them by endless means, through the whole lapse of ages; making every occurrence subservient to the purposes of his infinite mercy and goodness. God's gracious design to save a lost world by Jesus Christ, could not be defeated by any cunning skill or malice of man or devils: whatever hindrances are thrown in the way, his wisdom and power can remove; and his infinite wisdom can never want for ways or means to effect its gracious designs.

            MANIFOLD:  (polupoikilos)-Literally:  “much variegated; with many colors.”  Only place in the N.T. where this word is used.    
“Variagated”  (poikilos) is more common (Matt. 4:24)–“And His fame went throughout all Syria, and they brought unto Him all sick people that were taken with diverse (poikilos) diseases and torments…”

         It means the greatly-diversified wisdom. That multiple, and greatly diversified, wisdom of God; laying great and infinite plans, and accomplishing them by endless means, through the whole lapse of ages; making every occurrence subservient to the purposes of his infinite mercy and goodness.  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” towards 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.  
         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.

         God's gracious design to save a lost world by Jesus Christ, could not be defeated by any cunning skill or malice of man or devils: whatever hindrances are thrown in the way, His wisdom and power can remove; and His infinite wisdom can never want ways or means to effect its gracious designs.        
        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.

“According to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ our Lord”

“According to the eternal purpose”
Literally:  “According to {the} purpose of the ages; of eternity”–God’s purpose runs through the ages.

    ETERNAL:  ( aiônôn)–The word rendered “eternal” may mean ages; but it usually means eternity.

         See v. 9. Here it may mean “the purpose of ages;” i.e., the purpose formed in past ages; but the word is most commonly used in the N.T. in the sense of ever, and forever. Comp. the following places, where it is so rendered in our common version, and beyond a doubt correctly: (Matt. 6:13; 21:19; Mark 3:29; 11:14; Luke 1:33,55; John 4:14; 6:51; 8:35; 14:16; Rom. 1:25; 9:5; 11:36; 16:27; II Cor. 9:9; 11:31; Gal. 1:5).

        PURPOSE:  (prothesin)–On this word Comp. 1:11–“In Whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose (prothesin), of Him Who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.”   

         This word is rendered “shewbread”“the bread of setting before,” (Matt. 12:4; Mark 2:26; Luke 6:4; Heb. 9:2; “purpose,” (Acts 11:23; 27:13; Rom. 8:28; 9:11; Eph. 1:11; 3:11; II Tim. 1:9; 3:10). It does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament.
         In most of these cases it refers to the purpose or intention of God; in not a single case does it mean arrangement or disposition in any sense like that of making an arrangement of ages or periods of the world.  The fair meaning of the passage here is, that God had formed a plan which was eternal in reference to the salvation of men; that that plan had reference to the Lord Jesus; and that it was now executed by the gospel.  
         It is impossible to get away from the idea that God has a plan. This single fact is too often affirmed in the Scriptures. Who could respect or honor an intelligent Being that had no plan, no purpose, no intention, and that did all things by caprice and haphazard? If God has any plan, it must be eternal. He has no new schemes; He has no intentions which he did not always have.

         Understand this most important fact:  the Church is not some sort of divine afterthought.  It is an integral part of God’s plan and purpose.  For one to ignore this vital truth is to sin (i.e., blaspheme) against God the Father Who planned it; God the Son Whose death on the Cross brought it into existence; God the Holy Spirit who empowers it by working in and through the Church to accomplish the purpose.
         If pastors today understood this fact the Church would be entirely different.  It is tragic when we see pastors, and churches, wondering around aimlessly in their ministries because they do not understand the purpose of God for the Church in this present age.  If they would just get past Acts 1-6 (which really tells of an all Jewish Church) and get here in Ephesians and Colossians they would stop wasting their time,  and God’s time, trying to build the “kingdom”  (which is really Jewish in nature)Then they could get around to building up the Church.  We are to build the Church;“And He gave…pastors and teachers; for the perfecting (maturing; growing) of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying (feeding; teaching) of the Body of Christ” (4:11-12).   Only Christ can build the Kingdom. 

“which He purposed in Christ our Lord”
Literally:  “which He made in Christ Jesus our Lord”–“Which He made;” or “which He wrought in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  The purpose which God had in all the ages purposed to fulfill through Jesus Christ.  God's purpose runs on through the ages. “Through the ages one eternal purpose runs.”

        IN CHRIST JESUS:  (en Christoi Iêsou)–With reference to Him; or which were to be executed through Him. The eternal plan had respect to Him, and was to be executed by His coming and work.  Which He made or constituted in or for Christ Jesus. 

         All the Father’s counsels find their consummation in the Son of His love.  It was for Him (Christ’s) that the world was created and furnished (John 1:1-3).  The manifestation of Christ, and the glory which should follow, were the grand objects which God kept in view in all His dispensations. The Church occupies a key position on the earth.  We marvel at the very thought of our important share in God’s perfect plan.

In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him.”

         In whom we have boldness and access”
         Literally:  “In whom we have boldness and access,”–

         Here it seems to mean, “freedom of utterance;” and the idea is, that we may come to God now in prayer with confidence through the Lord Jesus. See Heb. 4:16.  In Jesus Christ, all, both Jew and Gentile alike, can come boldly to God. Without the revelation of Christ we could hardly know rhw God of love, who loved to have us come to Him.

    BOLDNESS:  (parresian)–This word literally means, “boldness of speaking.” By whom we, Gentiles, have this liberty of speech (parresian); so that we may say anything by prayer and supplication.

    “But low, He speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto Him.  Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ” (John 7:26).

    “Now when they saw the boldness (parresian) of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled…”
    “And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto Thy servants, that with all boldness (parresian) they may speak Thy Word.”

   “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness (parresian). (Acts 4:13, 29, 31).

    “Great {is} my boldness (parresian) of speech toward you, great {is} my glorifying of you…(II Cor. 7:4).

    ACCESS:  (prosagôgên)–this introduction, into the Divine presence by faith in Christ. 

         It is only in Christ’s Name we can pray to God, and it is only by Him, and through Him that we can come to God–“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life:  no man cometh unto the Father but by (through) Me” (John 14:6)    No one can give us an introduction to God the Father but Christ Jesus, and it is only for His sake that God will either hear us or save us.  It is on the ground of such scriptures as these that we conclude all our prayers in the Name, and for the sake, of Jesus Christ our Lord.
        This naturally follows the preceding verse, for if we are members of the household of God, we are a part of the mystical Body of Christ, and can therefore exercise boldness and confidence as we draw near Him.  Because of our position we can approach the throne of God fearlessly, giving thanks and making known the desires of our hearts.

         “with confidence by the faith of Him.”
         Literally: “in confidence through this faith”–By faith in Him.
The sense is that we may now come confidently and boldly to the throne of grace for mercy in the Name of the Redeemer. Boldness is not rashness, and faith is not presumption; but we may come without hesitating, and with an assurance that our prayers will be heard.  

“I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory”

         Paul is saying, “I beg you that you not lose heart because of my troubles for you.”  Because of the great goals of the mystery which Paul has enumerated, he is willing to suffer imprisonment as the Apostle to the Gentiles.  He did not want the Ephesian believers to be discouraged, because of his imprisonment was working for his good and their glory—“Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His body’s sake, which is the Church” (Col. 1:24).

         “I desire that ye faint not”
         Literally:  “I ask {you} not to faint”–In this time of the early Church, when there was much persecution, people who were not well grounded in it were in continual danger of falling away from the faith.  Paul is using all his apostolic authority to keep his readers from giving in to evil because of his tribulations for them.

        FAINT:  (ekkakeô)-This literally means,  “to turn out a coward,” or “to lose one's courage;” then to be faint-hearted, etc. It is rendered faint in Luke 18:1; II Cor. 4:1, 16; Eph. 3:13 and weary in Gal. 6:9; II Thess. 3:13.

It means that they might be in danger of being discouraged by the fact that he was enduring so much. Paul feared that they might become disheartened in their attachment to a system of religion which exposed its friends to such calamities. So he tells them that this ought not to happen. They were to be profited by all his sufferings, and they should, therefore, hold fast to a faith which was attended with so many benefits to them–though he should suffer for it.

         “at my tribulations for you”
         Literally:  “at my troubles on your behalf”–Paul was then a prisoner at Rome.

He had been made such in consequence of his efforts to publish the Christian faith among the Gentiles.  His zeal in this cause, and the opinions which he held on this subject, had roused the wrath of the Jews, and led to all the calamities which he was now suffering. Of that the Ephesians, he supposes, were aware. It was natural that they should be distressed at his sufferings, for all his privations were endured on their account. But here he tells them not to be troubled and disheartened. He was indeed suffering; but he was reconciled to it, and they should be also, since it was promoting their welfare.

         “which is your glory”
         Literally:  “which is your glory”–Rather, “which are your glory,” namely, inasmuch as showing that God loved you so much, as both to give His Son for you, and to permit His apostles to suffer “tribulations” for you in preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles.

         Paul is saying this his trials, or tribulations, are your spiritual “glory,” as your faith is furthered thereby (I Cor. 4:10)–“We {are} fools for Christ’s sake, but ye {are} wise in Christ; we {areweak, but ye {are} strong; ye {are}honorable, but we {are} despised.”  This tends to be your honor and welfare. You have occasion to rejoice that you have a friend who is willing thus to suffer for you; you have occasion to rejoice in all the benefits which will result to you from his trials in your behalf.
         Paul advances a strong reason why they should be firm: “I suffer my present im-prisonment on account of demonstrating your privileges, of which the Jews are envious: I bear my afflictions patiently, knowing that what I have advanced is of God, and thus I give ample proof of the sincerity of my own conviction.  The sufferings, therefore, of your apostles are honorable to you and to your cause; and far from being any cause why you should faint, or draw back like cowards, in the day of distress, they should be an additional argument to induce you to persevere.”
         Paul is not telling them to rejoice because he is suffering, but rather to rejoice in the fact that, through his sufferings, he was carrying out his responsibility in God’s great plan.  This indeed was cause for rejoicing.  As we labor in Christ’s cause, let us not give up when we are made to suffer, but let us praise God and rejoice that He counted us worthy to suffering for His Name—“If so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together” (Rom. 8:17).

“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”

         “For this cause”
         Literally:  “Because of this”–What was this “cause? 
         He wanted them to enter into the great truth of this dispensation, this new economy in which we live, and to experience all the riches of His grace in Christ Jesus.

         Some suppose that this is a resumption of what he had commenced saying in v. 1, but which had been interrupted by a long parenthesis.  But it seems more probable that Paul refers to what immediately precedes. “Wherefore, that the great work may be carried on and that the purposes of these my sufferings may be answered in your benefit and glory, I bow my knees to God, and pray to Him.”

         “I bow my knees to the Father”
          Literally:  “I bow my knees to the Father”–I pray. There is really no standard position for praying. 
          It was Paul’s custom to kneel when he prayed. Comp. II Chron. 6:13; Dan. 6:10; Luke 22:41; Acts 7:60; 9:40; 20:36; 21:5).

         Kneeling is a posture which indicates reverence, and should, therefore, be assumed when we come before God.  It has been an unhappy thing that the custom of kneeling in public worship has ever been departed from in the Christian churches.  Posture affects the mind, and is not therefore unimportant. See Paul's practice (Acts 20:36); and that of the Lord Jesus Himself knelt in prayer to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:41). In this verse we have another characteristic of the prayers of Paul.  It reveals his posture in prayer.  In this formality and ritual of our new churches with plush seats and carpeted floors we are missing something in our relationship to the Lord.  There ought to be more worship and reverence for God, especially at the time of prayer.
         We have here that Paul prayed to God the Father in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.    You will also notice that back in chapter 1, v. 17, he prayed to the “God of our Lord Jesus Christ.”    It is correct to pray to God the Father.  This is how Jesus told us to pray in His sample prayer (Matt. 6:9.  Listen to the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, “…Verily, verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My Name, He  (the Father) will give it you” (John 16:23).  This shows that we are to pray to the Father, and not to Jesus (we are to pray in His Name), nor are we to pray to the Holy Spirit.  Jesus set the example for us:  He prayed to the Father.
         This is the second prayer of Paul’s in this epistle.  His first prayer, in 1:15-23, was a Prayer for Enlightenment.  This second prayer is a a Prayer for Enablement.  Paul is praying that these Ephesian believers would grab hold of their wealth and realize just how vast that it is; and that they would begin to use this wealth that God has given to them.  He also hopes that these truths would really become real to them. 

 Spurgeon wrote:
“It is delightful to think of Paul pausing in the middle of his letter to kneel down and implore a blessing upon his friends, feeling himself, even in his prison, to be one of an august family, which had its dwelling place not only on earth but in heaven also, and yet was one and indivisible.  Let us devoutly listen to the apostle's prayer and offer it for all believers.”

“Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named”
Literally:  “Of whom everyone in heaven and on earth is named”–Every family; namely, every one of the different orders of holy beings in heaven and earth God has a great and wonderful family.  All saved believers belong to His family.  

         The whole “family of God” means all His children; and the idea is, that they all bear the same name, derived from the Redeemer; all are Christians. No matter where they are, in heaven or in earth; no matter from what nation they are converted, whether Jews or Gentiles, they all have one name, and one Redeemer, and all belong to one family. See 4:4-6.
         The angels belong to God's family.  He has created beings which the apostle John saw and said cannot be numbered.  All of these are the family of God.  The family of God does include more than just the Church.  God has been saving people long before there was the Church, and He will be saving people long after the Church is gone.
          The modernists cannot turn to Paul for support of the idea of the Universal Fatherhood of God.  There is no such thought in Paul’s mind.  There is that true spiritual family life which has its origin in the Father, but does not include all humanity.

        OF WHOM: (ex hou)– This expression, “of whom,” may refer either to “the Father” or to the Lord Jesus. Commentators have been divided in opinion in regard to it

        IN HEAVEN:  (en ouranois)Spirits of just men made perfect. It does not properly refer to angels, for he is not speaking of them, but of the family of the redeemed.

         IS NAMED:  (onomazetai)–That is, derives its origin and its name as sons of God. To be named, and to be, are one with God. To bear God's Name is to belong to God as His own peculiar people (Num. 6:27; Isa. 43:7; 44:5; Rom. 9:25, 26).

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