In looking at the early verses of Ephesians chapter 1 we have reached the fifth blessing to believers as mentioned by the apostle Paul—God has revealed the mystery of His will to us. This is the key thought and great theme of Ephesians. We must remember that in the Bible a mystery is not something mysterious and difficult to understand. Rather, it is a truth that has been locked up in God’s plan for ages until He was ready to reveal it to man. When the time came, He unlocked the truth and opened it up to man. A mystery is a truth revealed by God that had never before been known. (See 1 Corinthians. 2:7 for a list of all the mysteries of the Bible.) The mystery of God’s will can be simply stated: God is to gather together and unify all things in a spirit of peace and harmony—all things, both visible and invisible. All things are to be brought to a peaceful and eternal state under the authority and glorification of Jesus Christ. God is moving history toward that climactic consummation.
Paul’s great thought in Ephesians. 1:9-10 says several things.
1. God has an eternal purpose and plan for the world, and it is His pleasure to bring it about. He joys and rejoices to bring it about, and what He does is good. It is all good.
2. There is terrible division throughout the universe. The need for God “to gather all things in heaven and earth” indicates division (cp. Ephesians. 6:12). And the fact that God’s primary concern through all the ages has been to harmonize the divisions shows how devastating and horrible the division really is. The Great Message of Ephesians is “Reconciliation.” Paul deals with the major problem of man—the problem of division, disunity, and disharmony. He deals with the major divisions and dissensions throughout the universe.
a. Man is seen divided against God (Ephesians. 2:1).
b. Man is seen divided against man (Ephesians. 2:11).
c. Christians are seen out of harmony with Christians (Ephesians. 4:1).
d. Christians are seen out of harmony with God (Ephesians. 5:1).
e. Family members are seen divided against family members (Ephesians. 5:22).
f. Slaves (employees) are seen divided against masters (employers) (Ephesians. 6:5).
g. Man is seen out of harmony with cosmic powers (Ephesians. 2:2; Ephesians. 6:10, 11-12; Ephesians. 3:10, 15; See also Romans 8:18 for man’s division against nature).
This terrible and terrifying division is said to hound and haunt man and to demand his constant attention and struggle. Paul’s answer is one-fold. And it should be noted, his answer is one of the great revelations of Scripture. “[God] having made known unto us the mystery of his will…that in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth” (Ephesians. 1:9-10).
Christ is the only answer to division, to disunity, and to disharmony. He is the One who breaks down all barriers; He is the One who reconciles all things.
a. He reconciles man to God by the blood of the cross (Ephesians. 2:4-13, esp. Ephesians. 2:13).
b. He reconciles man to man by bringing all men together into one body, His church (Ephesians. 2:13-22).
c. He reconciles Christians to Christians by the power of the Holy Spirit and by giving individual gifts and functions for each member to perform (Ephesians. 4:1-32).
d. He reconciles believers to God by the power and fruit of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians. 5:1-21).
e. He reconciles family members to family members by giving the example of Christ’s love for the church (Ephesians. 5:22-24).
f. He reconciles slaves (employees) to masters (employers) by putting both on an equal footing before Christ (Ephesians. 5:5-9).
g. He enables man to overcome the cosmic and spiritual powers and the evil forces of the universe by the armor of God (Ephesians. 6:10-18).
3. The wonderful revelation is that there is to be a consummation, a climax of history—a fullness of time, a new order—in which all things will be unified and harmonized and brought to a peaceful state under the authority of Jesus Christ. History is in the hands of God. The word Paul uses is dispensation which literally means, “household arrangement.” The idea is that the universe is a house under the management of God. God is handling, planning, arranging, and administering all things toward a climactic consummation for Christ and His followers. In that climactic day all disharmony and division and evil will be subjected and harmonized under Christ. A new and perfect and eternal creation will be established for the Lord and His followers throughout the universe.
4. Jesus Christ is God’s appointed Head over the new creation and new order. He is God’s Head over the church, which is God’s new creation in the present world and order of things (Ephesians. 1:22-23). And He is to be God’s Head over the new creation in the future world and order of things (James 1:18).
5. The church is the Lord’s instrument of reconciliation and peace, His representative body upon the earth. As the instrument of the Lord, the church is to do two things.
a. The church is to take Christ and His message of reconciliation and peace to the world. Through “His body, the church,” all division and disorder among men are to be condemned, and His message of harmony and peace is to be proclaimed.
b. The church is to practice reconciliation upon the earth. “In the church” all laws, barriers, and divisions are to be done away with. They are to be nonexistent. The church is to be a speck, an embryo of heaven upon the earth.
As Paul stated to the Corinthians; “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians. 5:19-21).