The following are expositional studies from the book of EPHESIANS as published at FROM the MIND of FIRE. This version has been edited and revised from its original content.
Ephesians Chapter 1:1-7 can be found here.
That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ . . . even in him:
In whom also we have obtained an inheritance . . .
We completed the first seven verses of Ephesians chapter one, and here we continue to pursue this incredible study and by God’s Spirit, plumb the depths of this rich and lush epistle, teeming with spiritual truth!
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
Redemption is ‘to purchase back’ and in the actual Greek, can imply to ‘buy out of the market place’. Slaves, those in debt, and those conquered in war time were purchased in the market place in ancient cultures.
Certainly we were slaves to sin, indebted by such to a Holy God, whose Law we have transgressed and thereby deprived Him of His rightful rule in our lives as LORD. Instead we’ve been ruled and thereby conquered by sin nature; and have proven helpless to free ourselves from this bondage. This is why we were once the children of disobedience, children of darkness, those who are ruled by the god (ruler) of this world (system), that is Satan (see EPH. 2:2 and COL. 3:6; also EPH. 5:5-8; 1 THESS. 5:5 and lastly 2 COR. 4:3-4 and ROM 6:16-22): it has to do with our sin nature.
Such redemption of sinners, by necessity was paid for by blood; but why blood? And why the blood of Jesus Christ?
We know that scripture states that the “life is in the blood” (LEV. 17:11) and its because the fall of this one man (Adam) into sin, that life in this world and in us has been tainted, cursed, ruined by sin.
ROM 6:23a states that “the wages of sin is death”. Note it says “sin” and not “the wages of sins is death”. As is often the case in scripture, whenever sin appears in the singular form, it doesn’t necessarily mean a singular sin (but it can), but refers to the sin nature, incorporated into our own human nature. It’s what enables our conduct in our presently natural state. We don’t become a sinner by sinning – – we prove that we are sinners because we sin.
It’s the fact that we have this sin nature, that death came into the world as stated in:
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
In order to purchase us back from the incredible debt of sin, there was need of a man (one who could represent the human race before God, what is known in Scripture as a kinsman [goel]), in whom there was a sinless, holy nature and by virtue of that state of being, guiltless of any sins; therefore he couldn’t be a descendant of our father, Adam upon whom this curse of sin was laid.
This is the reason why the virgin birth is so crucial! Jesus by necessity could NOT HAVE BEEN the son of Joseph, Mary’s husband; for if that were the case, Jesus would have inherited the sin nature from Joseph (who ultimately inherited it from Adam). Yet since Jesus (in His humanity) was created directly by the Spirit of God, supernaturally, that He as a man possessed the divine nature of His Father, the LORD God Who is holy.
This one man, the God-man could take on the debt of the world’s sin; the enormous ocean of humanity’s transgressions and trespasses could be laid to Jesus’ account, and when He died (He who is God, who should never have died as He is holy and without sin!) all of our sins, essentially died with Him.
In exchange, through His resurrection, He imparted (See JOHN 1:12; 3:3-5) to all who believe, the Holy Spirit through Whom we can experience spiritual rebirth, become God’s children and have His holiness vicariously placed upon us and becomes evident in our lives (See 2 COR. 5:21 and 2 PET. 1:4).
This is the work of redemption and regeneration working together (the indwelling Spirit of God that resurrects our spirit which was dead [resulting from sin nature])!
. . . Whew, that was just one verse!
Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
To readily understand what salvation and all of its component parts really mean, or even to be able to grasp the deep truths of the Gospel, one requires the wisdom of God. Such Truth can only be spiritually discerned. Mankind in his own (of the flesh, that is of the self) wisdom is unable to comprehend this (1 COR. 2:14).
Yet God has abounded towards us, His children, this wisdom and prudence. ‘Wisdom’ I think we all can understand conceptually, but this word ‘prudence’ requires a little exegesis (the actual meaning of a word).
The Greek word is phronesis; it means – “mental action or activity, i.e. intellectual or moral insight. To have understanding and denotes practical wisdom; prudence is the management of affairs.”
We who are saved have the mind of Christ (1 COR. 2:16) and by this means God abounds towards us, these deep spiritual truths and makes them readily apparent to any who genuinely seek the truth, for God is a rewarder of those who express faith towards Him and those that diligently seek Him (see HEB 11:6).
God reveals these things to the humble, to those who approach the Kingdom of God as little children (one thing about little children is that they instinctively know, that they don’t know), full of faith and an acknowledgement that we, in ourselves, could never attain the wisdom of God via human intellect or reason.
The LORD Jesus had this to say about the “wise and prudent” of this world as opposed to those who express humility as children:
At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.
Comparing this verse with our text, particularly vs. 8, we can conclude that ‘wisdom and prudence’ come in two varieties: heavenly and worldly (see JAMES 3:13-17). In the worldly, we can place all philosophy, ideologies both political and social, and all religions. In the heavenly: here is a category of ONE – GOD!
Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
“Mystery” here is from the Greek word musterion, which is something that was formerly unknown or secretive, but by divine revelation has been unveiled to the mind of the redeemed.
There are various mysteries expounded upon in the scriptures:
Of the kingdom of heaven (MATT. 13:3-50); the mystery of Israel’s blindness during our present age (ROM 1:25); the mystery of the translation of the saints (1 COR. 15:51-52; 1 THESS. 4:13-17); the mystery of the New Testament church as one body composed of Jews and Gentiles (EPH. 5:23-32; ROM 16:25; EPH. 6:19; COL. 4:3); the mystery of the church as the bride of Christ (EPH. 5:23-32); the mystery of the in-dwelling Christ as the incarnate fullness of the Godhead embodied, in whom all the divine wisdom for man subsists (1 COR. 2:7; COL. 2:2, 9); the mystery of the processes by which godliness is restored to man (1 TIM. 3:16); the mystery of iniquity (2 THESS. 2:7; MATT. 13:33); the mystery of the seven stars (REV 1:20); and the mystery of Babylon (REV. 17:5,7).
~~This series of references was taken from SCOFIELD’s STUDY NOTES based on MATT. 13:11.
The revealing of this mystery is in accordance with the good pleasure of our Father, and is exactly like the LORD Jesus who “rejoiced in spirit” (LUKE 10:21) that God would confound the wisdom of this world and the proud recipients of such (see 1 COR. 1:20; 2:6; 3:19) in favor of revealing His mind to those who would simply approach Him by faith, and thereby be exalted by God far above the most learned of intellectuals, scholars and philosophers!
Note that this is in accord with the purpose “which He has purposed in Himself” and not in accord to the church’s own designs, nor of any leader of the church or para-church ministry. In regard to the overall will of God, we only need be concerned with His purposes, as laid out in scripture and revealed by His Spirit. No other purpose no matter how well intentioned or magnificent in scope or design is relevant for the body of Christ.
“That in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ . . .”
There are two periods of time described in the Bible that are similar in phraseology: “the fulness of the Gentiles” and “the times of the Gentiles”. Some biblical scholars view these as the same event, just by a different name, however if one examines them in context, they portray two different things –
The Fulness of the Gentiles (ROM 11:25) has to do with the body of Christ (the grafted branch of the wild olive tree), and its yet-future completion, and that once complete, the LORD will remove His body of believers (primarily Gentiles) from this world (both living and dead) in the translation (1 THESS. 4:16 and 1 COR. 15:51-52).
The Times of the Gentiles (LUKE 21:24) however deals with the Gentile nations rule and, or oppression of the nation of Israel, beginning with King Nebuchadnessar of Babylon and down through history until the Beast rules the world and assumes an attack against that nation until Christ’s visible return in which He defends His brethren, the Jews, decimates the Beast’s military power, incarcerates the Beast and the False Prophet in Gehenna, and then regathers all of Israel to commence the Millennial Reign of Christ on Earth.
To which of these time periods this verse refers to, I’m not entirely certain but since it states that He will gather those “which are in heaven and which are on Earth . . .” it would seem that this refers to the gathering of the saints in the church at the event known as the rapture. The context of this passage, as it deals with the body of Christ, the church, not Israel, it seems reasonable to side with “the fulness of the Gentiles.”
In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
Scripture says, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it come into the heart of man the things that God has prepared for them that love Him! (1 COR. 2:9). We have no idea of the glorious inheritance that God has in store for us, and He hasn’t left us a description in the Word to any great detail and for a reason. I believe, as any good Dad does, He LOVES to surprise His kids!
We all know what it’s like to bestow gifts to children, and at times we appear more excited about giving them than they are about receiving them.
Imagine the divine thrill of excitement our Father must feel, knowing full well the depths and expanse of glory in this inheritance we will receive upon entering heaven’s domain, and how He must eagerly yearn for the time when we ourselves will finally comprehend all that we have “in Christ.”
In ROMANS 8:17 it states:
And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
Joint-heirs with Christ gives us a clue as to the enormity of this inheritance! Since Christ Jesus is to receive “all things” (MATT 11:27; JOHN 3:35; 13:3) then we who are heirs of God will receive a portion of that incredible inheritance as well! AWESOME!!!
Truth is disparaged today as being merely ‘relative’ at best or non-existent at worst. Yet the Truth remains, steadfast, immovable, unchanging and unyielding. It can’t be abrogated, altered or aligned to our own agenda: it stands alone and is the domain of God alone, as He is Himself TRUTH (JOHN 14:6).
Those of us who trust in the Truth are the recipients of the gospel (of our salvation), and apart from spiritual truth and acknowledgement of such, our partaking of the Gospel is impossible.
The truth of our sinful condition must be acknowledged as also the need for salvation.
The truth of the provision of Jesus Christ and His atonement as the singular source of salvation must also be acknowledged.
The truth of His resurrection, and reception of the power of that Life is obtained only when one yields to the truth: that we must transfer our ‘slavery’ from that of the world and Satan (cruel taskmasters, those!) to that slavery of Jesus Christ (via new birth), whose bond-servants (slaves) are treated with greater tenderness, attention and provision than a royal babe on the lap of the most noble King!
Once belief in the truth of the Gospel occurs, there is that action God takes referred to as ‘the sealing of the Holy Spirit’ (vs. 13).
The seal is not some spiritual element God employs on our behalf to secure us; rather this is the Holy Spirit Himself Who is the seal, and by His commitment to the believer in this way, He becomes the administrator of the finished transaction with God in matters of salvation; ownership as being bought by the blood of the Lamb and His indwelling; and finally as the security of our salvation by means of an eternal covenant by an eternal God.
Being sealed by that Holy Spirit of promise is revealing as God has always honored His promises to His saints, especially His covenant agreement with and promise to Abraham, which was unconditional.
Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
That term “earnest” is as significant as the word “seal” in the original Greek!
arrabon – a pledge, i.e. part of the purchase money or property given in advance as security for the rest. This word meant originally “earnest money” deposited by the purchaser and forfeited if the purchase was not completed. [In] the New Testament it is used only of that which is assured by God to believers; it is said of the Holy Spirit as the divine ‘pledge’ of all their future blessedness – 2 COR. 1:22; 5:5 and in EPH 1:14, particularly of their eternal inheritance.
See also EPH 4:30 where it states the Holy Spirit by Whom we are “sealed until the day of redemption”.
It is for these reasons I believe that the salvation of the sinner, and the further sanctification and glorification of the saint is eternally secure. If the Holy Spirit is granted as an earnest, a pledge deposited until the entire purchase is redeemed, that is, of our bodies at the rapture of the church where we believers are transformed, and if God in His foreknowledge knows who are His and who are not, then He would make such a pledge only in regards to those who are genuinely His.
Unfortunately there are those who, believing in eternal security, then feel that they have a license to live a sinful, carnal life and lean upon the assumption of genuine salvation based on having said ‘a sinner’s prayer’ but have failed to truly repent of the old life and of sin, and turned themselves over to Jesus as LORD as well as SAVIOR.
Saints, set apart from the world and for God will, as a matter of their new nature, desire godliness, sanctification, and obedience to Christ Jesus at any and all costs, regardless of personal inconvenience or loss; saints born of God’s Spirit will become renewed in the spirit of their minds (EPH 4:23), put on Christ (ROM 13:14), put on the new man (COL 3:10), and put off the old man (COL 3:9; new vs. old natures) and continually grow in spiritual maturity as they yield to the life transforming power of the Holy Spirit Who indwells us!
This concludes this segment of Ephesians chapter One.
The next segment will conclude chapter One (vs. 15-23).
May the LORD Jesus reveal to us His love and grace, His truth and mercy, His peace and glory as we grow in the knowledge of Him!