Summary: Through the church and through His Christ, God has manifested His many-faceted wisdom. (#8 in The Unfathomable Love of Christ series)
“To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things; in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.”
Once more let me remind you that Paul began this chapter referring to himself as the prisoner of Jesus Christ, and note that he says ‘…for the sake of the Gentiles…”
In this parenthesis we’re studying, from verse 2 through 13, he is giving explanation for that phrase, and assuring them that he is blessed rather than cursed, even in his present circumstances.
The one who is in the center of God’s will and knows it can find no time or place for bemoaning his lot. Indeed, it never crosses his mind to complain; for once there, he knows that the world’s comforts are quicksand and her conveniences are dark paths to destruction.
Therefore, although it is for the preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles that Paul has suffered many things and is now in chains, still, he says, “To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ…”
C. H. MacKintosh, who I love to quote, said
“Unbelief...leads us to interpret God in the presence of the difficulty, instead of interpreting the difficulty in the presence of God. Faith gets behind the difficulty, and there finds God, in all His faithfulness, love, and power.”
This is where Paul’s heart and mind were, always; behind the difficulty, basking in God’s faithfulness, love and power.
Now I want to go right to the end of our text passage today, to verse 10, and begin there.
In fact, I want to start at the end of that verse and work backward.
Let’s talk about
THE RULERS AND AUTHORITIES IN THE HEAVENLY PLACES
The first thing I want to make clear here, is that this refers to the good angels. There is reference made to rulers and powers in other places that, by the very context, we know is teaching us about the powers of darkness. Demons. The angels who fell with Lucifer when he was cast from Heaven.
If you look at chapter 6 verse 12 of this letter you will see one of those references, and there can be no doubt.
But God does not reveal His mysteries to the wicked, and the fallen cannot comprehend His wisdom.
No, we’re talking about the angels of Heaven here, and I want us to try and catch just a glimpse of the glory that is being revealed to us in this passage.
First, we mustn’t let it escape our notice that Paul has included in verse 9 the phrase, “…who created all things…”
If that had been left out, we wouldn’t have noticed its absence. No one ever would have asked the question, ‘Why does Paul say, ‘and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known…’? Why didn’t he say, “who created all things”, at the end of verse 9?”
So we know the Holy Spirit had purpose in inspiring Paul to make that point, and we lower the glass and look closer.
I think we get two clues right here in the text as to why Paul would include that phrase. One is in the same verse, when he says, “…to bring to light the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God”, and the second is found beyond today’s text, in verse 11.
“This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord”
In reminding us that He created all things, Paul is really saying, ‘He existed before anything. He is from eternity, and has no beginning, therefore all matter, all mystery, begins in Him!
And if we understand this, then we also should be cognizant of the fact that this mystery, God’s plan of the ages, had an eternal purpose which centered in His Christ.
He created all things, including the angels themselves. Therefore the mystery is His, and the administration of the plan is His, and the outcome is His, and no one, no power, no being other than Him can lay claim to any part of it. And both we and the angels are wise to give heed and look into this mystery that is now revealed.
The prophets of old knew there was something more to come, and they desired to have it revealed to them. Go to I Peter 1 for a moment and read with me there.