Ephesians 3:10

The Divine purpose in the dispensation already described was to make known to the angels the manifold wisdom of God.


1. That the angels are not omniscient, for they have something still to learn.

2. That the angels are in communication with the Church on earth as well as in heaven. They rejoice over the conversion of sinners; they minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation (Hebrews 1:14); they stand in immediate relation to the individual man (Matthew 18:10; Luke 15:10; Luke 16:22). The apostles regard themselves as "spectacles to angels" as well as men, in the insults heaped upon them by an ungrateful world (1 Corinthians 4:9). The Apostle Peter was liberated from prison by an angel. Angels are present in the assembly of the saints (1 Corinthians 11:10). They are associated with the redeemed in heaven (Hebrews 12:22), so as to derive much information concerning the kingdom of God.

3. The angels desire increased knowledge of the ways of God with man. This might be inferred from the fact that they come specially into the foreground at great turning-points in the history of the kingdom of God, such as the founding of the old and new covenants, and the humiliation and exaltation of Christ. But they are expressly represented as desiring "to look into" the great realities of redemption (1 Peter 1:12), and here they are instructed in the manifold wisdom of God by means of the Church.

II. THE INSTRUCTION CONVEYED BY THE CHURCH IS "THE GREATLY DIVERSIFIED WISDOM OF GOD." It is a curious fact that the interest of the angels is not in the power or the goodness of God, but in his wisdom, as if to imply that the work of redemption represents the highest order of intelligence. It is also a high honor to man that he should first receive the knowledge which the angels are to receive through man. But the angels, by their great age - for they may be thousands of years old - have advantages that short-lived man does not possess for comparing the wisdom of God as manifest in widely distant ages. But the wisdom here referred to centers in the Church - the spiritual body constituted in Christ, and its variety is manifest in the original plan of salvation, in the selection of a Redeemer, in the incarnation, in the atonement, in the application of salvation to Gentile and Jew, in the spread el the Greek language, in the triumph of the Roman law, and in all the dispensations by which the Church has been led onward to her final destiny. Thus our earth, though a mere speck in space, becomes, in the eyes of angels, the brightest of stars; for it is the platform of that Church which mirrors forth "the manifold wisdom of God."

III. IT IS THE CHURCH WHICH IS THE MEDIUM OF ANGELIC INSTRUCTION. Not specifically the preaching of apostles, nor human preaching, but the Church as the exhibition in its long and checkered history of the wisdom of God.

IV. THIS EXHIBITION OF THE MANIFOLD WISDOM WAS INVOLVED IN THE ORIGINAL PLAN OF SALVATION. "According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord." The scheme was fixed in the counsel of peace; it was executed in all its parts in and through Jesus Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; and it found historical realization in the progress and kingdom of God, apart from all dispensational limitations. - T.C.

To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I. Let us consider WHO ARE MEANT BY THE CHURCH. Paul sometimes uses this appellation to denote a single society of Christians; but he more commonly uses the term to denote the whole number of the elect, or all who shall finally be sanctified and saved. This portion of mankind he considers as composing the Church universal, which is a spiritual body, of which Christ is the spiritual Head. In this comprehensive sense the apostle uses the term Church in the text. He means to signify by it the whole Church of the firstborn in heaven, or all who shall be set up as monuments to display the riches of Divine grace to the whole intelligent creation.

II. WHEN THE DEITY FORMED HIS PURPOSE OF REDEEMING THE CHURCH FROM AMONG MEN. The text tells us it was in eternity: "According to the eternal purpose, which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord." All the elect are said to have been "chasen in Christ before the foundation of the world." Christ is called "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." And St. John tells us, he "saw an angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth." These are plain declarations that the gospel scheme of salvation was formed in eternity; which perfectly accords with every just idea of the Divine character. God was self existent, independent, and absolutely perfect from eternity. He was infinitely able to form His whole plan of operation before He began to operate; and no good reason could possibly exist for His neglecting, a single moment, to fix all future events.

III. WHY GOD WAS GRACIOUSLY PLEASED TO DEVISE AND ADOPT, FROM ETERNITY, THE GREAT SCHEME OF MAN'S REDEMPTION. To this inquiry the apostle gives a general answer in the text. He says, it was "to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known, by the Church, the manifold wisdom of God." Moved by infinite benevolence, the Deity determined to make Himself known through the medium of His works; and, among all possible works, He saw the work of redemption to be the best adapted to answer this glorious and important purpose. He knew that His creatures could not see the natural and moral excellency of His nature, unless He actually displayed Himself in His works.

1. God chose the work of redemption, because it was the only one in which He could display all His perfections before the minds of His intelligent creatures.

2. Another reason why God devised and adopted the work of redemption, was, because there was no other way by which He could so clearly and fully manifest any of His perfections. We have just observed that there was no other way by which He could discover all His perfections; but we now farther observe, that there was no other by which He could display any of His perfections, in their highest beauty and glory.

3. There was another important reason why God determined to make: Himself known by the work of redemption. He saw it was necessary, not only to display all His perfections, and to display them all in the clearest manner, but also, to prepare the minds of all moral beings to view them with the greatest attention and sensibility. He meant not only to give them an opportunity to see Himself, but to awaken their attention, and fix it upon His great and amiable character. And nothing could be better adapted to this end than to place them in a situation which would render all the displays of His glory highly interesting to themselves.

(N. Emmons, D. D.)


1. By the manner in which the Church was called into existence. The self-exclusion of the Jew bringing about a universal comprehension of all who believe. The production and discovery of a motive power to which "all sorts and conditions of men" would respond, viz., the gospel. The foolishness of preaching contrasted with the mighty results achieved (comp. the whole passage — 1 Corinthians 1:18-25). "By the triumph of the Divine love over the divisions, the sorrows, and the sins of mankind."

2. By the relation of the Church to preceding ages.

II. THROUGH THE CHURCH TO DISPLAY HIS WISDOM TO THE SPIRITUAL UNIVERSE. It is a manifestation to the highest intelligences — the angels. They are represented as having a special interest in the spiritual history of mankind. That which from its complexity and the vastness of the space and time in which it realized itself might be for the most part inscrutable to men, these great beings, with clearer insight and vaster spiritual range, would be able to trace and appreciate. Their greater moral refinement would also fit them the better for this review.

(A. F. Muir, M. A.)

The sublime plan of the gospel of the grace of God, which is so entirely beyond the compass of our natural faculties that we could never by searching have found it out, appears to have been equally beyond the grasp of angelic intelligence — a mystery that excited their wistful inquiry — until by the Church (that is to say, by the Divine counsel and conduct in forming and perfecting the Church) there is made known unto them the manifold wisdom of God, as they have never learned it before. They are appointed to exercise some sort of power over various parts of God's creation, hence they are called "principalities and powers." They are never represented as indifferent spectators of anything which our mortal race can do or suffer, but their sympathy with men is constant. Do they not watch over the saints? Is it not written, that they "encamp round about them that fear the Lord"?

I. The subject of our meditation resolves itself into a question, HOW EXCLUSIVELY THROUGH THE CHURCH DO ANGELS COME TO SEE THE MANIFOLD WISDOM OF GOD? Some other matters in connection with this we shall have to speak of afterwards.

1. Who can doubt that the angels had seen much of the wisdom of God in creation? With faculties keener and more elevated than ours, faculties that have never been blunted by sin, they can perceive the various contrivances of God's skill both in the animate and the inanimate world. What a scale of survey must a seraph have! How readily can we imagine an eye that takes in at once the landscape of the world! He need not confine himself to one single spot in God's universe, but with rapid wings he can steer far and wide over the infinity of space. Yet with all that facility of observation, it seems that the angels have some parts of the wisdom of God to learn, and some lessons of heavenly science to study which creation cannot unfold to their view, to be ascertained and certified by them only through the transcendent work of redemption which the Lord has carried on in His Church.

2. The wisdom of God is clearly seen by angels in this, that though God was dishonoured in this world by sin, that sin has redounded to His greater honour. Satan, when he led men astray and tempted men to rebel, thought he had marred the glory of God, but he never did more palpably outwit himself. The serpent was exceeding wise, but God was wiser far. Satan's craft was dexterous, but God's wisdom was infinite in its prescience. Wisdom has outmatched craft. Is it not glorious to think that this world where God was dishonoured most, is the world where He shall be most revered? There is no such display of the attributes and perfections of Godhead in the whole universe beside as there is here.

3. This wisdom of God is to be seen in the way that our redemption was wrought. The doctrine of substitution is a marvel which, if God had never revealed, none of us could by any possibility have discovered. How could God be gracious and yet be just? How could He keep His law and yet at the same time show His mercy towards us? Angels could not have conjectured this, but when it was made known to them, how could they refrain to chant fresh songs to the praise of Him who could undertake so loving a responsibility?

4. The wisdom of God is seen through the Church in the Holy Spirit's work as well as in the work of Christ. It is "manifold wisdom." You know the children's toy, the kaleidoscope. Every time you turn it there is some fresh form of beauty. You seldom see the same form twice. So it is with nature, each time and season has its special beauty. There is always variety in its scenery; diversities of form and colour are strewn throughout the world. You never saw two hills moulded to the same pattern, or two rivers that wound after the same fashion from their source down to the sea; nature is full of variety. So is the work of the Holy Spirit. In calling sinners to Christ, there is singleness of purpose but no uniformity of means. God's wisdom is displayed equally in bringing you in that way, and in bringing me in another way. I believe there will be found evidence at the last of the wisdom of God in the very date, the very place, the very means in and by which every soul is brought to believe in Jesus; and angels will, no doubt, be able to perceive in every conversion some singular marks of beautiful originality proceeding from the inexhaustible Artist of Grace, the Holy Spirit.

5. That same wisdom will be seen in the biography of every convert — how the Lord afflicts, or how He comforts; how He upholds us, how He keeps back that which cannot yet be endured, how He gently leads us, how He makes us to lie down. We find fault sometimes with the way of Providence, because we do not understand it; when we shall get a clearer sight of it we shall see that every mark and line was dictated by His love, and ordered by His infinite counsel.

6. As each Christian shall be conformed to the likeness of Christ, angels will see in the products of grace fresh displays of the manifold wisdom of God. I could suppose that the death of a martyr must be such a spectacle as those holy watchers regard with extraordinary interest. Would they not have gathered around such a woman as Blandina, for instance, who was made to sit in a red-hot chair, after having been tossed upon the horns of a wild bull, yet constant to the last she maintained her faith in Christ while passing through the torture.

II. But ask you now, DO ANGELS GAIN ANYTHING BY THE CHURCH OF GOD? I think they do.

1. Certainly they acquire increased knowledge. With us knowledge is sometimes sorrow. Knowledge increases the joy of the angels, and I will tell you why, because it makes them take a greater delight in God when they see how wise and gracious He is. If it is possible for the angels to be happier than natural innocence and honourable service can render them, they must be happier through knowing and seeing more of God, as His attributes are reflected, and His perfections mirrored forth, in the Church.

2. Angels will be enriched by the society of the saints in heaven. Commerce always enriches, and commerce between angelic and human natures will be enriching to them both.

3. Again, to my imagining (can it he illusive?) angels are gainers by the Church because they get nearer to the throne of God than they were before. Another order of beings, our own to wit, is advanced. Surely when one creature gets near to God, all unfallen creatures are promoted.

4. Do you not think, too, that perhaps they can see God better in Christ than even they did before? Is it not possible that even they who erst did veil their faces with their wings in the presence of the Almighty, because the brightness of glory was excessive, may now stand with unveiled faces and worship God in Christ? I think it is so. They never saw much of God before until they saw God veiled in human flesh. There was too dazzling a splendour for them till the interposing medium of the manhood of Christ came in between them and the absolute Deity. It may be so.


1. Ought it not to make us prize the gospel? If the angels think so much of it, oh! what should we think?

2. How, too, should we study it, if it be the research of angelic intellects! Is the Church their schoolbook whence they learn lessons of the Divine wisdom, because no science is equal to that of the wisdom of God in Christ revealed in His Church? O do apply every faculty you have to acquire increasing knowledge of that which angels love to study.

3. And now take courage, ye feeble-minded ones, and never fear again the sneer of the man who calls the gospel folly. Account him to be the victim of folly who despises this manifold wisdom. Shall I set the judgment of a poor puny mortal against the judgment of an angel? I suppose that even Newton, and Kepler, and Locke, and those mighty master spirits, would be mere infants compared with seraphs. Ah! ye sceptics, sciolists, and scoffers, we can well afford to let you rail; but you can ill afford to rail when angels are awed into wonder, and so would you be if there were anything angelic about your temper, or anything of right wisdom in your attainments.

4. Last of all; if this be so, how we ought to love Christ who have a saving interest in it, and how they ought to tremble who have it not!

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Our text is one of the most remarkable of those intimations which lead to the belief, that this earth, in place of being detached from other portions of creation, is a scene for the development of God's attributes, and centres on itself the eager regards of the superior orders of spiritual agency. We leave it to the philosopher to use this earth as the home of material for scientific pursuit; we leave it to the poet to admire it as covered with varieties of glorious scenery; here the earth is represented as the school of angels; principalities and powers are described as clustering over its assemblies, that they may learn the wisdom of the Almighty.

I. THE INDIRECT TESTIMONY WHICH IS GIVEN BY THE TEXT TO THE SUPERIORITY OF THE WISDOM MANIFESTED IN THE WORK OF REDEMPTION, AS COMPARED WITH THE WORK OF CREATION; for we may well suppose that the material fabric of the universe is subjected to the ken and the scrutiny of angels, in all the grandeur of its magnificent and in all the delicacy of its minuter portions. We may believe that when at the word of the Creator the army of worlds came forth from nothingness, angels looked admiringly on, as globe after globe took place amongst the ranks of the starry host; and ever since we may suppose they have been free to pass through the spreadings of space, to search into all that our Maker has fashioned, measuring the grandeur of His productions, and prying into the nicest contrivances of His creative skill. Yet we may conclude from the text, that all God's wisdom in the works of creation is, as it were, cast aside by the angelic company, and they come and sit with the docility of children at the feet of the Church, and derive their lessons from the mighty interposition of which she is the subject. Does it not, then, follow in the way of consequence, that redemption must far surpass creation in the lessons which it teaches of the wisdom of God; that in the interference of the Redeemer for the salvation of our fallen race there is the greatest manifestation of that attribute whose name is sometimes used for that of the Eternal Son Himself? A redeemed sinner must be the wonder of wonders — if indeed angels return from traversing the circuits of the universe, and congregate upon this lowly globe, and find in the transactions of which it is the scene that preeminent teaching which they have elsewhere sought in vain; and that such is the case must be concluded from the statement of our text — "That now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God."

II. THAT THE CHURCH ON EARTH INSTRUCTS THE ANGELS IN HEAVEN WITH REGARD TO "THE MANIFOLD WISDOM OF GOD." In order to this we should observe, that God's purpose may be as much attained from the spirits which surround His throne, as from ourselves who sojourn in a distant corner of His empire. When Daniel had applied himself by fasting and prayer to understand the mystery of the restoration of his people, the angel Gabriel was commissioned to clear up to him the mystery. Then it is evident the angel was divinely instructed for this special occasion; that of himself he could have known little more than Daniel of God's counsels respecting Jerusalem. And in like manner it may fairly be questioned, whether angels were more conversant than men with God's plan of mercy towards this fallen creation; whether they were not left, like the Jews themselves, to read out from types and figures the scheme of human salvation. Our text seems to require us to suppose cherubim and seraphim bending over the earth, as under the Jewish law their golden emblems bent over the ark, and searching with intense earnestness into the display of the Divine wisdom there presented. The ark of the covenant was an abiding symbol of God's gracious presence with His people, and typified those peculiar benefits which belonged to the covenants of peace mediated by Christ on behalf of the spiritual Israel. The covering of this ark, you will remember, was of massive gold, denominated the mercy seat. At each end of this mercy seat was a golden cherubim, placed in such an attitude that it seemed to bend over the ark, as if eagerly desirous to pry into its mysteries; and as if to assure us we are not wrong in thus interpreting the emblem, St. Peter expressly says of the things of redemption, that they are the things which the angels desire to look into, The Greek is still more emphatic than the English — "Things which the angels desire to bend over"; thus making the reference to the cherubim on the mercy seat both undeniable and explicit. But if angels are represented as bending over the ark if they are spoken of as desiring to look, rather than as actually looking, sure]y you may suppose, that previously to the Incarnation the mysteries of redemption were no more discovered to them than to men, but that they, as well as the Jews, were required to decipher a vast assemblage of types, and to gather from Divine intimations the splendid appointments of mercy. If there be justice in this supposition, then our text opens before you with beautiful clearness; for angels must have estimated far better than men the difficulties to be overcome, ere this earth could be restored to the favour of the Lord. They knew from near inspection the uncompromising character of every attribute of God, and perceiving that mercy was yet to be extended to the children of Adam, the problem which must have engaged their attention, whilst they clustered together in shining groups, would naturally be how God could punish the guilt, and yet pardon the guilty. Now if you combine the statements advanced — the first, that up to the period of the Incarnation angels, like men, had only partial glimpses of the scheme of redemption; the second, that God's wisdom is extraordinarily manifested in human salvation: what conclusion can you reach, but that which is announced in our text? We think that no sooner had the High Priest in the Christian Church entered on His earthly sojourning, than the mystery which had for ages been hid in the eternal mind, of which only dim and shadowy notices had been vouchsafed to any finite intelligence — this mystery, we say, broke suddenly forth; a wave of delighted anthem went out from the thousand times ten thousand squadrons; with one accord the countless multitude of spirits swept their harp strings, and so loud was the minstrelsy and so wide the waving of the chorus, that the shepherds on Bethlehem's plains caught the echo of the one, and the magi in the distant East caught the reverberation of the other. The very syllables of the chant which the shepherds heard proved that it was God's wisdom at which the angels became suddenly enraptured. "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill towards men," these were the very things which it was difficult to combine. This was the problem on which angelic wisdom had been vainly expended. Glory in heaven and peace on earth — these had appeared always utterly irreconcilable; and now that it was made evident that they could be reconciled, now that God had developed His purpose, and it was found that through this purpose "Mercy and truth met together, righteousness and peace embraced each other" — oh! it must have been the display of wisdom which preeminently shone forth. It was not the love, for they knew long ago that infinite love had moved God to the planning redemption; it was not the justice, for in their debates they had always calculated on a justice which could never pass by iniquity; it was not the holiness, for it would have been to undeify Deity to suppose Him capable of admitting the unclean into communion with Himself; but it was the wisdom that amazed them — "the manifold wisdom" — "manifold," for it had reconciled every opposing interest; it had provided for every possible emergency; it had left no point neglected, whether in the attributes of the Creator or the necessities of the creature. This wisdom manifested in the Church, whose foundation was just laid upon earth, we believe to have filled with ecstasy the angelic company — yea, to have made such a new epoch in the heavenly annals, that an apostle might be warranted in declaring the gospel to have been published for this very intent — "That now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God." But enough on the general scheme of redemption: let us turn to its particular and individual application, and see whether we cannot equally find the teaching of angels by the Church. If you consult the context you will find, that our text had a primary reference to the calling of the Gentiles, and their admission into privileges which had hitherto been confined to the Jews; and if you contrast the legal and Christian dispensations, you will find a great manifestation of wisdom in that process of extension which made the Gentiles fellow heirs with the Israelites.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

The passage naturally leads us to consider, first, the end for which Churches are formed; and, secondly, the means by which that end may be best accomplished. In looking at the end for which Churches are formed, we shall find in this passage very full information.

I. THEY WERE FORMED "TO THE INTENT" THAT "ALL MEN MIGHT SEE WHAT IS THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE MYSTERY WHICH FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE WORLD HATH BEEN HID IN GOD, who created all things by Jesus Christ, to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God." The intention, therefore, for which Churches were formed, beyond the salvation of the members of those Churches, was, you perceive, two-fold. It had reference, in the first place to men, in the second to angels. The two objects which Christ had in view were, the instruction of the world, and the instruction of angels.


1. In order to "show the manifold wisdom of God" in the fellowship of the Church, first to men and then to angels, or we may say at once both to men and to angels, it is necessary that the Church should be instructed. If the Churches of Christ are without instruction, we cannot expect that either men or angels will learn anything of the wisdom of God from them. The darker the Churches are, the more impressive will be the indications of Divine wisdom working in them, and Divine wisdom formed in them. If the angels, who see God and are like Him — if the angels who understood the glory of His character and the splendour of His works — on turning from it to look into the Churches of Christ, find in them a vagueness of vision which would seem to indicate that the light has scarcely ever shone upon them, can they learn anything from such a spectacle? Ignorant Churches are a reproach in the earth, and ignorant Churches are a reproach among the angels in heaven. Angels know the light contained in the oracles of truth; they know its wide diffusion — they see Churches formed upon a pretended acceptance of that truth; and they do not behold the light which those Churches profess to have received.

2. But not only must there be mutual instruction, there must also be mutual charity. In carrying out the end for which God formed Churches, the members ought mutually to cultivate the spirit Of Christian charity.

3. But, in the next place, among the reciprocal duties of Church members for the purpose of carrying out the end for which Churches were formed, we must place that of mutual encouragement to appear together in every good work. Another thing which we think belongs to the mutual and reciprocal duties of Church members is a constant and ready acknowledgment of one another. Now bear in mind these duties as the reciprocal duties of Church members, so far as the exhibition of their case to the world and to angels is concerned.

4. Let us now look at the duty that devolves upon Church members to support and maintain one another's characters. If all were to act as they ought to do in this matter, Churches would stand out in strength; they would appear like so many families, the spirit of Christian love would bind them together and produce the outward aspect of inward unity, and both angels and men would learn the nature of Christian feeling, and see the manifold wisdom of God in the Church. But what is there, it may be asked, to oppose the exercise of these duties. We answer, generally, the depravity of the human mind. Were we to go into details we should occupy more time than we can appropriate to the subject. All we shall say is, that there is pride in the mind of man, and that the unity of the Church is injured by the indulgence of that pride; there is jealousy in the mind of man, and the unity of the Church is injured by the indulgence of that jealousy; there is selfishness in the mind of man, and the unity of the Church is injured by the indulgence of that selfishness; there is worldliness in the mind of man, and the Church is kept back by that worldliness: a variety of features of mind and character will occur to yourselves, all of which operate against the right discharge of the reciprocal duties of Church members.

(J. Burnet.)

What an idea does this give us of the importance of the Church! Brethren, never let us despise any more the meanest member of it, since there is more to be beheld in the Church than in creation in its utmost breadth.

I. The grand object of attention in the Church to the principalities and powers, is THE SCHEME AND PLAN OF SAVING THE CHURCH. It is this that they so much admire and wonder at. They understand how God so hated sin that He laid vengeance on His only begotten, and yet, "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him might not perish, but have everlasting life." As in the crowns of Oriental princes the most precious jewels shone in clusters, so as in one wonderful corona all the infinite attributes of God shine out at once in all their combined glory around Thy cross, O Jesu, earth's wonder and heaven's prodigy! But, further, when the angels see that by this great plan all the ruin that sin brought upon mankind is removed, they again wonder at the wisdom of God.

II. The wisdom of God is made known to angels and principalities in THE VARIOUS DISPENSATIONS THROUGH WHICH THE CHURCH HAS PASSED. Oh! brethren, the angels, when they compare the past with the present, and again, the present with the past, the choosing of the Jewish olive, and the leaving out of the rest of the trees, and anon, the grafting in of the Gentiles from the wild olive, and the casting out of the natural branches, how much they must have admired the singular variety of God's dispensations, when they know, as certainly they do, that His grace remains the same! In climbing or in descending a lofty mountain, one is struck with the sudden change of views. You looked on the right just now, and you saw a populous city in the plain; but you turn a corner, and looking through a break in the forest you see a broad lake; and in a moment or two your road winds again, and you will see a narrow valley and another range of mountains beyond. Every time you turn, there is a new scene presented to you. So it would seem to the angelic spirits.

III. They mainly see the wisdom of God in His Church, IN THE CHURCH'S COVENANT HEAD AND REPRESENTATIVE. Oh! when first they heard that the Lord of life and glory was to be made flesh and to dwell among us, how they must have admired the plan of heaven's going down to earth that earth might come up to heaven!

IV. The manifold wisdom of God is made known to principalities and powers IN THE CONVERSION OF EVERY CHILD OF GOD. That ingenious toy called the kaleidoscope at every turn presents some new form of beauty, so the different converts who are brought to Christ by the preaching of the Word are every one unlike the other; there is something to distinguish each case; hence by them to the very letter our text is proved, the manifold wisdom, the much varied wisdom of God is displayed. I have sometimes understood the word "manifold," as comparing grace to a precious treasure that is wrapped up in many folds, first this, then the next, then the next must be unfolded, and as you unwrap fold after fold, you find something precious each time; but it will be long ere you and I shall have unwrapped the last fold and shall have found the wisdom of God in its pure glittering lustre, lying stored within as the angels behold it in the Church of the living God.

V. The principalities and powers to this day find great opportunities for studying the wisdom of God IN THE TRIALS AND EXPERIENCE OF BELIEVERS, in the wisdom which subjects them to trial, in the grace which sustains them in it, in the power which brings them out of it, in the wisdom which overrules the trial for their good, in the grace which makes the trial fit the back or strengthens the back for the burden.

VI. And lastly, beyond all controversy, WHEN THE LAST OF GOD'S PEOPLE SHALL BE BROUGHT IN, and the bright angels shall begin to wander through the heavenly plains and converse with all the redeemed spirits, they will then see "the manifold wisdom of God." Two questions in conclusion: First, to the children of God. Do you think you and I have sufficiently considered that we are always looked upon by angels, and that they desire to learn by us the wisdom of God? And, lastly, what, think some of you, would angels say of your walk and conversation?

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Angels are students here, earnestly bent on learning, if possible, the notes of the ultimate chorus, not simply of heaven and earth, but of all things and God. They are more than willing to enter into the human school of Divine mysteries. Even under the old typical dispensation, the cherubim were represented with heads inclined downward, — suggesting that it was already known in the Heavenly Court, that God is preparing His chief work below. He is not redeeming men for their sakes only, but for His own sake, and for heaven's sake also. To all principalities and powers, the peculiar dominion of Jesus Christ, is to be the mirror of mirrors for reflecting the manifoldness of the Divine Nature. Paul says: The mystery which from the beginning hath been hid in God, is revealed unto men "to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in the heavenlies might be made known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God." Hitherto they have known but little of the richly various (πολυποίκιλος) wisdom of God. The Son of Man draws together the elders of heaven and the children of time. His work, as the Restitutor of all things (because of its centrality and universal bearings), mightily attracts all spirits, not only the unfallen, but the fallen. From the death and ascension of Christ, the universe has been dated anew. From that great crisis of spiritual wrath, from that great triumph of eternal love, all things in heaven, and all things in earth, and all things in hell, are advancing towards a new issue. The ascension of Christ has made heaven higher and greater than it was before. The new height, as a new centre, is making a new circumference. Heaven is intensely interested in this new opening of God's wonders, and diligently cooperating with Christ in His work.

(J. Pulsford.)

I have seen, in the early hours of the morning twilight, the Alps appear under a sky still dark, their summits livid and frozen. The lake which bathed their feet stretched out a grey, motionless surface, and the pale rays of a setting moon seemed but to light up the dread kingdom of death. Some hours have passed away, when suddenly these same peaks become resplendent with life; the glittering snow on the background of dazzling azure, the glaciers erect towards the east their bright ridges, the foaming torrents cutting with their cataracts the green mountain brows, and the dark forest trembles in the morning wind, The lake, quivering in its turn, faithfully retraces in its blue mirror the incomparable picture. Nature had not changed, but the sun had arisen.

(E. Bersier, D. D.)

And God said, "Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life." There is a meaning in these sublime words which is seldom noticed. Innumerable millions of animalculae are found in water, which are never noticed by the unaided sight from their minuteness. Eminent naturalists have discovered not less than 30,000 in a single drop! How inconceivably small must each be; and yet each a perfect animal, furnished with the whole apparatus of bones, muscles, nerves, heart, arteries, veins, lungs, viscera in general, etc. What a proof is this of the manifold wisdom of God! But the fruitfulness of fishes is another point intended in the text; no creatures are so prolific as these. A tench lays 1,000 eggs, a carp 20,000, and Lewenhock counted in a middle-sized cod, 9,384,000! Thus, according to the good purpose of God, "the waters bring forth abundantly." And what a merciful provision is this for the necessities of man! Many hundreds of thousands of the earth's inhabitants live for a great part of the year on fish only. Fish afford, not only a wholesome, but a very nutritive diet: they are liable to few diseases, and generally come in vast quantities to our shores, when in their greatest perfection. In this also we may see that the kind providence of God goes hand in hand with His creative energy; while He manifests His wisdom and His power, He makes provision for the sustenance of man through all his generations.


Alexander of Russia used often to ride in a plain carriage, incognito. A man on the road asked if he might ride with him. He got into the carriage, and after a while was inquisitive as to the name of the man with whom he was riding. He said, "Are you a lieutenant?" "No," said the king. "Are you a major?" "No," said the king. "Are you a general?" "No," said the king; "but I am something higher than that." The man said, "Then you must be the emperor," and was overwhelmed with his company. In this world God appears to us in strange ways. He takes us up in the chariot of His providence to ride with Him, and we know Him not. At death the disguise will be gone, and for the first time it will be known to us that we have been riding with the King.

(Dr. Talmage.)

"How shall we describe you to others?" asked a disciple of Confucius. He answered, "Say that I am one who, in his thirst for knowledge, forbears to eat, who forgets sorrow in the joy of attainment, and who hardly has time to notice the advance of old age." At another time he said, "My only merit is to study wisdom without satiety, and to teach others without weariness." "These things trouble me, not to live virtuously enough, not to discuss questions thoroughly enough, not to conform practice to doctrine sufficiently, not to reform the bad entirely."

(H. R. Haweis, M. A.)

A blind tortoise lived in a well. Another tortoise, a native of the ocean, in its inland travels happened to tumble into this well. The blind one asked of his new comrade whence he came. "From the sea." Hearing of the sea, he of the well swam round a little circle, and asked, "Is the water of the ocean as large as this?" "Larger," replied. he of the sea. The well tortoise then swam round two thirds of the well, and asked it the sea was as big as that. "Much larger than that," said the sea tortoise. "Well, then," asked the blind tortoise, "is the sea as large as this whole well?" "Larger," said the sea tortoise. "If that is so," said the other, "how big, then, is the sea?" The sea tortoise replied, "You having never seen any other water than that of your well, your capability of understanding is small. As to the ocean, though you spent many years in it, you would never be able to explore the half of it, nor to reach the limit, and it is utterly impossible to compare it with this well of yours. The tortoise replied, "It is impossible that there can be a larger water than this well; you are simply praising up your native place in vain words."

(J. Gilmour, M. A.)

Ephesians, Paul
All-various, Aspects, Assembly, Authorities, Church, Clear, Concealed, Display, God's, Heavenlies, Heavenly, Heavens, Innumerable, Intent, Manifold, Order, Places, Powers, Principalities, Realms, Rulers, Wide-shining, Wisdom
1. The hidden mystery that the Gentiles should be saved was made known to Paul by revelation;
8. and to him was that grace given, that he should preach it.
13. He desires them not to be discouraged over his tribulation;
14. and prays that they may perceive the great love of Christ toward them.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Ephesians 3:10

     1180   God, wisdom of
     1305   God, activity of
     4135   demons, Christ's authority over
     5509   rulers
     7026   church, leadership
     8366   wisdom, source of

Ephesians 3:3-11

     1444   revelation, NT

Ephesians 3:4-11

     1175   God, will of

Ephesians 3:7-11

     7414   priesthood, NT

Ephesians 3:10-11

     1115   God, purpose of
     7027   church, purpose
     7953   mission, of church
     8125   guidance, promise

April 15. "Rooted and Grounded in Love" (Eph. Iii. 17).
"Rooted and grounded in love" (Eph. iii. 17). There is a very singular shrub, which grows abundantly in the west, and is to be found in all parts of Texas. It is no less than the "mosquito tree." It is a very slim, and willowy looking shrub, and would seem to be of little use for any industrial purposes; but is has extraordinary roots growing like great timbers underground, and possessing such qualities of endurance in all situations that it is used and very highly valued for good pavements. The
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth

August 28. "According to the Power that Worketh in Us" (Eph. Iii. 20).
"According to the power that worketh in us" (Eph. iii. 20). When we reach the place of union with God, through the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, we come into the inheritance of external blessing and enter upon the land of our possession. Then our physical health and strength come to us through the power of our interior life; then the prayer is fulfilled, that we shall be in health and prosper, as our soul prospereth. Then, with the kingdom of God and His righteousness within us, all things are added
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth

Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity Paul's Care and Prayer for the Church.
Text: Ephesians 3, 13-21. 13. Wherefore I ask that ye may not faint at my tribulations for you, which are your glory. 14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 and that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, that ye may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man; 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; to the end that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be strong
Martin Luther—Epistle Sermons, Vol. III

'The Whole Family'
'The whole family in heaven and earth.'--Eph. iii. 15. Grammatically, we are driven to recognise that the Revised Version is more correct than the Authorised, when it reads 'every family,' instead of 'the whole family.' There is in the expression no reference to the thought, however true it is in itself, that the redeemed in heaven and the believers on earth make up but one family. The thought rather is, that, as has been said, 'the father makes the family,' and if any community of intelligent beings,
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture Ephesians, Peter,John

Strengthened with Might
'That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory; to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man.'--Eph. iii. 16. In no part of Paul's letters does he rise to a higher level than in his prayers, and none of his prayers are fuller of fervour than this wonderful series of petitions. They open out one into the other like some majestic suite of apartments in a great palace-temple, each leading into a loftier and more spacious hall, each drawing nearer the presence-chamber,
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture Ephesians, Peter,John

The Indwelling Christ
'That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; ye being rooted and grounded in love.'--Eph. iii. 17. We have here the second step of the great staircase by which Paul's fervent desires for his Ephesian friends climbed towards that wonderful summit of his prayers--which is ever approached, never reached,--'that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.' Two remarks of an expository character will prepare the way for the lessons of these verses. The first is as to the relation of this clause
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture Ephesians, Peter,John

The Paradox of Love's Measure
The breadth, and length, and depth, and height.'--Eph. iii. 18. Of what? There can, I think, be no doubt as to the answer. The next clause is evidently the continuation of the idea begun in that of our text, and it runs: 'And to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge.' It is the immeasurable measure, then; the boundless bounds and dimensions of the love of Christ which fire the Apostle's thoughts here. Of course, he had no separate idea in his mind attaching to each of these measures
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture Ephesians, Peter,John

The Climax of all Prayer
'That ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.'--Eph. iii. 19. The Apostle's many-linked prayer, which we have been considering in successive sermons, has reached its height. It soars to the very Throne of God. There can be nothing above or beyond this wonderful petition. Rather, it might seem as if it were too much to ask, and as if, in the ecstasy of prayer, Paul had forgotten the limits that separate the creature from the Creator, as well as the experience of sinful and imperfect men,
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture Ephesians, Peter,John

Love Unknowable and Known
'That ye ... may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.'--Eph. iii. 18, 19. This constitutes the third of the petitions in this great prayer of Paul's, each of which, as we have had occasion to see in former sermons, rises above, and is a consequence of the preceding, and leads on to, and is a cause or occasion of the subsequent one. The two former petitions have been for inward strength
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture Ephesians, Peter,John

Measureless Power and Endless Glory
'Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21. Unto Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.'--Eph. iii. 20, 21. One purpose and blessing of faithful prayer is to enlarge the desires which it expresses, and to make us think more loftily of the grace to which we appeal. So the Apostle, in the wonderful series of supplications which precedes the text, has found his
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture Ephesians, Peter,John

The Christian Church a Family.
Preached January 11, 1852. THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH A FAMILY. "Our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named."--Ephesians iii. 14, 15. In the verses immediately before the text the Apostle Paul has been speaking of what he calls a mystery--that is, a revealed secret. And the secret was this, that the Gentiles would be "fellow-heirs and of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ by the gospel." It had been kept secret from the former ages and generations;
Frederick W. Robertson—Sermons Preached at Brighton

The Measure of the Cross
EPHESIANS iii. 18, 19. That ye may be able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth and length and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge. These words are very deep, and difficult to understand; for St. Paul does not tell us exactly of what he is speaking. He does not say what it is, the breadth and length, and depth, and height of which we are to comprehend and take in. Only he tells us afterwards what will come of our taking it in; we shall know the
Charles Kingsley—The Good News of God

Past Knowledge.
(Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity.) EPHESIANS iii. 19. "To know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge." There are some things which no earthly school can teach us, no earthly science explain. Science can do very much, it has done marvellous things, and will do still more. Men can work now with ease such wonders as would have sent them to the fire as wizards three hundred years ago. Science can calculate the exact time of an eclipse ages before the time, science can connect two worlds with the
H. J. Wilmot-Buxton—The Life of Duty, a Year's Plain Sermons, v. 2

First Day for the Power of the Holy Spirit
WHAT TO PRAY.--For the Power of the Holy Spirit "I bow my knees unto the Father, that He would grant you that ye may be strengthened with power through His Spirit."--EPH. iii. 16. "Wait for the promise of the Father."--ACTS i. 4. "The fuller manifestation of the grace and energy of the Blessed Spirit of God, in the removal of all that is contrary to God's revealed will, so that we grieve not the Holy Spirit, but that He may work in mightier power in the Church, for the exaltation of Christ and
Andrew Murray—The Ministry of Intercession

Strength and Indwelling.
"For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of Whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that
W. H. Griffith Thomas—The Prayers of St. Paul

The Love of Christ.
THE Patience of Christ was recently the object of our meditation in these pages. Blessed and inexhaustible it is. And now a still greater theme is before our hearts. The Love of Christ. The heart almost shrinks from attempting to write on the matchless, unfathomable love of our blessed and adorable Lord. All the Saints of God who have spoken and written on the Love of Christ have never told out its fulness and vastness, its heights and its depths. "The Love of Christ which passeth knowledge" (Ephesians
Arno Gaebelein—The Lord of Glory

The Holy Spirit Forming Christ Within Us.
It is a wonderful and deeply significant prayer that Paul offers in Eph. iii. 16-19 for the believers in Ephesus and for all believers who read the Epistle. Paul writes, "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, that ye may be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inward man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; to the end that ye, being rooted and
R. A. Torrey—The Person and Work of The Holy Spirit

"Love that Passeth Knowledge. "
"To know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge." (Ephesians iii. 19.) If I could only make men understand the real meaning of the words of the apostle John--"God is love," I would take that single text, and would go up and down the world proclaiming this glorious truth. If you can convince a man that you love him you have won his heart. If we really make people believe that God loves them, how we should find them crowding into the kingdom of heaven! The trouble is that men think God hates them;
Dwight L. Moody—The Way to God and How to Find It

Another Archbishop
Paul did not say, Let everyone desire the episcopate. It is a work, not a relaxation; a solicitude, not a luxury; a responsible ministration, not an irresponsible dominion; a fatherly supervision, not a tyrannical autocracy.--Isidore of Pelusium, Ep. iii. 216. Nectarius, then, on September 27, 397, lay dead in his splendid palace; and the breath was hardly out of the Archbishop's body when there were a dozen austere intriguers' in the field, and the subterranean plots and whisperings began, and the
Frederic William Farrar—Gathering Clouds: A Tale of the Days of St. Chrysostom

His Dwelling-Place
T. S. M. Eph. iii. 17 Thou knewest not where to lay Thy head; When over the twilight sea The birds of the mountains homeward sped, There was no home for Thee. But God had prepared for the weary feet A home when the toil was past, And there, in His chamber still and sweet, O Lord, Thou shouldst rest at last. A Home to be won by deadly fight, The price to be paid in blood-- Oh where is that palace of fair delight, That glorious Home of God? The City that hath foundations shone To Abram's eyes of
Frances Bevan—Hymns of Ter Steegen, Suso, and Others

The Apology of Rufinus.
Addressed to Apronianus, in Reply to Jerome's Letter to Pammachius, [2814] Written at Aquileia a.d. 400. In Two Books. In order to understand the controversy between Jerome and Rufinus it is necessary to look back over their earlier relations. They had been close friends in early youth (Jerome, Ep. iii, 3, v, 2.) and had together formed part of a society of young Christian ascetics at Aquileia in the years 370-3. Jerome's letter (3) to Rufinus in 374 is full of affection; in 381 he was placed in
Various—Life and Works of Rufinus with Jerome's Apology Against Rufinus.

Whether Only a Bishop Can Confer this Sacrament?
Objection 1: It seems that not only a bishop can confer this sacrament. For Gregory (Regist. iv), writing to Bishop Januarius, says: "We hear that some were scandalized because we forbade priests to anoint with chrism those who have been baptized. Yet in doing this we followed the ancient custom of our Church: but if this trouble some so very much we permit priests, where no bishop is to be had, to anoint the baptized on the forehead with chrism." But that which is essential to the sacraments should
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

"And if Christ be in You, the Body is Dead Because of Sin; but the Spirit is Life Because of Righteousness. "
Rom. viii. 10.--"And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness." God's presence is his working. His presence in a soul by his Spirit is his working in such a soul in some special manner, not common to all men, but peculiar to them whom he hath chosen. Now his dwelling is nothing else but a continued, familiar and endless working in a soul, till he hath conformed all within to the image of his Son. The soul is the office house, or workhouse,
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

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