In the Fullness of Time
“As a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Eph. 1:10).- Ephesians 1:10
Critics of the doctrine of the Trinity often complain that the idea is not biblical because the word Trinity does not appear in the Bible. Yet even though the term Trinity is not found in Scripture, the doctrine still holds true, as the apostles and the prophets everywhere assume the teaching that the word Trinity summarizes.
Paul’s words of praise in Ephesians 1:3–14 demonstrate this truth, as he presents clearly the one work of salvation by the three persons of the triune Godhead. We see in verses 3–6 that the Father planned redemption, having predestined His people to eternal life in Christ. The Son of God carried out the work necessary to secure the salvation our Father planned and promised. Jesus Christ, the God-man who is the perfect union of the second person of the Trinity with our humanity, shed His blood to bring us forgiveness and, due to His obedience, is exalted as King over all (vv. 7–12). God the Holy Spirit seals the work of Christ to us, applying the benefits of salvation and marking us off as our Creator’s special possession (vv. 13–14). Each person works distinctively to bring salvation, yet harmony pervades the process, for the works of the Trinity are undivided — all of the persons of the Godhead work together to achieve the same end and never stand at cross purposes with one another. God, therefore, is irreducibly three in person — Father, Son, and Spirit — and one in essence.
Verse 10 explains that the goal toward which the persons of the Trinity are working is the fulfillment of the divine plan for all things to be united in Christ Jesus in the fullness of time. The apostle is telling us that the Holy Trinity will set Jesus over all things at the time determined from all eternity; one day all of creation will acknowledge His reign and bow to Him. At this point in history, Christ is indeed seated on His throne (Acts 2:29–36), but His reign is largely invisible. The Devil continues to rebel, and the nations refuse to honor their rightful sovereign (Eph. 6:11–13; 1 Peter 5:8; Rev. 17). Yet the trouble that ensues from this refusal to bow to Christ will not last forever. Dr. R.C. Sproul writes that “God’s appointed plan for the universe is to bring all things on heaven and on earth together, under one head. The goal of creation is neither chaos nor disharmony but unity, and the point of unity will be his anointed king” (The Purpose of God: Ephesians, p. 30; hereafter PGE).
On the last day, God’s perfect plan will be fulfilled, and throughout the universe, all creatures great and small will honor Christ. Our task as we anticipate this final day is twofold. First, we must live as He has commanded, for we know that He is our rightful sovereign even if the rest of creation remains oblivious. Second, we must go forth and proclaim the reality of His reign so that those whom He is calling will bow before that final day.
Passages for Further Study
1 Corinthians 15:20–28
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you do not make more than 500 physical copies. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred (where applicable). If no such link exists, simply link to www.ligonier.org.
Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343