Making Known God’s Manifold Wisdom
“… so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Eph. 3:10).- Ephesians 3:10
Due to the benefits that we enjoy in our redemption — peace with God, freedom from sin’s bondage, eternal life (Rom. 5–6) — it is easy to believe the Lord’s primary purpose in saving His people is to bless us. We readily view salvation as mancentered, and we often regard our well-being as our Creator’s chief concern. Certainly, we must not discount the Lord’s genuine love for His people, for Scripture tells us that God loves us with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:1–3). Still, as God’s Word stresses the preeminence of His glory even when He redeemed His old covenant people (Ex. 14; Isa. 42:8), we know His glory is also His chief goal when He saves us.
It is no surprise, then, that Paul holds the same God-centered view of salvation as the rest of Scripture. Ephesians 3:10 is one of the clearest verses in all of Paul’s writings telling us that our redemption is ultimately for the purpose of making the glory of the Lord known to His creation. We see that the creation of the church through the preaching of the gospel is designed to proclaim the “manifold wisdom of God … to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Eph. 3:10). The Greek word translated “manifold” here was often used in the first century to describe the intricately embroidered patterns found on cloaks worn by the wealthy. Divine wisdom is incredibly rich, even colorful, similar to the patterns found on these cloaks. Yet God’s glory is even richer, and evidencing it to other creatures displays His magnificence more fully.
The heavenly rulers and authorities are angelic beings, and Paul may be thinking more specifically of those angelic beings gone bad — Satan and his demons. But how does the creation of the church show forth the Lord’s glory and wisdom to these evil creatures? It is shown through the fellowship between Christian Jews and Christian Gentiles, as we conclude from Paul’s emphasis on the unity of Jew and Gentile in Christ Jesus and the end of the Mosaic law as a dividing wall between these two peoples (Eph. 2:11–22). In witnessing such fellowship, the Enemy sees that his power to incite sin and direct people to use the law sinfully to separate them from others in self-righteousness is not absolute. A unified, faithful church is one more reminder to the Devil of his defeat, and living in peace and purity with other believers glorifies God in manifesting His victory over evil.
A church unified in the truth and in love is one of the most powerful displays of God’s glory to all of creation. We should therefore strive to bear with one another’s failings and endeavor to study the Word together diligently that we might achieve this aim of biblical unity. Ask the Lord to help you promote the peace and purity of the church and to give you the desire to seek always to love your brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as the truth of His Word.
Passages for Further Study
1 Corinthians 12:13