Reading: Ephesians 1
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
I’m back! I have had to take some time away from writing these, one week I was sick much of the week, and the next, which was last week, I was moving (still working on it). I’m going to use my current situation as an analogy for what Paul is speaking of in this text. He writes that this plan for the fullness of time is “to unite all things in him”. We must be careful when we read this text, as it is very easy to misunderstand the structure of the sentence. We see the plan to “unite all things”, and then we have this phrase “in him”. The confusion here is that it is easy to read this is “in him” as the destination for “all things”. This would be incorrect. The “in him” is where the “all things” are taken from, and they are finally united perfectly at the fullness of time from the first half of v. 10. The King James actually makes the grammar more clear here: “That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ”. We see here that, in the fullness of time, all things which are in Christ are gathered together in one.
And this reading is easily confirmed by examining the impossibility of the contrary. Suppose for a moment that all things, in general, are later united in Christ. This would mean that there are those who are united with Christ who Christ also casts into outer darkness (Matt. 22:13, 25:30). Clearly a ridiculous conclusion. So the reading I have offered, that the things are those that are in Christ, is consistent with the theme of the passage, see v. 3, “chosen in Christ”.
Now that we have gotten the grammar out of the way, what does this mean? I give an earthly example from my own testimony. My wife and I have been attending a church for almost a year now. God has blessed us immeasurably through the local church. God has used His people for our good in innumerable ways. But our participation has been limited (well, limited in my satisfaction), as we live half an hour away. Our opportunities to serve the church have been limited given our distance from the church. That is changing. God has appointed for us to move to an apartment that is half of our current rent and is a quarter mile from the church. God is uniting us with our church. God is showing us a small taste of what it will be like to be united with all those who are in Christ. This is what it is like to be in a biblical church. The gathering with the saints on the Lord’s Day is intended to be a shadow, a glimpse into this uniting of all things in Christ.
So we see that all the things we have been talking about in Ephesians 1, salvation, predestination, adoption, blessings, these things are part of a plan that culminates in the uniting of all things that are in Christ, and we see that the local church is the”in-the-mean-time” portrait of that. God has established the local church to serve these purposes until the plan is finally fulfilled and all in Christ are united.
Don’t miss this: God has established the local church for the good of his people. Church should be a blessing to you.
Keep reading Ephesians.