The Mystery of His Will – Eph 1:9-10

The following is the outline of a sermon preached at Pioneer Bible Church on April 3, 2022.

God Has Made the Mystery of His Will Known to Us – Ephesians 1:9-10[1]

  1. What has God made known to us?
    • The mystery of His will
  2. What does “will” mean?
    • Greek Word: thelayma; θέλημα
    • Two possibilities of meaning:
      • God’s determination (Hebrew-Greek)[2]
      • God’s preferred will (HELPS)[3]
    • Context is the solution. The context makes clear that this is something that is not only God’s preferred will, but it is something God has determined will take place. Notice some key words that show this:
      • “…according to his PURPOSE…” “his good pleasure” (NET)[4] – Remember, this word is used in verse 5. According to HELPS Word Studies it means, “properly, what seems good or beneficial to someone.” The NLT[5] translates this phrase: “…to fulfill his own good plan.” God is going to do this because He has deemed it good.
      • “…which he SET FORTH…” “properly, to place before, setting forth in advance to achieve a particular purpose.” (HELPS)
      • “..in Christ…” Christ is the central Person in this plan. This also means God has promised this to the Son. God has planned this before time in Christ, Christ has accomplished the purchase of this plan, and the plan must be carried out for God to keep His promises to His Son.
      • Context tells us that this will of God is something He determined to do in advance in Christ because He deemed it good. Therefore, it is something He will accomplish.

But, God has not just made His will known to us. He has made known the MYSTERY of His will. So, we must ask…

3. What is a mystery?

  • “In the Bible, a “mystery” (3466 /mystḗrion) is not something unknowable. Rather, it is what can only be known through revelation, i.e. because God reveals it.” (HELPS)
  • Ephesians 3:5 gives us a good definition of a mystery – “which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.” (See also Romans 16:25-27).
  • A mystery is something that God has always planned, but He waited to reveal it to His people until a certain time. He then revealed it to His apostles and prophets by the Spirit. They recorded it under the Holy Spirit’s leadership in what is now known as the New Testament. Now through the New Testament God has made these mysteries known to us.
  • This a key theme in Ephesians: mystery of His will (1:9-10); mystery of Christ – church, Gentile’s equal inclusion in church in Christ (3:3, 4, 9); mystery of the meaning of marriage – Christ and the church (5:32); mystery of the Gospel (6:19).
  • There are multiple mysteries revealed in the New Testament, so context must tell us which mystery is being revealed in the passage of study.

4. What is the mystery of God’s will in Ephesians 1:9-10?

  • It is a PLAN
    • Greek Word – oikonomia (economy) – translated as: “to be put into effect” (NIV)[6]; “with a view to an administration” (NASB95)[7], “toward the administration” (NET), “in the dispensation” (KJV). It could be translated as “economy”, “management”, “stewardship.”
    • The key idea of this word is the management of a household.
  • It is for the FULLNESS OF TIME
    • Fullness – the Greek word (πλήρωμα; pleyroma) can me “full,” “filled up,” or “completion” (Strongs).[8]
    • Time – literally, it is plural. The literal translation is “the times.”
    • It is a plan for when all the times come to completion.

God has a plan, in the management of His creation, to accomplish something when all of time is complete. In other words, God is moving this universe in one direction to one goal that will be accomplished when time is complete. What is this one goal that everything is moving toward?

  • The mystery of God’s will is to bring everything in heaven and earth under the headship of Jesus Christ.
    • “unite” (ESV) – “to sum up, gather up” (Strong’s); HELPS notes that this is an intensifying of the word that means “to bring to a head.”
    • All things in Heaven and on Earth are going to be united under Jesus’ unquestioned and unrivaled leadership.
    • When? In the New Heavens and New Earth (Revelation 21; Isaiah 65).

Word of Warning – Some say this means all will be saved (universal salvation). The text does not say that all will be saved by Jesus. The text says that all will submit to Jesus (see Philippians 2:9-11). Salvation is only available to those who believe in the Lord Jesus now.

5. Summary

God has made us knowledgeable of the mystery of His will. Although He once hid this from mankind, He has now made it know to His people through His apostles and prophets. The mystery is that He is going to gather all things in heaven and earth under the unquestioned and unopposed authority of Jesus Christ.

6. Application:

  • Praise – Blessed be God who has made us knowledgeable of His plan to bring all things in heaven and earth under the authority of Jesus Christ.
  • Standing Against Anxiety – Since God has determined this is my destination and the destination of this universe, I have no need to fear the “chaos” of this world.
  • Submission to Christ – Since God is going to gather all things in heaven and earth under the headship of Christ, I should submit to His Lordship in all of life, right now.

[1] Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

[2] Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, ESV. Edited by Warren Baker, D.R.E. AMG Publishers, 2013. All notes marked Hebrew-Greek are from this resource.

[3] HELPS Word-Studies. Discovery Bible, 2021. All notes marked (HELPS) are from this resource.

[4]NET Bible, Biblical Studies Press, 2006.

[5] NLT, New Living Translation. Tyndale House Publishers, 2015.

[6] NIV, New International Version. Biblica, Inc., 2011.

[7] NASB95, New American Standard Bible, 1995 Edition. Lockman Foundation, 1995.

[8] Strong’s Concordance.