The Gospel Observer

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
May 13, 2012


1) Ephesians 1:7-10 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes


Ephesians 1:7-10
by Tom Edwards

In Ephesians 1:7, Paul declares, "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace" (Eph. 1:7).  The Greek word for "redemption" (apolutrosis) is defined as "a releasing effected by payment of ransom..." (Thayer).  E.W. Bullinger also shows a similar definition, but, in addition, "redemption as the result of expiation; deliverance from the guilt and punishment of sin, and applying to the whole being, deliverance of the soul from sin, and the body from the grave."  

So the idea of redemption pertains not only to our souls, but also to our bodies, as Paul also shows in Romans 8:23 where he speaks of the "redemption of the body," after referring to "the sufferings of this present time" in which "the whole creation groans" and is in "slavery to corruption," which is referring to death and decay.  This type of "corruption" is also seen with reference to the body in 1 Corinthians 15:50-57 where man's earthly body is spoken of as being "corruptible" (KJV) and "perishable" (NASB)  and seen in contrast with the glorified heavenly body the Christian will receive that will be "incorruptible" (KJV) and "imperishable" (NASB).  

Paul also shows that this "redemption" is "THROUGH HIS BLOOD" (Eph. 1:7). So apart from the crucifixion of Jesus, there would be no redemption for the soul (cf. 1 Pet. 1:18,19; Heb. 9:12; Acts 20:28).  "And they sang a new song, saying, 'Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation'" (Rev. 5:9).

When we speak of being bought, redeemed, or saved by the blood of Christ, we are actually referring to the death of Christ.  "For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement" (Lev. 17:11).  Only the Lord's sacrifice could truly blot out man's transgressions: "For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins" (Heb. 10:4).  So Jesus came into this world to be the sinner's ransom, which is set forth in Old Testament prophecy (cf. Psa. 22:1-21; Isa. 53:3-12), as well as declared in the New Testament.  For instance, Matthew 20:28: "just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."  The phrase "ransom for many" does not imply that the Lord did not give Himself for every sinner; for 1 Timothy 2:6 declares that Jesus "...gave Himself as a ransom for all...." In addition, Hebrews 2:9 shows that Jesus took on human flesh in order that "...He might taste death for everyone."  And John points out in 1 John 2:2 that Jesus "...is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world."

Redemption is defined by Easton's Bible Dictionary as "The purchase back of something that had  been lost, by the payment of a ransom."  We might think, for instance, of a person going through hard times who would take his violin to a pawn shop, in exchange for a loan; but with the intent of redeeming (or buying back) the violin in a few weeks.  So the violinist would be buying back something that had formerly belonged to him.  Similarly, sinners, who are now of their father the devil, had, in the beginning, belonged to God as their Father.   So as they come to Christ by their faith and obedience, they are also being bought back by the Lord.      

Going along with the redemption the Christian has through Christ's death, Paul points out the "forgiveness" that is also obtained.  For there could be no redemption without the Lord's atonement and forgiveness.  The Greek word for "forgiveness" (aphesis) means "1) release from bondage or imprisonment" (Thayer); and which reminds us of the fact that lost souls are in bondage to sin, and their imprisonment is in the domain of darkness.  But for those who have been forgiven and redeemed, Paul says that  God has "...rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son" (Col. 1:13).  

The Greek word for forgiveness, secondarily, means "forgiveness or pardon, of sins (letting them go as if they had never  been committed), remission of the penalty" (Thayer).  This is why some have made the play on words for the term "justified," by saying that it means "just if I'd' never sinned."  To be forgiven gives us a righteous standing before God, a clean slate, with no sins held against us.  And what happens to those sins?  "As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us" (Psa. 103:12).  "AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE" (Heb. 10:17).  For that same blood that the Lord shed for our redemption (Matt. 20:28) is also what was necessary for our forgiveness: "for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins" (Matt. 26:28).  And is not forgiveness our greatest need and greatest blessing?  It can be received only in Jesus.  How, therefore, can people expect to be forgiven who do not accept Jesus Christ as the world's only Savior?  Even under the Old Covenant, people could be forgiven of sins only in the prospect of that ultimate sacrifice that Jesus would make for all who would need God's saving grace.  For instance, "But when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons" (Gal. 4:4,5).  "But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?  And for this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, in order that since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance" (Heb. 9:11-15).  The Hebrew writer makes it very clear that these people of the Old Testament period could not have been forgiven on merely the basis of animal sacrifices (cf. Heb. 10:1-14).  

This redemption and forgiveness, Paul shows, are "according to the riches of...[God's] grace" -- and "which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight" (Eph. 1:8).  The Lord is not stingy.  James Strong shows the Greek word for "lavish" to mean "to superabound (in quantity or quality)...."  God was this way during the Old Testament period as well: "Then the LORD your God will prosper you abundantly in all the work of your hand, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your cattle and in the produce of your ground, for the LORD will again rejoice over you for good, just as He rejoiced over your fathers; if you obey the LORD your God to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law, if you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and soul (Deut. 30:9, 10).  "Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon" (Isa. 55:7).  "The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly" (Jn. 10:10).  The New Testament focuses on the blessings of the spiritual life above the physical life -- for the spiritual, by far, is much more important.  Can we even begin to imagine all the ways that God will be able to bless His people throughout eternity? In one of his doxologies, Paul says of the Lord: "Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us" (Eph. 3:20).  

The reference to "all wisdom and insight" (Eph. 1:8) is continued in verse 9: "He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him."  Did God make known "all wisdom and insight"?  Consider 2 Peter 1:3,4: "seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.  For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust."  Through His word, God has provided mankind with all the wisdom and knowledge that is necessary to be saved and to live as a Christian.  This is why the New Testament can be referred to as the "perfect law of liberty" (Jms. 1:25), because it contains all that we need to be "perfect" and "equipped for every good work" (2 Tim. 3:17).  

The Lord revealed His wisdom and insight to the apostles in a miraculous way (1 Cor. 2:6-10,16).  "Wisdom" had actually been one of the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit: "For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit" (1 Cor. 12:8).  But Paul shows that anyone today can also gain this same insight by simply reading the Scriptures (cf. Eph. 3:1-6).  We can also say that to truly know Christ is to know the wisdom of God; for Jesus is that wisdom.  Paul speaks of Christ as being "the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1 Cor. 1:24).  In writing to the Colossians, Paul declares that in Christ "...are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col. 2:2,3).  So the more we learn about Jesus, the more we know about God the Father; and vice versa.  This is so because Jesus is God (Jn. 1:1-3; Heb. 1:8); and the "exact representation" of His Father's nature (Heb. 1:3).  Therefore, Jesus declares, "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him" (Jn. 14:7).   

In Ephesians 1:9, Paul then shows exactly what it was that the Lord had made known to him: "He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him."  As pointed out, what God revealed is no longer a "mystery"; for now it has been made known.  This is also the way it is defined in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: That the "mystery," as used in the New Testament, "...bears its ancient sense of a revealed secret, not its modern sense of that which cannot be fathomed or comprehended."  

The idea of a mystery that God has made known is seen in several places in the gospel; and though it is always referring to something revealed in the New Testament, it is sometimes used in a broad sense to refer to the gospel itself (cf. Eph. 6:19,20; 1 Tim. 3:9; Rom. 16:25,26); and also, other times, in a narrow sense to refer to specific aspects of the gospel, such as that "...the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel" (Eph. 3:4-6).

Paul shows in Ephesians 1:10 that God had made known to him the mystery of His will "with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of times...."  Some other versions render "administration" as "dispensation."  The Greek word (oikonomia) is defined as "1) the management of a household or of household affairs  1a) specifically, the management, oversight, administration, of other's property  1b) the office of a manager or overseer, stewardship  1c) administration, dispensation" (Thayer).  The primary meaning of the English word "administration" is "the management and direction of a government, business, institution, or the like."  But what type of administration is Ephesians 1:10 speaking of?  Notice what it goes on to say in the same verse: "with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the  heavens and things on the earth...."  Though the Greek word for administration is also translated 6 times as "Stewardship," "Here," in Ephesians 1:10, as Alfred Barry writes, "it is applied to the disposal of all things by God himself, according to the law which he has set himself to do all things by."  And from the context of Ephesians 1:10, it is through Jesus Christ that the Father's will would be carried out.  

God always knows what and when something needs to be done.  We have noted that the phrase "fullness of time" means "the appointed" or "destined time."  According to Galatians 4:4, God sent His Son into this world in the fullness of time, or at the destined or appointed time.  Concerning the great judgment day, Paul shows in Acts 17:31 that God "...has fixed a day in which He will judge the world...."  And it was "at the right time [that] Christ died for the ungodly" (Rom. 5:6).  But here in Ephesians 1:10, it is not "fullness of time"; but, rather, the "fullness of the times" that is spoken of, which is referring to the entire gospel age, in which God will bring about His will, and all the way up to the glorious time when Jesus will return to carry out the final judgment.  

Consider, too, the administration that has been given to Jesus that began following His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension back to the right hand of God, when he was made the "King of kings and Lord of lords" (Rev. 19:16).  He is the One who has been given superior management over all things -- with one exception, and that is God the Father: "For HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET. But when He says, 'All things are put in subjection,' it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him" (1 Cor. 15:27).  Ephesians 1:10 shows Jesus' administration as being in the heavens and on the earth. Corresponding to this, the Lord declares that "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth" (Matt. 28:18).  Paul later goes to show in Ephesians 1:21,22 that Jesus was exalted "far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.   And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church."  This was all part of the Father's will for Jesus Christ.  

This "summing up of all things in Christ" (Eph. 1:10), in connection with His superior role over all, parallels with Colossians 1:16-20.  Various other Bible versions translate this "summing up of all things in Christ" as "...to unite all things in him..." (RSV), "...gather together in one all things in Christ..." (NKJV), and "...to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head..." (NIV).  

The Lord made unity possible for the Jew and Gentile (Eph. 2:14-16).  And just as male and female have individual roles, but can still be one in Christ, even so heavenly beings also have their individual roles, but we can all still be one in Christ.  Revelation 5:13 depicts humans, along with heavenly beings, worshiping Christ together.  It states, "And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, 'To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.'"  May we each live in such a way that we, too, will one day -- and forever more -- be in heaven to praise God. 


News & Notes

Born March 6, 1926, Geneva Wilson, one of our former members at the Park Forest church of Christ, passed away May 12, 2012.  She was 86. Her funeral service will be this Tuesday (May 15) at 2 PM.  It will be at the Seale Funeral Home in Denham Springs, at 1720 S. Range Road.  (Visitation will be the same day from 12 to 2 PM.)   Let those of us who are Christians be remembering all her family and friends in prayer.  The following is something I included about her at my facebook site:

...In talking with her daughter, Peggy Lefort, one of the interesting things she told me is that her mother was born into such a poor family that when she was in the fourth grade (which was about the middle of the Great Depression), she had to go to work to help support her family; and she continued to do that until she was 17 and moved away from home in Vivian, Louisiana, to Houston, Texas, in order to find a better job.  She had been the oldest of 12 siblings, though not all of them were alive at the same time.  One of the things she did as a young girl to help her family was to pick berries to sell.  (When Geneva moved to Houston around 1943, she was there only a short while; and then moved to Grand Prarie, Texas, where she soon met Hubert Wilson.  They married after a few months and stayed married until his death around 2000.)

We will miss her.  For about 10 years, out of the 12 she had been with the Park Forest church of Christ, she always made sure the communion cups were filled and the trays had the unleavened bread and would also take care of the cleanup afterwards, every week.  From month to month, her attendance was usually 100% for the worship services and Bible classes.  

 She was also a very generous and hospitable woman.  She loved to fish and did so throughout her life -- and was actually the one who taught her husband how.  When they would catch enough, they would then invite all the members at church to their home for a big fish fry with hush puppies.  She was a good cook and would often have people in her home for meals.

Her kindness and generosity is also seen in the time she and her husband took in an elderly woman who needed someone to take care of her.  She was with them for about a year.  They took her to church, provided for her, did whatever needed to be done.

They also did the same for another elderly woman who was with them about the same length of time, but she then moved to another state to be closer to a relative.  

Neither of these women had been relatives to Geneva nor to her husband.  But they sacrificially took care of them nevertheless.

Yesterday, Harris Lefort (Geneva's son-in-law) showed me many of the things that Geneva had made over the years.  She was very skillful in crocheting, knitting, needlepoint, making dolls and clothes for them.  Most of her own dresses were also those that she had made, and she even made a few suits for her husband.  She made blankets, afghans, and was into other crafts, as well.  She reminds me very much of Tabitha (in the Bible) who "was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did" (Acts 9:36).  For many of the things Geneva made, she freely gave away to others.  She was a very thoughtful person and liked keeping busy.

Every time I wear a tie, I also use a tie pin that Geneva gave me several years ago.  The one I had been using previously (for many years) had finally broke, and she saw that I could use another one.  I still appreciate her thoughtfulness.    

Another one of her hobbies had been bowling.  Up until a couple years ago (when her health would no longer allow it), she, along with her daughter Peggy, had been in a lady's bowling league for about 10 years -- bowling three times a week.  So up until she was 84.  But during the last couple years, after that, her eyesight had failed her; and it also had hindered her from being able to crochet, which she always found so therapeutic.  

Her husband had been a preacher.  So Geneva had lived in several places throughout her life.  When visiting preachers would come to hold meetings for the church the Wilsons were a part of, those preachers would always stay at the Wilson's house instead of in a motel.

During WWII, she worked in an aircraft plant, using a rivet gun to help build bombers.

Fishing over the years had been one of the ways that Geneva and her husband liked to relax and spend time together.  Of course, spending time together was something they were always doing, and in various ways.  So it was difficult for her when he passed away 12 years ago.  But family and friends had been a big help -- and especially having moved to a place, right next door to her daughter Peggy.  They enjoyed doing many things together.  When Geneva could no longer get about, Harris and Peggy moved her into their home for about the last year and a half and took good care of her.  It wasn't uncommon for Peggy to be up five or six times during the night to see to her mother, which really cut down on Peggy's sleep.  It was there in the Lefort's home where Geneva eventually passed away.

All the good things Geneva did will certainly live on in those who knew her, and will continue to bring thoughts of happiness, comfort, and encouragement.  And above all, what we can really find comfort in, is that Geneva had long been a Christian and was always "a person who believed in doing what was right," as her daughter told me.  Because Geneva gave her life to Jesus Christ, we can have the comfort of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, where Paul declares the following:  "But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.  For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.  Therefore comfort one another with these words."

Let those of us who are Christians be remembering the family and friends of Geneva Wilson in our prayers.

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17;  John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

Park Forest

9923 Sunny Cline Dr., Baton Rouge, LA  70817
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 6 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go (Gospel Observer website)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)