on Ephesians 1 :10
In the dispensation of the fullness of times - Εις οικονομιαν του πληρωματος των καιρων. The word οικονομια, which is the same as our word economy, signifies, as Dr. Macknight has well observed, "the plan which the master of a family, or his steward, has established for the management of the family;" it signifies, also, a plan for the management of any sort of business: and here it means the dispensation of the Gospel, that plan by which God has provided salvation for a lost world; and according to which he intends to gather all believers, both Jews and Gentiles, into one Church under Jesus Christ, their head and governor. See the note on Matthew 24:45, where the word and the office are particularly explained.
The fullness of times - By this phrase we are to understand either the Gospel dispensation, which is the consummation of all preceding dispensations, and the last that shall be afforded to man; or that advanced state of the world which God saw to be the most proper for the full manifestation of those benevolent purposes which he had formed in himself relative to the salvation of the world by Jesus Christ.
That he might gather together in one - Ανακεφαλαιωσασθαι, from ανα, again, and κεφαλαιοω, to reduce to one sum; to add up; to bring different sums together, and fractions of sums, so as to reduce them under one denomination; to recapitulate the principal matters contained in a discourse. Here it means the gathering together both Jews and Gentiles, who have believed in Christ, into one Church and flock. See the preceding note.
All things - which are in heaven, and which are on earth - This clause is variously understood: some think, by things in heaven the Jewish state is meant and by things on earth the Christian. The Jews had been long considered a Divine or heavenly people; their doctrine, their government, their constitution, both civil and ecclesiastical, were all Divine or heavenly: as the powers of the heavens, Matthew 24:29, Luke 21:26, mean the Jewish rulers in Church and state, it is very possible that the things which are in heaven mean this same state; and as the Gentiles were considered to have nothing Divine or heavenly among them, they may be here intended by the earth, out of the corruption of which they are to be gathered by the preaching of the Gospel. But there are others who imagine that the things in heaven mean the angelical hosts; and the things on earth believers of all nations, who shall all be joined together at last in one assembly to worship God throughout eternity. And some think that the things in heaven mean the saints who died before Christ's advent, and who are not to be made perfect till the resurrection, when the full power and efficacy of Christ shall be seen in raising the bodies of believers and uniting them with their holy souls, to reign in his presence for ever. And some think that, as the Hebrew phrase שמים והארץ shamayim vehaarets, the heavens and the earth, signifies all creatures, the words in the text are to be understood as signifying all mankind, without discrimination of peoples, kindreds, or tongues; Jews, Greeks, or barbarians. All that are saved of all nations, (being saved in the same way, viz. by faith in Christ Jesus, without any distinction of nation or previous condition), and all gathered into one Church or assembly.
I believe that the forming one Church out of both Jews and Gentiles is that to which the apostle refers. This agrees with what is said, Ephesians 2:14-17.
on Ephesians 1 :10
That in the dispensation - The word rendered here as "dispensation," οἰκονομία oikonomia, means properly "the management of household affairs." Then it means stewardship or administration; a dispensation or arrangement of things: a scheme or plan. The meaning here is, that this plan was formed in order (εἰς eis) or "unto" this end, that in the full arrangement of times, or in the arrangements completing the filling up of the times, God might gather together in one all things. Tyndale renders it: "to have it declared when the time was full come," etc.
The fulness of times - When the times were fully completed; when all the periods should have passed by which he had prescribed, or judged necessary to the completion of the object. The period referred to here is that when all things shall be gathered together in the Redeemer at the winding up of human affairs, or the consummation of all things. The arrangement was made with reference to that, and embraced all things which conduced to that. The plan stretched from before "the foundation of the world" to the period when all times should be completed; and of course all the events occurring in that intermediate period were embraced in the plan.
He might gather together in one - The word used here - ἀνακεφαλαιόω anakephalaioō - means literally, to sum up, to recapitulate, as an orator does at the close of his discourse. It is from κεφαλή kephalē, the head; or κεφάλαιον kephalaion, the sum, the chief thing, the main point. In the New Testament, the word means to collect under one head, or to comprehend several things under one; Romans 13:9. "It is briefly comprehended," i. e., summed up under this one precept," sc., "love." In the passage before us, it means that God would sum up, or comprehend all things in heaven and earth through the Christian dispensation; he would make one empire, under one head, with common feelings, and under the same laws. The reference is to the unity which will hereafter exist in the kingdom of God, when all his friends on earth and in heaven shall be united, and all shall have a common head. Now there is alienation. The earth has been separated from other worlds by rebellion. It has gone off into apostasy and sin. It refuses to acknowledge the Great Head to which other worlds are subject, and the object is to restore it to its proper place, so that there shall be one great and united kingdom.
All things - τὰ παντά ta panta. It is remarkable that Paul has used here a word which is in the neuter gender. It is not all "persons," all angels, or all human beings, or all the elect, but all "things." Bloomfield and others suppose that "persons" are meant, and that the phrase is used for τοὺς πάντας tous pantas. But it seems to me that Paul did not use this word without design. All "things" are placed under Christ, Ephesians 1:22; Matthew 28:18, and the design of God is to restore harmony in the universe. Sin has produced disorder not not only in "mind," but in "matter." The world is disarranged. The effects of transgression are seen everywhere; and the object of the plan of redemption is to put things on their pristine footing, and restore them as they were at first. Everything is, therefore, put under the Lord Jesus, and all things are to be brought under his control, so as to constitute one vast harmonious empire. The amount of the declaration here is, that there is hereafter to be one kingdom, in which there shall be no jar or alienation; that the now separated kingdoms of heaven and earth shall be united under one head, and that henceforward all shall be harmony and love. The things which are to be united in Christ, are those which are "in heaven and which are on earth." Nothing is said of "hell." Of course this passage cannot teach the doctrine of universal salvation, since there is one world which is not to have a part in this ultimate union.
In Christ - By means of Christ, or under him, as the great head and king. He is to be the great agent in effecting this, and he is to preside over this united kingdom. In accordance with this view the heavenly inhabitants, the angels as well as the redeemed, are uniformly represented as uniting in the same worship, and as acknowledging the Redeemer as their common head and king; Revelation 5:9-12.
Both which are in heaven - Margin, as in Greek, "in the heavens." Many different opinions have been formed of the meaning of this expression. Some suppose it to mean the saints in heaven, who died before the coming of the Saviour; and some that it refers to the Jews, designated as "the heavenly people," in contradistinction from the Gentiles, as having nothing divine and heavenly in them, and as being of the "earth." The more simple and obvious interpretation is, however, without doubt, the correct one, and this is to suppose that it refers to the holy inhabitants of other worlds. The object of the plan of salvation is to produce a harmony between them and the redeemed on earth, or to produce out of all, one great and united kingdom. In doing this, it is not necessary to suppose that any change is to be produced in the inhabitants of heaven. All the change is to occur among those on earth, and the object is to make out of all, one harmonious and glorious empire.
And which are on earth - The redeemed on earth. The object is to bring them into harmony with the inhabitants of heaven. This is the great object proposed by the plan of salvation. It is to found one glorious and eternal kingdom, that shall comprehend all holy beings on earth and all in heaven. There is now discord and disunion. Man is separated from God, and from all holy beings. Between him and every holy being there is by nature discord and alienation. Unrenewed man has no sympathy with the feelings and work of the angels; no love for their employment; no desire to be associated with them. Nothing can be more unlike than the customs, feelings, laws, and habits which prevail on earth, from those which prevail in heaven. But the object of the plan of salvation is to restore harmony to those alienated communities, and produce eternal concord and love. Hence, learn:
(1) The greatness and glory of the plan of salvation. It is no trifling undertaking to "reconcile worlds," and of such discordant materials to found one great and glorious and eternal empire.
(2) the reason of the interest which angels feel in the plan of redemption; 1 Peter 1:12. They are deeply concerned in the redemption of those who, with them, are to constitute that great kingdom which is to be eternal. Without envy at the happiness of others; without any feeling that the accession of others will diminish "their" felicity or glory, they wait to hail the coming of others, and rejoice to receive even one who comes to be united to their number.
(3) this plan was worthy of the efforts of the Son of God. To restore harmony in heaven and earth; to prevent the evils of alienation and discord; to rear one immense and glorious kingdom, was an object worthy the incarnation of the Son of God.
(4) the glory of the Redeemer. He is to be exalted as the Head of this united and ever-glorious kingdom, and all the redeemed on earth and the angelic hosts shall acknowledge him as their common Sovereign and Head.
(5) this is the greatest and most important enterprise on earth. It should engage every heart, and enlist the powers of every soul. It should be the earnest desire of all to swell the numbers of those who shall constitute this united and ever-glorious kingdom, and to bring as many as possible of the human race into union with the holy inhabitants of he other world.
on Ephesians 1 :10