WITH A VIEW TO
AN ADMINISTRATION SUITABLE TO THE FULLNESS OF THE TIMES: eis oikonomian tou pleromatos ton
kairon: (Isaiah 2:2, 3, 4; Daniel 2:44; 9:24, 25, 26, 27; Amos
9:11; Micah 4:1,2; Malachi 3:1; 1Corinthians 10:11; Galatians 4:4;
Hebrews 1:2; 9:10; 11:40; 1Peter 1:20)
With a view
(eis) is a preposition that conveys the sense of motion toward
something and thus in context indicates what direction the purpose just
from oíkos = house + némo = manage,
study of related word
oikonomos) in secular Greek referred literally to the management
of a household by the oikonomos, the steward manages a
house and is accountable to the owner (which even involved a
presentation and examination of records, receipts, disbursements, cash
on hand and the settlement of accounts - our English words "economy",
"economic" are derived from oikonomia and this background helps
one see some association). Oikonomia indicates the task given to
responsible and faithful servants who were appointed over the economy or
an area of responsibility in the household. Thus oikonomia
stresses obligation, responsibility, and faithfulness of the servant to
his master in carry out the entrusted task.
In the present context oikonomia is used to refer to the
administration or "management" by God of a certain period of human history which Paul
designates as “the fulness of times” when God gathers everything
to Himself and sums it up in His Son, Christ Jesus.
is used 9 times in the NAS -Luke 16:2, 16:3, 16:4; 1Corinthians 9:17;
Ephesians 1:10, 3:2, 3:9; Colossians 1:25; 1Timothy 1:4. NAS
= administration, 3; management, 3; stewardship, 3. In the KJV it is
also translated 4 times as dispensation.
relates to household management is shown especially in the use in Luke
Now He was also saying to the
disciples, "There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and this
steward was reported to him as squandering his possessions. 2 "And he
called him and said to him, 'What is this I hear about you? Give an
account of your stewardship (oikonomia), for you can no longer be
steward (oikonomeo).' 3 "And the steward (oikonomia) said to
himself, 'What shall I do, since my master is taking the stewardship (oikonomia)
away from me? I am not strong enough to dig; I am ashamed to beg. 4 'I
know what I shall do, so that when I am removed from the stewardship (oikonomia),
they will receive me into their homes.' (Luke 16:2-4)
oikonomia in a figurative sense (figurative because he is not
managing a literal household) in Colossians 1:25 to describe his
office as an apostle, who has been entrusted with a commission (see
similar meaning in
Ephesians 3:2 - note).
Oikonomia thus referred to those who managed spiritual truths on God’s
behalf. In Titus Paul uses oikonomia with this meaning writing
the overseer must be above reproach
as God's steward (oikonomia) not self-willed, not quick-tempered,
not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain (see
Detzler adds that...
Greek writers about the time of the
New Testament used oikonomia to describe the job of a household manager.
In practice Greek slaves often managed the homes of wealthy landowners.
Later this term came to describe the general work of administration. In
the New Testament, and later, under the church father Ignatius, the word
took on a theological twist. It came to mean the plan of God for
redeeming people (Ed note: See discussion of this nuance below).
(Detzler, Wayne: New Testament Words in Today's Language)
also relates to general provision or arrangement. Here Paul uses
oikonomia to suggest the administration or putting into effect of God's
far-reaching redemptive plan
and to bring to light what is the
administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who
created all things ( Eph 3:9)
oikonomia to describe God's sovereign order of salvation. Salvation
is not a divine afterthought but on the contrary, salvation history
derives from God’s eternal “plan” or oikonomia of salvation
“to unite all things” in Christ.
is also used in the NT to refer to the state of being arranged (an
arrangement) and speaks of order (arrangement or disposition of
people or things according to a particular sequence or method) or
plan. Stated another way oikonomia refers to a plan which
involves a set of arrangements. In Scripture this use of oikonomia
refers to God's unique plan of salvation, His arrangement
for redemption of sinful men. Specifically Paul uses oikonomia
with this meaning to refer to the administration by God of a certain
period of human history designated as “the fulness of times” when God
gathers everything to Himself.
writes that in classic Greek oikonomia was
attested from Xenophon and Plato on,
denoted primarily the management of a household, but was soon extended
to the administration of the state (the title of one of Xenophon’s
books), and finally was used for every kind of activity which results
from the holding of an office.
this note on oikonomia writing that
In Greek, applying to household
administration, this word has the sense of “direction,” “provision,”
“administration.” In the NT it means 1. the office of household
administration, and discharge of this office (Lk. 16:2ff.). Paul applies
the thought to the apostolic office (1 Cor. 9:17; Col. 1:25; Eph. 3:2),
which he holds by divine commission and in service to the churches. A
second NT use is for the “divine plan” of salvation, its order and
administration. This is the point in Eph. 1:10 and 3:9, and there is a
hint of it in 3:2 and Col. 1:25.
summarizes Paul's though this way...
Now Paul, in one sentence, drops his
great thought. Up till now men had been living in a divided world. There
was division between the beasts and men. There was division between the
Jew and the Gentile, the Greek and the barbarian. All over the world
there was strife and tension. Jesus came into the world to wipe out the
divisions. That for Paul was the secret of God. It was God’s purpose
that all the many different strands and all the warring elements in this
world should be gathered into one in Jesus Christ. Here we have another
tremendous thought. Paul says that all history has been a working out of
this process. He says that through all the ages there has been an
arranging and an administering of things (Ed note: this
description of God's arranging and administering is the essence of what
oikonomia means) that this day of unity should come. (Barclay,
W: The Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster
Press) (Bolding added)
Fullness (4138) (pleroma)
means a full measure with emphasis upon completeness. When is this time
Although note everyone would agree, it probably begins with Christ's
Millennial reign when God fulfills His promises to Israel and is
completed with the institution of New Earth described in Revelation 21:1 when
He makes all things new.
pleroma in reference to Christ in Colossians writing that...
For it was the Father's good pleasure
for all the fulness (pleroma) to dwell in Him (Christ), (Col
For in Him (Christ) all the
fulness (pleroma) of Deity dwells in bodily form, (Col 2:9 -note)
taught that Christ was kind of “halfway house” to God, a link in the
chain with other better links on ahead. As Paul teaches the complete
embodiment of God dwells permanently in Christ and will one day "come to
The times (2540) (kairos)
refers usually to a season or more specifically to a fixed and definite
time possessing certain characteristics. For example, leaves change
color in the Fall season and once that season has passed, the
beautiful color change can no longer be seen.
The fulness of the times is the moment when the successive ages of the
gospel dispensation are completed. The meaning of the whole phrase,
then, is: a dispensation characterized by the fulness of the times: set
forth when the times are full.
THAT IS, THE
SUMMING UP OF ALL THINGS IN CHRIST: anakephalaiosasthai (AMN) ta panta en to Christo:
(Eph 1:22; 2:15; 3:15; Genesis 49:10; Matthew 25:32; 1Corinthians
3:22,23; 11:3; Philippians 2:9,10; Colossians 1:20; 3:11; Hebrews
12:22-24; Revelation 5:9; 7:4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12; 19:4, 5, 6)
What is the mystery of His will? Having made known unto us the mystery
of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in
himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might
gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven,
and which are on earth; even in him. Here, succinctly, clearly, in one
brief verse, we have the summing up of the mystery of God’s will.
Everything is working on to this one near-at-hand, divine event toward
which the whole creation moves, when God will head up everything in
Wood - When
a column of figures was added up, the total was placed at the top. At
the end of the age everything will be seen to add up to Christ. This
recognition of his preeminence will ensure that the original harmony of
the universe is restored (Ro8:18–21). The mission of Christ extends
beyond the human race and assumes cosmic dimensions. (The Expositor's
Bible Commentary, Volume 11)
Everything that is in Christ shall be
gathered in; all his chosen, all that the Father gave him, all that he
hath redeemed by blood, all that he hath effectually brought into union
with himself shall be gathered together in one. There shall be one flock
under one Shepherd.
(anakephalaiomai not from kephale = head but from
kephalaion = summary or sum total) means to bring something to a
head or bring together under one head or in literary terms under one
heading. When a column of figures was added up, the total was placed at
the top. In another illustration of the use of this word in secular
literature we read of the summarizing of the argument of an orator as he
would do at the close of his discourse. Here it means to sum up, to
"head up" all things in Christ in orderly and harmonious completion.
Christ is the center of the universe, which some day will be integrated
into one harmonious whole.
It conveys the
idea that all things will be brought into meaningful relationship
together under Christ. At the end of the age everything will be seen to
add up to Christ. At present there is fragmentation and frustration.
Things do not “add up.” On that day, however, under Christ, everything
will add up or rather be summed up in Christ. This recognition of
Christ's preeminence will ensure that the original harmony of the
universe is restored (see Ro 8:18-21). The mission of Christ extends
beyond the human race and assumes cosmic dimensions.
Paul's use of
anakephalaiomai in Romans is illustrative of the meaning...
For this, "YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT
ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT
COVET," and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in
this saying, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." (See note
Comment: the summation
of the Ten Commandments in the one rule “Love your neighbor as yourself”
Thus the command
to "love" is the category heading & all the other commands are
listed under love as part of it or expressions of it.
"This is a rhetorical term used of
the summing up of a speech or argument and hence of including a large
number of separate details under one head."
In context the
Head is Christ for He is the goal of History ("His-story") which
achieves its culmination in Him Alone! Paradise lost in Adam is Paradise
regained in Christ to Whom every knee will bow and every tongue confess
as LORD. Have you bowed while you still have breath to declare "My Lord
and My God"? If not today could be the day of your salvation.
is a definite summing up at a point in time. The
pictures God as the
Initiator of this action of summing up all things in Christ for Himself.
The infinitive mood expresses purpose.
History is written and directed by
its Creator, who will see it through to the fulfillment of His own
ultimate purpose—the summing up of all things in Christ. He designed His
great plan in the ages past; He now sovereignly works it out according
to His divine will; and in the fulness of the times He will complete and
perfect it in His Son, in whom it will forever operate in righteous
harmony and glorious newness along with all things in the heavens and
things upon the earth. (MacArthur,
J: Ephesians. Chicago: Moody Press)
(literally "the things") means all without exception, (Col 1:17; Heb
1:3) and includes the whole creation. Paul's point is that Christ will
gather the entire universe (now corrupted by sin and the whole world
lying in the power of the evil one, Satan, 1John 5:19) into unity (Heb
1:8ff). Everything in heaven and on earth will be subjected to (and thus
be summed up in) Christ (1Cor 15:24, 25, 26, 27, 28)...
Therefore also God highly exalted
Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at
the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW, of those who are in
heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, 11 and that every
tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the
Father. (See notes
Millennium Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire forever (Rev
20:3,10). God will establish unity in Himself of all things that
In (1722) (en)
means in the sphere of, in this case in the sphere of Christ. In other
words, after the one thousand year Messianic Kingdom, immediately
follows the Great White Throne judgment at which time all the lost
(those who never placed their faith in Messiah as Savior and Lord) are
judged. At this time the cursed material universe is restored and saved
men live on New Earth and endless ages begin. All things are thus summed
up in (in the sphere of, the influence of) Christ.
Christ (5547) (Christos
from chrio = anoint, consecrate to office) is the Anointed One,
the Messiah. God will accomplish all restoration in and thru Christ and
His atoning death on the Cross. He is the Head, the center around which
God revolves everything He does relating to sin and salvation.
God made known to
us the mystery of His will, how everything is summed up under the
headship of Christ. The world thinks it’s falling apart, but in actual
fact it is coming together moving toward the final summation of
everything under the headship of Jesus Christ.
In Christ -
the vital and organic connection
explains God's administration or "management" of the
fullness of times as follows...
God redeems men in order that He
might gather everything to Himself. The time of that gathering will be
the millennial kingdom (see
will be an administration suitable to the fulness of the times.
When the completion of history comes, the kingdom arrives, eternity
begins again, and the new heaven and new earth are established, there
will be a summing up of all things in Christ, things in the
heavens and things upon the earth. Jesus Christ is the goal of history,
which finds its resolution in Him. The paradise lost in Adam is restored
in Christ. (MacArthur,
J: Ephesians. Chicago: Moody Press)
Alexander Maclaren explains
that in this passage
the great aim of that divine
sovereign will, self-originated, full of loving-kindness to the world,
is to manifest to all men what God is, that all men may know Him for
what He is, and thereby be drawn back again, and grouped in peaceful
unity round His Son, Jesus Christ. That is the intention which is
deepest in the divine heart, the desire which God has most for every one
of us...The philosophy of history lies there;
and it is a true instinct that makes the cradle at Bethlehem the pivot
around which the world’s chronology revolves. For the deepest thing
about all the ages on the further side of it is that they are ‘Before
Christ,’ and the formative fact for all the ages after it is that they
are Anno Domini... I take it that what the Apostle means here is that
the purpose of God, which we have thus seen as sovereign,
self-originated, having for its great aim the communication to all His
creatures of the knowledge of Himself, and running through the ages, and
binding them into a unity, reaches its entire accomplishment in
the Cradle, and the Cross, and the Throne of
Jesus Christ our Lord. He fulfils the divine intention.
There is that one life, and in that life alone of humanity you have a
character which is in entire sympathy with the divine mind, which is in
full possession of the divine truth, which never diverges or deviates by
a hair’s-breadth from the divine will, which is the complete and perfect
exponent to man of the divine heart and character; and that Christ is
the fulfilment of all that God desired in the depths of eternity, and
the abysses of His being.
Did He will that men should know
Christ has declared Him.
Did He will that men should be
drawn back to Him?
Christ lifted on the Cross draws all men unto Him.
Was it ‘according to the good
pleasure of His goodness’ that we men should attain to the adoption of
By that Son we too became sons.
Was it the purpose of His will
that we should obtain an ‘inheritance’?
We obtain it in Jesus Christ, ‘being heirs of God, and joint-heirs
All that God willed to do is done.
And when we look, on the one hand, up to that infinite purpose, and on
the other, to the Cross, we hear from the dying Him, ‘It is finished!’
(John 19:30) The purpose of the ages is accomplished in Christ Jesus.
Now, Christ is the Great Gatherer,
and if we do not gather with Him He makes it plain that we scatter, we
work against Him. The only way we can help Him gather is by winning
souls and fishing for men. Mind you, if we are not engaged in some form
of this great gathering we are not merely indifferent; we are not
neutral. He made it plain that we are instruments of division and
discord, that if we are not active with Him we are active against Him.
No matter how much you may wave a Bible, if you are not gathering with
Christ you are not merely wasting time, you are working against the only
unifying force in all existence.
THINGS IN THE HEAVENS AND THINGS ON
THE EARTH. IN HIM: ta epi tois ouranois kai ta epi tes
ges; en auto:
Heavens (3772) (ouranos)
in the physical sense refers to the over-arching, all-embracing heaven
beneath which is the earth and all that is therein. First heaven = the
atmosphere. Third heaven = God’s abode 2Cor 12:2-4 (Click
Earth (1093) (ge)
means the earth in distinction from heaven.
“The perfect harmony that will be
restored will be harmony in man and between men. Harmony on the earth
and in the brute creation! Harmony in heaven, and all under this blessed
Lord Jesus Christ Who will be the head of all! Everything will again be
united in Him. And wonder of wonders, marvelous beyond compare, when
all this happens it will never be undone again. All will be re-united in
Him to all eternity. That is the message; that is God’s plan. That is
the mystery which has been revealed unto us. … These things are so
marvelous that you will never hear anything greater, either in this
world or the world to come.” (Lloyd-Jones, D. M. : God’s Ultimate
Purpose: An Exposition of Ephesians 1:1 to 23 Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979)
In Him (846)
fits more appropriately at the beginning of verse 11 than at the end of
verse 10. But in either place the phrase clearly refers to Jesus Christ
(v10), Who is the Source of our divine inheritance.
All things in
Him - Be aware that Unitarian-universalists, liberals, some
neo-orthodox, and other groups use this verse to support their belief
that everyone will eventually be saved.
refutes this false conclusion reasoning that...
A careful examination of this verse
reveals that Paul is speaking here only of believers, so, there is no
support for universalism. The whole context is about those chosen in
Christ “before the foundation of the world” (Eph 1:4). The phrase “in
Christ” is never used in Scripture of anyone but believers. That
unbelievers are excluded is clear from the fact that Paul does not refer
to those “under the earth” as he does elsewhere when speaking of the
lost (Phil 2:10). There is abundant evidence elsewhere in Paul (cf.
2Thes 1:7-9) and in the rest of Scripture that some will go to their
eternal destiny without Christ (e.g., Mt 25:31-46). (Geisler, N. L., &
Rhodes, R. When Cultists Ask: A Popular Handbook on Cultic
Misinterpretations: Baker Books. 1997)
Did you know
Rhodes scholarships were originally
designed by Cecil Rhodes as a means of reestablishing British hegemony
over the earth. An unreconstructed imperialist, Rhodes envisioned all
the world as British subjects. His will directed that his massive estate
be used to expedite his dream, in particular recovering the United
States for the Crown. Fortunately, the trustees of the estate revoked
his political views and have awarded the scholarship to anyone who is
While Cecil Rhodes had a dream and
the resources to fulfill it, he had the wrong intention. God never
decreed that the world should be British. He has decreed that not only
humanity but the entire universe be brought to renewal through Jesus
Christ. Since God has both the resources and the intention, his will
shall be accomplished: Through Jesus Christ everything in heaven and on
earth will be brought to complete unity. (Hurley,
V. Speaker's Sourcebook of New Illustrations Dallas: Word
Ironside - In the future there
will be another glorious economy, “The dispensation of the fulness of
times.” That will be the last glorious age, which has been called ever
since the dawn of the Christian era “the millennium” or “the reign of
Jesus shall reign where’er the sun,
Does his successive journeys run;
His kingdom spread from shore to shore,
Till moons shall wax and wane no more.
That final dispensation of blessing
is not merely for this world, but Heaven and earth will be brought into
wonderful unity, and heavenly saints and earthly saints will find their
headship in Christ. (Ref)