“That in the dispensation of the fullness 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.” Ephesians 1:10
Whom does God’s Purpose center around? Christ.
What is God’s Purpose? This verse has often been named the “key” to the whole Bible. In vv.8-9 Paul prefaces this section by saying that God has given us “all wisdom and intelligence, having made known to us the mystery of His will”; in other words, this secret of His will is the key to all spiritual intelligence. What follows in v.10 is “the mystery of His will”; i.e. the reason – previously unknown but now revealed – for everything God has done and will do. From the creation of the universe, the rise and fall of empires, down to the trials of life, God’s great purpose behind it all is to glorify His Son and to make Him the head over all things, a place that He will share with the Church! Many times we get the idea that the blessing of man is God’s central purpose. It certainly is one of His purposes, but not the chief one. The Church will be infinitely blessed, but in association with the Lord Jesus Christ. When our eyes are opened to see His chief purpose – to glorify Christ – then our focus is directed away from man, away from ourselves, to the Lord Jesus Christ. In this manner we come to have God’s viewpoint.
When will it be accomplished? This verse also tells us when this purpose will be accomplished. It will be accomplished in the “dispensation (administration, or economy) of the fullness of times”. We then must ask, what is an administration? Similar to how the administration of a United States President differs depending on what is happening on the world stage, so God’s dispensations have been successively revealed down through the centuries to the present day. For example, God dealt with Israel under the Law in a very different way from His dealings with the Church under grace. In each of the successive dispensations, man has proven his total and complete depravity. Ultimately, Christ will come personally back to this world to set everything right, and usher in His own dispensation. This will be the final dispensation, that of “the fullness of times.” This dispensation is called in Rev. 20, the “thousand years” or in Latin, “Millennium”.
Where will it be accomplished? In two spheres: (1) in heaven, and (2) on earth. The center of the heavenly sphere will be the Church, reigning with Christ, sharing in all things that He will possess. The center of the earthly sphere will be the purged and restored Nation of Israel, under the leadership of the Messiah, at the head of all other nations. Christ is the exalted pinnacle of both spheres of glory, as (1) Head to the Church and (2) the King of Israel, and King of Nations.
How will it be accomplished? God will accomplish His purpose by “gathering together in one all things”. This means that God will concentrate under Christ the rule of all things. God is ordering all things “after the counsel of His own will.” One by one, the pieces will fall into place, and this magnificent scheme will be accomplished for men and angels to behold! The steps God will take to accomplish this purpose are given to us in scripture as prophetic events.
Why has God chosen to do this? The answer lies in v.9, “according to the good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself;” i.e. this great plan has originated from the very heart of God.
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