The Manifold Wisdom of God

Steven Bouma-Prediger

READ : Ephesians 3:7-13

So that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. (v. 10)

As many commentators have noted, Paul’s language in this epistle defies adequate translation. This is nowhere more true than in verse 10 of chapter 3. One translation describes the wisdom of God as “comprehensive,” as if it were a set of encyclopedias (or, for my students, Wikipedia). Another translation uses the word “complex,” as if God’s wisdom were like a fine wine or a supercomputer. Yet another version renders the text “wisdom in all its varied forms,” as if it were a species of tulip. The poet Francis Thompson perhaps comes the closest to the meaning when he describes God’s wisdom as “many-splendored.” Whatever the metaphor, the point clearly is that God’s wisdom is variegated and beautiful beyond human knowing.

God’s many-splendored wisdom is to be made known to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places—through the church. What can this mean? That the wisdom of God, revealed through Jesus on the cross (1 Cor. 1:23-24), would be embodied in the people of God so that the fallen principalities and powers (Eph. 6:12) might acknowledge God’s just and sovereign reign. The reconciling power of the gospel on display in the church is God’s victory message to the forces of darkness.

May it be so.

PRAYER

God of grace and peace, help us to be the means by which the manifold richness of your wisdom is made known to all.