Eph. 3.10-11


This might be a bit of a stretch, but I’ll float it out there.

Eph. 3.10-11: “His [God’s] intent was that now, through the Church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Don’t know if this passage has come up in discussion before. The issue here is what it might mean for the “wisdom” of God “to be made known” to these “rulers and authorities.” Of course, it matters who or what these rulers and authorities in the heavenly realm are. Are they benevolent or malevolent? Faithful angelic beings or fallen angels? If benevolent, then don’t they already “get it” so to speak? But elsewhere rulers and authorities appear to refer to fallen spiritual powers. If that’s who Paul is talking about, then he’s saying the wisdom of God “will be made known” to them. So the question becomes what’s involved in having God’s wisdom “made known” to you. And assuming he’s talking about malevolent spiritual powers, what might all this mean? Are they more or less forced to see the truth about God’s wisdom (the message of the Cross, the power of suffering love, the Cross, etc.) but still reject it? That seems strange to me, a bit alien to Paul’s point. A kind of cosmic, “There! Take that! See, I told you so.”

Paul says elsewhere (1Cor 2.7-10) that “rulers” don’t understand the “wisdom of God.” They don’t get it. Now, there’s some dispute about the identity of these “rulers” here as well. Some think human agents are meant, others angelic. But ultimately it may not matter since (a) Paul would have believed the human agents were motivated by evil agents, and (b) what he says about the Spirit as the unique revealer of God’s “wisdom” would apply to whomever that wisdom is “made known to,” angelic or human, and in Ephesians they’re angelic (“rulers and authorities in the heavenly realm”). Only the Spirit can reveal the truth and power of God’s “wisdom” (which “wisdom” for Paul is the way of redemptive, suffering love). Thus, perceiving the wisdom of God involves more than the ascent of the intellect to mere fact or a kind of forced confession. It suggests an apprehension of spiritual truth which is accepted. To wind this down then. In Ephesians Paul is saying that through God working in the Church, eventually even these rulers and authorities “in the heavenly realms” will come to “know” (i.e., see, perceive, viz., accept) this wisdom.

I should have said that the issue here for me is the ‘apokatastasis’ in the truly universal sense—that is, inclusive of evil powers, Satan included.

Just talking out loud.


Eph 1:10 The Summing up of All Things in Christ

“Realms”( or “places” ) is not in the Greek text, the word translated “heavenly” can mean “of heavenly origin” ( see Strong’s number 2032 ) and “in” can be translated “among” ( see Strong’s number 1722. )

BTW: The Concordant Literal New Testament actually renders it “among the Celestials” (i.e. celestial beings.)

I believe they’re fallen angels ( of heavenly origin, but not necessarily still in heaven. )

Good point.

And they still wouldn’t really get it.

I know what you’re saying, and I don’t think you’re stretching anything.

Thanks for talking out loud here ( and please keep it up. )


Tom, I like your thought on Ephesians 3:10-11.


Thanks guys. You’re right on the Greek, Michael. I was in a hurry to throw my thoughts up for comment. Just worked with the NIV. But as you noted, the fundamental point is the same.



I did just run across a universalist arguing his point from Eph. 3.10-11, so it’s already out there. Cool.

Another passage that speaks of “all things” finding fulfillment in Christ is of course Eph. 1:9-10. But I’m impressed with the way it anticipates Eph. 3.10-11:

“And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.”

One can say that “made known to” us (v. 9) anticipates what he’ll say in 3.10 (“that the wisdom of God should be make known to the rulers,” etc.). It’s the same thing going on. What God made known to us (the secret of his will, the unity of “all things” in Christ achieved in the Cross) he will through us make known to the celestial rulers and authorities.

How have I never seen this before? ;o)



The fundamental point is the same.

I’d just like to add that I personally believe that these fallen “rulers and authorities” are primarily on planet earth, earth’s atmosphere ( which could be considered the lowest heaven ), and the reality behind ( or “under” ) our physical planet.

God Bless.


Ditto. I’ve seen that and a few related verses (all of which are thematically related to the more famous Colossians statement about reconciling things in the heaven, of course), and have drawn similar ideas from them, but haven’t sat down yet to really analyze them thoroughly.

So keep talking out loud; muchly appreciating it. :smiley:



Even before I became aware of how much evangelical universalism there is out there I thought this was an important passage with regard to evangelism. Now that I’ve become a hopeful universalist I think it makes even more sense to me. You might be interested in the thread I started on what the Biblical motivation for evangelism is (under the Evangelism general heading):

You’ll notice the second paragraph and what follows is drawn from this same passage that you’ve mentioned here.

I think our preaching has actually become quite skewed from the biblical model simply because we’ve made evangelism all about what happens to you after you die. We’ve lost sight of the cosmic drama in which we are called to play a part. I think coming to know the wisdom of God also has to do with the realization that Satan’s attempts to destroy God’s creation end up serving God’s good purposes in the end anyhow, and that ultimately love cannot be overcome by anything, not by death, not by hell, not by evil. The greatest triumph of love would be to win over the very ones who tried to destroy it, bringing them back into its powerful embrace. There’s a lot of good stuff here that would really preach, except in most churches! :slight_smile:


Good to see you again TGB…

This is a very interesting thread. (Good way to begin catching up after time away with family, summer vacations and all…)

I hope this doesn’t seem to you too tangential or anything, but something my son ran past me today makes me think of your thread here. He asked me if I’d considered the story of 1 Sam 19 in the context of UR. (I hadn’t till now)

This is the sobering story of King Saul’s jealous hatred of David – and his attempts to have David killed. Sauls sends a series of representatives to seize David, only to hear that they were somehow compelled to prophesy instead. Saul finally goes himself to do the deed, and he too (!) ends up prophesying!!

Now if this isn’t a type (maybe I should have put this passage in the section “Typologies” – where we have only two entries…) or example of

I don’t know what is… Surely Saul “fits” as a ruler or authority…

How might you see this passage fitting in with your observations on Eph 3???
(and where the concern for freedom from compunction in all this? ie – did these men, sent to seize David, exhibit “free choice” when they instead prophesied??)



Well, let’s see… did Saul henceforth convert into a good little king? :mrgreen:

Saul had more data now (technically speaking) to draw inferences from, and to learn better from. But for whatever reason he didn’t learn better–or if he did, he didn’t choose to do better. And he wasn’t simply poofed into doing better either.

So, were they exhibiting free choice when they prophesied? Possibly or possibly not; the interiority of the experience isn’t available for us to judge. What we can tell from the story is that at least one person (King Saul) was left free to choose to do good or to do evil afterward. And the story tells us how he behaved afterward. (Not without some prompting from evil spirits, if I recall, in the whole mess; but again, he wasn’t being prompted all the time that way.)

If Saul was left his freedom in how he chose to respond to the experience, then we have no reason to infer that the other soldiers weren’t also left free.

This does however illustrate something important to keep in mind for derivative entities such as ourselves: we are not free to avoid reacting to our environment to at least some degree. If God had just slain those men dead–or, heck, if Saul and David had somehow just slain those men dead–the men, including King Saul, would have been required to react to that environmental stimulus, too, in the experience of it.

But also they would have had freedom to choose, to some degree, how they would respond, during and after the experience: how they would ‘in-corp-orate’ (to use an old meaning of that word) the experience into their lives and souls.


Jason wrote:

yes yes!
This presents what I certainly have missed for a long long time, and what I think many still miss; that is, the dynamism of the interactions God has with us. And yes, ultimately it IS “our” decision, but it’s not as if God give us only so much information, steps aside, and when we fail to be convinced condemns us to “hell” (or annihilation) forever. So God sort of unilaterally keeps things moving forward and refuses to let us stagnate in our own bad choices and rebellion. And in this God does NOT overwhelm our freedom; but instead, insists on somehow restoring our freedom. (that is, I think Sauls choices represent less freedom, than bondage to his inner demons of selfishness and rebellion and thus could no logically be fully “free”)

Take-home ultimate point being that God WILL make known His wisdom (ie is is NOT a free choice WE can make that God does not make it known) and we must engage it…

Very cool passage…



Just the other day, I found it is interesting to note the role that the ‘kings of the earth’ have in the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21:24-26:

*And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.
And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.
And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. *

I’m wondering if these are the same ‘right-hand’ nations mentioned in Matthew 25:31-32. Notably also is the fact that the gates are never shut. I wonder if the ‘left-hand’ nations would eventually find access?


There’s quite a bit of evidence in RevJohn 22 to the effect that the “kings of the earth” going into the New Jerusalem are (or were rather) the ‘left-hand nations’! Actually, a lot more hope going on in that chapter than even in regard to the kings of the earth: not only are the gates never closed, but what is (by implication) flowing out of the gate?–and to what purpose?


Indeed. And what about those manners of fruits and leaves growing from the Tree of Life for the healing of the nations? What do they need healing from?


Well, in ancient times (and still often today), leaves were used for healing burns. :mrgreen:


I liked that, Jason! :smiley: