Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Ephesians 3:10

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

That now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places - Who are these principalities and powers? Some think evil angels are intended, because they are thus denominated, Ephesians 6:12. Others think good angels are meant; for as these heavenly beings are curious to investigate the wondrous economy of the Gospel, though they are not its immediate objects, see 1 Peter 1:12, it is quite consistent with the goodness of God to give them that satisfaction which they require. And in this discovery of the Gospel plan of salvation, which reconciles things in heaven and things on earth - both men and angels, these pure spirits are greatly interested, and their praises to the Divine Being rendered much more abundant. Others imagine the Jewish rulers and rabbins are intended, particularly those of them who were converted to Christianity, and who had now learned from the preaching of the Gospel what, as Jews, they could never have known. I have had several opportunities of showing that this sort of phraseology is frequent among the Jews, and indeed not seldom used in the New Testament. Dr. Macknight, whose mode of arguing against this opinion is not well chosen, supposes that "the different orders of angels in heaven are intended, whose knowledge of God's dispensations must be as gradual as the dispensations themselves; consequently their knowledge of the manifold wisdom of God must have been greatly increased by the constitution of the Christian Church." Of this there can be no doubt, whether the terms in the text refer to them or not.

By the Church - That is, by the Christians and by the wonderful things done in the Church; and by the apostles, who were its pastors.

The manifold wisdom of God - Ἡ πολυποικιλος σοφια· That multifarious and greatly diversified wisdom of God; laying great and infinite plans, and accomplishing them by endless means, through the whole lapse of ages; making every occurrence subservient to the purposes of his infinite mercy and goodness. God's gracious design to save a lost world by Jesus Christ, could not be defeated by any cunning skill or malice of man or devils: whatever hinderances are thrown in the way, his wisdom and power can remove; and his infinite wisdom can never want ways or means to effect its gracious designs.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

To the intent - Greek, “that” Ἵνα HinaThe sense is, that it was with this design, or that this was the purpose for which all things were made. One grand purpose in the creation of the universe was, that the wisdom of God might be clearly shown by the church. It was not enough to evince it by the formation of the sun, the stars, the earth, the seas, the mountains, the floods. It was not enough to show it by the creation of intelligent beings, the formation of immortal minds on earth, and the various ranks of the angelic world. There were views of the divine character which could be obtained only in connection with the redemption of the world. Hence the universe was created, and man was made upon the earth, not merely to illustrate the divine perfections in the work of creation, but in a still more illustrious manner in the work of redemption. And hence the deep interest which the angelic hosts have ever evinced in the salvation of man.

That now - the word “now” - νυν nun- is missing in the Vulgate, Syriac, and Arabic; and is omitted by many of the fathers; see Koppe. If it is to be retained, it means that this display is to be made under the gospel. “Now, since the Messiah is come; now, under the Christian dispensation, this revelation is to be made to distant worlds.”

Unto the principalities and powers - To the angelic hosts - the intelligent beings that surround the throne of God; see the notes at Ephesians 1:21.

By the church - By the incarnation of the Redeemer to save it; by I the mercy shown to it; by the wise arrangement made to recover his people from the fall; and by all the graces and beauties which that redeemed church will evince on earth and in heaven.

The manifold wisdom of God - Literally, “much-variegated.” It means the “greatly-diversified wisdom.” It does not mean merely that there was “great” wisdom, but that the wisdom shown was diversified and varied; like changing, Variegated colors. There was a “beautiful and well-ordered variety of dispensations” toward that church, all of which tended to evince the wisdom of God. It is like a landscape, or a panoramic view passing before the mind, with a great variety of phases and aspects, all tending to excite admiration. In the redemption of the church, there is not merely one form or one phase of wisdom. It is wisdom, ever-varying, ever-beautiful. There was wisdom manifested when the plan was formed; wisdom in the selection of the Redeemer; wisdom in the incarnation; wisdom in the atonement; wisdom in the means of renewing the heart, and sanctifying the soul; wisdom in the various dispensations by which the church is sanctified, guided, and brought to glory. The wisdom thus shown is like the ever-varying beauty of changing clouds, when the sun is reflected on them at evening. Each aspect is full of beauty. One bright; cloud differs in appearance from others; yet all tend to fill the mind with elevated views of God.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Those whom God advances to honourable employments, he makes low in their own eyes; and where God gives grace to be humble, there he gives all other needful grace. How highly he speaks of Jesus Christ; the unsearchable riches of Christ! Though many are not enriched with these riches; yet how great a favour to have them preached among us, and to have an offer of them! And if we are not enriched with them it is our own fault. The first creation, when God made all things out of nothing, and the new creation, whereby sinners are made new creatures by converting grace, are of God by Jesus Christ. His riches are as unsearchable and as sure as ever, yet while angels adore the wisdom of God in the redemption of his church, the ignorance of self-wise and carnal men deems the whole to be foolishness.
Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 160

God had abundantly blessed the labors of Paul and Barnabas during the year they remained with the believers in Antioch. But neither of them had as yet been formally ordained to the gospel ministry. They had now reached a point in their Christian experience when God was about to entrust them with the carrying forward of a difficult missionary enterprise, in the prosecution of which they would need every advantage that could be obtained through the agency of the church. AA 160.1

“There were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, ... and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate Me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” Before being sent forth as missionaries to the heathen world, these apostles were solemnly dedicated to God by fasting and prayer and the laying on of hands. Thus they were authorized by the church, not only to teach the truth, but to perform the rite of baptism and to organize churches, being invested with full ecclesiastical authority. AA 160.2

The Christian church was at this time entering upon an important era. The work of proclaiming the gospel message among the Gentiles was now to be prosecuted with vigor; and as a result the church was to be strengthened by a great ingathering of souls. The apostles who had been appointed to lead out in this work would be exposed to suspicion, prejudice, and jealousy. Their teachings concerning the breaking down of “the middle wall of partition” (Ephesians 2:14) that had so long separated the Jewish and the Gentile world, would naturally subject them to the charge of heresy, and their authority as ministers of the gospel would be questioned by many zealous, believing Jews. God foresaw the difficulties that His servants would be called to meet, and, in order that their work should be above challenge, He instructed the church by revelation to set them apart publicly to the work of the ministry. Their ordination was a public recognition of their divine appointment to bear to the Gentiles the glad tidings of the gospel. AA 161.1

Read in context »
Ellen G. White
Lift Him Up, 291.4

Speaking of the mystery “which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God,” Paul says, “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery ... : to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be made known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.” Not only to those living in this world, but to the principalities and powers in heavenly places is the church on this earth to reveal the glory of God. LHU 291.4

Read in context »
Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6 (EGW), 1082
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, 13

Even these words fail of expressing the greatness and the glory of God's purpose to be accomplished through His people. Not to this world only but to the universe are we to make manifest the principles of His kingdom. The apostle Paul, writing by the Holy Spirit, says: “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be [made] known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.” Ephesians 3:8-10. 6T 13.1

Brethren, “we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.” “What manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting the coming of the day of God?” 1 Corinthians 4:9; 2 Peter 3:11, 12, margin. 6T 13.2


Read in context »
More Comments