APRIL 26 – AMAZING GRACE

That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

—Ephesians 2:7

For us who stand under the disapproval of God, who by sin lie under sentence of God’s eternal, everlasting displeasure and banishment, grace is an incomprehensibly immense and overwhelming plenitude of kindness and goodness. If we could only remember it, we wouldn’t have to be played with and entertained so much. If we could only remember the grace of God toward us who have nothing but demerit, we would be overwhelmed by this incomprehensibly immense attribute, so vast, so huge, that nobody can ever grasp it or hope to understand it.

Would God have put up with us this long if He had only a limited amount of grace? If He had only a limited amount of anything, He wouldn’t be God….

God’s immensity, God’s infinitude must mean that the grace of God must always be immeasurably full. We sing “Amazing Grace”—why, of course it’s amazing! How can we comprehend the fullness of the grace of God? AOG105-106

Lord, how amazing it is that Your grace extends infinitely beyond the depths of my sin. May I remember that as I go about my day. Amen. [1]


The phrase in order that indicates that the purpose of our being exalted to the supernatural sphere of God’s preserve and power is that we may forever be blessed. But it is not only for our benefit and glory. God’s greater purpose in salvation is for His own sake, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. That, too, is obviously for our benefit, but it is first of all for God’s, because it displays for all eternity the surpassing riches of His grace (cf. 3:10). Through His endless kindness toward us in Christ Jesus the Father glorifies Himself even as He blesses us. From the moment of salvation throughout the ages to come we never stop receiving the grace and kindness of God. The ages to come is different from the age to come in 1:21 and refers to eternity. He glorifies Himself by eternally blessing us with “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (1:3) and by bestowing on us His endless and limitless grace and kindness. The whole of heaven will glorify Him because of what He has done for us (Rev. 7:10–12).[2]


2:7 This miracle of transforming grace will be the subject of eternal revelation. Throughout the endless ages God will be unveiling to the heavenly throng what it cost Him to send His Son to this jungle of sin, and what it cost the Lord Jesus to bear our sins at the cross. It is a subject that will never be exhausted. Again Paul builds words upon words to suggest something of its immensity:

His kindness toward us

His grace in His kindness toward us

The riches of His grace in His kindness toward us

The exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us

Now it follows that if God will be disclosing this throughout eternity, then we will be learning forever and ever. Heaven will be our school. God will be the Teacher. His grace will be the subject. We will be the students. And the school term will be eternity.

This should deliver us from the idea that we will know everything when we get to heaven. Only God knows everything, and we will never be equal with Him.

It also raises the interesting question: How much will we know when we get to heaven? And it suggests the possibility that we can prepare for the heavenly university by majoring in the Bible right now.[3]


7 Using the conjunction hina (“in order that”), Paul supplies the purpose for God’s loving actions of bringing to life, raising, and seating believers with Christ in the heavenly realms: that in the ages to come God might display the surpassing riches of his grace shown to us in Christ. Paul’s verb for “show” (endeiknymi, GK 1892) has the sense of causing something to be known (cf. BDAG, 331). It often bears the connotation of “demonstrate” (e.g., Ro 9:22, where God demonstrates his wrath). Here with the middle voice Paul captures a godly motivation: for his own benefit God exhibits his grace. This divine display will shine forth “in the coming ages.”

Note the intriguing plural “ages.” Paul referred to this present age in v. 2: unbelievers live according to the world system of this present age (see commentary). In 1:21 Paul wrote as though there were only two ages—the present age and the one to come. Jesus promised to be with his followers until the end of the age (Mt 28:20). But after this age, will there be multiple ages to come? I find no evidence elsewhere to confirm this. Paul speaks of Christians as the ones “on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come” (1 Co 10:11). Paul also refers to multiple ages in the past in Ephesians 3:9 and Colossians 1:26 (cf. Heb 9:26). This is made more complicated by Paul’s evident realized eschatology that we’ve seen in this letter (paralleling 2 Co 5:17, where the new age has already begun). So there were ages (eras, or epochs) in the past, but the present age has overlapped with this one in a true sense. We are better off not to expect these various texts to reveal a systematic chronology but to leave the basic two-age scenario intact. Perhaps “ages” only suggests that in the remaining years of this age and the one to come God’s display of his grace will unfold in successive phases as it becomes progressively known and understood.

God will put on display the “incomparable” (the Greek adjective here is related to the noun from which we get the word “hyperbole”) riches of his grace (cf. 1:7). In a classic understatement, Paul says that grace materializes as “kindness” (chrēstotēs, GK 5983), “the quality of being helpful or beneficial, goodness, kindness, generosity” (BDAG, 1090). All of these descriptors fit the action of what God’s grace secured “in Christ” (either his grace in the corporate Christ—those in Christ—or his grace anchored in Christ). And throughout the aeons to come this surpassing grace that resulted in God’s generosity to us will be on display for all to see, admire, and celebrate.[4]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1986). Ephesians (p. 60). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1918). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Klein, W. W. (2006). Ephesians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 69). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s