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No.22 The Muniment Room (1: 3 - 14).
The Threefold Charter of the Church.
The Work of the Son (1: 7 - 11).
The Mystery of His Will.
pp. 81 - 87
Redemption and Forgiveness. We do most gladly acknowledge that these are
"according to the riches of His grace" (Eph. 1: 7), but verse 8, as it stands in the
Authorized Version, seems to contain a contradiction:
"Wherein He hath ABOUNDED towards us in all wisdom and PRUDENCE."
The concepts "abounding" and "prudence" do not seem to belong to the same
category. The Greek word translated "abounding" is perisseuo, a word which by its
derivation and its usage suggests prodigality, whereas the Greek word translated
"prudence" phronesis indicates, as does the English "prudence" that which comprehends,
"that discreet, apt suiting and disposing as well of actions as words in their due place,
time and manner" (Peacham), and in the expenditure of money, being frugal, economical
and provident. The contradiction however exists only in the English version, where the
translators have joined together into one verse, what should have been kept separate. The
reader should remember that punctuation and verse formation are modern and not found
in the original. When we examine the verses before us and inquire concerning their
theme, we observe, that it is twofold.
(1) Redemption. This is made to abound with prodigal richness.
(2) Instruction. This is given little by little as we are able to bear it.
We can retain the Authorized Version just as it stands, if we will but put a full stop in
the middle of verse 8, thus:
"In Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according
to the riches of His grace wherein He hath abounded toward us. In all wisdom and
prudence having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good
pleasure, which He hath purposed in Himself."
We can now return to the term "abounding" and examine it a little closer. Perisseuo
means "to be over and abound, to be more than enough, to exceed". Perissos "exceeding
abundantly" (Eph. 3: 30), "superfluous" (II Cor. 9: 1), "beyond measure" (Mark 6: 51).
The word used in Eph. 1: 8 occurs several times in Philippians, where it is consistently
translated "abound" (Phil. 1: 9, 26; 4: 12, 18). There can be no doubt therefore of the
lavish overflowing grace that is manifested in the forgiveness of sins. We now come to
the new yet related subject, that of making known to these emancipated ones "the
mystery of His will". Here we must pause, for the word mystery itself needs explanation
and the mystery of His will must not be confused with other mysteries that are found in
the same epistle.