God has done more than choose us in Christ in a past eternity and give us sonship now as a present possession. He has also “made known to us the mystery of his will” for the future. This is “purposed in Christ, to be put in effect when the times reach their fulfillment.”
History is neither meaningless nor purposeless. It is moving toward a glorious goal. God’s plan “when the times reach their fulfillment,” when time merges into eternity again, is “to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.” Already Christ is head of his body, the church, but one day “all things” will acknowledge his headship. At present there is still discord in the universe, but in the fullness of time the discord will cease, and the unity we long for will come into being under the headship of Jesus Christ.
What are the “all things” which will one day be united under Christ? Certainly they include the Christian living and the Christian dead, the church on earth and the church in heaven. No doubt angels will be included too. But “all things” normally means the universe, which Christ created and sustains. So Paul seems to be referring to that cosmic renewal, that regeneration of the universe, that liberation of the groaning creation. In the fullness of time, God’s two creations, his whole universe and his whole church, will be unified under the cosmic Christ, who is the supreme head of both.
If we shared the apostle’s perspective, we would also share his praise. For doctrine leads to doxology as well as to duty. Life would become worship, and we would bless God constantly for having blessed us so richly in Christ.
From Reading Ephesians with John Stott by John Stott with Andrew T. Le Peau.