Ephesians chapter 1 vs 8 - The Wisdom of God  

It is a great mistake to judge the wisdom of God simply by considering a snap shot or a picture of a moment in time. The wisdom of God cannot be seen in the imprisonment of Joseph, in the punishment of Daniel, in the death of Lazarus nor in the suffering of the man born blind. Take a step back and consider the way God works over time and through the generations, intertwinning the stories of patriachs, kings and prophets, in bringing to pass His appointed purpose in Christ and then we grasp His wisdom. This is a wisdom dispensed and worked out in the fullness of time (Ephesians chp 1 vs 10). 

“Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence” Ephesians 1:8

An interesting and practical verse 

Over the years a distinction has been drawn between:

  • Wisdom
  • Knowledge

Distinction emphasised:

  • Wisdom is knowledge applied 

Knowledge – what truth is 

Wisdom – what we do with that knowledge / truth. How we use that knowledge. 

In the OT we do see that distinction:

  • Knowledge is the raw material of wisdom the substrate of wisdom (Proverbs 18:15; Proverbs 15:2, 14) 
  • Wisdom is the application and use of that knowledge (2 Chronicles 1:10ff; 1 Kings 3:16ff)

Knowledge – what truth is

Wisdom – how we use that knowledge 

Knowledge is 3 dimensional in Ephesians chapter 3 

That knowledge is applied and expressed over time (v10) by God displaying His wisdom. 

We may perceive the knowledge of God in a snap shot of time but whilst knowledge is 3 dimensional (Ephesians 3:18-19); the wisdom of God is perceived over time, a 4th dimension (Ephesians 1:8-10).

  • Knowledge – a picture 
  • Wisdom – a video 

10 That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, …” Ephesians 1:10

“As a plan for the fullness of time” – ESV

“The ordering of the times when they are complete”  - BBE

As God works out His knowledge in time we begin to perceive His wisdom! That is a very practical thing! 

Perhaps this is one of the most practical thoughts we have in Ephesians!

If you want to see the ‘knowledge’ of God you can glimpse that in creation: Psalm 19:1-2; Romans 1:19.

If you want to get a glimpse of the ‘knowledge of God’ – see that in Creation.

If you wish to perceive the ‘wisdom’ of God that will be seen in the story of redemption! 

Johannes Kepler once famously desired to “think God’s thoughts after Him.” To think God’s thoughts after Him we will need to look at more than creation, we will need to consider the story of redemption!

We can gain a glimpse into the knowledge of God from Creation; the “eternal power and Godhead” of God – Romans chapter 1. 


5 grams of sugar = 1.5 X 10 power of 62 joules 

1 megaton nuclear bomb 10 to 15 joules 

More than enough power to wipe out the whole earth 

In creation we glimpse the raw power, the eternal power and Godhead of God! 

It is in redemption we see more than the raw power and knowledge of God; we see the wisdom of God. 

God’s wisdom is perceived over time.

God’s wisdom is worked out according to His good pleasure (v9); for His purpose, His pleasure, and not for mine! 

Mary and Martha

“If you had been here my brother had not died” 

Don’t judge God by that snapshot! 

See the wisdom working out over time! 

In delaying His coming the Lord would demonstrate something far more glorious than His power to heal the sick. Through these events we would see the power of Jesus to raise the dead. This brought blessing not only to Mary, Martha and Lazarus in John 11 but to all believers of all ages!

Scattering of the Jerusalem church

Why the scattering and persecution, suffering, death and martyrdom?

If you just assessed that story by a snapshot in time you would miss what God was actually doing! The seed of the Gospel, was being scattered throughout the whole world! 


The man born blind (John 9:3)

You may well question the wisdom of God if you just look at that snap shot of the man born blind in John chapter 9!

“but that the work of God should be made manifest in him” 


John on the Isle of Patmos

You may well question the wisdom of God in constraining John to the Isle of Patmos and yet it is in that seclusion that the greatest prophetic revelation ever is given! 

Daniel in the Lion’s Den – Question the wisdom of God?

You may question the wisdom of God in putting Daniel, faithful, prayerful, righteous Daniel in the den of lions! Look at the whole story however! 

  • Daniel becomes a glorious type of Christ. 
  • Evidence that God’s pleasure in His people is not limited to the provision of favourable nor easy circumstances!
  • God’s name is glorified and His purposes fulfilled as the Lord’s servant places himself upon the altar for Christ! (Romans 12:1ff)
  • For God to increase I must decrease! God is glorified when my life is placed on the altar to Him! 


The Cross of Calvary – Question the wisdom of God? 

The 2 on the road to Emmaus certainly did! 

Esther in Babylon – Question the wisdom of God? 

Taken captive in Babylon and then ends up in the harem of Ahasuerus, yet God has a role uniquely to be fulfilled by Esther.


We can see the wisdom of God in the plan of redemption worked out down through the ages in the:

  • Pictures 
  • Patterns
  • Prophecies 

Through the whole of the OT scriptures. 

See the pieces coming together:

  • Tree of life 
  • Ark of Noah pitched within and without with pitch 
  • Lamb of Isaac
  • Types of Joseph 
  • Passover 
  • Types of tabernacle
  • Feasts of Jehovah 
  • Types of Elijah 
  • Slaying of Goliath

In the prophecies of:

  • Psalms
  • Isaiah
  • Micah
  • Zechariah 

Here is the practical impact; I can look at my life and see the problems, the difficulties; discouragements; and obstacles and fail to perceive the wisdom of God from that single picture! I need to consider the whole story, over time before I can truly see that wisdom! 


David and Svea Flood and their 2 year old son left Sweden to go to the Belgian Congo in 1921. 

Met up with the Ericksons and then headed inland to Ndolera 

They found themselves forbidden to enter the village by the chief, in fear of offending the tribal gods! 

The Floods had only 1 regular contact from the village, a delivery bow who brought chickens and eggs 

Svea spoke to him about Christ 

The Ericksons left 

Svea died aged 27 giving birth to Aggie 

David Flood left the station, his calling and the faith “I’m going back to Sweden, I’ve lost my wife and I obviously can’t take care of this baby. God has ruined my life.”

He gave the baby Aggie to the Ericksons, they died and she was adopted by a couple who returned to USA> 

Aggie attended a missionary conference in London years later, the speaker was from Zaire. He had been the young lad with whom Svea had shared Christ. He became a teacher and lead most of his pupils to Christ. There were now > 600 believers in the town and he represented a church of > 100, 000 believers. 

We need to perceive the wisdom of God over time, through the years, centuries and generations, it is not just a snap shot nor a picture but the entire panoramic view of what God is doing that portrays the wisdom of God.

Dr J Stewart Gillespie