The Wonderful World of Color of God’s WisdomDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.
When I was young, I loved watching Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color on television. Though I enjoyed this show while at home, it was better by far at my grandparent's house because they actually had a color TV. This program, which first aired during the 1960s, featured a variety of entertainment and information, all featured in glorious living color.
When I read Ephesians 3:10 in Greek, I was reminded of the Wonderful World of Color. The English translation mentions the "manifold wisdom of God," which is a reasonable translation. But the Greek word translated as "manifold," or sometimes as "diverse," is actually a more colorful term, literally. The word in verse 10, polupoikilos, is based on the word poikilos, which literally means "many-colored, spotted, dappled." In the Greek translation of the Old Testament, poikilos describes the "many-colored" coat of Joseph (for example, Gen. 37:23). The addition of polu- to poikilos gives us a word that appears only here in the whole New Testament. It could be fairly but inelegantly translated as "many-many-colored" or "many-multi-colored."
What does Paul mean by describing God's wisdom in this way? In some places in the New Testament, Christ himself is God's Wisdom (for example, John 1:1-18;1Cor. 1:24). But here, the wisdom of God has to do with his mystery, his plan of cosmic restoration, his purpose to unite all things in Christ (see Eph. 1:10). This wisdom, as you may recall, is made known to the whole universe through the church.
Why does it matter that God's wisdom is many-colored? First, this fact reminds us that we mustn't limit God's wisdom to one or two shades. It is tempting for us, once we understand something of God, to try and paint all of God with this one color. In so doing, we misrepresent God and fail to see his manifold nature.
Second, the fact that God's wisdom is many-colored encourages us to continue to see and to experience the diversity of God's wisdom. Rather than limiting God to what we already know, we continue to seek, to learn, and to grow in our knowledge of God.
Third, the many-colored wisdom of God invites us to marvel. Even as I loved to watch Disney's Wonderful World of Color, so you and I are encouraged to step back, to scan the horizon, and to delight in the stunning wisdom of God.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How do you tend to think about God's wisdom? What different "shades" of his wisdom have you come to appreciate? In what ways does God's wisdom inspire you?
PRAYER: Gracious God, indeed, your wisdom is "many-multi-colored." It is greater than anything I can ever fully comprehend. It is more beautiful than anything my human eyes can see. Help me, Lord, to perceive more of the rainbow of your wisdom. May I delight in the beauty of your plan, your work among us. May I rejoice, most of all, in the way your wisdom is revealed to us through Christ. Amen.
P.S. from Mark – The Greek word polupoikilos also reminds me of the spring wildflowers in Texas. For some amazing photos of these flowers, check out this entry in my blog.
Image courtesy of Laity Lodge Youth Camp, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.