ALL THINGS IN CHRIST
In all wisdom and prudence making known to us the mystery of His will according to His
good pleasure which He purposed in Him the plan for the fullness of the times
TO HEAD UP THE ALL THINGS IN THE CHRIST ,
the things in the heavens and the things upon the earth, in Him ….
(Ephesians 1:8b-10)
By – Stuart H. Pouliot
Article #44
Fullness of the Nations [Ethnos]
March 2012
For those who study the Bible, it is apparent that translators of Scripture often inject their own
bias into the text by using certain words over other ones. This is called interpretative bias .
Since all translations are the work of men, none are perfect and interpretative bias is inherent
in practically all; however, some have less bias than others.
Bias is most readily seen in the way certain Hebrew or Greek words are translated. A case in
point is the way the Hebrew word olam and the Greek words aion and aionian are translated to
convey the thought of forever and eternal when they more accurately speak of ages or eons
and eonian , as in age-during .
Goy and Ethnos
The Hebrew word goy and the Greek word ethnos fall into the same category as olam and aion .
The proper translation of the words goy and ethnos is the word nation ; however, at times, they
are translated using the words Gentile or heathen , which injects the concept of a people that
are not Jewish or not of the nation of Israel.
Unfortunately, the word Gentile injects interpretative bias; a bias that can be seen in the way
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance defines these two words.
Goy is "a foreign nation ; hence a Gentile ; also (figuratively) a troop of animals, or a flight
of locusts: - Gentile, heathen, nation, people."
Ethnos is "a race (as of the same habit ), that is, a tribe ; specifically a foreign ( non-Jewish )
one (usually by implication pagan ): - Gentile, heathen, nation, people."
Notice how Strong's relates these words to a foreign or non-Jewish tribe. But this raises a very
important question: Is not Israel also a nation of tribes, an ethnos ? The answer is yes, it most
certainly is. In the original languages, Israel is referred to as a goy and an ethnos .
The first mention of the word goy or nation is found in the book of beginnings.
(5) The coasts of the nations [ goy ] were divided by these in their lands each by his tongue, by
their families, in their nations [ goy ] . (31) These were the sons of Shem, according to their
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families, according to their tongues, in their lands, according to their nations [ goy ] . (Genesis
10:5, 31 LITV)
Genesis 10 recounts the generations of the sons of Noah, and all of them are referred to as
being divided into their nations. However, the King James Version (KJV) uses the word Gentiles
instead of nations , but how could it be stated, using Strong's definition, that Noah's
descendants were foreign non-Jewish nations when they actually represented the totality of all
nations in that day? To add to the confusion, the KJV uses the words Gentiles and nations for
the word goy in the same sentence: By these were the isles of the Gentiles [ goy ] divided in
their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations [ goy ] (Genesis 10:5
KJV).
One could argue that the Jews came from the line of Shem and therefore should be referred to
as nations and not Gentiles. But the KJV adds further confusion by referring to the sons of
Japheth as Gentiles and the sons of Ham as nations. This makes no sense. Thus, it is safe to
conclude that the use of the word Gentile is obviously interpretative bias to establish that all
that have descended from the line of Japheth are foreign non-Jews. Are we to assume that
those of the line of Ham are Jews? Strange!
Turning to Abraham, we discover the use of the word goy in Hebrew and ethnos in Greek.
Hebrew words of the Old Testament often define Greek words of the New Testament, and the
word goy is a good example of a word that does just that, for it defines the Greek word ethnos ,
as noted below. But notice how the KJV injects its bias by using the words heathen and Gentile .
(12:2) And I will make you a great nation [ goy ] , and I will bless you, and make your name
great; and so you shall be a blessing…. (18:18) And Abraham shall become a great and
powerful nation [ goy ] , and all the nations [ goy ] of the earth shall be blessed in him? (Genesis
12:2; 18:18 NASB)
And the Scripture foreseeing that God would justify the nations [ ethnos-goy ] [KJV = heathen]
by faith, preached the gospel before to Abraham: "All the nations [ ethnos-goy ] [KJV = nations]
will be blessed in you." Gen. 12:3 (Galatians 3:8 LITV)
That the blessing of Abraham might be to the nations [ ethnos-goy ] [KJV = Gentiles] in Christ
Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3:14 LITV)
All the nations will be blessed in Abraham, whether one labels them Jewish or non-Jewish,
heathen or Gentile. It matters not what label or descriptor one places on a community of
people united under one government; they are all nations destined to be justified by God
through the same faith exhibited by Abraham. The blessing of Abraham is for all nations.
Consequently, defining one nation as Gentile or heathen and another as Jewish is not necessary
when translating the words goy and ethnos . By studying the context around the use of these
words, one can discern if they are, in fact, referring to the ancient nation of Israel or not.
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Besides, Israel is referred to as a nation ( goy, ethnos ) just like all the other nations of the world,
both past and present.
In His displeasure over the rebellion of the sons of Israel, the Lord told Moses that He would
destroy them and make Moses into a great nation [ goy ].
"I will smite them with pestilence and dispossess them, and I will make you into a nation
[ goy ] greater and mightier than they." (Numbers 14:12 NASB)
As Jesus walked among the Judahites, the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council
and questioned what to do with Jesus. They feared that if Jesus established the kingdom in
their day, they would lose their place of honor and control over the people.
"If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take
away both our place and our nation [ ethnos ] ." (John 11:48 NASB)
In other words, the Judahites of that day saw themselves as a nation, an ethnos .
With these few verses, it is apparent that translators do a disservice by injecting their bias into
words. As presented, it is best to translate the words goy and ethnos as nation(s) and allow the
reader to decide what nation(s) is in view based on the context.
Romans 11 and Israel
Now, let us consider Romans 11 and Paul's use of the word ethnos , used 5 times (Romans
11:11, 12, 13 [twice], 25). Immediately, there is a challenge because many translations use the
word Gentiles instead of nations, so that when we come to verse 25, we are led to believe that
the fullness of the nations (Gentiles) refers to non-Jewish or heathen nations.
( 25) For I do not wish you to be ignorant, brethren, of this secret―that ye may not be wise in
your own conceits―that hardness in part to Israel hath happened till the fulness of the
nations [ ethnos ] may come in; (26) and so all Israel shall be saved, according as it hath been
written, 'There shall come forth out of Sion [Zion] he who is delivering, and he shall turn away
impiety from Jacob, (27) and this to them is the covenant from Me, when I may take away
their sins.' (Romans 11:25-27 YLT)
Before attempting to explain what Paul meant by the phrase the fullness of the nations , there
are few points to be made.
First, a search of 25 different translations revealed that, in verse 25, the word ethnos has been
translated Gentiles in 19 translations, God's non-Jewish people in 1 translation, and nations in 5
translations. Clearly, a majority believe that the phrase the fullness of the Gentiles is preferred
over the fullness of the nations .
In other words, the majority of translators believe that Paul referred to a period of time in
which the gentile nations, not the Israelite nation, will be saved. But, does this make the
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fullness of the Gentiles the more biblically sound rendering, or does its use indicate
interpretative bias on a grand scale? Perhaps, it is the latter.
Keep in mind that, according to Scripture, gentiles, heathens, Jews, or any other grouping of
people can be nations based on the words goy and ethnos . The context surrounding the word
determines the identity of the people. Or simply, context determines identity.
Second, we need to throw off the tradition of men that sees the word Israel through the lens of
a single Jewish nation, most notably the ancient one that was located in Canaan/Judea and the
one now sitting in the Middle East that is presumed to be made up of blood descendants of
Jacob and his son Judah but, in fact, is a mixed gene pool of Jews, Gentiles, Ishmaelites, and
Edomites.
The name Israel was given to Jacob not when he was born but later in life when he came to see
that God rules. The name Israel , meaning "God rules," was given to Jacob, meaning supplanter,
after he wrestled with the Lord all night. Thus, Israel is not a name given based on a certain
bloodline but on a certain character or, more specifically, a yielding to the will and sovereignty
of God. Jacob was a man ruled by his will and strength, but Israel was a broken man ruled by
the will of God who leaned on God for strength. This is seen in Jacob-Israel's hip being
dislocated so that he had a limp.
Third, the revived, present-day nation called Israel is in the exact same condition that the
ancient, historical one was in; both are disqualified from inheriting the Kingdom (e.g., Matthew
8:10-12; 12:31-32; 21:33-42; 22:1-14; Luke 14:16-24). The present Israel has failed to bear the
fruit of the Kingdom of God even though its leaves have come forth once again (Matthew
21:19, 43; 24:32).
Many assume that the rebirth of a modern-day nation called Israel is to fulfill prophecy that it
will be the head of the nations in the coming Kingdom of Christ. It is true that its rebirth is to
fulfill prophecy, but not in this regard. It is to fulfill prophecy relating to the controversy of
Zion , which speaks to the conflict between Jacob and Esau [Idumea, Edom] and Edom's desire
to rebuild the desolate places (Isaiah 34:4-8; Malachi 1:1-4). The Lord has allowed Edom to
rebuild (i.e., present-day Israel), but He will throw it down once again (Malachi 1:4; also see
Psalm 78:60-61; Isaiah 29:1-6; Jeremiah 19:10-12; 7:12).
Israel, as the world presently knows it, had to come forth so that it could be judged in
fulfillment of the Lord's promise to judge Jerusalem, which is aligned with mystery Babylon that
will fall in an hour (Revelation 18), the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt,
where also their Lord was crucified (Revelation 11:8).
At best, this Israel is of the Old Covenant based on the natural seed of Jacob, the circumcision
of the flesh, and the letter of the law written on stone. At worst, some segments of the Israelite
population are as secular as the rest of the world. Today, most who call themselves Jews
continue in unbelief and reject the same Messiah that the ancient Jews rejected and killed over
2,000 years ago.
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Fourth, God's true Israel is a nation based on the New Covenant, which is based on the seed of
God planted within the spirit of a new race, the circumcision of the heart, and the spirit of the
law put into minds and written on hearts (Hebrews 8:7-13). A new nation came forth after the
cross that bears the fruit of the Kingdom, and this nation that has come forth from among the
nations is spiritual Israel, the dwelling of God in spirit (Ephesians 2:22), that will be made up of
many sons brought unto glory (Hebrews 2:10).
Fifth, we need to understand that the name Israel refers primarily to birthright and sonship , not
to rulership. Rulership came through the line of Judah (Genesis 49:10) and sonship (birthright)
comes through the line of Israel; more specifically, through the line of Joseph (Genesis 48:15-
16; 49:22).
Sixth, Solomon ruled over the kingdom of Israel, but after his death, it was divided into two
tribes in the south (Judah and Benjamin) called the house of Judah , and the remaining ten
tribes in the north called the house of Israel . The line of the king went with Judah. This is why
Jesus had to be from the tribe of Judah. At the cross, He took the scepter of Judah. All who
believe on Jesus unite themselves with Judah and its King, Jesus. However, entering the
Kingdom is a matter of birthright and being placed as a son who receives the inheritance of the
Father's Kingdom (Matthew 13:38; 43). The line of the son went with the line of Joseph and his
sons, which is associated with the house of Israel.
Seventh, following the division of Solomon's kingdom, the two houses were taken into
captivity. Judah eventually returned to Jerusalem and remained under foreign control;
however, Israel was scattered among the nations and became known as the lost sheep of the
house of Israel . They lost their national identity and, as such, were lost among the nations of
the world. Judah and Israel are reunited only in Christ.
Interestingly, when the King comes a second time, He comes with the name of Shiloh, not the
name of Judah.
"The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until
Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples." (Genesis 49:10 NASB)
(1) Then the whole congregation of the sons of Israel assembled themselves at Shiloh, and set
up the tent of meeting there; and the land was subdued before them. … (10) And Joshua cast
lots for them in Shiloh before the LORD, and there Joshua divided the land to the sons of
Israel according to their divisions. (Joshua 18:1, 10 NASB)
The name Shiloh is significant, for it was the place that Joshua assembled the sons of Israel as
the land was subdued before them and as he divided it among the tribes as their inheritance in
the kingdom-nation. In type, this speaks of Jesus-Joshua delivering His people, His Body, into
their new land of immortal bodies, which is their inheritance in the Kingdom of God.
We need to be clear that the present-day state of Israel is not the lost house of Israel. The
Zionists that founded this state usurped the name Israel (and Zion ) as if they were a reunited
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kingdom of the two houses. They are not. If they had taken the name Judah , at least they would
have been closer to the truth, although Edom might be the most accurate name.
These points are important in understanding Paul's use of the word ethnos in Romans 11, so let
us return to verse 25.
(25) For I do not wish you to be ignorant, brethren, of this secret―that ye may not be wise in
your own conceits―that hardness in part to Israel hath happened till the fulness of the
nations [ ethnos ] may come in; (26) and so all Israel shall be saved, according as it hath been
written, 'There shall come forth out of Sion [Zion] he who is delivering, and he shall turn away
impiety from Jacob, (27) and this to them is the covenant from Me, when I may take away
their sins.' (Romans 11:25-27 YLT)
As stated previously, in Romans 11, Paul referred to the ethnos (nations) 5 times, but this raises
a question: What did Paul mean by the phrase the fullness of the nations ? Was he referring to
non-Jewish nations, that is, Gentiles, as so many translations imply? No; Paul was actually
referring to the nation of Israel, the house of Israel that was dispersed among the nations and
gradually became known by other national or ethnic names.
Paul's words could be rephrased as the fullness of the Israelite nations .
Again, we need to throw off the tradition of men that sees the word Israel through the lens of a
single Jewish nation, most notably the ancient one that was located in Canaan and the one now
sitting in the Middle East that is presumed to be made up of blood descendants of Jacob and his
son Judah, as well as Ishmael and Esau.
When he learned that Jacob was sick, Joseph went to see his father, along with his two sons,
Manasseh and Ephraim. Jacob blessed his son with fruitfulness and took Manasseh and
Ephraim to be his own as Reuben and Simeon were his own. As Israel, Jacob called for the two
sons so that he could bless them.
"The angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and may my name [Israel] live
on in them, and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and may they grow into a
multitude in the midst of the earth." (Genesis 48:16 NASB)
However, although Manasseh was the firstborn, Israel placed Ephraim before his brother so
that he would be greater than his older brother. In other words, the birthright was given to
Ephraim.
(17) When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on Ephraim's head, it displeased him;
and he grasped his father's hand to remove it from Ephraim's head to Manasseh's head. (18)
Joseph said to his father, "Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn. Place your right
hand on his head." (19) But his father refused and said, "I know, my son, I know; he also will
become a people and he also will be great. However, his younger brother shall be greater
than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations." (20) He blessed them that
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day, saying, "By you Israel will pronounce blessing, saying, 'May God make you like Ephraim
and Manasseh!'" Thus he put Ephraim before Manasseh. (Genesis 48:17-20 NASB)
Notice that Ephraim was blessed to become a multitude of nations, not one nation, and that he
was blessed, along with his brother, to possess the name Israel . Thus the stage was set for not
simply one nation called Israel but for many nations that are Israel . Israel is a multitude of
nations, and it is in this context that Paul referred to the fullness of the nations.
But how did Ephraim become a multitude of nations known as Israel ? It started when the Lord
scattered the house of Israel. It needs to be added that, according to the prophets, Ephraim and
Israel are synonymous.
Through Hosea the prophet, the Lord spoke against the house of Israel as He commanded
Hosea to take a wife of harlotry who gave birth to a son.
And the LORD said, "Name him Lo-ammi, for you are not My people and I am not your God."
(Hosea 1:9 NASB)
In the days of Moses, the Lord told His people that, if they rebelled against His commands or
were unfaithful to Him, He would scatter them among the nations (Leviticus 26:33; Nehemiah
1:8), a warning that He repeated many times. Israel became a harlot and was cast out of the
land and scattered among the nations, just as the Lord had promised. Although this might seem
to be a great tragedy, it actually was part of the plan of God to bring forth a multitude of
nations.
(10) Yet the number of the sons of Israel will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be
measured or numbered; and in the place where it is said to them, "You are not My people," It
will be said to them, "You are the sons of the living God." (11) And the sons of Judah and the
sons of Israel will be gathered together, and they will appoint for themselves one leader, and
they will go up from the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel. (Hosea 1:10-11 NASB)
Verse 10 explains it very clearly; Israel was to be scattered into the nations with no name that
identified them as belonging to the Lord. In other words, "You are not My people." However, it
is in this place, that is, among the nations, that it will be said of them "You are the sons of the
living God." It is here that both the house of Judah and the house of Israel are reunited after
being separated since the division of Solomon's kingdom. Again, they are reunited in one
leader, God's King.
The Lord, as the Sower of seed who seeks for a great harvest, scattered Israel throughout the
earth.
And I will sow her to Me in the earth. And I will have mercy on No Mercy. And I will say to
Not My People, You are My people! And they shall say, My God! (Hosea 2:23 LITV)
The same picture is given of this sowing in the parable of the Sower in which Jesus sows the
good seed in the field, which is the world, in order to reap a great harvest of sons of the
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Kingdom (Matthew 13:18-23; 37-43). Thus, the sowing is to produce sons, which is what
Ephraim signifies.
When His disciples questioned why He spoke in parables regarding the mysteries of the
Kingdom of the Heavens, Jesus responded by quoting Isaiah 6:9-10 and stating it was being
fulfilled. The people were blind, deaf, and dull (Matthew 13:10-17). Paul picked up this theme
in Romans 11:25 by declaring that a partial hardening has happened to Israel. They were blind
to the truth. But why? It was so the scattering would continue until the appointed time set by
the Father, which is when the promise to Ephraim is completed. The sons of Israel had to
become as the sand of the sea. By the way, the sea is often used as a reference to the nations.
Down through the millennia, the house of Israel that was scattered in the earth has become
many nations. Undoubtedly, countless descendants of Israel helped to form many of the
nations on earth today, especially those that sprung up in Europe and in other lands, such as
North America, Australia and South Africa. Of course, only God knows how the sowing has
progressed, so this is not an exclusive list. But the point is that the fullness of the nations refers
to the nations (plural) of Israel coming forth out of the earth, which, in turn, means that these
nations must be brought into the Stone Kingdom with Jesus as King, until the Kingdom fills the
whole earth (Daniel 2:35).
However, keep in mind that becoming an Israelite, on an individual level, is not a matter of
bloodline but of a changed heart, one that believes on Jesus and declares Him to be Lord and
King. It is not about a gene pool; it is about a heart pool. On the national level, a nation
becomes one of the nations of Israel by declaring Jesus is King over the nation. Based on its
founding, the United States had great potential of this happening, but like all that have gone
before, we too have failed. Why? So that He may show mercy to all (Romans 11:32)!
Only when all the nations have come into the Kingdom of Christ to become Israelite nations will
Paul's prophetic word be fulfilled: So all Israel will be saved . Thus, the fullness of the nations
refers to the full complement of the nations coming under the Kingship of Jesus. This is the true
Israel on a national level; the nations that declare God rules and willingly submit to His
righteous rule.
Abrahamic Covenant
Actually, the fullness of the nations starts with the promise God made to Abraham the father of
many nations, which is also called the Abrahamic Covenant. Paul reminds us of this promise.
For this cause it is of faith, that it may be according to grace; to the end that the promise may
be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the
faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (17) (as it is written, A father of many nations
have I made thee) before him whom he believed, even God, who giveth life to the dead, and
calleth the things that are not, as though they were. (18) Who in hope believed against hope,
to the end that he might become a father of many nations, according to that which had been
spoken, So shall thy seed be. (Romans 4:16-18 ASV)
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It is true that Abraham brought forth many nations through his physical seed; consequently, he
has many descendants, perhaps, even countless numbers in our day. Only God knows who they
are. However, Paul knew that the many nations were based on faith, not on bloodline.
Paul defines the seed of Abraham not only as the physical seed but the spiritual seed of God
that comes from faith. In fact, even those who might have a claim on being a descendant of
Abraham must have faith to be a fulfillment of the promise of many nations in fulfillment of the
fullness of the nations.
Abraham is the father of us all who have the same faith that he exercised, and all who have this
faith are of the seed of Abraham, the seed of faith, and are included in the many nations.
John concurred with Paul and called it the seed of God.
Whosoever is begotten of God doeth no sin, because his seed abideth in him: and he cannot
sin, because he is begotten of God. (1 John 3:9 ASV)
Paul received his understanding of the faith of Abraham through the book of beginnings.
And I will make you a great nation [ goy ] , and I will bless you, and make your name great; and
so you shall be a blessing…. (Genesis 12:2 NASB)
And Abraham shall become a great and powerful nation [ goy ] , and all the nations [ goy ] of the
earth shall be blessed in him. (Genesis 18:18 NASB)
Notice that all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him, which means that, ultimately, no
nation will be left out. Why? Because eventually, all the nations will have the faith of Abraham,
the faith he had before he was circumcised. Again, Paul reiterates this great truth.
And the Scripture foreseeing that God would justify the nations [ goy ] by faith, preached the
gospel before to Abraham: "All the nations [ goy ] will be blessed in you." Gen. 12:3 (Galatians
3:8 LITV)
That the blessing of Abraham might be to the nations [ goy ] in Christ Jesus, that we might
receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3:14 LITV)
How will the nations be blessed? God will justify the nations by faith. How will the nations be
blessed in Abraham? They will be blessed through justification by faith, which is in Christ Jesus.
In other words, to fulfill the promise to Abraham, the nations must be justified, and for this to
happen, they must be brought to faith in Christ. The blessing comes through Jesus and this
requires faith in Jesus.
All the nations will be blessed in Abraham, whether one labels them Jewish or non-Jewish,
heathen or Gentile. It matters not what label or descriptor one places on a community of
people united under God's Kingdom; they all are nations destined to be justified by God
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through the same faith exhibited by Abraham. The blessing of Abraham is for all nations, and
when all nations are brought to this point, it can be said that all Israel will be saved.
Jacob was a supplanter, a man of the flesh, and this could be said of all mankind and of all
nations. After all, the nation that came from the loins of Jacob turned into a rebellious nation, a
people of the flesh.
A day is coming when God will take away the sin of all the nations, because God was in Christ
conciliating the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them (2 Corinthians
5:19), and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the
blood of His cross; through Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven (Colossians
1:20).
The death and resurrection of the Son of God is an absolute, 100% success in reconciling all
mankind and all nations to God, not all at the same time, but all eventually.
Consider how Paul concludes Romans 11.
(32) For God shut up all into disobedience, that He may show mercy to all. (33) O the depth of
the riches and of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His
judgments and His ways past finding out! (34) "For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or
who became His counselor?" Isa. 40:13 (35) "Or who first gave to Him, and it will be repaid to
him?" Job 41:11 (36) Because of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things. To Him be
the glory forever! Amen. (Romans 11:32-36 LITV)
Paul was caught up in the unsearchable riches of Christ. He saw that all have been shut up in
disobedience so that, at the consummation of the ages , no one and no nation will be able to
take any credit for entering the Kingdom of God and being grafted into the glorious olive tree
and partaking of its rich root (Romans 11:17). It all will be of God and His Son.
Let us be encouraged, even rejoice, that all the nations, meaning all mankind, will be saved. All
the nations shall be blessed in Abraham because all the nations will eventually have the faith of
Abraham, even if they must go through the discipline of the lake of fire. In the eyes of God, this
will be the true Israel that has always been in His heart and mind.
For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. It all comes from Him and goes to
Him in glory. To Him be the glory!
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