The word “manifold” appears nine times in the New King James Version (NKJV) of the Bible. The original Greek and Hebrew words translated as “manifold” convey the meanings of “many,” “varied,” and “diverse.” Reading about God’s “manifold wisdom,” gifts, or mercies means they are numerous, diverse, and inexhaustible.
- “Manifold” translates Greek and Hebrew words meaning “many,” “varied,” and “diverse”
- God’s wisdom, grace, and mercies are described as “manifold” – meaning they are infinite
- “Manifold temptations” refers to diverse, varied temptations believers face
- Paul prays for the Philippians to abound in love and grow in “manifold knowledge”
- The “manifold wisdom of God” is beautifully diverse and was hidden before being revealed
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The Manifold Wisdom and Knowledge of God
One of the most well-known uses of “manifold” in Scripture is Ephesians 3:10 (NKJV):
“to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places.”
The Greek word translated “manifold” here is poikilos, meaning “many colored, diversified, manifold.” God’s wisdom is profoundly diverse, intricate, and inexhaustible. His wise plans encompass all of time and eternity. The Old Testament speaks of God’s wisdom in creation (Proverbs 3:19-20) and in governing the universe (Daniel 2:20-23). But the mystery of the Gospel being for both Jews and Gentiles was hidden until revealed through Christ.
The apostle Paul continues describing this in Ephesians 3:17-19, praying that the Ephesians would:
“be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Paul prays similarly for the Philippians in Philippians 1:9-10 (NKJV):
“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”
Our human perspective is limited, but God’s knowledge and wisdom are infinitely multidimensional. As we grow in relationship with Him, we gain “manifold knowledge” and discernment through the Spirit.
God’s Manifold Mercy and Grace
Another place we read of God’s “manifold” blessings is 1 Peter 4:10 (NKJV):
“As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
This verse reminds us that God gifts each believer in the body of Christ uniquely, and we are to steward these gifts to serve others. As stewards of God’s “manifold grace” – His abundantly diverse grace – we have limitless grace to draw upon in every situation.
Similarly, Scripture describes God’s mercy as manifold. Nehemiah 9:27 (NKJV) recalls how God delivered the Israelites “according to His manifold mercies.” Because God’s mercies are manifold, He responded with compassion to their suffering again and again.
No matter how deep our need, God has manifold mercy to meet us. We see this in Lamentations 3:22-23 (NKJV):
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
What an incredible promise – each day, God has new compassions and manifold mercy in reserve for us.
Manifold Temptations and Trials
While God’s wisdom, grace and mercy are described as “manifold,” this word is also used of the trials believers face. 1 Peter 1:6 (NKJV) says:
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials.”
The Greek translated “various” here is poikilos – the same word translated “manifold.” Our trials and temptations take many diverse, colorful forms. We face an onslaught of temptations externally from the world and internally in our flesh and thought life.
James 1:2 (NKJV) instructs us:
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”
Like Peter, James encourages believers to rejoice when facing painful, manifold trials. Through them, God refines our faith and develops Christlike perseverance.
Even Jesus was tempted in manifold ways, yet was without sin. Hebrews 4:15 (NKJV) assures us:
“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
Because Jesus endured every temptation and trial the world could conjure, He fully identifies with our struggles. We have a High Priest who is intimately acquainted with our manifold weaknesses and intercedes for us.
While the trials and temptations believers face are manifold, infinitely more manifold are God’s wisdom, grace, compassion and power. We have barely begun to plumb the depths and scale the heights of who God is and what He has done for us.
As we yield ourselves fully to God, He will continue revealing His manifold wisdom and transforming us into the image of Christ. May we join Paul in praying for the body of Christ to keep growing in manifold knowledge, discernment and love through intimate relationship with Jesus. He alone is able to present us blameless before God’s glorious presence with great joy (Jude 1:24). To Him be the glory both now and forever!