Wednesday, 6 July 2016
In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, Ephesians 1:11
In verses 11 & 12, Paul uses the term “we.” Then in verse 13, he will use the plural word for “you.” For this reason, many scholars state that this is showing the order of salvation with respect to the idea of “to the Jew first and then also to the Greek.” This is, for example, how Charles Ellicott sees it –
“Ephesians 1:11-14 form the third part of the Introduction, applying the general truth of election by God’s predestination in Christ, first to the original believers (the Jews), and then to the subsequent believers (the Gentiles).”
It is true that the Jews were the first to receive the message, and then the Gentiles were later its recipients, and this seems probable concerning what Paul is saying. Or it could be that he is saying that it was those who heard and received Christ (meaning the apostles, etc.) who are then relaying the message on from that initial point. In this then, the stress is not laid on the nature of the person, but rather it is simply the logical progression of receiving and then transmitting the gospel.
Which option is correct becomes even more important in the opening words, because Paul says that “In Him we have obtained an inheritance.” The KJV and the NKJV make the verb active, but it is not. Rather, it is passive. The correct reading is that “we were made a heritage.” Thus it literally is worded to suggest that we were designed as an inheritance. It does appear that Paul is speaking of Israel, who was made an inheritance of God in the promise of the coming Messiah.
Following this, he says, “…being predestined.” The idea of predestination is detailed in the commentary on Ephesians 1:5. However, Paul adds in that this predestination is “according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.” This idea has to be evaluated with care and it needs to be done so while considering the rest of Scripture.
As was noted in Ephesians 1:5, free will in man is something that God takes into consideration. Therefore, the words “according to the purpose of Him” includes two separate thoughts. The first is the “universal agency of God” (Albert Barnes), and the second is man’s responsibility in exercising his free will. One does not negate the other. Just because God knows what choice a man will make, it in no way negates the choice of the man.
God considers man’s will and includes it in His working out “all things according to the counsel of His will.” It is both a comfort for those who are willing to submit to the authority of Christ, and it is to the shame of those who are unwilling to do so. God, in His infinite goodness, has granted us the right to choose where we will place our allegiance, and thus where we will spend eternity. In the case of Israel, they were collectively made an inheritance, and yet they individually chose to be a part of that, or not, by faith in their Messiah.
Life application: You have a choice to make concerning Christ. If you have chosen Christ, you have the continued choice to make concerning obedience to Him. Choose each step of your walk wisely. Choose Christ and pursue Christ!
Heavenly Father, how marvelous You are. You have fashioned each of us for Your sovereign purposes, and You have granted us the choice to follow You, or to go our own way. You don’t force us to love You, but You tenderly call to us in hopes that we will. Grant us the wisdom to use the few precious moments of this life wisely so that we will be prepared for the judgment which lies ahead. Grant us hearts to pursue Your offer of peace through Jesus’ shed blood now. Amen.