17/09/17 Ephesians 1:1-6 “Chosen? “Yes!”; without free will? No!”
Note Acts 19:35 – the image which fell down from Jupiter – that which fell down from Jupiter – fallen from Zeus, that is, fallen from heaven; an image of the Ephesian Artemis which was supposed to have fallen from heaven.
It could have meant that it had come from the gods, that it was of no human origin (that is, not corrupted by humans) or perhaps that it literally fell from the sky.
Barnes – It has been supposed by some that this image at Ephesus was merely a conical or pyramidal stone which fell from the clouds - a meteorite - and that it was regarded with superstitious reverence, as having been sent from heaven.
Ephesians 1:1 – Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:
apostle – a delegate; messenger; missionary; one sent forth with orders; specifically applied to the twelve apostles of Christ; in a broader sense applied to other eminent Christian teachers, such as Barnabas and Timothy. Thus, one sent forth as a messenger from Jesus Christ. Note Paul’s application to the messenger of glad tidings, in his presentation of the gospel to the Romans.
Romans 10:15 – And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
will – desire; pleasure. See its use in Revelation 4:11 – Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
and Ephesians 2:3a – Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind;
And a similar usage of the verb form in Galatians 4:20a – I desire to be present with you now,
saints – holy ones; people separated for the service of God.
Thus, Paul, a messenger of Jesus Christ sent with orders (the gospel) by the will, pleasure and desire of God, to those holy people at Ephesus who are separated for service to God, and to the faithful ones (pistis) in Jesus Christ (that is, in the body of the true Church – 1 Corinthians 12:13, 27 – 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether [we be] Jews or Gentiles, whether [we be] bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. …….. 27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.)
Paul has been sent to minister to the church at Ephesus. The writer and the recipients of this epistle have now been named.
Ephesians 1:2 – Grace [be] to you, and peace, from God our Father, and [from] the Lord Jesus Christ.
Most of Paul’s epistles have very similar greetings, with 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus also adding “mercy” to the list.
grace – charis (grace; that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness; good will, loving-kindness, favour) Grace is the unmerited divine assistance given to mankind.
Compare with “gifts” of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:4) where charisma is translated as “gifts”. Also note the use of charis in Luke 1:30 – And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
Grace is one of the themes of Ephesians.
Ephesians 2:5-9 – 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved) 6 And hath raised [us] up together, and made [us] sit together in heavenly [places] in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Also note Ephesians 1:6&7; 3:2, 7&8; 4:7, 29, especially where “grace” is revealed as a gift of God; see the following:
Ephesians 3:7-8 – 7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. 8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
Ephesians 4:7 – But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
God gives to mankind according to His grace, that is, the giving of that which no man can or may deserve on his own merits. It is God’s grace that gives us what we do not deserve.
peace – of a country: peace from war; peace between individuals; security; prosperity; salvation: peace with God; the state of upright man after death.
Peace is also a theme of Ephesians.
Ephesians 2:14-17 – 14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition [between us]; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, [even] the law of commandments [contained] in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, [so] making peace; 16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
Also note “the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3) and “the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15)
Both grace and peace are granted to us by both the Father and the Son.
Note that “I and My Father are one.” – John 10:30.
Ephesians 1:3 – Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly [places] in Christ:
blessed – eulogetos (blessed; praised)
blessed – eulogeo (caused to prosper; make happy; bestow blessings upon; the favour of God)
blessings – eulogia (praise; laudation; panagyric - a speech or writing in praise of someone or something; blessing; benediction – which means “well [good] said”)
We get “eulogy” (re funerals) from eulogia (Greek for “praise”) where eulogia derives from from eu (= well) + -logia (speaking), thus “speak well of”.
God is to be praised for all His benefits (blessings) toward us.
Psalm 103:1-2 – 1 [A Psalm] of David. Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, [bless] his holy name. 2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has showed us favour with all (that is, not lacking any) spiritual bestowing of benefits toward us in heavenly places in Christ.
The same word in three different forms is used here: eulogetos; eulogeo; eulogia. We bless God because He has blessed us with all possible blessings.
in heavenly places – The life of the Christian is not here on earth but in heaven. Here our old life is already dead; our life as a new creature has already begun (1 Corinthians 5:17).
Ephesians 2:1 (And you [hath he quickened], who were dead in trespasses and sins) says that we were once dead to life because of our sins, but then we became dead to our old life of sin, becoming instead alive in Christ who is in God in heaven.
Colossians 3:1-3 – 1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
Ephesians 1:4 – According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
chosen – especially of God choosing upon whom He would bestow His favours and separated from the rest of mankind to be peculiarly his own and to be attended continually by his gracious oversight.
holy – hagios (applied to persons as separated to God’s service)
without blame – blameless; as a sacrifice without spot or blemish.
The calvinists love this verse because they can make it appear as if God chose us; therefore we didn’t choose Him! But, does it really say that God chose Christians unconditionally? There are two truths here: (a) that Christians have been chosen in Christ (also see end of Vs 3 above) before the foundation of the world, and (b) the purpose for this choosing was that Christians should be holy and without blemish. It does not say that we have been chosen for justification (salvation) because the context has much more to do with the process of sanctification, the ongoing cleansing process that purifies the Christian day by day. This verse is not talking about being born again, but instead is discussing the edification of those saints (who have already been born again) into a holy temple in the Lord (Ephesians 2:21) – the Church.
It’s interesting that Calvin actually leaves out of Vs 4 those words “in Him” in his teaching on this. “Blessed be God who hath blessed us in Christ, according as he hath chosen us before the foundation of the world.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, Calvin, P 68) Why did he leave out those words in his quote? Why doesn’t Calvin quote “according as he hath chosen us in Him”? And many calvinist references also leave out these words when quoting this verse. You see, if we are “in Him” when God chooses us, then God’s election must be the consequence of us being “in Christ”, not the cause. Think very carefully about this!
Note the similarity between “holy” (hagios) in Vs 4 above and haiazo (make holy; consecrate; sanctify; set apart for God) in Ephesians 5:26-27 – 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it (that is, the Church) with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
Note that “sanctify” here is Aorist tense which generally means an action that commences at a point in time and continues on, or an ongoing action that is completed at some point in time, or an action merely existing at a certain point. It cannot be classified as past, present or future. Neither is it to be seen as completed, as is the Perfect tense.
That is, the consequence of this choosing by God is to make holy (set apart for God; sanctify) and to remove the blemishes of sin, as per 1 John 1:9 which teaches an ongoing cleansing (sanctification) process, not a once-off salvation event (which is justification by faith).
Pulpit Commentary – The terms (holy and without blame) do not denote justification, but a condition of sanctification which implies justification already bestowed, but goes beyond it; our justification is a step towards our complete final sanctification.
That is, the process of justification by faith (being made right with God through faith in Christ) has to already be in place before God can begin the process of sanctifying us. Justification is a once-off event that is but the first step toward our complete final salvation which includes the ongoing process of sanctification.
“in him” could be read as “for himself” but this would little change the overall meaning. The general idea is that we are set apart for God (made holy).
in love – (a) This could apply to “According as he hath chosen us in him in love”, that is, God’s choosing was a consequence of His love, or (b) “in love” could apply to the predestinating of God’s children in Vs 5.
Thus, “According as He has chosen us in Him (or for Himself, or to be in Him) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (set apart for God) and without blame (without blemish) before him, in love.”
That there is an election is a Scriptural truth; God does choose His people. But, on what basis and for what purpose?
Firstly, on what basis does God elect His people? The Bible teaches clearly that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved, so if this is the basis upon which God chooses, then God would have to have a perfect foreknowledge of the future in order to determine who does, in fact, call upon the name of the Lord. In order for calvinists to have an unconditional election, they must demonstrate that God does not use His perfect knowledge of the future (that is, His “foreknowledge” = prognosis), or that He is incapable of doing so. There is nothing anywhere in the Bible that demonstrates that God chooses His people without the use of foreknowledge.
Secondly, for what purpose does God choose His people? Nowhere does it teach that the election is for justification by faith (that is, to be saved, born again). Every time the election is taught, it always is for the purpose of growing as a Christian, not for the initial step of salvation (justification by faith).
For instance, in Romans 8:29 the predestinating according to God’s foreknowledge is for the purpose of conforming to the image of Christ. (For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son)
There is nothing in Ephesians 1:4 to demonstrate that God’s election is unconditional, unless you add extra “knowledge” gleaned from Calvin’s heretical teachings. Nowhere is the election taught as unconditional; instead, it is conditional upon God’s foreknowledge determining the choice made by each person concerning the acceptance or rejection of the free gift of salvation offered to all mankind.
And I would like MacArthur to explain how Judas can choose to go to hell to pay the price for his sin when the “elect” apparently lack any choice at all on the matter!
Another reason I know that is that hell was never even made for human beings. It was made for the devil and his angels. Judas went there because Judas chose to betray Christ, chose to reject the truth, chose to pay a sad, sad price.
Apparently only the “election” to heaven is unconditional; the “non-elect” (the lost) have a choice between hell and …. er … um …. hell?
Ephesians 1:5 – Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
predestinated – predetermine; foreordain.
Once again, as per previous verse, while God foreordains many things as per His sovereign will, there is nothing here that demonstrates this to be unconditional predestination, but rather, conditional upon man’s acceptance of the free gift of salvation. The purpose of this predestination, therefore, as stated here, is not unto salvation, but in fact to confer the status of adoption by God upon those who have already been justified by faith. The adoption as children through Jesus Christ is a consequence (not a condition) of being saved by calling upon the name of the Lord.
Scriptural consistency therefore demands that because man has a free will to choose or reject the free gift of salvation offered through Jesus Christ, then God’s election (the choosing of His special [“peculiar” – 1 Peter 2:9] people) is a consequence of our choice (not a cause), just as the consequence of Judas’ choice was to be condemned to hell, according to MacArthur!
good pleasure – will; choice; kindly intent; delight; desire; satisfaction.
will – commands; will; choice; desire; pleasure; what one wishes or has determined shall be done; of the purpose of God to bless mankind through Christ; of what God wishes to be done by us.
Thus, both “good pleasure” and “will” have similar meanings.
Also note Ephesians 1:11-12 – 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
The adoption by God of those who are justified by faith is according to the kind intentions of His will (or desire). Note carefully that nothing precludes this from being according to God’s perfect knowledge of the future. For the calvinists to claim that this is proof of unconditional election, they must firstly prove that God either cannot or will not use His foreknowledge to determine His predestination. But they won’t be able to, for predestination is a consequence of our justification, not a cause of it!
Ephesians 1:6 – To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
made us accepted – highly favoured; agreeable. See its use in Luke 1:28 – And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, [thou that art] highly favoured, the Lord [is] with thee: blessed [art] thou among women.
The praise of the glory of His grace is likewise a consequence of being chosen to be holy and without blemish (Vs 4 above) and being predestinated to be adopted as God’s children. For these consequences of our salvation we indeed praise God for the glory (majesty; splendour; magnificence) of His grace (charis – Vs 2 above), because (as a result of Vs 4-5) we have been made accepted (agreeable; compassed with favour; lovely) in the beloved (Christ the beloved of God).
Matthew 3:17 – And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
The glory of His grace indicates blessings which we had no way of buying for ourselves. Grace is the unmerited divine assistance given to mankind. It cannot be purchased nor earned, ever. The glory of God’s grace is demonstrated by the fact that God settled the account for our sins when we were without any means of doing so ourselves.
Romans 5:6; 8-9 – 6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
This is a major theme of Ephesians: that we who were unable to purchase peace with God for ourselves have, by the grace of God, been made acceptable in spite of our offences before holy God, through the purchase of our peace by Jesus Christ on the cross. (Note that while faith is nowhere taught as a gift of God, grace is certainly taught as a gift. For example, see Ephesians 3:7).
Ephesians 2:7-8; 13-14; 16 – 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:
13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition [between us];
16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
(The Greek grammar of Ephesians 2:8 cannot permit faith to be named as the gift of God. The word “that” – underlined above – is neuter gender, and “faith” is feminine gender; thus, these two words are gender-incompatible. A neuter gender pronoun such as “that” can only refer to a neuter gender word, or to a phrase or clause such as “”For by grace are ye saved”. Thus, faith cannot be the gift of God in Ephesians 2:8; neither can grace be the gift of Ephesians 2:8 for grace is also feminine gender.
Instead, salvation by grace is the gift of God here. And Biblical consistency also supports this. Eg “the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23)
True, we have been made acceptable in the beloved, and true, we have been chosen by God to be holy and without blemish, and to be adopted as children of God. However, the question isn’t whether this is the election or not, but whether the election is unconditional, or conditional upon God’s foreknowledge as per 1 Peter 1:2a – Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. As I said recently, calvinists limit the the truths of the Bible by limiting the possible options available to them. Thus, by denying God His sovereign right to deal with mankind according to His foreknowledge, they deny the truth which is that God chooses His elect according to His perfect knowledge of the future decisions of mankind.
Calvinists claim that the Bible consistently teaches no free will in salvation, yet make little or no effort to Scripturally demonstrate such preposterous claims. However, so many passages make no sense at all without free will. Calvinists also claim that God does not use His perfect knowledge of the future, or even cannot (for example, Boettner) to determine any free will choices of man for salvation because, according to Piper, no such decisions exist! Yet there is not one verse that teaches this as a truth of the Bible! They mouth off verses such as Ephesians 1:4-5, yet are unable (or refuse) to see that such election and predestination is not taught as unconditional. They just state suppositions as facts and try to bluff or bully others into accepting them. They imagine that because they can talk the loudest or the most, therefore they are the most intelligent. The Bible says otherwise!
Proverbs 17:28 – 28 Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: [and] he that shutteth his lips [is esteemed] a man of understanding.