1/10/17 Ephesians 1:7-14 “We are predestinated to be to the praise of His glory”
Ephesians 1:7 – In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; (see Colossians 1:14)
redemption – redemption; deliverance; a releasing effected by payment of ransom. Effectively it means the buying back of that which had been given as surety for a loan, something that you owned but had given to someone as surety until a debt was repaid, something like having a full mortgage on your house (where “mortgage” literally means “death security” (Anglo-French, from Old French, from mort dead (from Latin mortuus) + gage security)
Matthew 20:28 – Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
Calvin says “many” embraces the whole human race. (Calvin’s Commentary on Matthew 20:28)
forgiveness – release from bondage or imprisonment; pardon of sins; remission of the penalty. Note that “remission” means the act of reducing or cancelling a debt, the limiting or even cancellation of that which is owed. Effectively, sins are “written off”!
Matthew 26:28 – For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
Which is shed for many. By the word many he means not a part of the world only, but the whole human race (Calvin’s Commentary on Matthew 26:28)
sins – paraptoma (to fall beside or near something; a lapse or deviation from truth and uprightness; a sin, misdeed) A different term to sin (hamartia) as used in Romans 6:23 – to miss the mark; to miss or wander from the path of righteousness; to violate God’s law. But, both terms are similar in that each defines sin as a deviation from God’s law in some way. Note the use of both trespasses (paraptoma) and sins (hamartia) in (Ephesians 2:1)
Thus, it is the blood that has bought back for God that which is His possession but was given over as a condition required for a particular event. In this case it means the buying back of mankind from the slavery which was a condition of man’s sin. God, through His payment of the blood sacrifice on the cross, has bought back (redeemed) that which was His in the first place. We also have the putting aside of the payment (remission) for sins through that same sacrifice on the cross.
John 19:30 – When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
It is finished – Mankind’s debt has been paid in full.
The blood was the life of the body; thus, the blood sacrifice of animals was required to pay for the life of mankind. Life had to be shed to pay for the continued life of man. The blood of animals couldn’t forgive (remit) sins but it could cover (atone for) the sins until the final sacrifice on the cross.
Leviticus 17:11 – For the life of the flesh [is] in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it [is] the blood [that] maketh an atonement for the soul.
A holy God cannot accept sin in His presence and, thus, unless the sin is effectively removed (not just covered up but permanently gone) then man cannot enter the presence of God, even to request forgiveness, for forgiveness cannot be given unless the payment is made. This is a theme continued in Ephesians 2: the removal of that barrier of sin which prevented man from ever finding peace with God.
Ephesians 2:14 – For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition [between us];
riches – riches; fullness; abundance.
grace – charis (a common theme of Ephesians)
That is, both redemption through the blood of Christ and the forgiveness of sins, is full (not limited), being in accordance with the abundance (fullness) of God’s grace.
Ephesians 1:8 – Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
Wherein he hath abounded toward us – Which (that is, His grace) He made to abound toward us.
abounded – to exceed a fixed number of measure; abound; overflow. "Abounding" is used of a flower going from a bud to full bloom.
prudence – understanding
That is: It is God’s grace which He has made to abound toward us in all His wisdom and understanding (of our need for redemption and forgiveness – Vs 7). God’s grace is not a matter of trial and error but according to God’s carefully determined plan for the salvation of mankind.
Ephesians 1:9 – Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
mystery – hidden thing; secret; mystery; generally mysteries, religious secrets, confided only to the initiated and not to ordinary mortals; of God: the secret counsels which govern God in dealing with the righteous, which are hidden from ungodly and wicked men but plain to the godly.
The calvinists regularly claim that anything they cannot explain must come under the heading of “mystery”, often quoting the following or similar.
1 Corinthians 2:7 – But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, [even] the hidden [wisdom], which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
But Ephesians 1:9 says that God has made known to us that mystery of His will and which Paul enlarges upon later on in Ephesians. He teaches that the recipients of this epistle would understand such knowledge of Paul concerning the mystery.
Ephesians 3:3-5 – 3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;
And to the Colossians Paul wrote that this mystery that had been hidden for such a long time was now made manifest (easily understood or recognized by the mind; obvious) to God’s saints (sanctified ones; Christians).
Colossians 1:26-27 – 26 [Even] the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: 27 To whom God would make known what [is] the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
To the non-Christian, God’s will is mystery that cannot be understood, yet the mystery of God’s will is made known to those to whom He reveals Himself, to those who are the called according to His purposes.
Romans 8:28-29 – 28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Vs 9 above is quite similar to the following which we looked at last time.
Ephesians 1:5 – Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
purposed in himself – determined by Himself; acted in accordance with His wisdom and prudence (Vs 8) to bring about His good pleasure which was to redeem and forgive that which He had created for Himself: mankind (Vs 7). The following five verses give clear reasoning why God should desire such according to His good pleasure.
Ephesians 1:10 – That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; [even] in him:
dispensation – administration (of a household and its affairs); stewardship.
fulness – pleroma (a ship inasmuch as it is filled (i.e. manned) with sailors, rowers, and soldiers; the full complement of all aboard; fullness of time; completeness)
times – due measure; a fixed and definite time; the time when things are brought to culmination; the right time; the opportune or seasonable time.
Galatians 4:4-5 – 4 But when the fulness (pleroma) of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
might gather together in one – to sum up; to condense into a summary; a précis (a concise summary of essential points, statements, or facts). The same term is translated “it is briefly comprehended” in Romans 13:9 – For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if [there be] any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
In Vs 10 above it has the idea of bringing all things together under the one administration, that of Christ. The Greek may be literally represented by “that He might head up all things (in Christ)” (Cambridge Commentary)
Note 1 Corinthians 15:28 – And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
Thus: By the administration (which God had purposed in (by) Himself – Vs 9) of the fullness (the completing) of the time when things are brought to culmination or completeness, God might gather together all things in heaven and on earth under the headship of Christ.
Colossians 1:17-20 – 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all [things] he might have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased [the Father] that in him should all fulness dwell; 20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, [I say], whether [they be] things in earth, or things in heaven.
Philippians 2:9-11 – 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of [things] in heaven, and [things] in earth, and [things] under the earth; 11 And [that] every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ [is] Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
(even) in him – This emphasises that all the gathering together is in Christ; that without Christ there can be no gathering, literally! In particular, it applies to the Church – see the following verses.
Ephesians 1:11 – 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:
Note that while “predestinated” means to have been ordained beforehand, it is (once again) not unto salvation, but instead that we should be to the praise of His glory (Vs 12). Predestination consistently refers to what a Christian should become after he has been justified (= born again, often termed “being saved” but is actually the initial step of salvation, after which comes the ongoing process of sanctification). Nowhere does predestination refer to the choosing of people for the purpose of justification itself.
inheritance – to determine by lot; apportion; the portion allotted to us.
We have obtained our inheritance in Christ (as adopted children of God as per Ephesians 1:5 – Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
Yet again Paul emphasises the purpose of God, the wisdom and prudence, the careful planning that works out all things effectively according to the purpose of His own will (and not according to the will of any other). See Romans 8:28.
Effectively we have been made part of the Lord’s portion through Christ. It strongly suggests that the Church is added to that portion allocated in the Old Testament.
Deuteronomy 32:9 – For the Lord’s portion [is] his people; Jacob [is] the lot of his inheritance.
There is, therefore, some suggestion of Gentiles being brought into the inheritance, similar to the grafting on of wild olive branches onto Israel’s olive tree as per Romans 11.
Ephesians 1:12 – That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
first trusted – to hope before. That is, the trust came before this predestination. Thus, this refers to those who had hoped beforehand in Christ.
Christians are predestinated (fore-ordained) to be to the praise of God’s glory, that is, those who first trusted in Christ. Note that it was to those who first trusted that should then be to the praise of His glory.
Some commentaries teach that at Ephesus the Jews believed first, and then the Gentiles, or that some had believed at first and others had then trusted later, but this doesn’t seem to be supported by the context of the passage. Paul is writing to the church at Ephesus which had significant numbers of Jews and Gentiles. His letter appears to address a division of sorts between the two groups. His words tend toward addressing the Gentiles rather than the Jews (he mentions Gentiles 5 times but Jews not once), but nowhere might it be assumed that the Jews were Christian believers before the Gentiles were. To make this a Jewish/Gentile issue would require that the Jews were first believers and then the Gentiles (or the other way around, for it is even possible that there were Gentile believers before Jewish believers at Ephesus, according to some sources).
The words “first trusted” though, appear to emphasise a progression from first trusting leading on to the Christian growth that should follow on from that trusting. This best supports the main theme of Ephesians, that is, the building up of the church into a holy temple for God.
Ephesians 2:20-22 – 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner [stone]; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
We as the Church are also to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Ephesians 4:1-3 – 1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
However, this cannot be used in any way to demonstrate that predestination is unto justification! Nowhere does this passage teach that God chooses (elects) a people specifically for salvation, but, instead, that those who are already in the Church are predestinated to become a people of God, holy as God is holy!
Ephesians 1:13 – In whom ye also [trusted], after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
It does look like it is saying that this particular group to whom Paul is writing also trusted, in the same way that a previous group there had trusted. But the word “trusted” is not in the original, and is an assumption made by the translators of the KJV. It may not be correct here. A number of commentaries say that it should read: In whom are ye also …. That is, in whom (Christ) you are also …..
It is likely that Paul is saying that the Ephesian church who had firstly (beforehand) trusted (hoped) in Christ are also, as a consequence of being in Him, after believing, were then sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. The word “after” appears to indicate a consequence, that the sealing of the Holy Spirit is a consequence of believing.
The word of truth here is the gospel of your salvation, apparently two different ways of looking at the preaching of the gospel.
believed – pisteuo (trust; place confidence in; intellectual faith; believed in)
sealed – to set a seal upon; mark with a seal; to seal; to keep hidden or secret; to confirm; authenticate; to prove one’s testimony that he is what he says he is.
To be sealed is certainly part of that promise of God that nothing can take you out of His hand, nor can anything separate you from His love. God will never cast you out once you are His. However, there is nothing in the Bible anywhere that prevents us from deciding (with our free wills) to reject that gospel of salvation that saved us. (Although, who in their right mind would want to give up such great salvation?) This is, in itself, a separate study on several passages, a study that deserves much attention.
However, it must be pointed out that Jesus made it clear that if we do not take up our crosses and follow Him, we are not worthy of Him (Matthew 10:38), nor can we be His disciples (Luke 14:27). The option of gaining the whole world yet losing our souls follows directly on from the command to take up our crosses and follow Jesus.
Matthew 16:24-26 – 24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. 26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Thus, to be sealed by God’s promise does not appear to anywhere preclude man’s right to free will rejection of the gospel, both before and after being born again (justified).
Ephesians 1:14 – Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
earnest – an earnest; money which in purchases is given as a pledge or downpayment that the full amount will subsequently be paid.
2 Corinthians 1:22 – Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
It can be understood as a deposit paid as a promise of final payment later. Our inheritance has been promised, but it is not yet ours until God’s work in us has been completed (Philippians 1:6). However, God has sealed that promise with His earnest.
Cambridge – the earnest – By derivation it has to do with exchange, and so first means a pledge (the word used here by the ancient Latin versions) to be exchanged between two parties to an agreement—first given, then on fulfilment returned. But usage brought it to the kindred meaning of an earnest; a part of a price, given as a tangible promise of the payment of the whole in time. Thus it is defined by the Greek lexicographers. It was used for the bridegroom’s betrothal-gifts to the bride; a case exactly in point here. In ecclesiastical Latin, prose and verse, it appears usually in the shortened form arra. It survives in the French arrhes, the money paid to strike a bargain.
purchased possession – a preserving, a preservation of our property (for a future time) That possession which has been purchased by God through the blood of the cross.
Acts 20:28 – Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
Note that “redemption” in Vs 14 above appears to refer to a future completed event rather than the original purchasing back as shown in Vs 7.
This passage today is not primarily to do with the gospel of salvation, but rather to do with the edifying or building up of the Church of Christ. Ephesians 1:12 shows that Paul’s teachings were directed toward those who had already trusted beforehand; thus, we are predestinated, not unto salvation, but unto the edifying and building up of the Church. Every occurrence of teaching on predestination applies similarly to those who had already (beforehand) trusted (believed in Christ).