7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him
11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation–having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
- “In Him.” This phrase occurs six times in Ephesians 1 alone. This is a huge clue to how Paul thinks about the idea of being a believer.
- We were not just predestined on a whim. We were predestined according to His purpose, according to the counsel of His will.
- There is an end-purpose to all of this which is revealed here: the praise of His glory.
- It is not worded as if we are the praisers. Rather that the state of our existence would cause observers to praise His glory. It is that we “would be” to the praise of His glory.
- His glory stands whether anyone praises it or not. The question is, whether the observers would notice it, would praise it.
- It does not really say who the observing praisers are.
- “We who were the first” could well mean the early church, the Ephesians and Paul. It does mean there are some who are first to hope, and some who hope in Christ who come later. So there are some who hope (meaning it is yet unrealized) who are not first but would come later.
- He works all things after the counsel of His will. If you think you can miss His will, or do something to thwart His will, this says otherwise.
- Isn’t it interesting that we are not His glory, but we are “to the praise of” His glory.
- We have obtained an inheritance – is this the correct wording and thought?
- John Stott hints that many scholars think this really should carry the idea, not that we have an inheritance, but rather that we are God’s inheritance. What is the evidence?
a. God’s people are God’s possession One would not guess from RSV that the truth of God’s people as God’s ‘possession’ was taught in this paragraph, but it almost certainly is. The apostle employs two Greek expressions whose Old Testament background strongly suggests this meaning. The first is translated by RSV ‘destined’ (verse 12). It is the verb klēroō, which can mean to give or to receive a klēros, an inheritance. The question is to what inheritance Paul is referring. It could be ours, a gift which we have received. So NEB: ‘In Christ … we have been given our share in the heritage.’ Alternatively, it could be God’s because he has taken us to be his own. RV understands it in this way: ‘in whom also we were made a heritage’. So does Armitage Robinson: ‘We have been chosen as God’s portion.’ 5 Linguistically, this translation is more natural. But, more important, the Old Testament background seems almost to demand it. Israel was God’s klēros, his ‘heritage’. Again and again this truth was repeated. For example, ‘The Lord’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage,’ and ‘Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage.’ 6 Paul’s use of the verb klēroō in this paragraph seems to indicate his conviction that all those who are in Christ, Gentiles as well as Jews, are now God’s klēros, as only Israel was in Old Testament days.
Stott, John (2014-04-02). The Message of Ephesians (The Bible Speaks Today Series) (Kindle Locations 590-603). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.
I think this is a much more powerful idea. It is radically different to say that God is my inheritance, than to say that we are God’s inheritance. God considers us a prize, a rich treasure, a sudden lump sum. We are, indeed, His pearl, His prize. Who knew that the new covenant (which, as Leon Morris has shown, really means the new inheritance) is as much about God’s interests as it is about ours?! This also puts this phrase into the general tenor of the passage: it is not so important to know how to interpret God from our perspective – it is much more helpful to view our lives from God’s perspective. We are His inheritance!
- To whom does Paul refer when he says “we who were the first”? Does he mean himself and the Ephesian readers, the early church, or are we now to be included in that list, and it is to be understood in some larger sense?
- Who are the observing praisers?
In verse 6 the foreordination of believers to adoption as sons tends “to the praise of the glory of his grace”; so here their foreordination to be his special heritage means that “the praise of his glory” will shine forth in them: that is to say, the glory of God unveiled in his people is to draw forth the admiring praise of the universe (cf. Ephesians 3:10).
Bruce, F.F. (2012-04-12). The Epistle to the Ephesians: A Verse by Verse Exposition by One of the Great Bible Scholars of Our Age (Kindle Locations 442-444). Robert Frederick. Kindle Edition.
I think this might tie into the idea of the great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1), which would suggest that we are both the praise and the praisers of His glory, in the end.
I think that, on reflection, there is a very important difference between having Christ “in me” and being “in Christ.” Paul uses the phrase “Christ in you” as well (Colossians 1:27), and it is certainly not a wrong idea. However, the thought that we are “in Christ” suggests that through faith we have entered an entirely new environment. Christ has become the very air we we breath.
Paul emphasizes, again, that it is God’s plan, God’s initiative, and God’s pleasure that caused us to have faith. We may stumble and falter, we may succeed and yet fall into fellowship-destroying pride by it, but God is using all of that as part of His cosmic plan to bring praise to His glory.
It is quite amazing to think that we are His inheritance! We are told that we are nothing more than specs on an insignificant piece of dust in a backwater part of an insignificant galaxy, random and largely meaningless. But here we are told that we are God’s inheritance, His very wealth and praise. Not that we are asked to praise Him, but that we are His praise. He is working everything out at His behest so that we could stand as a praise to His glory. That means that if His glory, His beauty, His goodness, His power, came under question, we are the evidence brought forward to say that His glory is indeed beautiful and good. We may not feel like this is true. Once we stand in the presence of the holiness of God we may really feel that this is not true. But it is not we who are the engineers of this position. God is establishing our place as a praise of His glory.
There is a great comfort in thinking that He works all things according to the counsel of His will. Romans 8:28 is a wonderful thought as well, in that He causes all things to work together for good to those who are called, but this passage goes a bit further. It says that we can rest and we can trust that, without qualifiers, God works everything out according to the counsel of His will. We do not have to worry that somehow we will miss God’s will. We are not the protectors or the progenitors of His will. We are not the ones who work all things together for His will. We walk as best we can, according to our calling, but we can trust that God, and God alone, is the executor of His own will. He knows how to create the universe, and He knows how to work all things together according to the counsel of His will. I cannot stop it by my mistakes and neither can you. So we can stop walking on eggshells as if finding His will is an impossible or fragile thing. His will is going to prevail no matter what.