Ephesians 1:5-6

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 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 upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
Ephesians 1:3-10


  • Predestination cannot be understood apart from God’s love. What He thinks, He thinks from love.
  • Adoption is specifically what we were predestined for.
  • Adoption is not something that is under the control of the one adopted. It is the decision of the adopter. The adopted person is entirely at the whim of the adopter. The adoptee cannot adopt themselves.
  • It stands to reason that the adoptee has some say in the right to refuse adoption, but they do not have the power to initialize the adoption process.
  • Adoption, on the other hand, is not seen as an undesirable limit on the adoptee’s freedom. It is seen as largely desirable, and as an increase in benefit and freedom and opportunity.
  • Adoption implies that one has no family, no intimate relationship, no sense of real belonging, and that one comes to belong to a family.
  • No one pays or works hard to get themselves adopted. Children and parents are matched for much different reasons.
  • Adoption is very costly – for the adopter. It is of course utterly free for the helpless adoptee.
  • Once an adoption is accomplished, it is not the kind of thing which can be undone. An adopted child cannot be easily discarded. There is a formality and a finality to the relationship thus forged.
  • Often it is well-known that an adopted child has special difficult needs, and is adopted from compassion for that very reason. The Adopter is not looking for the perfect child, but the right child.
  • In love he predestined us to adoption as sons. We are no longer strangers but sons, cherished members of a family. We belong with God. There is a powerful filial tie, an unbreakable family bond.
  • He predestined us to adoption – not to every little possible thought and action.
  • He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ. Christ is the agency through which we are adopted.
  • We may think that if we or certain unsavory others are predestined for radical familial inclusion into God’s family, it is scandalous and shameful. According to this, it is to His praise! It is a display of His glorious grace!
  • God was not obligated to predestine us. It was not obligation or duty, but kindness and desire that drove Him to choose us.
  • When a person comes to faith, it means they have been adopted into the family of the Most High. It is a display of glory – it is considered beautiful. It is a display of grace – it is considered great favor that is not earned or deserved.
  • Notice that it is God’s grace which is the glorious part of adoption. It is not the reform and cleanup of the adopted one. That is not what this says. Just observing the text here.
  • He has blessed us with His glorious grace in the Beloved. It looks like “Beloved” is singular, which is why most translations capitalize it to indicate that we are talking about being in Christ.
  • So we are blessed with glorious grace by being adopted into Christ. I think that is the correct observation.


What is the understanding of adoption in the culture of the southern Greek culture in Paul’s day?

Such an adoption was irrevocable. An adopted son could not be repudiated. If a man had no son and adopted an heir and then later had a natural son, he could not disown the boy he had adopted. The adopted son retained his status as a son and the property was shared with the natural son. Actually the adopted son was somewhat better off than the natural son, for the natural son could be disowned and cut off from the family and his inheritance, whereas the adopted son could not. There is one diverting passage which tells of a natural son who had been disowned, then later forgiven and received back into the family. It must have been a tempestuous household, for later the father decided to disown him again. In the document we have the boy claims that his father is not entitled to do this, for he now has the status of an adopted son!

Leon L. Morris. The Atonement: Its Meaning and Significance (Kindle Locations 355-360). Kindle Edition.

If we are adopted through Jesus Christ, does that make Him the agency, the adopter, or a sibling? Is that trying to make a loose analogy walk on all fours?
I’m going to say there is a case for all three options.
NASB says, “according to the kind intention of His will.” What is the Greek actually saying?
This is the Greek word “eudokia” which means pleasure or delight, and by extension kindness. A kindness of delight. So it is God’s delight and pleasure to adopt us! He planned things out with great pleasure and great excitement! We are His delight, and He is thrilled and satisfied with pleasure to adopt us into His family!
Is it through the intention of the Father’s will, or Christ Jesus’, or both?
Both, obviously. Jesus died for us. In this the clear predicate is the Father.
Is “in the Beloved” singular or plural? Does it indicate membership in Christ specifically, or membership in the fellowship of believers in Christ, or somehow both?

And with this grace, says the apostle, he has “be-graced” us in the Beloved – for thus we may literally translate the verb charitoō, rendered “freely bestowed” in RV “The Beloved” (corresponding to “the Son of his love” in Colossians 1:13) is probably a recognized messianic designation. We may compare the voice which our Lord heard at his baptism: “Thou art my son, my beloved, in Thee I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11). Variant renderings of what is basically one and the same messianic title appear elsewhere in the New Testament; thus God’s Beloved is also his “chosen One” (cf. Luke 9:35, RV) and “his own One” (Acts 20:28). Be it noted again that all the blessings which are ours by God’s grace are ours in Christ; there is no way apart from him in which God either decrees or effects the bestowal of his grace on men.

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 361-367). Robert Frederick. Kindle Edition.


Because of His great love for us, God (in His infinite knowledge) determined to adopt us as sons as into a very prestigious family. It turns out, God delights in us and finds great pleasure in us! He considers the adoption to be a great praise to Himself. It is a show of grace and it is a show of His glory! So we may think it is a problem that God adopted some of us – we’re not so completely repentant or perfect as we would like. We need advice to keep free from sensuality, greed, and impurity (Ephesians 4:19), and not to be a liar, a bitter person, or angry and slanderous (Ephesians 4:25-32). Yet God considers it glorious grace and praise to adopt us! All of this comes through and is fulfilled in Christ.

Adoption is a perfect and beautiful picture of the enduring free-gift intimate love which God has for us. Redemption implies slavery and freedom, but leaves the Romans 6 question open: “What now? being free, shall we sin all the more?” The idea of adoption implies, we learn to settle into our new digs – we’ve been adopted! It’s as if we were pathetic orphans, and suddenly we’ve been adopted into the royal family and we are to be treated as royalty! The imperative juncture in Ephesians 4:1 makes all the more sense: “…walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.”

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  1. How are orphans pathetic? I want to know because I’m an orphan and I want to know why I am pathetic according to your thought. Because to JESUS I’m not pathetic for being an orphan. GOD placed me there and I had to play the best I could with the crappy hand He dealt me.

    • I’m thinking of a four-year-old child with their nose pressed up against the window watching and hoping for a family. I’m sure you don’t think that I’m implying that all people who are orphans are for their whole life inherently pathetic. A four-year-old orphan cannot control the universe to produce a family, and we can’t control the universe to make God adopt us. In that sense we are all a four-year-old orphan hoping for a family. God is giving us the picture of adoption here, which implies our orphanhood. That’s the point here. Perhaps you are too ready to take offense. I think the intent of this post is pretty apparent.

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