Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
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, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
Understanding And Applying the Text
Most modern churches today ignore this section of scripture. It does not fit their theology. It does not fit their view of God. So they ignore it. Many pastors refuse to preach on this passage. There are two reasons they may refuse to expound on this section of scripture. The first is they do not believe it. The second is that they know it may divide their congregation. And they believe unity is more important than the truth of God’s word.
If the bible is true, we need to understand what it says. If I have one view and you have a view that is contradictory to it, at least one of us is wrong. It is possible that both of us are wrong. It is not possible for both of us to be correct. Paul wrote through the Holy Spirit. He wrote in plain, simple words about predestination. Since the bible speaks on the issue we understand it to be an important issue. If we are to understand the scripture we need to wrestle with areas we find difficult. We have an obligation and duty to our Lord and Savior to understand the words He has left us. So, let us try to understand what the scripture says. Let us try in all our might not to read our thoughts into it.
This passage does not hide or obscure the topic of predestination. It uses plain language. Even so, this is a topic that many struggle to accept. If the scripture claims it to be true, then I will also proclaim it.
I once sat in a Sunday School class where a gentleman made this statement. “There is no such thing as predestination.” Oh really? Predestination is throughout this passage. “he chose us” (v4), “he predestined us” (v5), “having been predestined” (v11). Predestination is not a theological construct. It was not invented by John Calvin, Martin Luther, or Augustine. The word itself appears in scripture. It is clear, plain, and unambiguous.
The author of the book of Ephesians identifies himself as Paul the Apostle. Paul wrote it to believers. Paul praised the church at Ephesus for their faith and their love of the saints. In Greek, the passage from verses 3 through 14 is one sentence. That is, it is one thought.
Paul starts off by blessing and praising God. He praises God for already giving us every spiritual blessing. This is not a future event this is something that has and is happening. We receive these blessings through Jesus Christ. The theme here is that we have not done anything to entitle us to these blessings. They are a gift. God chose us to receive these gifts. We did not earn them. We did not even ask for them. God chose us to be the recipient even before there even was an earth. (v4) We were not even around to ask for them. Why would God choose us? He chose us to glorify Himself. This will come up again in chapter two.
This teaching, “being chosen,” is not unique to this book or even to Paul. Hear the words of our Lord.
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide…” John 15:16a.
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” John 6:44
“I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen….” John 13:18
“If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” John 15:19
Paul also writes in Romans 8:28-30 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”
It is clear, God chose us. It is clear God predestined us to be conformed to Christ. The objection we hear is “What about free will?” This passage of scripture does not address the issue of free will. It only makes clear God chose us and predestined us. That is a simple fact. There is a simple answer but I will save that for another passage that addresses it. The issue is your confusion. Your lack of understanding. Your objection does not make God’s word less true.
It is not sinful to try and get a greater understanding. It is sinful to reject God’s word because you don’t understand.
Paul defends it in Romans 1-12. But here he is writing to saints. They were already aware of this and Paul did not need to defend it. His point is that we have nothing to boast about. We did not do anything to merit God’s grace. We did nothing to receive it. We did not even ask or beg for it. God chose us before He created the world. As a result, all praise and all glory goes to God. None of it goes to us. The wonder and awesomeness is not that we chose God but that He chose us.
But why? There has to be a reason. Otherwise, God would be arbitrary. Why did God choose you and not your neighbor? Many will answer it is because you accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. But why did you do that? What Is it you are smarter than your neighbor? Maybe you are more righteous than your neighbor. That is not what Paul said. God chose us for a reason. What is it? First God chose us to be holy and blameless before Him. Our holiness is meaningless. In fact, it is less than meaningless, it is actually evil. When we are at our best we are still evil. “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” Isaiah 64:6 We are chosen for a holiness that is not our own. It is Christ’s holiness. God gives it to us as a Gift.
Second, God chose us for adaption as sons. In the Roman culture when an adoption was made it was final and complete. The former family had no rights or claims to the person, In the eyes of the law he was a new person. So that even any debts and obligations he had before adoption disappeared. It was as if they never existed. That is what Paul says God has done for us.
Third, God has redeemed us. Redemption is to buy or pay off. God purchased us. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Cor 6:19-20. “You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.” 1 Cor 17:23a God is a just God and to simply forgive us would be a violation of His justice. So Christ paid the price or penalty for us.
Fourth, we are forgiven for our treason against God. Once Christ paid the price of Justice God forgave us.
The good news is the price was paid so we could be forgiven. We have been adopted and our debt paid has been abolished. All this occurred because God chose us. We had nothing to do with it. Bath in the realization of that! God be praised!
But all that explains what it does not answer why. The answer to the why question is simple. Simple yet hard to understand and accept. He did it or Himself. He did it for His glory. Not because of what you offered. Not because of your potential. Not because of what you did. He did it for His glory.
Why all the concern about rather or not I chose Christ by my asking Him into my heart or Christ chose me? What difference does it make? First, if you are claiming you have anything to do with your salvation, regardless of how small, you are stealing the glory that belongs to God. Second, realizing what God has done for you, causes you to praise Him. God has chosen you, not because of who you are or what you have, or what you can do. But He has chosen you so that He is glorified. What a privilege!