ALSO WE HAVE OBTAINED AN
INHERITANCE: en o kai eklehrothemen (1PAPI): (Ep 1:14; Psalms
37:18; Acts 20:32; 26:18; Romans 8:17; Galatians 3:18; Colossians 1:12;
3:24; Titus 3:7; James 2:5; 1Peter 1:4; 3:9)
(last phrase in Eph 1:10-note)
(See related discussion "in
fits more appropriately at the beginning of verse 11 than at the end
of verse 10. Jesus Christ is the ground or source of our divine
inheritance and apart from Him the only eternal thing a person can
receive from God is condemnation.
These truths are
life changing...if we lay hold of them and live in the light of them as
Ray Stedman exhorts us to do...
The question dear reader then is are
you enjoying your inheritance? Do you wake in the morning and remind
yourself at the beginning of the day, "I'm a child of the Father." "I've
been chosen by him to be a member of his family." "He imparts to me all
the richness of his life." "His peace, his joy, his love are my legacy,
my inheritance from which I can draw every moment of life. And have them
no matter what my circumstances may be." Do you reckon on these unseen
things which are real and true? -- because, if you do, when you trust in
God's grace to be your present experience, you can know of yourself what
the Father said three times about his Son Jesus. God the Father, looking
down at you can say, "This fellow here, this girl there, this man, this
woman -- this is my beloved child in whom I am well pleased." That is
our inheritance. (Read full message
Ephesians 1::3-14: Foundations)
Obtained an Inheritance
(only use in NT)
(kleroo related word
kleros) means to choose or determine by lot. In the passive sense
(as in this use -
it means to obtain an inheritance or be appointed an heir. Believers became heirs of God
because He predestined us according to His purpose. The “lot” in a sense
then fell to believers not by chance but solely because of His gracious
Paul uses the
to refer to a definite
action in past. When something in the future was so certain that
it could not possibly fail to happen Greek often spoke as if it had
already occurred as in this case (prolepsis or proleptic in English =
representation of something as existing before it actually becomes
reality). To be sure, to an extent all believers have already received an inheritance
(cf Eph 1:3 "every spiritual blessing...") but there is a certain
future inheritance awaiting every believer for as Peter reminds his
readers undergoing various trials, believers possess...
an inheritance which is imperishable
and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved (perfect
= speaks of the abiding nature or
permanence of the inheritance) in heaven for you (1Pe 1:4-note)
Paul explains to the Ephesian elders
how in this present life to have a greater assurance of one's
And now I commend you to God and to
the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the
inheritance among all those who are sanctified. (Acts 20:32-note)
It follows from this verse that study the Word of His grace results in a
greater richness and understanding of our glorious inheritance
John MacArthur explains the
two ways that this verse can be translated...
The passive form of the verb (kleroo)
in Eph 1:11a allows for two possible renderings, both of which are
consistent with other Scripture. It can be translated “were made an
inheritance” or, as here, have obtained an inheritance. The
first rendering would indicate that we, that is, believers, are Christ’s
inheritance. Jesus repeatedly spoke of believers as gifts that the
Father had given Him (John 6:37, 39; 10:29; 17:2, 24; etc.).
Jesus won us at Calvary—as the spoils of His victory over Satan, sin,
and death—and we now belong to Him. “ ‘And they will be Mine,’ says
the Lord of hosts, ‘on the day that I prepare My own possession’ ”
(Mal. 3:17). From eternity past the Father planned and determined that
every person who would trust in His Son for salvation would be given to
His Son as a possession, a glorious inheritance.
Translated the other way, however,
this word means just the opposite: it is believers who receive the
Both of the translations are
therefore grammatically and theologically legitimate. Throughout
Scripture believers are spoken of as belonging to God, and He is spoken
of as belonging to them. The New Testament speaks of our being in Christ
and of His being in us, of our being in the Spirit and of His being in
us. “The one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him” (1Cor. 6:17). Paul could therefore say, “For me, to live is Christ”
The practical side of that truth is
that, because we are identified with Christ, our lives should be
identified with His life (cf. 1Jn 2:6). We are to love as He
loved, help as He helped, care as He cared, share as He shared, and
sacrifice our own interests and welfare for the sake of others just as
He did. Like our Lord, we are in the world to lose our lives for others.
Although either rendering of
eklērōthēmen can be supported, Paul’s emphasis in Ephesians 1:3-14
makes the second translation more appropriate here (MacArthur,
J: Ephesians. Chicago: Moody Press)
HAVING BEEN PREDESTINED
ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE: prooristhentes (AAPMPN) kata prothesin:
The enmity of men's hearts to this
doctrine of predestination was seen in the House of Common, not a
fortnight ago, when one who ought to have known better talked about "the
gloomy tenets of Calvin." I know nothing of Calvin's gloomy tenets; but
I do know that I read here of predestination, and I read here that God
hath his own way, and his own will, and that he reigns and rules, and so
he will until the world's end; and all who are loyal subjects wish God
to rule. He is a traitor who would not have God to be King; for who is
infinitely good and kind as God is? Let him have his divine will. Who
wishes to restrain him? Whether we wish is or not, however, the Lord
reigneth; let the earth rejoice, and let his adversaries tremble. Our
predestination is "according to the purpose of him who worketh all
things after the counsel of his own will."
Having been predestined
from pró = before + horízo = to
determine) means to mark out with a boundary beforehand.
Believers are what they are because of what God chose to make them
before any man was created. Neither fate nor human merit determines our
The peace of the
Christian Church has been disrupted due to the misunderstanding which
surrounds the verb proorizo. It behooves believers to consider the
divinely intended meaning of this word by carefully examining the
critical passages where it is used...
6x in 6v - Acts 4:28; Rom 8:29, 30; 1Co 2:7; Eph 1:5, 11
(kata) means not a portion of but proportional to. In other
words, if a billionaire gives you $10 it is OUT OF his fortune, that
would be a "portion" but if he gives you a million dollars, he is giving
you "according to" (kata) his riches and thus is giving in
proportion to his wealth. In the present context Paul is referring to
purpose - God has an eternal purpose for all things. If God
is God at all, He is sovereign. He cannot work independently of His own
nature, for then He would cease to be God, something that is impossible.
He is a wise God; therefore, His eternal purpose is a wise one. He is a
powerful God; therefore, He is able to accomplish what He purposes. He
is a loving God; therefore, what He purposes will manifest His love. He
is an unchanging God; therefore, His purpose is unchanging.
from protíthemi = set before oneself; purpose
or plan) means a placing in view or openly displaying
something (eg, prothesis is the Greek word used for the shewbread in the
Holy Place as set before God). The idea is that of a setting forth, a plan in advance,
or that which is
planned or purposed in advance. In other words, it speaks of an
intention or plan, and is like a "blueprint" or
design of God in calling men in general, Gentiles as well as Jews"
12x in 12v - Matt 12:4; Mark 2:26; Luke 6:4; Acts 11:23; 27:13; Rom
8:28; 9:11; Eph 1:11; 3:11; 2 Tim 1:9; 3:10; Heb 9:2. NAS =
consecrated(3), purpose(7), resolute(1), sacred(1).
Hendriksen sums up this passage writing that...
Neither fate nor human merit
determines our destiny. The benevolent purpose—that we should be holy
and faultless (Ep 1:4-note),
sons of God (Ep 1:5-note),
destined to glorify him forever (Eph 1:6-note,
cf. Ep 1:12, 13, 14-notes
1:14)—is fixed, being
part of a larger, universe–embracing plan. Not only did God make this
plan that includes absolutely all things that ever take place in heaven,
on earth, and in hell; past, present, and even the future, pertaining to
both believers and unbelievers, to angels and devils, to physical as
well as spiritual energies and units of existence both large and small;
He also wholly carries it out. His providence in time is as
comprehensive as is His decree from eternity. (Hendriksen,
W., & Kistemaker, S. J. New Testament Commentary Set, 12 Volumes. Grand
Rapids: Baker Book House)
ALL THINGS AFTER THE COUNSEL OF HIS WILL: tou ta panta energountos (PAPMSG)
kata ten boulen tou thelematos autou: (Eph 1:8; Job 12:13;
Proverbs 8:14; Isaiah 5:19; 28:29; 40:13,14; Jeremiah 23:18; 32:19;
Zechariah 6:13; Acts 2:23; 4:28; 20:27; Romans 11:34; Hebrews 6:17)
Works (1754) (energeo
[word study] from en = in
+ érgon = work. English = energetic) means to work effectively to
cause something to happen. To energize, to operate, to work effectually
in. It means power in exercise, and is used only of superhuman power.
To work energetically, effectively and/or efficiently. To put forth
energy. To be at work. To produce results.
God energizes every believer with all the power necessary
for his spiritual completion. God operates with His divine energy
in all things. The same word occurs in Eph 1:19-note
and Eph 1:20-note,
in reference to the energetic operation of the Father's infinite might
which He energetically exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the
dead. The conclusion is that nothing, absolutely nothing can upset the
elect’s future spiritual blessings in glory.
indicates continuous action
indicates God is the initiator. In short, God is continually working out
His perfect will whether we see it or acknowledge it in our lives.
has an interesting comment noting that...
God’s creating and energizing are one
in His divine mind. When He spoke each part of the world into existence
it began immediately to operate precisely as He had planned it to do.
Unlike the things we make, God’s creations do not have to be redesigned,
prototyped, tested, fueled, charged, and the like. They are not only
created ready to function, they are created functioning. (MacArthur,
J: Ephesians. Chicago: Moody Press)
21x in 19v - Matt 14:2; Mark 6:14; Rom 7:5; 1 Cor 12:6, 11; 2 Cor 1:6;
4:12; Gal 2:8; 3:5; 5:6; Eph 1:11, 20; 2:2; 3:20; Phil 2:13; Col 1:29; 1
Thess 2:13; 2 Thess 2:7; Jas 5:16. accomplish(1), brought about(1),
effective(2), effectually worked(2), performs...work(1), work(6),
(pas) has idea of “whole” as well as the idea of oneness or a
(kata) So what God energizes He will complete
(boule) when used of man expresses a decision, a purpose or a
plan which is the result of inner deliberation. Boule is that
which has been purposed and planned. Boule has in it the ideas of intelligence and deliberation.
In other words boule describes the result of deliberate determination
which in the present context reflects the product of not just a "mastermind" but God's
heart of infinite love.
that in secular Greek boule...
denotes an intention, a deliberation.
It also stands for the result of a deliberation in the sense of a
decision of the will, a resolution, a counsel or an edict. So already in
Homer (Il. 2, 53) an assembly of men is called a boule, when it became
an institutional body (e.g. the Council of the Five Hundred in Athens, Herodotus 5, 72; 9, 5).
Boule also occurs well over
100 times in the
by contrast with thelema
(see below), mainly for Hebrew 'etsah
(06098) (74 times). It denotes...
weighty preconsideration which precedes the effecting of the will (e.g.
Dt 32:28). It can even be found in the sense of “wisdom” (e.g.
"discretion" [Hebrew = mezimmah -
04209 = purpose, discretion,
device] in Pr
2:11; Pr 8:12 = "prudence"; Pr 20:5 = "plan"). The Spirit “of counsel”, i.e. of considered reflection, is
a gift of God (Is 11:2);
(b) counsel (e.g. Isa. 9:6 as a
characteristic of the Messiah) and advice, whether good (Ge 49:6; 1Ki.
12:8) or foolish (Ps 1:1; Ps 106:43, Pr 21:30 = "counsel", Is 19:11);
(c) as in secular Greek, the
council as a political institution, e.g. the assembly of the people (1Macc. 14:22), the deliberations of such a board (Jdg 2:2), and the
resolution of an assembly (3 Macc. 7:17); "council of the holy ones" (Ps
89:7), "company" (Ps 111:1) "assembly" in Ps 1:5
(d) also, and above all, the
counsel or purpose of God (e.g. “The LORD brings the counsel of the
nations to naught...the counsel of the LORD stands for ever”, Ps
33:10, 11; “Thou dost guide me with Thy counsel”, Ps 73:24,
106:13, 107:11, Pr 8:14, 19:21). God’s purposes are trustworthy and true; Israel can therefore
rely on them (Is 25:1). His purpose includes Israel’s salvation (Is
14:26; cf. also Is 5:19; Mic 4:12).
Colin, Editor. New International Dictionary of NT Theology. 1986.
- 118 x in
Septuagint (LXX) translated
variously as "counsel", "advice", "discretion",
- Ge 49:6; Nu
16:2; Dt 32:28; Jdg 19:30; 20:7; 2Sa 15:31, 34; 16:20, 23; 17:7, 14, 23;
1Kgs 12:8, 13, 14, 24; 2Kgs 18:20; 1Chr 12:19; 2Chr 10:8, 13, 14; 22:5;
Ezra 4:5; 10:8; Neh 4:15; Esther 4:17; 9:31; Job 5:12, 13; 10:3; 12:13;
18:7; 22:18; 29:21; 38:2; 42:3; Ps 1:1, 5; 13:2; 14:6; 20:4; 21:11;
33:10f; 66:5; 73:24; 89:7; 106:13, 43; 107:11; 111:1; Pr 1:25, 30; 2:11,
17; 3:21; 8:12, 14; 9:10; 11:13f; 15:22; 19:21; 20:5; 21:30; 22:20;
25:28; 31:4; Eccl 2:12; Isa 3:9; 4:2; 5:19; 7:5, 7; 8:10; 9:6; 10:25;
11:2; 14:26; 19:3, 11, 17; 25:1, 7; 28:8; 29:15; 30:1; 31:6; 32:7, 8;
36:5; 41:21; 44:25, 26; 46:10; 47:13; 55:7, 8; Je 18:18, 23; 19:7;
32:18; 49:7, 20, 30; 50:45; Ezek 7:26; 11:2; 27:9; Da 2:14; 4:27; 6:4;
7:8; Ho 10:6; Mic 4:9, 12; 6:16; Zech 6:13.
Here is an
interesting use in the
where the Greek seems to amplify the thrust of the Hebrew text (source
of the NAS)...
NAS = Proverbs 25:28 Like a
city that is broken into and without walls Is a man who has no
control over his spirit.
LXX = Proverbs 25:28 As a city
whose walls are broken down, and
which is unfortified, so is a man who does anything without counsel
Boule is a strong term,
indicating God's fixed intention. That which is his purpose stands
utterly fixed and cannot be changed by any action of others. Of its
twelve occurrences in the NT, seven times boule is used in reference to
God's will and purpose (Lk 7:30; Ac 2:23; 4:28; 13:36; 20:27; Ep 1:11;
He 6:17). When used of human beings, the word has a weaker force,
expressing an intention or plan that may or may not be achieved.
L O: Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: Regency)
solemnly represents the almighty will
as displayed in action; thelema designating the will generally,
boule the more special expression of it
Thelema therefore, is will,
the result of desire—voluntas; boule is counsel, the result of a
formal decision—propositum. Here (Ep 1:11) boule is the ratified
expression of will—the decision to which His will has come. The Divine
mind is not in a state of indifference, it has exercised thelema—will;
and that will is not a lethargic velleity, for it has formed a defined
purpose, boule, which it determines to carry out. His desire and
His decrees are not at variance, but every resolution embodies His
unthwarted pleasure. This divine fore-resolve is universal in its
sweep—“He worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.” The
plan of the universe lies in the omniscient mind, and all events are in
harmony with it. Power in unison with infinite wisdom and independent
and undeviating purpose, is seen alike whether He create a seraph or
form a gnat—fashion a world or round a grain of sand—prescribe the orbit
of a planet or the gyration of an atom. The extinction of a world and
the fall of a sparrow are equally the result of a free pre-arrangement.
Our “inheritance” in Christ springs not from merit, nor is it an
accidental gift bestowed from casual motive or in fortuitous
circumstances, but it comes from God's fore-appointment, conceived in
the same independence and sovereignty which guide and control the
Salmond says: "The distinction
between boule and thelema is still much debated, scholars continuing to
take precisely opposite views of it." Nevertheless he concludes: In a
connection like the present it is natural to look for a distinction, and
in such cases theidea of intelligence and deliberation seems to attach
to the boule. This appears to be supported by the usage which prevails
in point of fact in the majority of NT passages, and particularly by
such occurrences as Matt. 1:19. Here, therefore, the will of God which
acts in His foreordaining purpose or decree, in being declared to have
its boule or "counsel," is set forth not arbitrarily, but intelligently
and by deliberation, not without reason, but for reasons, hidden it may
be from us, yet proper to the Highest Mind and Most Perfect Moral Nature
(Earle, R. Word Meanings in the New Testament).
Wuest in commenting on o 8:29
has an interesting thought noting first that boule is
used in classical Greek of a council
convened for the purpose of administering the affairs of government,
such as the Roman Senate, or of the camp-fire council of Xenophon and
his officers on their march back to Greece. Out from the deliberations
of this latter council, for instance, would come counsel, a
pre-determined course of action that would best meet the circumstances
they had to face on the march. Here (Ro 8:29) we have the Triune God in
council convened, the purpose of which was to select out from the three
Persons of the Godhead, the Lamb for sacrifice who would pay the penalty
for man’s sin. The result of the deliberations of this council, namely,
the counsel that came from these deliberations was that the Son of God
was to die on Calvary’s Cross. The word boule (counsel) is
described by the perfect participle of horizo, “to mark out the
boundaries or limits” of any place or thing, “to determine or appoint.”
This verb tells us that these deliberations were for the purpose of
determining something, and the fact that it is in the perfect tense
shows that these deliberations had reached a successful conclusion and
the counsel of the council was fixed and unchangeable.
K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans)
Boule - 12x
in 12v - NAS = counsel(1), decision(1), motives(1), plan(4), purpose(5).
Luke 7:30 But the Pharisees and the
lawyers rejected God's purpose for themselves, not having been
baptized by John.
Luke 23:51 (he had not consented to their plan and action), a man
from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who was waiting for the kingdom of
Acts 2:23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and
foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men
and put Him to death.
Acts 4:28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined
Acts 5:38 "So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these
men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it
will be overthrown;
Acts 13:36 "For David, after he had served the purpose of God in
his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers and
Acts 20:27 "For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole
purpose of God.
Acts 27:12 Because the harbor was not suitable for wintering, the
majority reached a decision to put out to sea from there, if
somehow they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete, facing southwest
and northwest, and spend the winter there.
Acts 27:42 The soldiers' plan was to kill the prisoners, so that
none of them would swim away and escape;
1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the
time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the
things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives ("secret
thoughts") of men's hearts; and then each man's praise will come to him
Ephesians 1:11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been
predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the
counsel of His will,
Hebrews 6:17 In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the
heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose,
interposed with an oath,
from thelo = to will with the "-ma" suffix indicating the
result of the will = "a thing willed") generally speaks of the result of
what one has decided. One sees this root word in the feminine name "Thelma."
In its most basic form, thelema refers to a wish, a strong
desire, and the willing of some event. (Note: See also the
discussion of the preceding word boule
for comments relating to
says that thelema is the...
Will, not to be conceived as a
demand, but as an expression or inclination of pleasure towards that
which is liked, that which pleases and creates joy. When it denotes
God's will, it signifies His gracious disposition toward something. Used
to designate what God Himself does of His own good pleasure.
S. The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament. AMG
both an objective meaning (“what one wishes to happen” or what is
willed) and a subjective connotation (“the act of willing or desiring”).
The word conveys the idea of desire, even a heart’s desire, for the word
primarily expresses emotion instead of volition. Thus God’s will is not
so much God’s intention, as it is His heart’s desire.
Most of the NT
uses of thelema (over 3/4's) refer to God's will and signify His
gracious disposition toward something. God's will usually refers to
what He has decreed, but occasionally God's will refers to what He
desires but has not decreed (Mt 18:14). Of the remainder of the
uses of thelema twice refers to the will of the exalted Christ
(Acts 21:14, Ep 5:17), once to the will of the devil (2Ti 2:26) and 12
times to human will most often in contrast to God's will (eg Lk 23:25,
Jn 1:13, Ep 2:3). Paul was an apostle only because it was
the will (thelema) of God - 1Cor 1:1, 2Cor 1:1, Ep 1:1,
Col 1:1, 2Ti 1:1.
Man is able to resist the will, the
thelema, of God, but whatever takes place God’s determinate counsel,
boulema, is never prevented from fulfillment. Thelema, when used
of God, signifies a gracious design (cp. Ro 2:18; 12:2; 15:32); the
similar word boulema denotes a determined resolve (see Ro 9:19).
To do the will of God, then, is to
yield ourselves to the accomplishment of His designs for us by obeying
Him in all that He has revealed to faith, cp. Ro 1:17; He 11:3. But
since neither the desire, nor the power, to do the will of God, dwells
naturally in the believer, God works in Him “both to will and to work of
His good pleasure,” Php 2:13, cp. He 13:21 and 1Co 12:6. This, however,
does not relieve the believer of his responsibility, for he is to
“understand what the will of the Lord is,” Ep 5:17, and understanding
it, he is to do it from the heart, Ep 6:6.
W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson
that thelema is...
what one wishes or has determined
shall be done (i.e. objectively, “thing willed”)
boule from thelema noting that...
boule is a desire based upon the
reason, but thelema is a desire based upon the emotions. God’s will
or desire here (Ep 1:9, 11), comes from His heart of love.
Counsel (boule) refers
to God’s purpose or deliberation. Will (thelema) denotes
willingness. The idea contained in Eph 1:11 is that God chose a plan
after deliberating on the wisest course of action to accomplish his
way, thelema conveys the idea of desire, even a heart’s desire,
for the word primarily expresses emotion instead of volition. Thus God’s
will is not so much God’s intention, as it is His heart’s desire.
Wuest adds that in the context of Eph 1:9 "This will or desire is according
to His good pleasure. The words “according to” (Ep 1:9) are kata,
the preposition meaning “down” and suggesting domination. This desire on
God’s part is dominated by His good pleasure."
Wayne A Detzler
in ancient secular Greek the word
thelema had another meaning. Homer used it to speak of "readiness,"
"inclination," and "desire." When one was ready for an event, or
inclined to undertake a course of action, thelo (root verb form
of thelema) was used. Later the word also gained a sexual meaning, as
when a man has his "will" with a woman, or vice versa. In the writings
of Plato the word came to speak of intention or desire. (Wayne A
Detzler. New Testament Words in Today's Language)
that the root verb thelo in classic Greek ...
originally and especially in Homer and
in early Attic inscriptions with the following meanings
(a) to be ready; to prefer,
to be inclined;
(b) to wish, to
desire (e.g. “he desired to see”, Homer, Od. 11, 566; also in the sexual
sense, Homer, Od. 3, 272);
(c) to have in mind (Homer, Il. 1, 549);
to will, both as determining and coming to a decision; and in particular
(e) to will, in the sense of compelling, and overbearing the will
(Homer, Il, 14, 120; 19, 274; Plato, Phdr. 80d).
The noun thelema, derived from
thelo and attested from Antiphon the Sophist onwards, but used
very rarely in secular Greek, correspondingly denotes intention, wish,
and then chiefly will.
62x in 58v - Mt 6:10; 7:21; 12:50; 18:14; 21:31; 26:42; Mark 3:35; Luke
12:47; 22:42; 23:25; Jn 1:13; 4:34; 5:30; 6:38, 39, 40; 7:17; 9:31;
Acts 13:22; 21:14; 22:14; Ro 1:10-note;
1Cor 1:1; 7:37; 16:12; 2Cor 1:1; 8:5; Gal 1:4; Ep 1:1-note,
Ep 6:6-note; Col
Col 4:12-note; 1Th 4:3-note;
1Th 5:18-note; 2Ti 1:1-note;
2Ti 2:26-note; He 10:7-note,
He 13:21-note; 1Pe 2:15-note;
1Pe 4:19-note; 2Pe 1:21-note; 1Jn 2:17; 5:14; Rev
4:11-note. NAS = desire(1), desires(1), will(57).
Thelema is one
of those words that is best understood from how it is used in Scripture. I
would suggest reading the preceding NT passages (in context if you have time) and
making notation of what you learn about thelema. Here are a few examples
to illustrate this approach...
We are to pray for
God's thelema (before we pray for our will!)...
'Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.
Comment: Compare also the value of
praying in His thelema or will (1Jn 5:14), the importance of doing His
will and prayer (Jn 9:31), Jesus' example of submission to God's
will in prayer (Mt 26:42, Lk 22:42), Jesus as the God Man doing His
Father's will and His submission and obedience giving us an example to
follow (Jn 4:34, Jn 5:30, 6:38, He 10:7, 9)
We can and should
wrestle in prayer for each other to do God's will...
Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave (doulos) of Jesus Christ, sends
you his greetings, always laboring (agonizomai) earnestly for you in his prayers
that you may stand perfect (teleios) and fully assured in all the will of
Comment: Epaphras wanted the
Colossians to be mature ("full grown" spiritually, not "babes") and
fully convinced in regard to the will of God.
Not doing God's
thelema identifies an unbeliever (regardless of whether they claim
to be a believer or not!)...
Matthew 7:21-note Not everyone who says to
Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the
will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.
Comment: Compare Lk 12:47; See
also the converse or "positive" side of doing God's will as indicative
of a true believer in Matthew 12:50, 1Jn 2:17)
Jesus refers to
doing God's thelema and in essence is saying that we won't really know
the Bible unless we are willing to obey the Bible. Or stated another
way, we won't really know God's will unless we are willing to obey God's
John 7:17 If anyone is willing (verb
thelo = the idea is a purposeful decision not a passive
acquiescence! So to purpose to do God's Will, to take pleasure in it, to
be fond of doing it, to take delight in it) to do His will, he will know
of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself.
The man who does God's will is he who
will be the man after God's own heart (clearly Luke is not speaking of
perfection but of direction of one's heart)...
Acts 13:22 “After He had removed him,
He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified
and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My heart,
who will do all My will.’
Note that God even gives us the
ability to do His will and this is something we should pray for (cp Col
(Prayer for the God of peace to)
equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that
which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the
glory forever and ever. Amen
God's will is most clearly revealed
in His Word...
For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that
you abstain from sexual immorality;
in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in
So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the
Lord is. (Which he goes on to clearly state) Ep 5:18-note
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled
with the Spirit, (See also 1Pe 2:15-note)
The Scriptures were not written by
the will of man but through God's will...
for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men
moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
It was God's will to create all
Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and
power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they
existed, and were created.”
translated as "desire",
"delight", "favor" - 2Sa 23:5; 1Kgs 5:8ff; 9:11; 2 Chr 9:12; Esth 1:8;
Job 21:21; Ps 1:2; 16:3; 28:7; 30:5, 7; 40:8; 103:7, 21; 107:30; 111:2;
143:10; 145:19; Eccl 5:4; 12:1, 10; Isa 44:28; 48:14; 58:3, 13; 62:4;
Jer 9:24; 23:17, 26; Dan 4:35; 8:4; 11:3, 16, 36; Mal 1:10. Here is a
Psalm 143:10 Teach me to do Your
will (thelema), for You are my God; Let Your good Spirit lead
me on level ground.
In Isaiah we see
God's sovereign omnipotent will exercised through a human king in order
to bring His people Israel back from Babylonian exile...
Isaiah 44:28 "It is I who says
of Cyrus, 'He is My shepherd! And he will perform all My desire (thelema).'
And he declares of Jerusalem, 'She will be built,' And of the temple,
'Your foundation will be laid.'"
Daniel 4:35 (King
Nebuchadnezzar came to understand God's sovereign, omnipotent
will) "All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
But He does according to His will (thelema) in the host of
heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His
hand Or say to Him, 'What have You done?'
exerts his will in...
Daniel 11:36 "Then (This important
time phrase marks a dramatic shift in this prophecy vaulting forward
into the future describing an evil king like the world has never seen)
the king (the Antichrist) will do as he pleases (according to
his will = thelema), and he will exalt and magnify himself above
every god and will speak monstrous things against the God of gods; and
he will prosper until the indignation (~time of Jacob's trouble, the 3.5
year period Jesus called the
at the end of
Daniel's Seventieth Week)
is finished, for that which is decreed will be done.
God works out all
things, even the difficult things in our life including illnesses,
suffering and even death. We see through a mirror dimly in this life and
surely this divine maxim is often difficult to understand and also
difficult to accept. One reason is that many either do not fully
comprehend or do not ascribe to God the attribute of complete sovereignty in
the design and execution of His purpose. This failure to acknowledge
God's control makes it difficult to understand those things in His plan
which to us seem "out of place", but we can rest assured that such
things will work for His glory.
><> ><> ><>
- A minister was called to the scene of a coal pit disaster. Someone
placed in his hands a beautiful piece of embroidery on which the words
“God is love” had been wrought. The minister held this up so that the
stricken people could see the message which had been so perfectly worked
according to a plan. Then he turned the canvas round and all they could
see where the tangled ends of thread that certainly did not seem to make
any sense at all.
><> ><> ><>
In Morning and
Evening, Spurgeon writes the following devotionals on Ephesians
When Jesus gave himself for us, he
gave us all the rights and privileges which went with himself; so that
now, although as eternal God, he has essential rights to which no
creature may venture to pretend, yet as Jesus, the Mediator, the federal
head of the covenant of grace, he has no heritage apart from us. All the
glorious consequences of his obedience unto death are the joint riches
of all who are in him, and on whose behalf he accomplished the divine
will. See, he enters into glory, but not for himself alone, for it is
written, "Whither the Forerunner is for us entered." Heb. 6:20. Does he
stand in the presence of God?-"He appears in the presence of God for
us." Heb. 9:24. Consider this, believer. You have no right to heaven in
yourself: your right lies in Christ. If you are pardoned, it is through
his blood; if you are justified, it is through his righteousness; if you
are sanctified, it is because he is made of God unto you sanctification;
if you shall be kept from falling, it will be because you are preserved
in Christ Jesus; and if you are perfected at the last, it will be
because you are complete in him. Thus Jesus is magnified-for all is in
him and by him; thus the inheritance is made certain to us-for it is
obtained in him; thus each blessing is the sweeter, and even heaven
itself the brighter, because it is Jesus our Beloved "in whom" we have
obtained all. Where is the man who shall estimate our divine portion?
Weigh the riches of Christ in scales, and his treasure in balances, and
then think to count the treasures which belong to the saints. Reach the
bottom of Christ's sea of joy, and then hope to understand the bliss
which God hath prepared for them that love him. Overleap the boundaries
of Christ's possessions, and then dream of a limit to the fair
inheritance of the elect. "All things are yours, for ye are Christ's and
Christ is God's.
><> ><> ><>
Our belief in God's wisdom supposes
and necessitates that he has a settled purpose and plan in the work of
salvation. What would creation have been without his design? Is there a
fish in the sea, or a fowl in the air, which was left to chance for its
formation? Nay, in every bone, joint, and muscle, sinew, gland, and
blood-vessel, you mark the presence of a God working everything
according to the design of infinite wisdom. And shall God be present in
creation, ruling over all, and not in grace? Shall the new creation have
the fickle genius of free will to preside over it when divine counsel
rules the old creation? Look at Providence! Who knoweth not that not a
sparrow falleth to the ground without your Father? Even the hairs of
your head are all numbered. God weighs the mountains of our grief in
scales, and the hills of our tribulation in balances. And shall there be
a God in providence and not in grace? Shall the shell be ordained by
wisdom and the kernel be left to blind chance? No; he knows the end from
the beginning. He sees in its appointed place, not merely the
corner-stone which he has laid in fair colours, in the blood of his dear
Son, but he beholds in their ordained position each of the chosen stones
taken out of the quarry of nature, and polished by his grace; he sees
the whole from corner to cornice, from base to roof, from foundation to
pinnacle. He hath in his mind a clear knowledge of every stone which
shall be laid in its prepared space, and how vast the edifice shall be,
and when the top-stone shall be brought forth with shoutings of "Grace!
Grace! unto it. " At the last it shall be clearly seen that in every
chosen vessel of mercy, Jehovah did as he willed with his own; and that
in every part of the work of grace he accomplished his purpose, and
glorified his own name.
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Mysterious Ways - The twists and turns in the life of
Jacob DeShazer sound like the plot of an intriguing war novel. But taken
together, they show us the mysterious ways in which God moves.
DeShazer served the US Army Air Corps in World War II as a bombardier in
the squadron of General Doolittle. While participating in Doolittle's
raid on Japan in 1942, DeShazer and his crew ran out of fuel and bailed
out over China. He was taken to a Japanese prison camp where he trusted
Jesus as his Savior. After his release, he became a missionary to Japan.
One day DeShazer handed a tract with his story in it to a man named
Mitsuo Fuchida. He didn't know that Mitsuo was on his way to a trial for
his wartime role as the commander of Japanese forces that attacked Pearl
Harbor. Fuchida read the pamphlet and got a Bible. He soon became a
Christian and an evangelist to his people. Eventually, DeShazer and
Fuchida met again and became friends.
It's amazing how God can take two men who were mortal enemies, bring
them together, and lead them to Himself. But it shows us that He is in
control. And nothing—not even a world war—can stop God from working "all
things according to the counsel of His will" (Ephesians 1:11). —Dave
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
My times are in my Father's hand;
How could I wish or ask for more?
For He who has my pathway planned
Will guide me till my journey's o'er
Every child of God
fills a special place in His plan.
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Alexander Maclaren's exposition on Ephesians
GOD’S INHERITANCE AND OURS
A dewdrop twinkles into green and
gold as the sun-light falls on it. A diamond flashes many colours as its
facets catch the light. So, in this context, the Apostle seems to be
haunted with that thought of ‘inheriting’ and ‘inheritance,’ and he
recurs to it several times, but sets it at different angles, and it
flashes back different beauties of radiance. For the words, which I have
wrenched from (heir context in the first of these two verses, are more
accurately rendered, as in the Revised Version, in ‘whom also we were
made,’ not ‘have obtained ‘ — ‘an inheritance.’ Whose inheritance?
God’s! The Christian community is God’s possession. Then, in my second
text, we have the converse thought — ‘ the earnest of our inheritance.
What is the Christian’s possession? The same God whose possession is the
Christian. So, then, there is a deep and a wonderful relation between
the believing soul and God, and however different must be the two sides
of that relation, the resemblance is greater than the difference. Surely
that is the deepest, most blessed, and most strength-giving conception
of the Christian life. Other notions of it lay stress, and that rightly,
upon certain correspondence between us and God. My faith corresponds to
His faithfulness and veracity. My obedience corresponds to His
authority. My weakness lays hold on His strength. My emptiness is
replenished by His fulness. But here we rise above the region of
correspondences into that of similarity. In these other aspects the
convexity fits the concavity; in this aspect the two hemispheres go
together and make the complete globe. We possess God, and God possesses
us, and it is the same set of facts which are set forth in the two
thoughts, ‘We were made an inheritance,... the earnest of our
I. Now, then, let me ask you to
look first at this mutual possession.
We possess God; God possesses us.
What does that mean? Well, it means plainly and chiefly this, a mutual
love. For we all know — and many of us thankfully can bear witness to
the truth of it in our earthly relationships, — that the one way by
which a human spirit can possess a spirit is by the sweet mutual love
which abolishes ‘mine’ and ‘thine,’ and all but abolishes ‘me’ and
‘thee.’ And so God sets little store by the ownership which depends on
divinity and creation, though, of course, that relation brings with it a
duty. As the old psalm has it,’ It is He that hath made us, and we are
His — still, such a relationship as this, based upon the connection that
subsists between the Maker and the work of His hands, is so purely
external, and a harsh, and superficial, that God does not reckon it to
be a possession at all.
You perhaps remember how, in the
great word which underlies all these New Testament conceptions of God’s
ownership of His people, viz. the charter that constituted Israel into a
nation, He said, ‘Ye shall be unto Me a people for a possession above
all nations, for all the earth is Mine.’ And yet, though that ownership
and mastership extended over everything that His hands had made, He — if
I might so say — contemned it, and relegated it to a secondary position,
and told the people that His heart hungered for something deeper, more
real, more vital than such a possession, and that therefore, just
because all the earth was His, and that was not enough to satisfy His
heart, He took them and made them a peculiar treasure above all nations.
We have, then, to think of that great Divine Love which possesses us
when He loves us, and when we love Him.
But remember that of this sweet commerce and reverberation of love which
constitutes possession, the origination must be in His heart. ‘We love
Him because He first loved us.’ The mirrors are set all round the great
hall, but their surfaces are cold and lifeless until the great
candelabrum in the centre is lit, and then, from every polished sheet
there flashes back an echoing, answering light, and they repeat and
repeat, until you scarce can tell which is the original and which is the
reflection. But quench the centre, light, and the daughter-radiances
vanish into darkness. The love on either side is on one side spontaneous
and underived, and on the other side is secondary and evoked, but it is
love on both sides. His possession of us is, as it were, the upper side,
and our possession of Him is, as it were, the underside of the one
golden bond. It matters not whether you look at the stream with your
face to its source or with your face to its mouth, the silvery plain is
the same; and the deepest tie that knits men to God is the same as the
tie that knits God to men. There is mutual possession because there is
Then again, in this same thought of mutual possession there lies a
mutual surrender. For to give is the life-breath of all true love, and
there is nothing which the loving heart more desires than to be able to
pour itself out —much rather than any subordinate gifts — on its object.
But that, if it is one-sided, is misery, and only when it is reciprocal,
is it blessed. God gives Himself to us, as we know, most chiefly in that
unspeakable gift of His Son, and we possess Him by virtue of His
self-communication which depends upon His love. And then we possess Him,
and He possesses us, not less by the answering surrender of ourselves,
which is the expression of our love. No love subsists if it is only
recipient; no love subsists if it is only communicated. Exports and
imports must both be realised in this sweet commerce, and we enrich
ourselves far more by what we give to the Beloved than by what we keep
The last, the hardest thing to
surrender, is our own wills. To give them up by constraint is slavery
that degrades. To give them up because we love is a sacrifice which
sanctifies, even in the lowest reaches of daily life. And the love that
knits us to God is not invested with all its blessed possession of Him,
until it has surrendered its will, and said, ‘Not as I will, but as Thou
wilt.’ The traveller in the old fable gathered his cloak around him all
the more closely, and held it the more tightly, because of the tempest
that blew, but when the warm sunbeams fell be dropped it. He that would
coerce my will, stiffens it into rebellion; but when a beloved one says,
‘Though I might be much bold to enjoin thee, yet for love’s sake I
rather beseech,’ then yielding is blessedness, and the giving ourselves
away is the finding of God and ourselves.
I need not touch, in more than a
word, upon another aspect of this mutual possession, brought into view
lovingly in many parts of Scripture, and that is that there is in it not
only mutual love and mutual surrender, but mutual indwelling. ‘He that
dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.’
Jesus Christ has said the same thing
to us, ‘I am the Vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in Me
bringeth forth much fruit.’ We dwell in God, possessing Him; He dwells
in us, possessing us. We dwell in God, being possessed by Him. He dwells
in us, being possessed by us. And He moves in the heart that loves, as
the Master walking through His house, as the divinity is present in the
temple, and as the soul permeates the body, and is sight in the eye and
colour in the cheek, and force in the arm, and deftness in the finger,
and swiftness in the foot. So the indwelling God breathes through all
the capacities, and all the desires, and all the needs of the soul which
He inhabits, and makes them all blessed. The very same set of facts —
the presence of a divine life in the life of the believing spirit — may
either be looked at from the lower end, and then they are that I possess
God, and find in Him the nutriment and the stimulus for all my being, or
may be looked at from the upper end, that He possesses me and finds in
me capacities and a nature the emptiness of which He fills, and organs
which He uses. In both eases mutual love, mutual surrender, mutual
inhabitation, make up God’s possession of me and my possession of God.
II. And now let me point you in a
very few words to some of the plain, practical issues of this mutual
God’s possession of us demands our
consecration. ‘Ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price;
therefore, to live for self is to fly in the face of the very purpose of
Christ’s mission and of God’s communication of Himself to us. There are
slaves who run away from their masters and ‘deny the Lord that bought
them.’ We do that whenever, being God’s slaves, we set up anything else
than His will as our law, or anything else than His glory as the aim of
our lives. To live for self is to die, to die to self is to live. And
the solemn obligations of that most blessed possession by God of us are
as solemn as the possession is blessed, and can only be discharged when
we turn to Him, and yield the whole control of our nature to His
merciful hand, believing that He has not only the right to dispose of
us, but that His disposition of us will always coincide with our sanest
conceptions of good, and our wisest desires for happiness. Yield
yourselves to God, for He has yielded Himself to you, and in the
yielding we realise our largest and most blessed possession. It is a
good bargain to give myself and to get God.
God’s possession of us not only
demands consecration, but it ensures safety. Remember that great word,
‘No man is able’ to pluck them out of My Father’s hand’ God is not a
careless owner who leaves His treasures to be blown by every wind, or
filched by every petty robber. He is not like the king of some decrepit
monarchy, slices of whose territory his neigh-hours are for ever paring
off and annexing. What God has God preserves. ‘He is able to keep that
which I have committed unto Him against that day.’ ‘They are Mine, saith
the Lord, My jewels in the day which I make.’ But our security depends
on our consecration. ‘No man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s
hand.’ No! But you can wriggle yourself out of your Father’s hand, if
you will. And the security avails only so long as you realise that you
belong to God, and are living not for yourself.
Possessing God we are rich. There is nothing that is truly our wealth
which remains outside of us, and can be separated from us. ‘Shrouds have
no pockets,’ says the Spanish proverb. ‘His glory shall not descend
says the grim psalm. But if God possesses me He is not going to let His
treasures be lost in the grave. And if I possess Him then I shall pass
through death as a beam of light does through some denser medium — a
little refracted indeed, but not broken up; and I shall carry with me
all my wealth to begin another world with. And that is more than you can
do with the money that you make here. If you have God, you have the
capital to commence a new condition of things beyond the grave.
And so that mutual possession is the
real pledge of immortal life, for nothing can be more incredible than
that a soul which has risen to have God for its very own, and has bowed
itself to accept God’s ownership of it, can be affected by such a
transient and physical incident as what we call death. We rise to the
assurance of immortality because we have an inheritance which is God
Himself. And in that inexhaustible Inheritance there lies the guarantee
that we shall live while He lives, because He lives, and until we have
incorporated into our lives all the majesty and the purity and the
wisdom and the power that belong to us because they are God’s.
But we have to notice the two words
that lie at the beginning of our first text — ‘In whom we were made an
inheritance.’ That opens up the whole question of the means by which
this mutual possession becomes possible for us men. Jesus Christ has
died. That breaks the bondage under which the whole world is held. For
the true slavery which interferes with the free service and the full
possession of God is the slavery of self and sin. Jesus Christ has died.
‘If the Son make you free ye shall be free indeed.’ That great sacrifice
not only ‘breaks the power of cancelled sin,’ but it also moves the
heart, in the measure in which we truly accept it, to the love and the
surrender which make the mutual possession of which we have been
speaking. And so it is in Him that we become an Inheritance, that God
comes to His rights in regard to each of us. And it is in Him that we,
trusting the Son, have the inheritance for ours, and ‘are heirs with
God, and joint heirs with Christ.’ So, dear friends, if we would ‘be
meet for the inheritance of the saints in light,’ we must unite
ourselves to that Lord by faith, and through Him and faith in Him, we
shall receive ‘the remission of sins and inheritance among all them that