Amplified: May blessing (praise, laudation, and eulogy) be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) Who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual (given by the Holy Spirit) blessing in the heavenly realm! (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT: How we praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we belong to Christ. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: Praise be to God for giving us through Christ every possible spiritual benefit as citizens of Heaven! (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be eulogized, the One Who conferred benefactions upon us in the sphere of every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who did bless us in every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
BLESSED BE THE GOD AND FATHER OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST: Eulogetos o theos kai pater tou kuriou hemon Iesou Christou: (Blessed - Ge 14:20 1Ch 29:20 Neh 9:5 Ps 72:19 Da 4:34 Lk 2:28 2Co 1:3 1Pe 1:3 Rev 4:9, 10, 11 5:9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14) (God - Eph 1:17 Jn 10:29,30 Jn 20:17 Ro 15:6 2Co 1:3, 2Cor 11:31 Php 2:11)
From the preceding table, it should be obvious that this epistle displays a "purposeful unity". In other words, the first 3 chapters are first because the spiritual truths therein are crucial to the fulfillment of the charges in the last 3 chapters to practice these truths. Because the first 3 are more doctrinal, I fear many saints "speed read" through these great passages because they desire to get to the "practical" section of Ephesians. And then they wonder why they have such difficulty in practicing the charges of chapters 4-6 (like "let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth", "husbands love your wives", etc). Too often doctrine is perceived as "dry" and not as applicable to "real life". Beloved, we need to preach and teach and learn Ephesians 1-3, so that we can then more effectively practice Ephesians 4-6. To short change the former is to make the latter much more difficult to fulfill in practice.
In Ephesians 1:3-14 we encounter some of the most incredible truths in all of Scripture, so that many think that there is no section of Scripture with a greater concentration of truths than those written here. And although a cursory reading might suggest these verses are a kind of theological "maze", they are in fact very purposely laid out by divine inspiration which brings together the entire Godhead -- Ephesians 1:3-6 describes the will of the Father, Ephesians 1:7-12 describes the work of the Son, and Ephesians 1:13-14 describes the witness of the Spirit.
John Stott summarized this great section, Ephesians 1:3-14, which is one long and magnificent sentence in the Greek text this way...
Ray Stedman writes that
Notice that in a single verse Paul uses the entire word family -- the adjective (eulogetos), the verb (eulogeo) and the noun (eulogia) and the sentence still makes supernatural sense not nonsense as the natural man foolishly surmises!
Blessed (2128) (eulogetos from eu = good + logos = word - English "eulogy" = a speech or writing that praises someone highly) is the adjective describing the One Who is worthy of praise and in the NT is rightly used only of God and Christ Jesus. Rarely eulogetos is actually used as a Name for God -- "the Blessed One" (Mark 14:61).
Eulogetos - 8x in 8v - Mk 14:61; Luke 1:68; Ro 1:25; 9:5; 2 Cor 1:3; 11:31; Eph 1:3; 1 Pet 1:3
Stated literally Paul is saying "Let God be well spoken of (adored, praised)...bless Him for His great goodness." When doctrine is rightly understood (as Paul surely understood what he would expound in verses 3-14) it will naturally (supernaturally) lead to doxology (short formula expressing praise to God). When we discover Who God is and what He has accomplished for us in His Son, we cannot help but bless His holy name.
As an aside, doxology is an interesting word which originates from Greek doxa = glory or opinion (from dokein = to seem, seem good) and -logia from logos = word, speaking. Doxology is "speaking glory". Even as the thoughts begin to come into his mind (Ephesians 1:3-14ff), Paul cannot control himself and must preface it all by "speaking glory" to God the Father (speaking a proper opinion of the Father). And we should do likewise. The doxologies in almost all the Epistles imply the real sense of grace experienced by the writers and their readers.
Alexander Maclaren phrases it eloquently...
In all things speak well of Him, whether in the midst of pain, struggle, trials, frustration, opposition or adversity. Speak well of Him. And we can speak well of Him in all such circumstances when we recall to our minds that He is always good, independent of what we are experiencing or how we might feel. (see His unchangeable attribute - Goodness). Does it not strike you as absolutely amazing that the creature can even bless the Creator? What a high and holy privilege believers have and yet far too often allow to "atrophy" through infrequent use. Have you blessed the LORD today? Let David's words stir your soul...
C H Spurgeon's note on blessing God is worth pondering beloved...
See some of Spurgeon's sermons related to the topic of blessing...
Our God and Father: (See Eph 1:17 Jn 10:29,30 Jn 20:17 Ro 15:6 2Co 1:3, 2Cor 11:31 Php 2:11)
Note not the God and Father, but our God and Father. The apostle John testifies...
Ray Stedman writes that...
F B Meyer has these devotional thoughts on "Father"...
WHO HAS BLESSED US WITH EVERY SPIRITUAL BLESSING: o eulogesas (AAPMSN) hemas en pase eulogia pneumatike: (Ge 12:2,3 22:18 1Ch 4:10 Ps 72:17 134:3 Isa 61:9 Ga 3:9)
How vast the benefits divine which we in Christ possess!
This letter is about riches, not exhaustible material wealth that can make itself wings, but the inexhaustible riches that every believer possesses in Christ as a present reality. Paul sums our riches in this verse with the phrase "every spiritual blessing" and then he proceeds to explain them and to tell us how we can draw on them for effective Christian living. We need to remember that man's "days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. When the wind has passed over it, it is no more; and its place acknowledges it no longer." (Psalm 103:15) In Isaiah God adds that "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever." And that word is that we are spiritually wealthy become our wildest dreams. God wants us to live accordingly that the world might see it is to the praise of His glory. May His Spirit open each of our eyes so that we experience the reality of "every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" to the praise of the glory of His grace. Amen.
Why wouldn’t God put material blessings in this list of spiritual blessings? The answer is simple -- they don’t last for eternity, whereas the things not seen do last forever! What are you living for...the temporal or the eternal?
Ray Stedman writes that
Blessed (2127) (eulogeo from eu = good + logos = word) is the verb form meaning to speak well of, to celebrate with praises, to praise. As summarized below, God blesses men (with favor), who in turn (because of amazing grace) can bless God! Men can bless other men (e.g., in the form of prayer).
Zodhiates amplifies God's blessing of men noting that this means
The main uses of eulogeo are in the synoptic Gospels, where we see food, people, Jesus and God the Father are recipients of the blessing.
Jesus "blessed" food (Mt 14:19, Mk 6:41, 8:7, 14:22, Lk 9:16) and bread He dispensed to His disciples at the last Passover (Mt 26:26, Lk 24:30, same idea in 1Cor 10:16) Elizabeth called Mary mother of Jesus blessed for her honor of being mother of Messiah (Lk 1:41). The Jewish crowed "praised" (blessed) God when Zacharias was enabled to speak again after declaring his son's name would be John (the Baptist) (Lk 1:64) Simeon blessed God as He held His Son (Lk 2:28) and then he blessed Jesus' parents (Lk 2:34). Jesus commands (present imperative = as our habitual practice) us to bless those who persecute us (a supernatural feat only possible by one filled with an enabled by the Holy Spirit!) (Lk 6:28). Similarly Paul twice in one sentence commands (both times in the present imperative) Spirit filled believers (the only ones who could possibly genuinely obey this command!) to bless those who persecute us and not to curse them (Ro 12:14, same idea in 1Cor 4:12 and 1Pe 3:9). As an aside, this is a good marker of whether you have presented your body as a living sacrifice to God (Ro 12:1) and are truly filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18) and walking by the Spirit (Gal 5:16)! Are you as convicted as I am as write these words? Jesus is blessed as the Messiah when he entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (Mt 23:39, 11:9-10, Lk 19:38 - He was blessed because they thought the Kingdom was coming!) and will not come again until the Jews say "blessed" again in the future (Mt 23:39, Lk 13:35). Mysterious Melchizedek blessed Abraham after his victory in Genesis 14 (Heb 7:1, 6-7). Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau (context was future blessings and so this blessing was by faith), as did Jacob to all Joseph's sons (Heb 11:20-21). James describes the human tongue as the organ that speaks blessing to God the Father (Jas 3:9). God blesses believers with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph 1:3). Believers are blessed of the Father because they inherit the Kingdom (Mt 25:34). Believing Gentiles and Jews are blessed just as was Abraham the believer (Gal 3:8), who was blessed by God which in context was manifest by multiplication of his offspring (Heb 6:14). Jesus gave a parting blessing to His disciples (Lk 24:50, 51) and they in turn began blessing (praising) God in the Temple after His Ascension (Lk 24:53). Peter tells his Jewish audience that Messiah was sent to bless them by turning them from their wicked ways (Acts 3:26). Believers are to "bless" audibly (in context conveying thanksgiving), not just in their spirit, so that others can respond in the worship with "Amen!"
Eulogeo - 41x in 38v in NAS (Translated: bless(9), blessed(25), blessing(3), giving a blessing(1), praise(1), praising(1), surely*(1).) - Matt 14:19; 21:9; 23:39; 25:34; 26:26; Mark 6:41; 8:7; 11:9, 10; Mk 14:22; Luke 1:42, 64; 2:28, 34; 6:28; 9:16; 13:35; 19:38; 24:30, 50, 51 53; John 12:13; Acts 3:26; Ro 12:14; 1Cor 4:12; 10:16; 14:16; Gal 3:9; Eph 1:3; Heb 6:14; 7:1, 6-7; 11:20-21; Jas 3:9; 1Pet 3:9
Eulogeo - 251 verses in non-apocryphal Septuagint - Gen 1:22, 28; 2:3; 5:2; 9:1; 12:2f; 14:19; 17:16, 20; 22:17; 24:1, 35, 48, 60; 25:11; 26:3, 12, 24; 27:4, 7, 10, 19, 23, 25, 27, 29ff, 33f, 38, 41; 28:1, 3, 6; 30:27, 30; 31:55; 32:26, 29; 35:9; 39:5; 47:7, 10; 48:3, 9, 15f, 20; 49:25, 28; Exod 12:32; 20:11, 24; 23:25; 39:43; Lev 9:22f; Num 6:23f; 22:6, 12; 23:11, 20, 25; 24:1, 9f; Deut 1:11; 2:7; 7:13; 8:10; 12:7; 14:24, 29; 15:4, 6, 10, 14, 18; 16:10, 15; 18:5; 21:5; 23:20; 24:13, 19; 26:15; 27:12; 28:3ff, 12; 30:16; 33:1, 11, 20; Josh 8:30; 14:13; 17:14; 22:6f, 33; 24:10; Judg 5:2, 9, 24; 13:24; Ruth 2:4, 19; 3:10; 1 Sam 2:9, 20; 9:13; 13:10; 23:21; 25:14, 33; 26:25; 2 Sam 2:5; 6:11f, 18, 20; 7:29; 8:10; 13:25; 14:22; 19:39; 21:3; 24:23; 1 Kgs 1:47; 2:45; 8:14, 55, 66; 10:9; 21:10, 13; 2 Kgs 4:29; 10:15; 1 Chr 4:10; 13:14; 16:2, 36, 43; 17:27; 18:10; 26:5; 29:10, 20; 2 Chr 6:3; 9:8; 20:26; 30:27; 31:8, 10; Neh 8:6; 9:5; 11:2; Job 1:10f, 21; 2:5; 11:2; 29:13; 31:20; 42:12; Ps 5:12; 16:7; 26:12; 28:9; 29:11; 34:1; 37:22; 45:2; 49:18; 62:4; 63:4; 65:10; 66:8; 67:1, 6f; 68:26; 72:15, 17; 96:2; 103:1f, 20ff; 104:1, 35; 107:38; 109:28; 112:2; 113:2; 115:12f, 15, 18; 118:26; 128:4f; 129:8; 132:15; 134:1, 3; 135:19f; 145:1f, 10, 21; 147:13; Prov 3:33; 11:25; 20:9; 22:8; 27:14; 28:20; 30:11; 31:30; Isa 12:1; 19:24f; 25:3, 5; 36:16; 38:18ff; 43:20; 51:2; 61:9; 64:11; 65:16, 23; Jer 4:2; 17:7; 31:23; Ezek 3:12; Dan 2:19f; 5:4, 23; Hag 2:19;
First use of eulogeo is God blessing man and woman (Ge 1:22, 28, 5:2), then the seventh day (Ge 2:3), Noah (Ge 9:1), Abraham (Ge 12:2, 3, 14:18, 17:16)
One very notable use is Genesis 12:3 where God promises Abram (Abraham) "I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed." Beloved, do you bless Israel today (not because they deserve it because they do not, but because God calls us to do it. Cp Ps 122:6)
Those who have been blessed are "us" - Paul affirms that he had experienced this blessing also. God has endowed us with the ability to succeed in the spiritual life. Why are so many falling so far short of all that God desires for us and for which He has already made ample provision?
When we bless God we speak good of Him. When God blesses us, He bestows good to us. We bless Him with words. He blesses us with deeds! All we can do is to speak well of Him because in ourselves we have nothing good to give. And remember that to obey is better than sacrifice (1Sa 15:22), so don't praise Him with your lips and walk unworthily in your life. Stated another way, God cannot bless us for our goodness, because we have none. He blesses us with His abundant goodness (cf Ro 2:4-note). Our heavenly Father lavishes (bestows with profusion on) us with every goodness, good gift and blessing (cf Jas 1:17-note). That is His gracious nature and our great need.
Did you notice that the verse is not future tense but past tense. Blessed is in the aorist tense which speaks of effective action, completed in the past. It is not that God will give us but that He has already given us. And while this is of course true, we also know that the "best is yet to come!" Hallelujah what a Savior! Hallelujah what a Blessed Hope!
Eadie comments that "us" obviously signifies...
Eadie commenting on “with all spiritual blessing” observes that with is literally the Greek preposition...
Every (3956)(pas) means all, whole, every, without exception. The Ephesians lived in a city of great (temporal) riches and Paul wanted them to understand what real (eternal) riches were, where to find them, and what to do with them.
Eadie comments that with the use of the word "all" (pas)...
As Peter affirms that by
Alexander Maclaren commenting on every (pas) writes that Paul...
Spiritual (4152) (pneumatikos from pneuma = spirit) refers to that which belongs to the supernatural world as distinguished from what belongs to the natural world. In other words the although the "blessing" might include a big checking and savings account (etc), the primary focus is the inexhaustible spiritual bank account readily available to every believer and waiting to drawn on. Too many "wealthy" saints who are supplied with every spiritual blessing are living like spiritual paupers.
Pneumatikos - 26x in 21v in NAS (Translated - spiritual(23), spiritual men(1), spiritual things(2).) - Ro 1:11; 7:14; 15:27; 1Cor 2:13, 15; 3:1; 9:11; 10:3, 4; 12:1; 14:1, 37; 15:44, 46; Gal 6:1; Eph 1:3; 5:19; 6:12; Col 1:9; 3:16; 1Pet 2:5
Alexander Maclaren explains that Paul...
Blessing (2129) (eulogia - noun from eu = good, well + logos = word) is the act of speaking in favorable terms (praise) or the benefit of blessing. Here it speaks primarily of the spiritual benefits bestowed by God upon His family members. He confers every spiritual benefit upon His saints. He blesses because He is ready, willing and able to do so, not because we deserve His blessings or have earned them (it is all of grace). He is the source of all blessing, of every good thing. Goodness can only come from God because there is no source of goodness outside of God (the natural man bristles at truths such as this).
Paul is saying you may be as poor as a church mouse in the world's eyes but in the eyes of God, in terms of riches that will last forever, you are immeasurably wealthy. Even the national debt of America simply does not compare to your wealth for the former is material and temporal while the latter is spiritual and eternal.
WE MUST POSSESS
We are rich in Christ, but like all gifts they have to be received, and thus these blessings must be appropriated. We must live in the light of these blessings. We must live like they are true because they are even though they are largely unseen. We have to come to the point where by faith we lay hold of these blessings and "possess our possessions". We need to be like Joshua in the Old Testament to whom God declared...
Like Joshua, God has given us the "land" so to speak, but like Joshua, our responsibility is to "put one foot in front of the other" and walk out in faith, not by sight, laying claim to our our "spiritual territory" in the heavenly places in Christ.
S Lewis Johnson tells the story of William Penn stating...
Alexander Maclaren wrote
In another message Maclaren says of the "spiritual blessings" that
Warren Wiersbe comments...
Ray Stedman writes that...
IN THE HEAVENLY PLACES IN CHRIST: en tois epouraniois en Christo: (Eph 1:20 2:6 3:10, 6:12)
In heavenly places - this expression locates our wealth in a place that is our future home.
Note that saints have two new "supernatural addresses" - in heaven and in Christ! Why do so many saints live as spiritual paupers clinging vainly to an earth which is passing away and which is not our home? This is where Ephesians wants to take us - into the heavenly places in Christ; to show us the treasure of riches and blessings that are our possessions waiting to be possessed!
Heavenly (2032) (epouranios compare uses in Heb 8:5-note He 9:23-note) encompass the entire supernatural realm of God, His complete domain, and the full extent of His divine operation. Saints while on earth are aliens (1Pe 1:1-note, 1Pe 2:11-note not in the sense of before we knew Christ = Ep 2:19-note, Col 1:21-note) and just passing through for as Paul writes...
In (1722) (en) means in and in this phrase denotes the object of our faith is Christ, the Source of every spiritual blessing. Saints are "in" Christ and because of this covenantal, inseparable union are partakers of these benefits throughout this life and the life to come.
In the heavenly places is the place where believers receive “every spiritual blessing” because it is where the ascended, exalted Christ is (God "raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places" - Ep 1:20-note), and where believers also are, since they are incorporated “in Him” (God "raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus" - Ep 2:6-note). In contrast to the present earthly realm, which represents experiential reality for the believer, the region designated by "the heavenly places" is the locus of the ascended Christ in His present state of exaltation, a spiritual (not figurative nor metaphorical but very real) reality in which believers currently share by virtue of their participation “in” Him as a result of their by faith entering into the New Covenant in His blood.
This truth of the believer’s present participation “in” Christ is amplified in Ephesians 2:5-6 where Paul uses 3 verbs that have the preposition "sun-" (picturing intimate union) in their prefix (suzoopoieo = "made alive together with Christ", sunegeiro = "raised up with Him" , sugkathizo = "seated with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus"]) which describe the participation of believers with Christ in His resurrection and exaltation. This truth of the believer's present union with Christ is also explained by Paul in the well-known verse Galatians 2:20 (with reference to co-crucifixion). (see in depth discussion)
John Eadie has some interesting thoughts (I'm not sure I agree 100% but they are certainly worth pondering) on the meaning of in heavenly places...
In Christ - in the sphere of Christ. The first 14 verses of Ephesians 1 specify the spiritual address or sphere of "in Christ", "in Christ Jesus", "in Him" or "in the Beloved" eleven times! Clearly this truth is key (see key words) to the understanding of this chapter and this entire epistle. Remember that we once were "in Adam" (Ep 2:1, 2, 3-see notes Ep 2:1; 2:2; 2:3) but when we believed upon our Redeemer Christ Jesus as our Substitutionary and fully atoning Sacrifice, God transferred us from the kingdom of darkness "in Adam" and into the kingdom of light, of His dear Son, so that we are now "in Christ". This transfer was the outworking of the New Covenant in His blood, which is an important truth to remember when trying to understand the concept (truth) of "in Christ". Covenant is a solemn, binding agreement between two parties in which there is a co-mingling of lives and identities. The two become one just as a husband and wife become one new person and just as the mystical church becomes one with Christ, the church as His body of which He is the Head. And so we see the vital nature of the inseparable union pictured in the phrase "in Christ". It is no longer the believer who lives but Christ Who lives in the believer (Gal 2:20 - note). It is no longer our life, but it is Christ our life (Col 3:4-note). We are no longer separate "branches" but attached to the Vine (Christ Jesus - see John 15, especially John 15:5) deriving our life and our purpose from HIm, for now Christ is our all in all, the very essence of our existence, now and forever. When others see us, they see Him (ideally, when we are being controlled by His Spirit). (For more thoughts on what the incomparable phrase "in Christ" in notes on Ephesians 1:1 "in Christ Jesus") (Watch and listen to the Youtube video of the beautiful new song - In Christ Alone; In Christ Alone - another version)
In Christ expresses intimacy of a believers union with Christ. The preposition "in" is locative of sphere meaning that the believer's sainthood was (is) in the sphere of Christ, not because someone named them "saints" and not in the sphere of some worshipper of a pagan deity as the term was commonly used in the so-called "mystery" religions of Paul's day. Christ is the sphere in which the believer has his new life or as Paul phrases it in chapter 3, "Christ -- our life" (Col 3:4-note).
Wuest commenting on the phrase in Christ observes that
William MacDonald observes that
Spurgeon comments that...
Ray Stedman writes that...
William Barclay adds
John Eadie writes that en Christo, in Christ...
Barclay goes on to explain that
Spurgeon on in Christ -
Guy King in his exposition of Philippians comments on the phrase in Christ writing that...
Guy King in his commentary on Colossians comments on their earthly and supernatural positions explaining...
F B Meyer in his "Devotional Commentary of Ephesians" explains "in Him" writing that...
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F B Meyer writes that...
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Alexander Maclaren has a convicting thought on why so few believers experience even a fraction of "every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" noting that "heavenly places"...
Regarding the believers transposition from "in Adam" to now and forever "in Christ" Alexander Maclaren writes...
In Morning and Evening, Spurgeon writes the following devotional on Ephesians 1:3...
Undeserved Blessings - Tennis superstar Arthur Ashe died of AIDS, which he contracted from a blood transfusion during heart surgery. More than a great athlete, Ashe was a gentleman who inspired and encouraged many with his exemplary behavior on and off the court.
Ashe could have become embittered and self-pitying in the face of his disease, but he maintained a grateful attitude. He explained, "If I asked, 'Why me?' about my troubles, I would have to ask, 'Why me?' about my blessings. Why my winning Wimbledon? Why my marrying a beautiful, gifted woman and having a wonderful child?"
Ashe's attitude rebukes those of us who often grumble, "Why me? Why is God allowing this to happen?" Even if we're suffering acutely, we must not forget the mercies God pours into our lives—such things as food, shelter, and friends—blessings that many are deprived of.
And what about spiritual blessings? We can hold the very Word of God in our hands and read it. We have the knowledge of His saving grace, the comfort of His Spirit, and the joyful assurance of life everlasting with Jesus.
Think about God's blessings and ask, "Why me?" Then your grumbling will give way to praise.—Vernon C Grounds (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
Right Beneath Our Feet!- The Mount Morgan gold mine in Queensland, Australia, is one of the richest in the world. For many years, though, the original landowners lived in deep poverty on the mountain's barren surface. Even though the vast wealth was out-of-sight, it was beneath their feet all the time.
Many Christians live in a similar situation. They plod along and struggle through their spiritual lives, laboring every step of the way. They are unaware of the vast riches God has promised them, and therefore they do not claim them.
Grace, forgiveness, strength, wisdom, direction, the power to resist temptation, reconciliation, protection, lightened burdens—all these riches and many more are ours. But how do we become aware of them and claim them? The answer is: Prayerfully read the Bible and pay close attention when the Word of God is preached or taught.
Here's a suggestion. Whenever you read the Scriptures or hear them taught, look for the truths about "every spiritual blessing" God has given to you (Ephesians 1:3). When you discover a truth or a promise that clearly applies to you, say to yourself, "That's for me!" As you do, you'll be tapping into the riches of God that lie right beneath your feet. —D C Egner (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
Enough For Everyone- An elderly Scottish woman stood in the doorway of her cottage and basked in the light and warmth of the summer sun. According to author J. R. Caldwell, she shaded her eyes as she looked up and exclaimed, "I've got a whole sun to myself!"
Caldwell commented, "I could say the same. This is just one of the beautiful things in nature that you have as much as I have. [Likewise] you and I and millions of the redeemed have individually the whole heart of Christ. . . . There is room for all."
This truth is simple and self-evident, yet its implication is so profound that it almost overwhelms us. God's gracious gift of salvation can be experienced by all who believe (Eph. 1:3-19), and we can fully enjoy its blessings without diminishing their enjoyment by others. We who know Christ and His limitless provisions are not deprived, even though other believers are drawing on them too.
In a sense, every child of God can say, "I've got the Son all to myself." Joy, assurance, peace, and the awareness of His presence are just a few of the many benefits that are given without measure for every believer to enjoy.
Remember, if you are born again, God has given you "every spiritual blessing . . . in Christ" (v.3). –R W De Haan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
Praise--Even In Pain -Terry Waite, a courageous British negotiator during an international hostage crisis, had gone to Lebanon to arrange the release of prisoners. But he himself was arrested and detained in solitary confinement.
Through long, lonely days and nights, he was unsure that his life would be spared. Nevertheless, every morning he offered as his own a prayer written in 1596 by Queen Elizabeth I. In it he expressed "most humble and hearty thanks for manifold mercies so abundantly bestowed upon me as well as for my creation, preservation, regeneration, and all other of Thy benefits and great mercies exhibited in Jesus Christ."
Is this how we react to hardships? When troubles engulf us, we plead with God for relief from suffering, for healing of disease, for comfort, for strength, and for the supply of our needs. Such petitions are certainly legitimate, and we should bring them to the Father. But do we remember, as Paul and Silas did from the depths of a jail cell, to offer thanks for God's lovingkindness? (Acts 16:25-note). Do we praise God for giving us life itself, as well as the blessed promise of eternal life?
When we acknowledge God's great mercies, we are able to offer Him praise--even in pain. --V C Grounds (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
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Pastor Steven Cole's sermon
|Greek: kathoo exelechato (3SAMI) hemas en auto pro kataboles kosmou, einai (PAN) hemas hagious kai amomous katenopion autou en agaphe,
Amplified: Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (consecrated and set apart for Him) and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NLT: Long ago, even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: For consider what He has done - before the foundation of the world He chose us to become, in Christ, his holy and blameless children living within his constant care. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: even as He selected us out for himself in Him before the foundations of the universe were laid, to be holy ones and without blemish before His searching, penetrating gaze; in love (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: according as He did choose us in Him before the foundation of the world, for our being holy and unblemished before Him, in love,
JUST AS HE CHOSE US IN HIM BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD: (Dt 7:6,7; Psalms 135:4; Is 41:8,9; 42:1; 65:8, 9, 10; Mt 11:25,26; 24:22,24;24:31; Jn 10:16; Acts 13:48; 18:10; Ro 8:28,30,33; 9:23,24; 11:5,6; 2Th 2:13,14; 2Ti 2:10; Titus 1:1,2; Jas 2:5; 1Pe 1:2; 2:9) (Matthew 25:34; Jn 17:24; Acts 15:18; 1Peter 1:20; Re 13:8; 17:8)
Jesus said in John 6:44
Just as (2531) (kathos from kata = down + hos = as) is a marker of cause or reason but can also mark the mode or manner and here designates the ground (the mode) of the ‘blessing’.
Chose (1586) (eklego from ek = out, out of, out from + légo = select, choose) (see also word study on related word eklektos) means literally to select out, single out or choose out of. The idea in eklego speaks of the sizable number from which the selection is made. It implies the taking of a smaller number out of a larger. For example, in secular use, Virgil's Eclogues (from eklego) are short, selected excerpts taken from a more larger collection of poems.
A H Strong explained it this way...
Eklego means to choose out for oneself, but not implying rejection of those not chosen. In the present passage this selection is the act of God by Himself choosing out from among mankind men and women for Himself. The aorist tense indicates a completed action by God in the past ("before the foundation of the world"). The middle voice is reflexive which signifies that God chose us by Himself and for Himself. In other words it was God's totally independent choice. The indicative mood is the mood of reality. This was a real occurrence in eternity past.
Sinclair Ferguson was correct when he said...
Robert B. Selph adds that...
Oh, happy day, that fixed my choice
Eklego - 22x in 20v in the NT - Mk 13:20; Lk 6:13; 9:35; 10:42; 14:7; Jn 6:70; 13:18; 15:16, 19; Acts 1:2, 24; 6:5; 13:17; 15:7, 22, 25; 1Co. 1:27, 28; Ep 1:4; Jas 2:5
NAS = choose, 4; chose, 7; chosen, 8; made a choice, 1; picking, 1; select, 1.
Some of the uses of eklego refer to men choosing or selecting, several to Christ choosing His disciples and some to God choosing men who would be saved in Christ (1Co 1:27, 28, Ep 1:4, Jas 4:5 - notice who God choose! Fascinating!).
Mark 13:20 "Unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom He chose, He shortened the days.
Luke 6:13 And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles:
Luke 9:35 Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!"
Luke 10:42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her."
Luke 14:7 And He began speaking a parable to the invited guests when He noticed how they had been picking out the places of honor at the table, saying to them,
John 6:70 Jesus answered them, "Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?"
John 13:18 "I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen (referring again to the choosing of His 12 disciples); but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, 'HE WHO EATS MY BREAD HAS LIFTED UP HIS HEEL AGAINST ME.'
John 15:16 "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.
John 15:19 "If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.
Acts 1:2 until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen.
Acts 1:24 And they prayed and said, "You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen
Acts 6:5 The statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch.
Acts 13:17 "The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with an uplifted arm He led them out from it.
Comment: This "choice" is a reference to God's choosing of Abraham (cp Neh 9:7, Ge 12:1,2,3, 17:7, 8), Isaac and Jacob out of whom came the "chosen people", the nation of Israel (cp Dt 4:37, 7:6, 7,8, 9:5, 14:2, Ps 105:6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 - note that this was an everlasting covenant and irregardless of the fact that many if not most of Israel were rebellious and not saved, there was always a righteous remnant by grace through faith, and the promise of God Who does not lie to give them "the land of Canaan as the portion of your inheritance awaits a yet future fulfillment. The Church is not Israel and will not receive the land of Israel. The Church actually receives something far better than the land of Israel, for the Church receives the life of Christ! See study explaining why [contrary to the teaching of much of the teaching in the modern church], the Church is not Israel!)
Acts 15:7 After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, "Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe.
Acts 15:22 Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas--Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren,
Acts 15:25 it seemed good to us, having become of one mind, to select men to send to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
1Corinthians 1:27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong,
1Corinthians 1:28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are,
Ephesians 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love
James 2:5 Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?
Comment: Who enters into the kingdom of God? Those who love Him. But that sounds like "works based" salvation. In other words, it sounds like I merit God's bestowal of favor upon me because I have demonstrated my love to Him. No, that is backwards! The truth is that only those who are truly saved can truly love God, a love which is demonstrated by keeping His commandments (cp Jn 14:15). Or as Thomas Watson explained...
Election is the cause of our vocation and vocation is the sign of our election.
The only way you and I can possibly keep His commandments, is by the infusion of His spiritual power which gives us not only the desire to keep His commandments but the necessary power to keep them! Grace upon grace, with not a hint of personal merit. Humbling? Yes. And that is why the "wise....the things which are strong" (1Co 1:27, 28) and the rich of this world compose those whom God has chosen. Election is a mystery of mysteries, but if we are honest, the real "mystery" is why ANY are chosen! As Mark Webb said...
Election keeps no one out of heaven who would otherwise have been there, but it keeps a whole multitude of sinners out of hell who would otherwise have been there.
Blessed be God for His amazing display of grace to "foolish...weak...base" (1Co 1:27, 28), "poor" (Jas 2:5) sinners who are privileged to become saints made rich with all spiritual blessings in Christ.
As Spurgeon explained "We are chosen as an afflicted people and not as a prosperous people, chosen not in the palace but in the furnace".
Eklego is found 119 times in the non-apocryphal Septuagint (Ge 6:2; 13:11; Num. 16:5, 7; 17:5; Deut. 1:33; 4:37; 7:7; 10:15; 12:5, 11, 14, 18, 21, 26; 14:2, 23, 24; 15:20; 16:2, 6f, 11, 15f; 17:8, 10, 15; 18:5f; 26:2; 30:19; 31:11; Jos. 9:27; 24:22; Jdg. 5:8; 10:14; 1 Sam. 2:28; 8:18; 10:24; 12:13; 13:2; 16:8, 9, 10; 17:8, 40; 2 Sam. 6:21; 16:18; 19:38; 24:12, 13, 14; 1 Ki. 3:8; 8:16, 44, 48; 11:13, 32, 34, 36; 14:21; 18:23, 25; 2 Ki. 21:7; 23:27; 1 Chr. 15:2; 16:41; 19:10; 21:10f; 28:4f; 2 Chr. 6:5f, 34, 38; 7:12, 16; 12:13; 33:7; 35:19; Neh. 1:9; 9:7; Job 29:25; 34:33; Ps. 33:12; 47:4; 65:4; 78:67f, 70; 84:10; 105:26; 132:13; 135:4; Prov. 24:32; Isa. 7:15f; 14:1; 40:20; 41:8f, 24; 43:10; 44:1f, 12; 49:7; 56:4; 58:5f; 65:12; 66:3f; Ezek. 20:38; Dan. 11:35; 12:10; Joel 2:16; Zech. 3:2)
Wuest comments that...
Carl F. H. Henry
A. M. Hunter
C. H. Spurgeon
Augustine said it this way...
Why did God choose the church out of the mass of mankind who was dead in their trespasses and sins? The context indicates that He did it for the praise of His own glory (Ep 1:6-note; Ep 1:12-note ; Ep 1:14-note). MacArthur explains it this way stating that...
Paul explains why God saved any of us writing that...
Later in 2Timothy Paul explained to Timothy that...
In Acts Luke although not using the verb eklego records a parallel though that...
Jesus used eklego to explain to His apostles...
Wayne Grudem defines election as...
The Greek eklego corresponds to the Hebrew verb for choose (bachar  translated in Septuagint by eklego) and is applied often to God's selection or "election" of Abraham's seed to be His peculiar people...
John MacArthur alludes to this OT use of eklego in his excellent explanation of the three major kinds of election in the Bible...
Spurgeon once sarcastically replied to those who feel that election precludes evangelization declaring...
John Eadie commenting on chose us writes that...
In Him (1722) (en) defines the sphere of the believer's new, eternal position. Who is "Him"? In context, this refers to Christ. God's election of sinners is in Christ.
John Eadie commenting on in Him explains that this phrase...
Jesus Himself taught that...
The Puritan writer Thomas Goodwin writes that...
Another Puritan writer Thomas Watson writes...
Eadie adds that...
Before (4253) (pro) is a preposition which in this context marks a point of time prior to another point of time. If saints were chosen before the foundation of the world, what conclusion can we arrive at regarding human merit? Divine election is completely apart from personal merit. John underscores this transcendent, incomprehensible truth writing that our names as believers were
Stedman considering the significance of "Chosen in him before the foundation of the world!" asks...
Spurgeon has an interesting comment writing that
Foundation (2602) (katabole [word study] from katá = down + bállo = throw) is literally a throwing down. By God’s sovereign election, those who are saved were placed in eternal union with Christ before creation even took place, from all eternity.
Katabole - 11x in 11v - Matt 13:35; 25:34; Luke 11:50; John 17:24; Eph 1:4; Heb 4:3; 9:26; 11:11; 1 Pet 1:20; Rev 13:8; 17:8
World (2889) (kosmos [word study]) describes an apt and harmonious arrangement or constitution or order. Bible writers speak of the original state of the universe as one of a harmonious arrangement of things. They use the word kosmos not chaos (unformed matter).
In His high priestly prayer to His Father Jesus used this same phrase "before the foundation of the world" praying...
THAT WE WOULD BE HOLY AND BLAMELESS BEFORE HIM: (Ep 2:10; Luke 1:74,75; John 15:16; Romans 8:28,29; Colossians 3:12; 1Thessalonians 4:7; 2Timothy 1:9; 2Timothy 2:19; Titus 2:11,12; 2Peter 1:5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10) (Ep 5:27; 1Corinthians 1:8; Philippians 2:15; Colossians 1:22; 2Peter 3:14)
Paul explains the purpose God chose us - that we would be holy and blameless. This privileged position should stimulate ever saint to passionately pursue holiness (cp He 12:14 where "sanctification" = holiness -note).
We would be (1511) (einai = present tense infinitive mood of eimi = to be, to exist) is in the present tense which speaks of our continuous state. In context Paul is saying that all believers are in a position before God of being holy because they are all in Christ. Acting or living holy is another matter that requires daily presentation of one's self to God and moment by moment dependence on His enabling, transforming grace and His Spirit. The fact that believers are positionally holy is sound doctrine which is the basis for holy living.
Eadie explains that einai "is the infinitive of design—that we should be."
Holy (40) (hagios) is the same word used for saint. One cannot separate what we are called ("saint") with what we now are ("holy") in Christ. However, there is nothing more tragic than when a holy vessel that is used for unholy purposes. Are you wasting your life pursuing passing pleasures of sin and missing out on the present and eternal blessing inherent in pursuing holiness and godliness (He 12:14-note; 1Ti 4:7, 8-; 2Pe 1:5-note, 2Pe 1:6, 7-note, 2Pe 1:8, 9-note, 2Pe 1:10, 11). Here Paul states that every saint's position in Christ is that they are set apart from that which is secular, profane, evil and are set unto God Who is holy. Our new "sanctified" (set apart) position makes possible a walk in newness of life, a walk that is worthy of our calling as saints, such a walk being expounded in Ephesians 3-6.
Blameless (299) (amomos from a = without + momos = spot) (Click word study on amomos) is literally without blemish, free from faultiness. This picture reminds one of the Old Testament sacrificial animal which was required to be free of defects. Under Jewish law before an animal could be offered as a sacrifice it must be inspected and if any blemish was found it must be rejected as unfit for an offering to God. Only the best was fit to offer to God. In the Septuagint (LXX = Greek of the Hebrew OT) we see amomos used three times noting that the Nazarite "shall present his offering to the LORD: one male lamb a year old without defect (amomos) for a burnt offering and one ewe-lamb a year old without defect (amomos) for a sin offering and one ram without defect (amomos) for a peace offering" (Nu 6:14, cp Ex 29:1, Lev 1:3)
Amomos - 8x in 8v - Eph 1:4; 5:27; Phil 2:15; Col 1:22; Heb 9:14; 1 Pet 1:19; Jude 1:24; Rev 14:5
Barclay adds that amomos...
Paul reaffirms these same two glorious truths in his letter to the Colossians writing that...
Paul uses amomos in this letter writing that Jesus gave His life for us...
In the Septuagint (LXX) translation of of Nu 6:14 amomos is used three times to describe the sacrificial animal that possesses a defect as unacceptable.
Amomos not only describes those in Christ, but is the same adjective used by Peter to describe the Lamb of God Who redeemed us not with perishable things like silver and gold...
The writer of Hebrews asks rhetorically...
Eadie writes that hagios and amomos are two adjectives which...
Let us apply these incredible truths - may God grant us grace so that our practice corresponds to our position (holy and blameless)!
Before (2714) (katenopion from kata = down + en = in + ops = face, eye) is literally "down in the face" of someone. Saints are now holy and blameless "right down in the eye of" God. This is every believer's eternal position in Christ. The first 3 chapters of Ephesians emphasize our position (and possessions) in Christ and the last 3 chapters describe what our practice in Christ is to look like. Let us walk worthy. Let us live "Coram Deo" (before the face of God).
Katenopion - 3x in 3v - Eph 1:4; Col 1:22; Jude 1:24
IN LOVE: (Ep 3:17; 4:2,15,16; 5:2; Gal 5:6,13,22; Col 2:2; 1Th 3:12; 1Jn 4:16)
Love (26) (agape [word study]) is unconditional, sacrificial love, the quality (and quantity) of love which God Himself is and which He freely bestows in Christ. Such love is His "motive" for predestining us to be adopted into His family.
Since "In love" is the last phrase in verse 4, it (and other reasons) lead many to associate this phrase with Paul's preceding statement. However Nestle in his Greek text punctuates this verse in a way which suggests that "in love" is better interpreted as relating to what follows, thus, “in love He predestined us.” (Ep 1:5) In fairness, it should be noted that there are good expositors favoring the former and the latter interpretation.
Eadie for example comments that...
F B Meyer writes the following devotional "God's Heritage in Humanity"...
Pastor Steven Cole's sermon
Do you rejoice in the doctrine of God’s sovereign election? Do you consider it a precious blessing from Him? You should be-cause Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, did! When he exclaimed (Ep 1:3), “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,” the first blessing he goes on to mention is (Ep 1:4), “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world….” We cannot praise God properly for His great salvation if we deny or dodge the truth of His choosing us.
There are many professing Christians who openly deny the doctrine of election. They always claim to be “moderate” or “balanced” in their views! Many others give a brief nod to the doctrine, but they quickly skirt around it because it is divisive and difficult to understand. But I would agree with Martyn Lloyd-Jones (God's Ultimate Purpose [Baker], 1979, p. 84) and long before him, John Calvin (John Calvin's Sermons on Ephesians [Banner of Truth], 1973, p. 25), who both pointed out that dodging what the Holy Spirit has put in Scripture for our understanding is sin. It is our business to come to grips with the inspired Word and allow it to speak to our hearts in the manner that God intended.
In order to do that, we must approach this truth with the right spirit before the Lord. If we come proudly to debate and prove that we are right (no matter which side we are on), we approach it wrongly. Rather, we must come with submissive hearts to God and His Word, asking Him to open our eyes to truth that the natural man cannot understand. If we come contending against God’s sovereignty because we think that it denies our free will, the words of Paul rebuke us (Ro 9:20-note), “On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it?” God put this truth front and center for our encouragement and upbuilding in the faith. But we must come with submissive, teachable hearts.
When you take Ephesians 1:3, 4 together, Paul is saying:
One of the greatest spiritual blessings that God has given to us is that He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before Him.
Without any argument or apology, Paul begins enumerating our blessings in Christ by stating that God chose us and He pre-destined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ (Ep 1:4, 5). Limiting ourselves to verse 4, note first:
1. The doctrine of God’s choosing us for salvation is one of His greatest blessings because it guarantees our salvation.
What does election mean? Wayne Grudem (Systematic Theology [Zondervan], 1994, p. 670, italics his) defines it as:
“Election is an act of God before creation in which he chooses some people to be saved, not on ac-count of any foreseen merit in them, but only because of his sovereign good pleasure."
The Greek verb translated “chose” means, “to select or pick for oneself” (all Greek lexicons). Note three things that stem from our text:
A. No one is ever capable or inclined to choose God unless God first chose him.
Election is unconditional in the sense that God did not base His choice on His foreknowledge of whether certain people would choose to believe in Christ. If He had done so, it would be a denial of His grace, because then their salvation would be based on something which they did in and of themselves. But Scripture is clear that salvation is totally by God’s grace (unmerited favor; Eph. 2:8, 9-note; Ro 9:11-18-note; Ro 11:5, 6-notes).
Also, if God’s choosing us were based on His foreknowledge that we would choose Him, then He really didn’t choose us at all. Rather, He only would have responded to our choosing Him by then choosing us. But this would make God’s plan of salvation depend on the choices of fallen sinners, rather than on His purpose and glory. It would be puzzling as to why Paul plainly states, “He chose us,” if in fact, it were the other way around.
As Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out (ibid., p. 83), there are only two possibilities: Either God chose us according to His good pleasure, “entirely apart from anything we have ever done or said or thought.” Or, He chose us because He foresaw that we would choose Him. He says, “There is no third possibility.” (Norman Geisler tries to propose a third alternative in Chosen But Free [Beth-any House], pp. 53-55. But he misrepresents the Calvinist view, never deals with the biblical meaning of foreknowledge, and uses faulty argumentation throughout. James White, The Potter's Freedom [Calvary Press], capably refutes Geisler on this point in chapter 2, “Determinately Knowing.)
Also, as Calvin points out (Calvin's Commentaries [Baker], on Eph 1:4, p. 198), “We were all lost in Adam; and therefore, had not God, through his own election, rescued us from perishing, there was nothing to be foreseen.” In other words, God would not have foreseen any lost people choosing of their own free will to be saved, because Scripture is clear that by nature we all were “fast bound in sin and nature’s night” (Charles Wesley, “And Can it Be?”). As Paul drives home (Ro 3:10, 11, 12-note), “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have be-come useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one.” Scripture also piles up metaphors such as being spiritually dead (Ep 2:1), blind (2Co 4:4), deaf (Mt. 13:14, 15), lame (Lk 14:21), hardened (Ep 4:17, 18, 19-notes), and enslaved (Jn 8:34, 35, 36; Ro 6:6-note), to show that as sinners, we had no inclination or ability to choose Christ or believe in Him.
Invariably, those who deny God’s sovereign, unconditional election also have to deny that sinners are unable to come to Christ by themselves (theologians call this, “total depravity”). They try to argue that God has given “prevenient” grace to all, so that they are able to respond to the gospel invitation. Otherwise, they say, it would be a sham for God to command men to believe in Christ when He knows that they are unable to do so.
Such reasoning fits with human logic, but not with the revealed Word of God. Jesus plainly stated (John 6:65), “no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.” No one can means, no one is able. Clearly, the Father did not grant this to everyone, or Jesus’ statement would be needless. Jesus also said (Mt. 11:27), “no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” Knowing the Father depends on the Son of God choosing to reveal Him to the individual, which He does not do for everyone. But, what are the very next words out of Jesus’ mouth? “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt. 11:28). Jesus saw no contradiction between saying, “No one can know or come, unless I will it; there-fore, come!” Neither should we! When Paul says, “God chose us,” we pervert Scripture if we twist it to mean, “We first chose God.”
B. It is only through Christ and what He did for us, not through anything in us, that we may be saved.
Paul says, “He chose us in Him.” As we saw in verse 3, all of the blessings that we receive from God come to us “in Christ.” Calvin explains (Commentaries, p. 198, italics his), “if we are chosen in Christ, it is not of ourselves…. In short, the name of Christ excludes all merit, and everything which men have of their own; for when he says that we are chosen in Christ, it follows that in ourselves we are unworthy.”
I regret having to detract from such glorious truth to refute error, but because error floods into the church, I must. Some say that verse 4 does not teach that God chooses individuals, but rather that He chose Christ and those who believe in Him, not individually, but in a group sense. Thus we make ourselves part of “the elect” when we choose Christ.
It should be evident that such teaching is only trying to dodge the plain meaning of the words of inspired Scripture. “He chose us” is not ambiguous! The “us” refers to persons or individuals in the church. There is no hint of Paul meaning, “What I’m really saying is that God only chose Christ and then we chose Him, so God really didn’t choose us.” Paul adds, “He chose us in Him,” to show that all of the spiritual blessings we receive center in Christ.
Spurgeon put it this way (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit [Pilgrim Publications], 1986, 38:355):
“God called us in Christ. He justified us in Christ. He sanctified us in Christ. He will perfect us in Christ. He will glorify us in Christ. We have everything in Christ, and we have nothing apart from Christ.”
Again, the point of these words, “in Him,” is to take our thoughts away from anything in ourselves and to focus us on the merits and love of our Savior, who gave Himself for us. Although we must believe to be saved, salvation is not to be traced to our faith or to anything else in us. Rather, salvation is to be traced to God’s eternal purpose through Jesus Christ and all that He did for us. We were not chosen because of anything in us, but rather we were chosen in Him. Bless His name!
C. The blessing of salvation is part of God’s eternal plan to glorify Himself.
Paul adds that God chose us “before the foundation of the world.” He adds this time element because in this extended sentence (Ep 1:3-14), he is talking about God’s plan for the ages to glorify Himself through His plan of salvation. It is inconceivable that the all-wise Creator of the universe would create the world and place people on it without some sort of predetermined plan for the ages! We would say that a builder who tried to build a house without any sort of plan in mind beforehand and without any ability to accomplish his unplanned house was inept and crazy. Surely, then, God did not create the universe without a plan and the ability to carry out that plan. He would not leave such an important plan dependent on the rebellious will of humans.
And, when man fell into sin, God didn’t say, “Oh no, now I have to modify My plan!” If He had done so, then He would be a changeable being, not the immutable Sovereign of the universe. And, if He is not sovereignly in control of all events who knows whether He may have to change His plan again in the future? How could we even know whether His promises and plan would finally prevail, if He is not sovereign over all things, including the evil deeds of men?
This phrase, “before the foundation of the world,” is there for our comfort and assurance, so that we will bless God for His choosing us. It means that you were not an afterthought in the mind of God! It means that He set His love on you long before you ever existed or even before the world existed! It means that your name was written in the Lamb’s book of life before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8-note; Rev 17:8-note)! If your salvation depends on your choice of God, you can never be assured of it. But if it depends on God’s choice of you before He created the world, then it is a sure thing. The God who planned it before the world began will bring it to completion.
Some argue that if God chose us for salvation apart from anything that we do, it will lead people to say, “Then we can live as we please.” But our text shows that this is not so.
2. The doctrine of God’s choosing us for salvation is one of His greatest blessings because it guarantees our becoming holy and blameless before Him.
First, we must deal with a technical difficulty: do the words, “in love,” go with what precedes or with what follows? Many scholars understand the words to go with the preceding, “that we would be holy and blameless before Him in love” (KJV, NJKV; although the NASB, ESV, and NIV put the words with what follows). Taken this way, “in love” would refer to our love for God and for one another as a manifestation of God’s choosing us. The reasons for connecting the phrase with the preceding words are...
(1) In this context the modifying phrases always follow the action words (Ep 1:3,4, 6, 8, 9, 10). (2) The other five occurrences of ‘in love’ in Ephesians (Ep 3:17; 4:2, 15, 16; Ep 5:2) refer to human love rather than divine love. (3) Love fits well with holiness and blamelessness, for this would denote a balance between holiness and love. (Harold Hoehner, The Bible Knowledge Commentary [Victor Books], ed. by John Walvoord & Roy Zuck, 2:617 or Logos)
On the other hand, to connect the words “in love” with what follows fits well with God’s predestining us “to adoption as sons … according to the kind intention of His will.” In other words, God’s predestining us was not a mechanical, arbitrary process, but rather, it stemmed from His great love (Ro 5:8-note). So it is difficult to decide. Both are true biblically: God’s choosing us will result in our growth in love; and, His choosing us stems from His special love for His elect (Eph. 5:25-note; John 13:1; Deut. 7:7, 8).
God chose us “that we would be holy and blameless before Him.” Paul connects God’s calling or choosing us so that we will be holy in at least two other texts. In 2 Timothy 1:9 he writes that God “has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity.” And, in Romans 8:29, 30 (notes) he writes,
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
By the way, the word “foreknow” in the New Testament does not mean simply to know in advance. In that sense, God fore-knows everyone who has ever lived. Romans 8:29 (notes) (also, Ro 11:2-note; 1Pe 1:2-note, 1Pe 1:20-note; Acts 2:23) refers to God’s advance choice to know certain individuals in a relationship of love. Clearly, Paul is distinguishing those on whom God set His purpose to save from the rest of humanity. Thus God’s foreknowledge contains the concept of His foreordination of people and events.
God chose us to be holy and blameless. Both of these words look at our sanctification, but from slightly different angles. To be holy is to be set apart to God from all sin and from the evil influences of this world. We are to be distinct from the way that the world thinks and distinct from the values of those who are en-slaved to greed and various lusts. Blameless means to be without spot or blemish. Paul says that Christ’s aim for His church is (Eph 5:27-note) “that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.” To be blameless is to have integrity. It means that you are the same in private as you are in public. You think and act the same when no one is watching as you do when the eyes of others are upon you.
Paul adds that we are to be holy and blameless before Him. That is the key, to live all of your life openly before God, knowing that (Heb. 4:13-note) “all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” You live in the presence of God (“coram deo”). You have fellowship with the living God, knowing that He knows your every thought, word, and deed. Therefore, you quickly confess any sin and appropriate His cleansing blood (see 1Jn 1:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10).
While it is true that we will never be completely holy and blameless before God as long as we are in this body of sin (Ro 7), if we are God’s chosen people, we will be growing in holiness. And, however you interpret the phrase “in love,” the essence of holiness is love, because “love is the fulfillment of the law” (Ro 13:10-note). Love is the supreme virtue of the Christian life (1Co 13:4, 5, 6, 7-notes). It leads the list of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-note; Ga 5:23-note).
Sometimes we wrongly picture a holy person as being some-what relationally challenged. We may think of a hermit or monk, who distances himself from others and hardly speaks to others. But biblical holiness requires that we love one another, especially in our families and in the local church. We treat others as we would want to be treated. Paul links God’s choice of us with our holy, loving behavior in Colossians 3:12-13 (note)
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.
I originally thought that I should deal in this message with some of the common objections that are raised against the doctrine of election. But to do so would detract from the apostle’s aim for our text. (You may read many such defenses of election by going to monergism.com, under the subject, Election) Paul does not debate the matter or apologize for it or tiptoe around it. He states it as plainly as language could put it: ´He chose us." That is one of the greatest spiritual blessings that God has given to us because it guarantees our salvation and our holiness. You won’t experience the joy of that blessing if you fight with God’s Word over it.
In his wonderful book, A Pastor's Sketches ([Solid Ground Christian Books] vol. 1, p. 244, italics his), Ichabod Spencer, a Brooklyn pastor in the first half of the 19th century, tells of a pastor who had preached on the sovereignty of God. After the service, a well-educated woman came up to him and thanked him for his sermon. She said, “O sir, it has done me good. All my life I have been troubled with the doctrine of election. I have studied it for more than twenty years in vain. But now I know what has been the matter,--I have never been entirely wiling that God should be God.” Spencer concludes, “And when you are entirely willing that ‘God should be God,’ election will trouble you no longer.”
I found that to be true in my experience about 40 years ago. I thought that I was fighting Paul in Ro 9:18 (note), where he argues, “So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.” Paul next anticipates the argument of those who fight against the doctrine of election (Ro 9:19-note): “You will
say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?’” In other words, if God sovereignly chooses those whom He saves and passes over the rest in their sin, how can He blame unbelievers for not believing? I used to go around and around with Paul, thinking, “Come on, Paul, answer that question!” I thought that his answer was a cop out.
Then one day it was as if God tapped me rather strongly on the shoulder and said, “You’re not fighting with Paul. You’re fighting with Me! I did answer the question. You just don’t like My answer!” His answer is (Ro 9:20-note), “On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it?”
I realized that I had not been willing to let God be God. I repented and submitted to what God’s Word plainly teaches (Ep 1:4):
He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.
The doctrine of election became a source of joy and comfort in my Christian life. I pray that you will let God be God, submitting to His Word that is given for your joy in Christ, so that you will rejoice in the doctrine of election! (He Chose Us)