Ephesians: Introduction; 1:1 – 10, Part 2

Ruins of Celsus Library in Ephesus

(Eph 1:3-6 ESV) 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,  4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love  5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,  6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.


The idea of predestination is, of course, also just a hair controversial, being one of the major dividing lines between Protestants. And, again, we must read the text as a pastoral letter from a missionary, dealing with First Century issues, not a systematic theology pro or con Calvin or Jacob Arminius. Why did Paul talk about predestination?

The Greek word is not used in the Septuagint, but appears more often in the New Testament than many translations disclose.

(1Co 2:6-9 NAS)  6 Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away;  7 but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory;  8 the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory;  9 but just as it is written, “THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.”

What did God predestine according to this passage? Well, the gospel.

(Act 4:24-28 ESV) 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them,  25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,

“‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain?  26 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’

—  27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel,  28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

Peter and John were tried before the Sanhedrin for preaching Jesus and let go with just a stern warning. The congregation celebrates by quoting a Psalm —

(Psa 2:1-8 ESV) Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?  2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, 3 “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”

4 He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.  5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, 6 “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

7 I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.  8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.”

It’s typical of Jewish thought to quote on a brief part of an Old Testament passage while intending to refer to the larger context, assuming the readers (of course) have studied their Old Testaments from youth, committing much of it to memory. The Psalm declares that God’s Son will be victorious despite the opposition of kings. Indeed, he’ll inherit the nations.

What did God predestine? Well, the gospel, but this time envisioned from a kingdom perspective. God will be victorious through his Messiah, defeat all opponents, and bring the nations into his Kingdom.

This takes us to the Romans 8 – 11 passages, which I covered at length in an earlier series of posts. In Romans, Paul works through the Old Testament passages showing that God had prophesied through Moses and many prophets the rejection of the Messiah by most of the Jews, the preservation by God of a remnant from among the Jews, and the inclusion of the Gentiles into the Kingdom through the Messiah. This is the gospel.

Predestination is therefore primarily and fundamentally about the gospel and the outworking of God’s plan to save the nations through Jesus, his Messiah — all of which was planned by God in ages past. And God brought it to pass just as he’d promised.

David, King of Israel, wrote much of the libretto for The Messiah.


We are predestined to adoption — meaning, of course, that we become sons and daughters of God. There are many reasons that Paul uses the language of adoption —

* Under Roman law, a child who was adopted became a new person. His debts were forgiven because the old person ceased to exist!

* A “son of God” inherits an inheritance.

* A “son of God” is like Jesus.

* A child of God is part of his family and will have an Abba Father relationship.

* In the Old Testament, an apprentice was sometimes called a son. Hence, an apprentice prophet was a “son of a prophet.” A son of God is studying to be like God.

* The children of Israel were named “sons of God” in the Law, and we are included with them in God’s family.

* Children must honor their father and mother, and so as God’s children, we must honor him — not only by obeying his commands but by making him proud. We should follow in his footstep.


(Eph 1:7-10 ESV)  7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,  8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight  9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ  10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

“Redemption” is the paying of the price to buy a slave’s freedom. A synonym would be manumission. The price is the blood of Jesus.

I’ve wept for those who suffer long
But how I weep for those who’ve gone
Into rooms of grief and questioned wrong
But keep on killing
It’s in the soul to feel such things
But weak to watch without speaking
Oh what mercy sadness brings
If God be willing

There is a train that’s heading straight
To heaven’s gate, to heaven’s gate
And on the way, child and man,
And woman wait, watch and wait
For redemption day

Fire rages in the streets
And swallows everything it meets
It’s just an image often seen
On television
Come leaders, come you men of great
Let us hear you pontificate
Your many virtues laid to waste
And we aren’t listening

What do you have for us today
Throw us a bone but save the plate
On why we waited til so late
Was there no oil to excavate
No riches in trade for the fate
Of every person who died in hate
Throw us a bone, you men of great

There is a train that’s heading straight
To heaven’s gate, to heaven’s gate
And on the way, child and man,
And woman wait, watch and wait
For redemption day

It’s buried in the countryside
It’s exploding in the shells at night
It’s everywhere a baby cries

“Lavish” and “Mystery” and “Unity”

“Lavish” is a good translation. The point is that God has given us much more than just enough. God is not a god of parsimony. He does not give begrudgingly. Rather, like the father in the Parable of Prodigal Son, he gives his best and gives without being asked.

“Mystery” in Paul means a mystery now revealed in Jesus. The gospel was once a mystery — but no more! And it was God’s plan from ages past awaiting the right time.

The point of the gospel Paul emphasizes here is God’s plan to unite “all things in heaven and things on earth.” This sounds a bit mysterious indeed until we realize that the culmination of it all will be the descent of heaven to earth as described in Revelation 21, where heaven and earth wil unite.

Of course, “all things” is broader. It’s also the end of division and segregation and separation of people. God’s plan is to unite us all to each other, to him, and to a purified, transformed creation — all through the marvelous work of Jesus.

Now, as N. T. Wright describes in his Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense, one good way to envision the history of God’s relationship with man is in terms of the unity and separation of heaven and earth.

In Eden, heaven and earth were so close that God walked with Adam in the cool of the morning. And then heaven and earth were separated by Adam’s sin.

Abraham had such a powerful faith that he also walked with God. Jacob wrestled with God, but their descendants pulled away from God — and heaven.

And then the heavens and earth were joined at Mt. Sinai, and in the holy of holies in the tabernacle, and finally the leaders of Israel ate with God and saw him when God confirmed his covenant with Israel with a fellowship meal.

But over time, Israel pulled away from God and heaven and earth were farther apart — until God’s Glory left the temple and the Spirit left Israel.

Until Jesus came. At times, heaven and earth were so close that Moses and Elijah could cross over to earth and speak with Jesus — and the glory of heaven shone through to the earth. Jesus brought heaven so close he could ascend into it, and so close that the Spirit can live in each Christian and each congregation.

But the ultimately in closeness will come at the End of time, when Jesus returns and heaven comes down to earth.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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6 Responses to Ephesians: Introduction; 1:1 – 10, Part 2

  1. Laymond says:

    Jay, what happens to all those non-Jews that existed before Jesus, did Jesus blood cover them, or are they just collateral damage, as we say in war today.

  2. guy says:


    Do you notice that in the earlier part of the chapter, all the predestination talk is about "we" and "us," and it's not til the latter part that a "you" is mentioned–"you were added." It seems there are two bodies of people, and the "we" and "us" were chosen in a way that the "you" was not, but the "you" was allowed to be included later on. Based on the latter bit of chapter 2 and most of chapter 3, i take this to be a Jew/Gentile division.


  3. Laymond says:

    “Predestined” If the bible is true (and I believe it is) there is no doubt in my mind we,( everyone) are predetermined as to what our reward will be.But what deternines our final destination ?
    What is that predetermining factor.? obedience !

    Mat 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
    Mat 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
    Mat 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
    Mat 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

    Don't you think Adam's future was predetermined when God gave him the choice to eat or refuse. Our destination, is predetermined, by God's rules. I can't bring myself to believe God created certian indiviguals to go to heaven, and others to go to hell. His rules predetermine the obedient to go to heaven, and the disobedient to not.

  4. Jay Guin says:


    I think you're right. I'll be getting to the Jew/Gentile distinction in the next post on Ephesians.

  5. Jay Guin says:


    From Paul's sermon on Mars Hill–

    (Act 17:30-31 ESV) 30 "The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead."

    I don't think that the wicked men pre-Christ are enjoying their reward heaven. But neither are they burning in hell — or else v. 30 is meaningless. I think that when they died, they ceased to exist.

    Hence, they are neither covered by the blood of Jesus nor collateral damage.

  6. Laymond says:

    Jay said, "I don’t think that the wicked men pre-Christ are enjoying their reward heaven. But neither are they burning in hell "
    That is exactly the way I read it, not that my opinion counts for anything, but my belief.

    Now to 'Predestined”, Jay as a lawyer, you know there are crimes that have a sentence cooked within the law, where the Judge has no leaway with what he can give, if found guilty. I believe the predestination of human beings has been cooked within the law. life or death, I don't see a third sentence available, for the judge. if found guilty.

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