Ephesians 1:3-6 – Election, adoption & God’s grace

May 31, 2020 at 10:00 AM Leave a comment

From v.3 to v.14 Paul begins a lengthy passage that praises God for what he has done for us in Jesus Christ. This section forms a spiritual blessing or in the Greek referred to as a doxology and in the Hebrew berakah. In it Paul summarizes the Trinity’s plan for the church.

v.3,“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.” Paul starts this spiritual blessing by giving God (the Father) “all praise” which means “to speak well of.” God alone is worthy of our praise and worship. Paul specifically mentions the God is the “Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” so that we remember the unity between God and Jesus. Now Paul gives the reason why God is worthy to receive all of our praise, because he has “blessed us.” God has blessed us by allowing us to receive the benefit of Christ’s death on the cross on our behalf and his resurrection. “Every spiritual blessing” refers to every benefit of knowing God and everything we need to grow spiritually. We don’t have to ask for these blessings, we receive them at conversion, we just need to accept them and apply them to our lives. These blessings are given because “we are untied with Christ.” Because of ourrelationship with Christ we can enjoy them for eternity. “In the heavenly realms” refers to the spiritual world where there is a conflict between good and evil where that battle has already been won by Christ’s death and resurrection. This means that our spiritual blessings come from heaven, where Christ now lives. Paul was making a point that these blessing are spiritual, not material (eternal, not temporal).

v.4,“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.” Verse 4 is a continuation of v.3. Paul says that we are blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing because God “chose us in Christ.” God gives us spiritual blessings because of the saving work of the Trinity (God chose us, Christ died for us and the Holy Spirit sealed us). 

The doctrine of election: God chose believers before the creation of the world for a specific purpose or destiny. We are saved only because of God’s grace and mercy, not because of our own merit. God doesn’t save us because we deserve it but because he graciously and freely gives salvation. Paul gives specific components of election: it’s “in Christ” (because of his sacrifice on our behalf). It is “before he made the world” (God’s plan was in place from the beginning (it was not an afterthought) to give eternal salvation to those who would believe on his Son because he knew sin would occur and their was a penalty that needed to be paid, and he knew in his Son it would be paid). It is done for a specific purpose, for us “to be holy and without fault [blameless] in his eyes” (believers are not just chosen to be saved but also to live changed lives during their remaining time on the earth. “Holy” means to be set apart for God, to be used by God for a new life. This new life is to be lived “without fault” or blameless, without defect like the animal sacrifices to God in the OT. It is only because of Christ’s holy and faultless sacrifice on the cross that we are made holy and faultless in God’s eyes—as believers we know when we stand before God on judgment day, we will be accepted because of Christ’s sacrifice). Final component is election is an act of God’s “love”. The emphasis on adoption in v.5 shows that the purpose of election is relational. God for no reason than that he is a loving God, chose to adopt people into his own family “through Jesus Christ.”

Individual vs Group election: Usually people think of election as an individual benefit. But Biblical text emphasis election as a corporate term, NOT individual. Ephesians 1 focuses on those who are “in Christ.” People (sinners) only become elect in the elect one (Christ). Israel was chosen to bring the blessings of God to the world, now Christ has taken on that task. Election takes place in Christ (1:4) and through him (1:5). Sinners are NOT elected and then put in Christ, No, they are in Christ and therefore elect.

Why would God choose some and not others? A better question is, why would God choose anyone at all? He elected believers before the creation of the world—before we had done anything to demonstrate our own worthiness or lack thereof—God shows that his decision has nothing to do with our righteousness, and everything to do with his grace and compassion.

v.5,“God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” God chose believers in advance of the creation of the world to adopt us as his own children, into his own family. AMP says “he predestined and lovingly planned for us to be adopted to himself as [his own] children…” God in his infinite love “predestined” which means to “mark us out beforehand” to be adopted into his family. God did this, we didn’t have anything to do with it. The believers’ adoption is only possible because of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf. The end of v.5 is very important. “This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure” or “in accordance with the kind intention and good pleasure of His will” AMP. “Pleasure” can be translated “purpose” and “will” can be translated “God’s heart’s desire.” So election, predestination and adoption are all part of God’s purpose and God’s heart’s desire for all believers and it is a magnificent expression of God’s character as a loving, saving God.

An Illustration of our adoption: our relationship with God is like one  of a judge with a lawbreaker. First he “throws the book at him”, then he comes down off the bench and pays the penalty for the guilty lawbreaker. But he does much more than that, he then takes the offender into his home and adopts him / her into his family. The lawbreaker has all the rights and privileges of the judges’ own children. This is exactly what God did for us. We are guilty before God because of our sin, he charges us and convicts us. Then because of Christ’s sacrifice we are “pardoned” and declared not guilty and set free. But God doesn’t just set us free he takes us into his family and we become one of his children. We are adopted into his family for eternity! Amazing Love!

v.6,“So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.” As the elect our purpose is to “praise God.” Why? For his “glorious grace.” Grace is the unmerited favour he shows his chosen ones and it is glorious because without it we would have no hope and our lives would be only the time we spend here on the earth—no eternity with him. Instead because of this glorious grace we have a purpose for living and the hope eternal life with him. AMP says “he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved [His Son, Jesus Christ].” I like this translation because the grace is “freely” given to us as a free gift, not something we had to earn or deserved. Also God’s grace was given a name: “the Beloved [His Son, Jesus Christ].” When Jesus came to the earth and died for our sins God graciously accepted us even though we didn’t deserve it, we now belong to his Son. By being in his Son we are being conformed to his image. So God accepts believers because of his Son.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO ME? Even before the creation of the world God chose us to be his children (the elect). Because of his grace as a believer I have been given a free gift of eternal life with God. I praise him for this glorious grace. I am now one of his sons because he chose to adopt me into his family. I have be forgiven of my sins because of his Son.

WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?  I learned that election and adoption are not bad words but something to rejoice in. God chose me, he chose to adopt me into his family but not because I am good or I deserve it but because of his grace. Each day I wake up I am going to praise God for his glorious grace. Wow, I am blessed!

Entry filed under: Journey Thru the Bible. Tags: , , .

Ephesians 1:1-2 – Paul’s greeting to the Ephesians Ephesians 1:7-8 – Grace, redemption & forgiveness

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