Ephesians Chapter 1, Part 2
by Karl Kemp
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Part 2 begins where Part 1 ended.
I'll quote part of what Ralph P. Martin said under Eph. 1:3-6 ("Broadman Bible Commentary," Vol. 11 [Broadman Press, 1971], page 135). "Here we confront the mystery of divine election which runs through much of the New Testament. Some guidelines of interpretation may be helpful. The New Testament writers proclaim God's electing mercy not as a conundrum [puzzling question] to tease our minds but as a wonder to call forth our praise. They offer this teaching not as an element in God's character to be minimized but as an assurance that our lives are in his powerful hands rather than in the grip of capricious fate, which was a fear first-century man knew well. And the doctrine is never stated as an excuse for carelessness in spiritual matters, but always as a reminder that Christians have a moral responsibility 'to confirm [their] call and election' (2 Peter 1:10) by following the highest ethical standards. We are chosen that we should be holy and blameless."
I'll quote part of what John MacArthur said under Eph. 1:4-6a ("Ephesians" [Moody Bible Institute, 1986]). "God's sovereign election and man's exercise of responsibility in choosing Jesus Christ seem opposite and irreconcilable truths - and from our limited perspective they are opposite and irreconcilable. That is why so many earnest, well-meaning Christians throughout the history of the church have floundered trying to reconcile them. Since the problem cannot be resolved by our finite minds, the result is always to compromise one truth in favor of the other or to weaken both by trying to take a position somewhere between them.
We should let the antimony [a contradiction or inconsistency between two apparently reasonable principles or laws, or between conclusions drawn from them] remain, believing both truths completely and leaving the harmonizing of them to God" (page 11).
"It is not that God's sovereign election, or predestination, eliminates man's choice in faith. Divine sovereignty and human response are integral and inseparable parts of salvation - though exactly how they operate together only the infinite mind of God knows" (page 13). On page 33 MacArthur said, "Faith is man's response to God's elective purpose. God's choice of man is election; men's choice is faith. In election God gives His promises, and by faith men receive them."
After I quoted what I did from MacArthur here, I became aware that, under Eph. 2:8 of this same commentary, he said that the apostle Paul teaches (in Eph. 2:8) that faith is the gift of God. I am quite sure that MacArthur is misunderstanding what Paul said in Eph. 2:8. I discussed the idea that saving faith is a gift of God (an idea that I rather strongly disagree with) in some detail in my "A Paper on Faith," including a discussion of Eph. 2:8-10.
I'll quote part of what Klyne Snodgrass said under Eph. 1:4-6 ("Ephesians" [Zondervan, 1996], pages 49, 50). "Election does indeed bring privilege, but not so that people can bask in privilege or disdain others. Election always brings responsibility; God has chosen us to do something - namely, to live holy and blameless lives before him (1:4; cf. 5:27). Other biblical texts on election have the same understanding, whether they refer to Israel, the remnant, or an individual like Paul or Jeremiah. God's choosing enlists people in his work and gives them responsibility." I'll also quote a few sentences from his page 66, "Christians are to live in a holy and blameless manner before God (Eph. 1:4). This is not an oppressive weight, but as much privilege as it is responsibility. We are called to live in keeping with God's intent for us."
Lastly, I'll quote part of what D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said under Eph. 1:4 ("God's Ultimate Purpose: An Exposition of Ephesians Chapter 1" [Baker, 1978], page 102). "So we must always start with holiness, as the Scripture does; and therefore the preaching of holiness is an essential part of evangelism. I stress this matter because there are certain quite different ideas about evangelism, some indeed that say the exact opposite. They maintain that in evangelism the preacher does not deal with holiness. The one aim is 'to get people saved,' then later you can lead them on to holiness. But what is salvation? To be saved is to be rightly related to God, and that is holiness. The whole purpose of evangelism is primarily to tell men what sin has done to them, to tell them why they are what they are, namely, separated from God. It is to tell them what they need above everything else is not to be made to feel happy, but to be brought back into a right relationship with the God who is 'light and in him is no darkness at all.' But that means preaching holiness. To separate these two things, it seems to me, is to deny essential biblical teaching. We must start with holiness, and continue with it; because it is the end for which we are chosen and delivered."]] (5) He predestined [[As the margin of the NASB shows, "having predestined" is a more literal translation. Predestine means decide beforehand/mark out beforehand/lay out the path beforehand. This Greek verb ("proorizo") is used five other times in the New Testament: Eph. 1:11; Rom. 8:29, 30; Acts 4:28; and 1 Cor. 2:7. This verb emphasizes God's role in our salvation, but, as I discussed in "Once Saved, Always Saved?" and "A Paper on Faith," when it comes to the salvation of individuals, everything isn't just predetermined in such a way that man doesn't have a necessary role to fulfill. God doesn't make people repent or give them faith; He doesn't make them holy (while they are passive), or keep them holy; nor does He compel them to continue on in faith to the end of the race. For a start, see under Acts 13:48 on page 43 of "A Paper on Faith."]] us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself [On the "adoption as sons," see Gal. 4:4-7; Rom. 8:14-17. We "receive the adoption as sons" (Gal. 4:5) when we become united with Jesus Christ by faith and are born again by the Holy Spirit. We have been adopted into the family of God, but the Bible also shows that some key aspects of our adoption/salvation are yet future (cf. Rom. 8:23).], according to the kind intention [good pleasure] of His will [cf. Eph. 1:9; Phil. 2:13], (6) to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed [The Greek verb "charitoo," which was translated "He freely bestowed" by the NASB here, was derived from the Greek noun "charis", which was translated "grace" earlier in this verse (and often in the New Testament). Grace is emphasized in this verse (as it is throughout the New Testament), and the concept of God's freely bestowed salvation permeates this entire sentence (Eph. 1:3-14). On grace compare John 1:16, 17.] on us in the Beloved [cf. Matt. 3:17; 17:5; and Col. 1:13]. [Everything we have "in the Beloved [Christ]" came from the Father's "good pleasure"; it was His plan, and it was totally from His grace/mercy, being totally undeserved/unearned/unmerited. We can't earn/merit anything by faith, but as the apostle said in Rom. 4:16, "it is by faith [not works], in order that it may be in accordance with grace [not merit]...." By faith we receive and cooperate with God's grace.] (7) In Him [literally, "in whom," referring to Christ, the Lamb] we have redemption through His blood [[It would probably be better to translate the redemption; the definite article is included in the Greek. This is the redemption that was promised in Old Testament days. The idea behind redemption was the buying of slaves to set them free. We were all slaves under sin, Satan, and spiritual death, but now we have received the redemption. Now sin, Satan, and spiritual death have no legal authority over us. We haven't just been redeemed from the guilt of sin; we have been redeemed from the authority, from the power, and from the kingdom of sin. We wouldn't be redeemed if we were still slaves of sin living in the kingdom of sin, spiritual death, and Satan.
Three important cross-references that confirm that the redemption through the blood/cross of Christ includes the full victory over sin (including the call and enablement to live in a state of holiness) are Col. 1:14 (with 1:9-14); Titus 2:14 (with 2:11-13) and 1 Peter 1:18 (with 1:13-19). (These passages are all discussed in my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin" [pages 146-150, 124-125, and 190-194].) On redemption also see Rom. 3:24; 1 Cor. 1:30; and Heb. 9:15. Romans 8:23 demonstrates that our redemption won't be complete in the full and final sense until Christ returns and we're glorified - see under Eph. 1:14.
I'll quote part of what A. Skevington Wood said under Eph. 1:7 ("Ephesians," "Expositor's Bible Commentary," Vol. 11 [Zondervan, 1978], page 25). "Redemption ("apolytrosis") has to do with the emancipation either of slaves or of prisoners. ... By derivation, the term also implies the payment of a ransom price.... Here it is specified as being 'through his blood' (Col. 1:20). The price paid for man's redemption from bondage to sin was costly beyond measure. It was the very lifeblood of Christ himself, poured out in death. ... What was foreshadowed in the Levitical system was realized at the Cross when the Son of God laid down his life in death and ransomed men from sin.")]], the forgiveness of our trespasses [[These words seem to cause something of a problem in that they tend to limit redemption to forgiveness. However, I don't believe that "forgiveness" is an adequate translation for the Greek noun "aphesis" used here. I devoted an entire chapter of my book "Holiness and Victory Over Sin" to the meaning of aphesis. I refer the reader to that chapter, which includes a discussion of Eph. 1:7 (pages 151-153). I would translate "the release from our trespasses with the guilt and the penalties (including the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin," or the equivalent. Significantly, this "release" is the equivalent of "the redemption through His blood" just spoken of in this verse. And, significantly, the meaning of the word "redemption" and the fact that Eph. 1:4 spoke of our being holy and blameless before God both require a translation here that goes far beyond the forgiveness of the guilt of sin. Colossians 1:14, which was mentioned above as an important cross-reference for redemption through the blood of Christ, is all the more important as a cross-reference for Eph. 1:7 since it also uses aphesis.
I'll also quote part of what Klyne Snodgrass said regarding this verse ("Ephesians," page 52). "...the apostle thought of salvation primarily in terms of release [release "from sin as a power or a tyrant"]. Aphesis often carries the connotation of release, (In a footnote Snodgrass says, "See, for example, its use in Luke 4:18.") and the connection to 'redemption' shows that is the nuance here. (In a footnote Snodgrass says, "The same connection exists in Colossians 1:14.") ... Because of grace Christians no longer live in sins or under their indictment. Instead they live in Christ."
I'll quote part of what Andrew R. Fausset said under Eph. 1:7 ("Commentary by Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown" [Eerdmans, 1984 reprint], page 399. Fausset lived from 1821 to 1910). "THE redemption which is the grand subject of revelation - viz [that is], from the power, guilt, and penalty of sin (Matt. 1:21). If a man were unable to redeem himself from bond-service, his kinsman might redeem him (Lev. 25:48). Antitypically the Son of God became the Son of Man, that, as our kinsman, He might redeem us (Matt. 20:28). ... [Commenting on "the forgiveness/remission of our transgressions," Fausset said (in part)] This 'remission,' being the explanation of 'redemption,' includes not only deliverance from sin's penalty [I assume Fausset is thinking, at least for the most part, of the penalty of hell], but also from its pollution and enslaving power, negatively; and the reconciliation of an offended God, and a satisfaction unto a just God, positively...." When I think of God being reconciled, I think mostly of the need for people to repent and turn (return) to Him in faith (by His grace) and to begin to live for Him, accepting His offer of salvation through the good news of what He has done for man through the Sacrifice of His Son, the Lamb of God. It's not that God has difficulty forgiving, but that it's impossible for God to rightly interact with people who aren't living for Him, or for Him to permit such people to enter His kingdom when they would be working against the good of that kingdom, spreading the devil's rebellion and chaos.]], according to the riches of His grace [Compare Eph. 2:7. It's necessary for us to know and understand the fullness of what has been provided for us at the present time so we can appropriate and walk in these things by faith. The more we understand the fullness of God's grace, the more we will be thankful before God, and the more we will be faithful Christians. We are, of course, thankful for what we have now, but we're also thankful - even more thankful - for the eternal glory that is reserved for us.], (8) which He lavished upon us. [I wouldn't put a period here, or any other punctuation, in agreement with my Greek New Testament, the KJV, and NIV.] In [or, with] all wisdom and insight [We are totally dependent on God for this wisdom and insight regarding His plan of salvation, which comes (like every other aspect of our salvation) "according to the riches of His grace" (Eph. 1:7). We can't adequately understand, have faith in, or cooperate with God's grace without this wisdom and insight.] (9) He made known [making known] to us [cf., e.g., Eph. 1:16-23; 3:3] the mystery of His will [The "mystery" speaks of that which was formerly hidden in the mind of God but has now been revealed through the apostle Paul, and others, regarding His plan to fully solve the sin problem through Jesus Christ and His atoning death, and to bring about a new heaven and new earth. This plan includes the full salvation and ultimate glorification of God's people and the total overthrow and removal of Satan and all who persist in following him in rebellion against God and His divine order.], according to His kind intention [good pleasure] which He purposed in Him [Compare Eph. 1:11. I would translate "in Himself," referring to God the Father, with the KJV and NKJV.] (10) with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times [[Compare Eph. 3:9. The same Greek noun ("oikonomia") translated "administration" here and in Eph. 3:9 was translated "stewardship" in Eph. 3:2; Col. 1:25, speaking of the stewardship/ministry that the apostle Paul was given by God. When we think of an administration, for example, the administration in Washington D.C., we think of an administrator at the top who has the authority - the President. God's Administration is headed up by His Administrator, the Lord Jesus Christ, who has all authority everywhere (cf., e.g., Eph. 1.20-23; Matt. 28:18; Phil. 2:9-11; Col. 1:15-20; and 2:10).
He has the authority to fully carry out God's plans referred to above, all at the proper time. This Administration has been in effect since the atoning death, resurrection, and ascension of the Lord Jesus. It will be in effect until the work has been fully accomplished; it's clear, for one thing, that God's enemies (though they have been defeated at the cross) have not been subdued yet (cf., e.g., 1 Cor. 15:23-28; Eph. 6:10-20). On the "fullness of the times," cf. Gal. 4:4; Mark 1:15.]], that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth [[Compare Col. 1:13-20. This "summing up" speaks of, or at least includes, His being head over/having authority over all things. The NIV has, "to bring all things in heaven and earth together under one head, even Christ." Without this headship/authority, He couldn't fully save us or fully subdue the enemies of God. The Greek verb translated "summing up" by the NASB is "anakephalaio," which, though not directly derived from, is closely related to, "kephale," the word translated "head" in Eph. 1:22 [see Eph. 1:20-23]; Col. 2:10.
I'll quote part of what Craig Keener said here ("Bible Background Commentary" [Inter-Varsity Press, 1993], page 542). "It was a common Jewish belief that history was moving through many stages to its climax, when everything would be put under God's rule. ... The Old Testament and Judaism recognized that God had a sovereign plan in history to bring it to this climax."]]. In Him [As I pointed out there was no period in the Greek. In the Greek, "in Him" is followed by "in whom."]] (11) also we [The word "also" apparently alludes to the fact that "we," in addition to Christ - through Him and in union with Him - "have obtained an inheritance." Romans 8:32 says, "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things." We are "fellow heirs with Christ" (Rom. 8:17). In Eph. 1:11, 12 "we" refers to those from a Jewish background who (including Paul) had become Christians. In Eph. 1:13 Paul shows that the Gentile Christians are also fully included in God's salvation plans through, and in, Christ Jesus.] have obtained an inheritance [Compare Col. 1:12. The inheritance includes the things we have now as Christians (in this age), including the new birth by God's Spirit and the power to be "holy and blameless" (Eph. 1:4), but these things are only the "pledge [down payment] of our inheritance" (Eph. 1:14). In the future we will be glorified, we will have a place in God's new Jerusalem, and we will reign with God in a never-ending reign.], having been predestined [cf. Eph. 1:5] according to His purpose [cf. Eph. 1:9; 3:11; and Rom. 8:28] who works all things after the counsel of His will, (12) to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ [Those from a Jewish background were the first to hope in Christ. For one thing, the coming of the Christ/Messiah had been prophesied in their Scriptures (the Old Testament). Christ Himself and the gospel also came to them first.] would be to the praise of His glory [cf. Eph. 1:6, 14]. (13) In Him [literally, "in whom," referring to Christ], you also [speaking to Gentiles who had become born-again Christians], after listening to the message of truth [cf. Eph. 4:21; Col. 1:5], the gospel of your salvation - having also believed [We must hear the gospel and understand it (not that we must understand every little detail) before we can believe (have faith in) the gospel.], you were sealed in Him [Christ] with the Holy Spirit of promise [[God sealed us as His own (cf. Eph. 4:30) by giving us the Holy Spirit, the life-giving, sanctifying, charismatic-gift-dispensing Spirit. By this sealing, God made us His own, His adopted children (cf. 1:5). On this sealing with the Spirit, see 2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5; and compare Rom. 8:23 ("first fruits of the Spirit"; during this present age we can only receive from/through the Spirit those things that are available [in the plan of God] for this age). To be sealed with the Spirit is the equivalent of being baptized/immersed in the Spirit. (See on Acts 15:1-11 in my "A Paper on Faith," including the subsection titled "Meaning of the Words 'Baptism [or, Immersion] in the Holy Spirit.' ") The "Holy Spirit OF PROMISE" refers to the fact that the Old Testament frequently prophesied regarding (it promised) the new-covenant gift of the Spirit (cf., e.g., Isa. 32:15-18; Ezek. 36:26, 27; 37:14; Joel 2:28-32; John 7:37-39; Acts 1:4; 2:14-21, 33; and Gal. 3:14).], (14) who is given as a pledge [cf. 2 Cor. 1:22]] of our inheritance [See under Eph. 1:11 on the "pledge [down payment] of our inheritance." On our inheritance see Acts 20:32; Gal. 3:18; Eph. 1:18; 5:5; Col. 3:24; Heb. 9:15; 11:8; and 1 Pet. 1:4. These verses, including Eph. 1:14, all use the same Greek noun for inheritance ("kleronomia"). On our inheritance also compare Matt. 5:5; 19:29; Acts 26:18; 1 Cor. 6:9, 10; 15:50; Gal. 5:21; Eph. 1:11; Col. 1:12; Heb. 6:12; and Rev. 21:7. None of these verses use kleronomia.], with a view to the redemption of God's own possession [[Note that the words "God's own" are in italics in the NASB; the words are not included in the Greek; the Greek just has the word translated possession with the definite article. With the translation of the NASB, or with the more literal translation "the redemption of the possession," we could understand the possession to refer to God's people, the elect, or for it to refer to the creation that has been corrupted by sin and Satan. Most Christians, including the translators of the NIV ("until the redemption of those who are God's possession"), understand the "possession" to refer to God's people.
I believe the possession refers to God's world/creation, which (in many ways) is yet to be redeemed from the hand of His enemies, and which will not be redeemed in the full and final sense until the Lord Jesus returns and subdues those enemies. (The book of Revelation has much to say about Christ's end-time subjugation of His enemies, especially the last few chapters.) Then, and only then, can the saints enter into their full inheritance, which includes inheriting the earth/world (e.g., Matt. 5:5; Rom. 4:13; eventually we'll inherit the new earth [e.g., Rev. 21:1-22:5]). See, for example, Rom. 8:17-25; 1 Cor. 15:23-28; and Rev. 19:11-22:21. I'll briefly comment on Rom. 8:17-25; 1 Cor. 15:23-28 as we continue with this discussion of Eph. 1:14. For one thing, as Eph. 1:7 (and other Scripture) shows, God's people have already been redeemed - we don't have to wait to be redeemed. It's true, however, that our redemption is not yet complete. As Rom. 8:23, for example, shows, we (including our bodies) have not been fully redeemed yet.
1 Corinthians 15:23-28 are an important cross-reference. (These verses are discussed in some detail in my paper on 1 Corinthians chapter 15, which is available on this Christian article site.) These verses show that Christ will subjugate His enemies after His second coming, the last enemy being death (cf. Rev. 20:14, 15).
Ephesians 4:30 says, "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." (Compare, for example, Luke 21:28; 24:21; also, Acts 3:19-21 speak of the restoration of all things that will come to pass when Jesus returns.) The "day of redemption" begins when Christ returns to glorify His people, to judge the world (which includes the removal of all unrepentant rebels), and to redeem His creation. Romans 8:17-25 (discussed as part of Rom. 8:16-39) are a very important cross-reference. Romans 8:21 says, "the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God." After we are glorified, the creation, which was corrupted through sin (and Satan), will be redeemed. It will be regenerated/reborn (cf. Matt. 19:28 ["in the regeneration"]; Rom. 8:22 ["the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now"; those pains of childbirth will ultimately (through God's redemption plans) yield to the birth into eternal glory for the creation]; and 2 Pet. 3:13.
It's important to know that Satan and his followers have been defeated and will be subjugated at the right time through the cross of the Lamb of God (see John 12:31-33; 16:11; Heb. 2:14; cf, e.g., Eph. 1:20-23; Phil. 2:8-11; Col. 1:18-20; and 2:15).]], to the praise of His glory. [Compare Eph. 1: 6, 12. As emphasized throughout this long sentence (Eph. 1:3-14), God will be praised throughout eternity for His glorious plan and work of salvation, which includes glorification and the judgment and removal of all rebels. He does all things well, very well!] (15) For this reason I too [These last two words should probably be understood in the sense "I for my part [as God's apostle to the Gentiles (cf., e.g., Eph. 3:1-13; Gal. 2:7-9)]." Compare F. F. Bruce ("Epistles to the Colossians to Philemon and to the Ephesians" [Eerdmans, 1984], page 269).], having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you, and your love for all the saints [cf. Col. 1:4], (16) do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers [Compare Col. 1:9. We can learn a lot about what to pray for (for ourselves and for other Christians) from the prayers of the apostle Paul. This prayer in chapter 1 is all the more enlightening when it's combined with the prayer of the apostle in Eph. 3:14-19. (That passage is discussed in my "A Paper on Faith."]; (17) that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ [cf., e.g., John 20:17; Rom. 15:6; Rev. 1:6], the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom [cf. Col. 1:9] and of revelation [[It's probably better to see the human spirit here, but it must be understood that the "wisdom" and "revelation" come by/through the indwelling Spirit of God. This wisdom and revelation will enable us to understand God's plan of salvation, to understand what He requires of us (e.g., righteousness and holiness) and how to appropriate and walk in it (e.g., by faith/grace/the Spirit), and to understand (to some extent) the glory of the age to come for God's people. Being given a spirit of "wisdom" and "revelation" is comparable with what Paul said in Eph. 1:7-9 about God's grace abounding toward us in/with all wisdom and insight, making known to us the mystery of His will.]] in the knowledge of Him. [[The sentence that begins at 1:15 doesn't end until 1:23 in the Greek. The pronoun "Him" here is ambiguous. It could refer to God the Father, or God the Son. I would translate "Himself." (The Greek pronoun used here would normally translated "Him," but, as Eph. 1:5 for example, shows, this pronoun is sometimes translated "Himself.") Whether we translate "Him," or "Himself," I agree with the large number of commentators who say that God the Father is being referred to here. Regarding the meaning of the words "in the knowledge of Him/Himself," we can probably include the glorious reality that we are to have an experiential (personal, vital) knowledge of God as His born-again children (cf., e.g., Eph. 1:4, 5, 13; 3:19; 4:13; Phil. 3:10; and 2 Pet. 1:2, 3), but it seems the main idea here is of our having a knowledge of God's will/plan(s) (cf. Col. 1:9, 10). We can't believe as we should, or live, or grow, or be established and victorious, without this knowledge. Such knowledge is mandatory and glorious, anything but boring. All Christians desperately need it.
I'll quote part of what John Stott said here ("God's New Society: The Message of Ephesians" [Inter-Varsity Press, 1979], page 54). "...the 'knowledge' for which Paul prays is more Hebrew than Greek in concept; it adds the knowledge of experience to the knowledge of understanding. More than this, it emphasizes the knowledge of him (verse 17), of God Himself personally, as the context within which we may know what is...(verse 18), that is, may come to know truths about him [and about His plan of salvation, etc.]."]]
Part 2 ends here. We will start with Eph. 1:18 in part 3.
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