It is my contention that the doctrine of personal election / predestination is not supported by Paul in his letter to the Ephesians. I often hear Christians say that they were chosen before the creation of the world to be saved;
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. Eph 1:4
Yet the text doesn’t support such a personal reading and understanding. Instead within the context of chapter 1; the only understanding that can be made from this chapter is that Paul is talking of the Jewish nation.
Though Paul uses the terms We and US in verses 1:3 – 12; the context is specifically in regards to the Jews; both as a nation and the apostolic calling / mantle. This understanding is further supported by Romans 3:2 There are all kinds of advantages! First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the utterances of God.
Its not until we get to verse 13 that Paul says
And you also were included in Christ when you believed…
And shows through his use of you also that his previous use of We and Us was of an exclusive and not inclusive nature and only now is he including the Gentiles into God’s plan of salvation; a fact of which we are reminded chapter 2:12
…remember at that time you were separate in Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise
Therefore we need to be careful as to how we use and understand the terms Chose and Predestined within verses 3-12 and its in the beginning of Romans 1:16 that we find a hint. For Paul says that salvation came to the Jew first and continues in Ephesians 2:19 – 20 that the Gentiles are fellow citizens of God’s household built on the foundations of the Apostles and Prophets.
Therefore Paul uses the terms chose and predestined in verses 1:3- 11 to say that God predestined the Jewish nation to bear forth Christ who was prophesied by the prophets and that the Apostles were chosen by God from out of the Jewish nation to take the message of salvation to the Gentiles who were also included in God’s plan of salvation.