Ephesians unfolded; who is predestined in chapter 1?

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.

About Craig Benno

I'm an average aussie guy who has lived perhaps a not so average life.
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4 Responses to Ephesians unfolded; who is predestined in chapter 1?

  1. Brian Sleeman says:

    Hi Craig,

    How do you apply this to Romans 8:29? Salvation as such also existed pre the Jewish nation. (Noah, Job, Abraham etc.).

    • Craig Benno says:

      Good question Brian.

      My understanding of Romans is that Paul is specifically talking to the Jewish and Gentile hearers at various times; moving from one hearer to the next and back again. When speaking to the Jewish hearers he will use Jewish terms; when speaking to the Gentiles he uses Gentile terms, until he builds his case that both Jew and Gentile are included in Christ.
      I haven’t looked in depth at Predestination in Romans; apart from believing that Paul’s use of foreknowledge is a fully knowing something rather than being a causative knowing. In other words, those whom God knew would accept his son; he planned to be conformed to the likeness of his son.

      At the moment I’m working through the book of Ephesians and what Paul is saying and not saying in this book and I believe that while Paul or any author can use similar terms in other letters; its important not to assume each use has the same meaning in each letter. For instance I could use the example of using the saying “Go jump in the lake” On one hand I could be telling someone who was annoying me to get lost ; on the other hand I could be on a picnic on a hot day and give my boys permission to go for a swim. Context is important.

  2. Pingback: One flesh; Christ and the church. | Trinitarian Dance

  3. Pingback: Similarity between Romans 9 and Ephesians 1 | Trinitarian Dance

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