We need a Fresh Read! Ephesians 1:4,5

Ephesians 1:4,5 has been the grist of theological debate for centuries.  It is such that we can not read these verses without girding our loins for battle over election, predestination and all the related cascade of issues.  It is almost that for a pastor who wants to preach Ephesians, you can hear the cry “Don’t open that closet McGee!”

Ephesians 1:4-5  ESV
    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 through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,

   The concept of Fresh Read is to let the text talk, not the history of the discussion of the text.  What we see in these two verses are the words “chose” and “predestined.” 

  but notice that the emphasis on this passage is not so much on the abstract theology, as the purpose of God. 

  “We” were chosen “to be holy and blameless”.  “We” are predestined “for adoption.”   If we abstract the words chosen and predestined out of this passage, we are quickly going to find ourselves joining Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Arminius, and many more in a theological food fight.

  If we read the words “chosen” and “predestined” in context, then we are moved out of theological abstraction to what God has purposed to do with us.  He has purposed to make us “holy and blameless” and for “adoption.”

  The text reaches back to before the creation of the world.  So before Genesis 1:1, whatever that might mean, God has chosen.  Was there time before there was a creation? (Science suggests that time is a dimension, and would say that there would be no time before creation or the big bang.)  The initiative is clearly with God, not with us, because we had not, nor had our ancestors, nor had our world come into existence.

  Did God choose a purpose only?  That is, did God choose to make someone “holy and blameless” and someone ‘for adoption?”  The subjects would be unknown, but the object decided in this view.  It would seem not because of the “us”.   He chose “us” before the foundation of the world.

  Since we read Ephesians 1:3-14 as an extended introduction to the book, we can find in later passages the call to a holy and blameless life (e.g. 5:1-14).  This emphasis is forward looking.  In other words, you or I can ask, “What does God want for me?”  The answer is that we are to become “holy and blameless” and to be adopted.

  Our before-the-world-began calling (hidden in the unsearchable mind of God) is  to live toward the purpose God has intended.


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