Bible Question:

Please explain Ephesians 1:4-6.

Bible Answer:

Ephesians 1:4-6 tells us that God selected certain people to be saved. There are several previous related questions that you might want to read. Here is a list of the past questions.

He Chose Us Before

The message of Ephesians 1:4 is that He chose people to become Christians. Then He created our world before He created us.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world . . . Ephesians 1:3-4a (NASB)

Now we should ask the question, “What does it mean that He chose us?” The answer is found in the meaning of the Greek word translated as “chose.” The Greek word is eklegomai and it means “to pick out, choose out a person or thing.”[1] This is an important word because it will help us understand this passage. We need to ask, “How is this word used somewhere else?” When we go looking we discover the word occurs in Acts 1:24-25.

Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” Acts 1:24-25 (NIV)

In this passage the apostles are praying and asking God to show them which man they should “choose” to be an apostle. The apostles were seeking God’s direction in finding a replacement for Judas. This Greek word was sometimes used to speak of selecting men for a military draft. So here in our passage, it refers to God’s free selection or “drafting” of men and women. God chose us for salvation.

He Predestined Us

The next verse in Ephesians says God predestined Christians.

“In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will . . .” Ephesians 1:4b-5 (NASB)

Again we have an important word that we need to understand. It is the word predestined. It comes from the Greek word proorizo and it means “to make a decision beforehand.” This means that God determined ahead of time whom He would adopt as His children.

. . . to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:6 (NASB)

He did this not because we are wonderful or good. He did not do this because He knew we were great people or had good intentions. He did this freely and because He loves us (Ephesians 1:4b). Proorizo is also used in Acts 4:28.

They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Acts 4:28 (NIV)

Our Struggle

But we usually struggle with this passage and other passages like it. We do not understand how this is “fair.” This reminds me of the following passage,

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 (NASB)

We do not and cannot understand how God chooses us and yet we must believe in Christ. God chooses us and we must respond. He decided to make us His children and we decide to become His children. Notice the following verse teaches we can receive Christ, yet God chooses us. It says, “of God.”

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:12-13 (NASB)

Conclusion:

We must remember that Ephesians 1:3-6 teaches that God chooses us. Acts 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; Philippians 1:29 and 2 Peter 1:1 teach that God gives us the faith. That is why we respond in faith to Christ. When we finally believe, we respond by repenting and submitting to Him. Anyone who wants to be a Christian can be sure he or she is a Christian by believing in Jesus. God has promised that whoever believes in Christ will not be disappointed.

For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” Romans 10:11 (NASB)

 

References:

1. Colin Brown. Dictionary of New Testament Theology. Regency Publishers. 1975. vol. 1., p. 536.

Suggested Links:

In Love He Predestined Us
How is human responsibility understood in relation to the divine?
Predestination and Human Responsibility
If you are not chosen then does it really matter when you die?
Does the Bible teach that Christ died for everyone or just the elect?
What is the role of man and God in salvation?
Who are the elect or the chosen in salvation?