|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:3-8 Spiritual and heavenly blessings are the best blessings; with which we cannot be miserable, and without which we cannot but be so. This was from the choice of them in Christ, before the foundation of the world, that they should be made holy by separation from sin, being set apart to God, and sanctified by the Holy Spirit, in consequence of their election in Christ. All who are chosen to happiness as the end, are chosen to holiness as the means. In love they were predestinated, or fore-ordained, to be adopted as children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, and to be openly admitted to the privileges of that high relation to himself. The reconciled and adopted believer, the pardoned sinner, gives all the praise of his salvation to his gracious Father. His love appointed this method of redemption, spared not his own Son, and brought believers to hear and embrace this salvation. It was rich grace to provide such a surety as his own Son, and freely to deliver him up. This method of grace gives no encouragement to evil, but shows sin in all its hatefulness, and how it deserves vengeance. The believer's actions, as well as his words, declare the praises of Divine mercy.
Verse 4. - Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world; literally, he chose us out, or selected us (ἐξελέξατο) for himself (middle voice). The Father chose the heirs of salvation, selected those who were to be quickened from the dead (Ephesians 2:1) and saved, they chose them in Christ - in connection with his work and office as Mediator, giving them to him to be re-decreed (John 17:11, 12); not after man was created, nor after man had fallen, but "before the foundation of the world." We are here face to face with a profound mystery. Before even the world was founded, mankind presented themselves to God as lost; the work of redemption was planned and its details arranged from all eternity. Before such a mystery it becomes us to put the shoes from off our feet, and bow reverently before him whose "judgments are unsearchable and his ways past finding out." That we should be holy and without blame before him in love. This is obviously the design of God's electing act; ε1FC0;ναι ἡμᾶς cannot denote the ground, but the purpose, of the choice. God did not choose some because he foresaw their holiness, but in order that they might become "holy and without blame." These two terms denote the positive and negative sides of purity: holy - possessed of all the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23); without blame, or blemish - marked by no stain or imperfection (see Ephesians 5:27). The terms do not denote justification, but a condition of sanctification which implies justification already bestowed, but goes beyond it; our justification is a step towards our complete final sanctification. This renewal being "before him," must be such as to bear the scrutiny of his eye; therefore not external or superficial merely, but reaching to the very heart and center of our nature (1 Samuel 16:7). The expression further denotes how it is of the very nature and glory of the new life to be spent in God's presence, our souls flourishing in the precious sunshine which ever beams out there from. For, when thus renewed, we do not fly from his presence like Adam (Genesis 3:8), but delight in it (Psalm 42:1; Psalm 63:1). Fear is changed to love (1 John 4:18); the loving relation between us and God is restored. It has been much disputed whether the words ἐν ἀγάπῃ ought to be construed with the fourth verse or with προορίσας in the fifth. The weight of authority seems in favor of the latter; but we prefer the construction which is given both in the Authorized and the Revised Version, first, because if ἐν ἐγάπῃ qualified προορίσας, it would come more naturally after it; and second, because the scope of the passage, the train of the apostle's thought, seems to require us to keep ἐν ἀγάπῃ in ver. 4. We never could come to be holy and without blemish before God unless the loving relations between us were restored (comp. Ephesians 3:17, "Rooted and grounded in love"). The spirit of love, trust, admiration, directed to God helps our complete sanctification - changes us into the same image (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
According as he hath chosen us in him,.... This choice cannot be understood of a national one, as Israel of old were chosen by the Lord; for the persons the apostle writes to were not a nation; nor does he address all the inhabitants of Ephesus, only the saints and faithful in Christ that resided there; nor are they all intended here, if any of them. However, not they only, since the apostle includes himself, and perhaps some others, who did not belong to that place, nor were of that country: nor does this choice regard them as a church; for though the saints at Ephesus were in a church state, yet the apostle does not write to them under that formal consideration, but as saints and faithful; nor are these persons said to be chosen to church privileges, but to grace and glory, to be holy and blameless: besides, from Ephesians 1:3, the apostle seems to speak of himself, and some others, who first trusted in Christ, as distinct from the believers at Ephesus, Ephesians 1:13, nor is this choice of persons to an office, for all that are here intended were not apostles, or pastors, or deacons: nor can it design the effectual calling, or the call of persons in time by efficacious grace; because this was before the foundation of the world, as follows: but it intends an eternal election of particular persons to everlasting life and salvation; and which is the first blessing of grace, and the foundation one, upon which all the rest proceed, and
according to which they are dispensed; for according to predestination are calling, justification, and glorification. The author of this choice is God, God the Father, who is distinguished from Christ, in whom this act is made; and it is according to his foreknowledge, and is an act of his grace, and is entirely sovereign: the objects of it, us, are not angels, but men, considered as unfallen with respect to the end, and as fallen with respect to the means; and these not all mankind: to choose, implies the contrary; and they that are chosen are distinguished from others, and are represented as few; nor do all men partake either of the means or end appointed in the decree of election; and yet some of all nations, Jews and Gentiles, are included in it; though none for any previous qualifications in them, as not for their good works, faith, holiness, or perseverance therein; for these are fruits and effects of election, and therefore cannot be causes or conditions of it: and this choice is made in Christ; and the persons chosen are chosen in him, and by being chosen they come to be in him; for this refers not to their openly being in him at conversion, as believers, but to their secretly being in him before time. Christ, as Mediator, is the object of election himself; and all the elect were chosen in him as their head, in whose hands their persons, grace, and glory are, and so are safe and secure in him: the Arabic version renders it, "by him"; not as the meritorious cause, for Christ's merits are not the cause of election, though they are of redemption and salvation; but as the means, in order to the end: the Ethiopic version renders it, "to him"; to salvation by him, and to the obtaining of his glory; as if he and his benefits, being the end of this choice, were intended; which was made
before the foundation of the world: and that it was so early, is certain, from the love of God to his people, which this is the effect of, and which is an everlasting love; and from the covenant which was made with Christ from everlasting, on account of these chosen ones, when Christ was set up as the head and representative of them; and from the provision of all spiritual blessings for them in it, which proceeds according to this choice; and from the preparation of a kingdom for them from the foundation of the world; and from the nature of God's decrees, which are eternal; for no new will, or act of will, can arise in God, or any decree be made by him, which was not from eternity: God's foreknowledge is eternal, and so is his decree, and is no other than himself decreeing. The end of this choice follows,
that we should be holy, and without blame, before him in love; the objects of it are not chosen because they were holy, but that they might partake of the sanctification of the Spirit; that they might be sanctified by him here, and be perfectly holy hereafter; and be without fault and blame, both in this life, as instilled by the righteousness of Christ, and as washed in his blood; and in the life to come, being entirely freed from all sin, and without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; and appear so in the sight of Christ, who will present them to himself, and in the sight of his Father, to whom they will also be presented by him, even in the sight of divine justice: and this will be all "in love", or "through love", as the Syriac version renders it; or "through his love", as the Arabic version; for the love of God is the source and spring of election itself, and of holiness and happiness, the end of it; and which is shed abroad in the hearts of God's people now, and will be more fully comprehended and enjoyed in the other world; and which causes love again in them to him. A phrase somewhat like this is used by the Targumist on Ecclesiastes 11:6 where, speaking of a man's children, he says;
"it is not known unto thee which of them , "is chosen to be good", this, or that, or both of them, to be alike good.''
Some copies put the stop at before him; and read the phrase, "in love"; in connection with the words following, thus, "in love", or "by love hath predestinated us"; so the Syriac version.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
4. hath chosen us—Greek, "chose us out for Himself" (namely, out of the world, Ga 1:4): referring to His original choice, spoken of as past.
in him—The repetition of the idea, "in Christ" (Eph 1:3), implies the paramount importance of the truth that it is in Him, and by virtue of union to Him, the Second Adam, the Restorer ordained for us from everlasting, the Head of redeemed humanity, believers have all their blessings (Eph 3:11).
before the foundation of the world—This assumes the eternity of the Son of God (Joh 17:5, 24), as of the election of believers in Him (2Ti 1:9; 2Th 2:13).
that we should be holy—positively (De 14:2).
without blame—negatively (Eph 5:27; 1Th 3:13).
before him—It is to Him the believer looks, walking as in His presence, before whom he looks to be accepted in the judgment (Col 1:22; compare Re 7:15).
in love—joined by Bengel and others with Eph 1:5, "in love having predestinated us," &c. But English Version is better. The words qualify the whole clause, "that we should be holy … before Him." Love, lost to man by the fall, but restored by redemption, is the root and fruit and sum of all holiness (Eph 5:2; 1Th 3:12, 13).
Ephesians 1:4 Parallel Commentaries
Ephesians 1:4 NIV
Ephesians 1:4 NLT
Ephesians 1:4 ESV
Ephesians 1:4 NASB
Ephesians 1:4 KJV
Bible Hub: Online Parallel Bible