Ephesians 1:4
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
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(4) According as (i.e., inasmuch as) he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world.—Again it should be, He chose us for Himself. The eternal election of God is inseparably connected with the blessing of the Spirit. This passage stands alone in St. Paul’s Epistles in its use of this word “chosen” in connection with God’s eternal purpose, “before the foundation of the world”—a phrase only applied elsewhere to the eternal communion of the Son with the Father (John 17:24), and to the foreordaining of His sacrifice in the divine counsels (1Peter 1:20). The word “chosen” itself is used by our Lord of His choice of the Apostles (John 6:70; John 13:18; John 15:16-19); but in one case with the significant addition, “one of you is a devil,” showing that the election was not final. It is similarly used in the Acts (Acts 1:2; Acts 1:24; Acts 6:5; Acts 15:7; Acts 15:22; Acts 15:25) of His choice or the choice of the Apostles; and once (Acts 13:7) of the national election of Israel. In 1Corinthians 1:27-28 (the only other place where it is used by St. Paul), and in James 2:5 it refers to choice of men by God’s calling in this world. Clearly in all these cases it is applied to the election of men to privilege by an act of God’s mercy here. In this passage, on the contrary, the whole reference is to the election “in Christ,” by the foreknowledge of God, of those who should hereafter be made His members. From this examination of Scriptural usage it is clear that the visible election to privilege is constantly and invariably urged upon men; the election in God’s eternal counsels only dwelt upon in passages which (like this or Romans 9, 11) have to ascend in thought to the fountain-head of all being in God’s mysterious will. It will be observed that even here it clearly refers to all members of the Church, without distinction.

That we should be holy and without blame before him.—In these words we have the object of the divine election declared, and the co-operation of the elect implied, by the inseparable connection of holiness with election. There is an instructive parallel in Colossians 1:22 :—“He hath reconciled you in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblamable, and unreprovable in His sight.” The word “without blame,” or “unblamable,” is properly without blemish; and the word “unreprovable” more nearly corresponds to our idea of one unblamablei.e., one against whom no charge can be brought. Here God is said to have “chosen” us, in the other passage to have “presented” us (comp. the sacrificial use of the word in Romans 12:1), in Christ, to be “holy and without blemish.” It seems clear that the words refer not to justification in Christ, but to sanctification in Him. They express the positive and negative aspects of holiness; the positive in the spirit of purity, the negative in the absence of spot or blemish. The key to their interpretation is to be found in the idea of Romans 8:29, “whom He did foreknow, He did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son.” The word “without blame” is applied to our Lord (in Hebrews 9:14; 1Peter 1:19) as a lamb “without blemish.” To Him alone it applies perfectly; to us, in proportion to that conformity to His image. The words “before Him” refer us to God’s unerring judgment as contrasted with the judgment of men, and even our own judgment on ourselves. (Comp. 1Corinthians 4:3-4; 1John 3:20-21.)

In love.—If these words are connected with the previous verse, they must be taken with “He hath chosen us,” in spite of the awkwardness of the dislocation of order. But it is best to connect them with the verse following, “Having predestinated us in love.”

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.According as - The importance of this verse will render proper a somewhat minute examination of the words and phrases of which it is composed. The general sense of the passage is, that these blessings pertaining to heaven were bestowed upon Christians in accordance with an eternal purpose. They were not conferred by chance or hap-hazard. They were the result of intention and design on the part of God. Their value was greatly enhanced from the fact that God had designed from all eternity to bestow them, and that they come to us as the result of his everlasting plan. It was not a recent plan; it was not an afterthought; it was not by mere chance; it was not by caprice; it was the fruit of an eternal counsel. Those blessings had all the value, and all the assurance of "permanency," which must result from that fact. The phrase "according as" - καθὼς kathōs - implies that these blessings were in conformity with that eternal plan, and have flowed to us as the expression of that plan. They are limited by that purpose, for it marks and measures all. It was as God had chosen that it should be, and had appointed in his eternal purpose.

He hath chosen us - The word "us" here shows that the apostle had reference to individuals, and not to communities. It includes Paul himself as one of the "chosen," and those whom he addressed - the mingled Gentile and Jewish converts in Ephesus. That it must refer to individuals is clear. Of no "community" as such can it be said that it was" chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy." It is not true of the Gentile world as such, nor of anyone of the nations making up the Gentile world. The word rendered here "hath chosen" - ἐξελέξατο exelexato - is from a word meaning "to lay out together," (Passow,) to choose out, to select. It has the idea of making a choice or selection among different objects or things. It is applied to things, as in Luke 10:42, Mary "hath chosen that good part;" - she has made a choice, or selection of it, or has shown a "preference" for it. 1 Corinthians 1:27, "God hath chosen the foolish things of the world;" he has preferred to make use of them among all the conceivable things which might have been employed" to confound the wise;" compare Acts 1:2, Acts 1:24; Acts 6:5; Acts 15:22, Acts 15:25.

It denotes "to choose out," with the accessary idea of kindness or favor. Mark 13:20, "for the elect's sake whom "he hath chosen," he hath shortened the days." John 13:18, "I know whom I have chosen." Acts 13:17, "the God of this people of Israel "chose" our fathers;" that is, selected them from the nations to accomplish important purposes. This is evidently the sense of the word in the passage before us. It means to make a selection or choice with the idea of favor or love, and with a view to impart important benefits on those whom be chose. The idea of making some "distinction" between them and others, is essential to a correct understanding of the passage - since there can be no choice where no such distinction is made. He who chooses one out of many things makes a difference, or evinces a preference - no matter what the ground or reason of his doing it may be. Whether this refers to communities and nations, or to individuals, still it is true that a distinction is made or a preference given of one over another. It may be added, that so far as "justice" is concerned, it makes no difference whether it refers to nations or to individuals. If there is injustice in choosing an "individual" to favor, there cannot be less in choosing a "nation" - for a nation is nothing but a collection of individuals. Every objection which has ever been made to the doctrine of election as it relates to individuals, will apply with equal force to the choice of a nation to unique privileges. If a distinction is made, it may be made with as much propriety in respect to individuals as to nations.

In him - In Christ. The choice was not without reference to any means of saving them; it was not a mere purpose to bring a certain number to heaven; it was with reference to the mediation of the Redeemer, and his work. It was a purpose that they should be saved "by" him, and share the benefits of the atonement. The whole choice and purpose of salvation had reference to him, and "out" of him no one was chosen to life, and no one out of him will be saved.

Before the foundation of the world - This is a very important phrase in determining the time when the choice was made. It was not an "afterthought." It was not commenced in time. The purpose was far back in the ages of eternity. But what is the meaning of the phrase "before the foundation of the world?" Dr. Clarke supposes that it means "from the commencement "of the religious system of the Jews," which," says he, "the phrase sometimes means." Such principles of interpretation are they compelled to resort to who endeavor to show that this refers to a national election to privileges, and who deny that it refers to individuals. On such principles the Bible may be made to signify anything and everything. Dr. Chandler, who also supposes that it refers to nations, admits, however, that the word "foundation" means the beginning of anything; and that the phrase here means, "before the world began" There is scarcely any phrase in the New Testament which is more clear in its signification than this.

The word rendered "foundation" - καταβολή katabolē - means properly a laying down, a founding, a foundation - as where the foundation of a building is laid - and the phrase "before the foundation of the world" clearly means before the world was made, or before the work of creation; see Matthew 13:35; Matthew 25:34; Luke 11:50; Hebrews 9:26; Revelation 13:8, in all which places the phrase "the foundation of the world" means the beginning of human affairs; the beginning of the world; the beginning of history, etc. Thus, in John 17:24, the Lord Jesus says, "thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world," i. e., from eternity, or before the work of creation commenced. Thus, Peter says 1 Peter 1:20 of the Saviour, "who verily was fore-ordained before the foundation of the world." It was the purpose of God before the worlds were made, to send him to save lost men; compare Revelation 17:8. Nothing can be clearer than that the phrase before us must refer to a purpose that was formed before the world was made. it is not a temporary arrangement; it has not grown up under the influence of vacillating purposes; it is not a plan newly formed, or changed with each coming generation, or variable like the plans of people. It has all the importance, dignity, and assurances of stability which necessarily result from a purpose that has been eternal in the mind of God. It may be observed here,

(1) that if the plan was formed "before the foundation of the world," all objections to the doctrine of an "eternal" plan are removed. If the plan was formed "before" the world, no matter whether a moment, an hour, a year, or millions of years, the plan is equally fixed, and the event equally necessary. All the objections which will lie against an "eternal" plan, will lie against a plan formed a day or an hour before the event. The one interferes with our freedom of action as much as the other.

(2) if the plan was formed "before the foundation of the world," it "was eternal." God has no new plan, He forms no new schemes. He is not changing and vacillating. If we can ascertain what is the plan of God at any time, we can ascertain what his eternal plan was with reference to the event. It has always been the same - for "he is of one MinD, and who can turn him?" Job 23:13. In reference to the plans and purposes of the Most High, there is nothing better settled than that what he actually does, he always meant to do - which is the doctrine of eternal decrees - "and the whole of it.

That we should be holy - Paul proceeds to state the "object" for which God had chosen his people. It is not merely that they should enter into heaven. It is not that they may live in sin. It is not that they may flatter themselves that they are safe, and then live as they please. The tendency among people has always been to abuse the doctrine of predestination and election; to lead people to say that if all things are fixed there is no need of effort; that if God has an eternal plan, no matter how people live, they will be saved if he has elected them, and that at all events they cannot change that plan, and they may as well enjoy life by indulgence in sin. The apostle Paul held no such view of the doctrine of predestination. In his apprehension it is a doctrine suited to excite the gratitude of Christians, and the whole tendency and design of the doctrine, according to him, is to make people holy, and without blame before God in love.

And without blame before him in love - The expression "in love," is probably to be taken in connection with the following verse, and should be rendered "In love," having predestinated us unto the adoption of children." It is all to be traced to the love of God.

(1) it was love for us which prompted to it.

(2) it is the highest expression of love to be ordained to eternal life - for what higher love could God show us?

(3) it is love on his part, because we had no claim to it, and had not deserved it. If this be the correct view, then the doctrine of predestination is not inconsistent with the highest moral excellence in the divine character, and should never be represented as the offspring of partiality and injustice. Then too we should give thanks that" God "has, in love," predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will."

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).

God blesseth us with all spiritual blessings according as he hath chosen us; election being the fountain from whence those blessings come, so that God doeth nothing for us in carrying on the work of our salvation, but what he had in his eternal counsel before determined.

Chosen us; separated us in his purpose and decree from others, (whom he left out of that gracious act of his will), and determined that we should be holy and unblamable, &c.

In him; either:

1. By and through Christ, (as in the former verse), for his sake, and upon the account of his merit as the procuring cause, not of our election, but sanctification; q.d. God hath chosen us, that we should be made holy and unblamable by Christ. Or rather:

2. In Christ, as the foundation on which he would build us, (his spiritual house), and by which both we might be united to God, and he communicate his influence and grace to us; or as our Head, by which he might convey grace, and strength, and life to us as Christ’s members.

Before the foundation of the world; either before God’s decree of creating the world, or rather, before his executing that decree in the actual creation of it; i.e. from eternity, when neither we nor the world had a being.

That we should be holy and without blame; by inherent grace begun in regeneration, and carried on in sanctification and mortification in this life, though not perfected till the other. Holiness in us is declared here to be not the cause, but the effect of our election; we are chosen that we may be holy, not because we are, or God foresees we will be holy.

Before him; in the sight of God, who is not deceived with an outward appearance, but looks to the heart.

In love; as a principal part of our sanctification, and the best evidence of the fear of God in us, and our obedience to the whole law.

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.

{6} According as he hath chosen us in {d} him before the foundation of the world, {7} that we {e} should {f} be holy and without blame {g} before him in love:

(6) He declares the efficient cause, or by what means God the Father saves us in his Son: because, he says, he chose us from everlasting in his Son.

(d) To be adopted in him.

(7) He expounds the next final cause which is twofold, that is, sanctification and justification, of which he will speak later. And by this also two things are to be noted, that is, that holiness of life cannot be separated from the grace of election: and again, whatever pureness is in us, is the gift of God who has freely of his mercy chosen us.

(e) God then, did not choose us because we were, or otherwise would have been holy, but to the end we should be holy.

(f) Being clothed with Christ's righteousness.

(g) Truly and sincerely.

Ephesians 1:4. Further amplification of ὁ εὐλογήσας κ.τ.λ. on to Ephesians 1:14. See the contents.

καθώς] even as, denotes that that εὐλογεῖν has taken place in conformity with the fact that, etc., and is consequently argumentative; see on 1 Corinthians 1:6; John 13:34.

ἐξελέξατο ἡμᾶς] He has chosen us (from the collective mass of men) for Himself (sibi). Comp. 1 Corinthians 1:27; Romans 9:11; Romans 11:5; Romans 11:7; Romans 11:28; John 15:19; 1 Peter 2:9 f. Entirely without reason does Hofmann, Schriftbeweis, I. p. 223, deny that ἐκλέγεσθαι here has reference to others not chosen, and assert that it applies only to that which we, in the absence of election, should not have become. This is according to the very notion of the word quite impossible. Ἐκλέγεσθαι always has, and must of logical necessity have, a reference to others, to whom the chosen would, without the ἐκλογή, still belong. Even in Acts 6:5; Acts 13:17; 1 Timothy 5:21; Exodus 18:25; Deuteronomy 4:37, it sets forth the distinctive separation from the remaining mass, just as also Christ, as one who is chosen out from all that is man, is called the ἐκλεκτός of God (Luke 9:35; Luke 23:35).

ἐν αὐτῷ] for in nothing else and in no one else than in Christ, whose future work of redemption God has foreknown and decreed from eternity (Acts 15:18; Romans 16:25; 2 Timothy 1:9; 1 Peter 1:20, al.), lay the ground, that the electing grace (Romans 11:5) chose us (comp. Ephesians 3:11); hence God had, as respected the subjects to be affected by the election, to deal, not in any arbitrary manner, but according to His πρόγνωσις of the same (praecognovit credituros). See on Romans 8:29. Christ is not, however, here conceived of as Himself chosen of God, and we as included in Him (ἐν αὐτῷ), as Hofmann, p. 229, thinks; but, as the more precise explanation in Ephesians 1:5 shows, the divine act of our election has in Christ its determining ground, so that to us by this act there is assigned and allotted no other than the salvation to be gained through Christ (who in the fulness of the times was out of His preexistence to be sent as Incarnate and was to accomplish the work of salvation). Apart from this connection of the divine election with Christ we should not be chosen; but in Christ lay for God the causa meritoria of our election.[95] The reference of ἐν αὐτῷ to God (Al. Morus, Holzhausen: with Himself, in His heart) is to be rejected on account of the utter superfluousness of this definition, and on account of the preceding ἐν Χριστῷ.

πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου] thus before all time, already in eternity. Comp. Colossians 1:15 ff.; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Matthew 25:34; also 1 Corinthians 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:9. The expression is nowhere else found in Paul; but see Matthew 13:35; Luke 11:50; John 17:24; Hebrews 4:3; 1 Peter 1:20; Revelation 13:8.

εἶναι ἡμᾶς ἁγίους κ.τ.λ.] Infinitive of the design: in order that we should be, etc. See Winer, p. 298 f. [E. T. 399 f.]. The predicates ἅγιος and ἄμωμος (blameless, Herod, ii. 177; Theoc. xviii. 25) exhaust the conception positively and negatively. Comp. Plut. Pericl. p. 173 D: βιόςκαθαρὸς καὶ ἀμίαντος, and see on Colossians 1:22; Ephesians 5:27. It is not, however, to be explained of the holiness conditioned by morality and virtue (Chrysostom, Theophylact, Calvin, Piscator, Grotius, Calixtus, and many others, including Flatt, Rückert, Matthies, Meier, Schenkel), in which case reservations on account of human imperfection are often arbitrarily inserted, or it is referred, as by Rückert, to the ideal point of view of the apostle; but rather of the holiness and blamelessness brought about through the atoning death of Christ by means of the δικαιασύνη Θεοῦ thereby attained (Romans 3:21 ff; Romans 5:1 ff; Romans 8:1; Romans 8:33 ff; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Ephesians 1:4. καθώς: even as. Not “because,” but “according as,” “in conformity with the fact that”. Cf. καθότι, which is used in the NT only by Luke and means both “according as” and “because”; and the Attic καθά, καθό, for which, indeed, καθώς is occasionally used in classical Greek, at least from Aristotle’s time. Here καθώς designates the ground of the “blessing” and so is also the note of its grandeur. The “blessing” proceeded on a Divine election, and took effect in accordance with that. It has its foundation, therefore, in eternity, and is neither an incidental thing nor an afterthought of God. So in 1 Peter 1:2, the ἐκλογή has its ground and norm in the πρόγνωσις, the foreknowledge of God the Father, and that “foreknowledge” is not a theoretical but an efficient knowledge.—ἐξελέξατο ἡμᾶς: He chose us (not “hath chosen us”), or elected us. The verb, which occurs in the NT only in the Middle (except, perhaps, in Luke 9:35), is the LXX equivalent for בָּחַר, and expresses the idea of selecting for oneself out of a number. It is sometimes alleged that we are not entitled to give it so definite a meaning in doctrinal paragraphs like the present, because there are passages in which it appears to express nothing more than the general idea of a, choice, without reference either to any special relation to the person choosing or to the leaving of others unchosen. (So, e.g., Abbott.) But the passages adduced in support of this are few in number and by no means bear out the contention. In Luke 9:35, e.g., where ἐκλελεγμένος is said of the Son, the idea of a choice from among others is certainly not an alien idea (cf. Thayer-Grim., Lex., sub voc.); and in Acts 4:5; Acts 15:22; Acts 15:25, the point is a choice for oneself in the form of an appointment to a particular service or office. That the verb denotes the choice of one or more out of others is implied in its compound form, and is made abundantly clear by actual usage, e.g., in the case of the selection of the Twelve (John 6:70; John 13:18; John 15:16), the appointment of a successor to Judas (Acts 1:24, etc.). In not a few passages it is made more certain still by the addition of explanatory terms, e.g., ἀπό τινων (Luke 6:13), ἐκ κόσμου (John 15:19), ἔκ τινων (Acts 1:24), ἐν ἡμῖν (Acts 15:7). That it means to choose out for oneself appears from such passages as Luke 10:42; Luke 14:7. The verb ἐκλέγεσθαι is specially used of God’s election of some out of mankind generally to be His own in a peculiar sense, the objects of His grace, destined for special privilege, special relations, special service; cf. Acts 13:17 (of Israel); Mark 13:20; John 15:19; Romans 9:11; Romans 11:5; Romans 11:7; Romans 11:28; 1 Corinthians 1:27 ff.; Jam 2:5; 1 Peter 2:9 ff. The foundation of the statement is the great OT idea of Israel as a nation chosen by the Lord to be “a peculiar people unto Himself, above all peoples that are upon the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 14:2; cf. Psalm 33:11-12; Psalm 135:4; Isaiah 41:8-9; Isaiah 42:1). What is meant, therefore, is that the blessing which God bestowed on these Ephesians was not a thing of the time merely, but the issue of an election prior to their call or conversion, a blessing that came to them in accordance with a definite choice of them out of the mass of others by God for Himself.—ἐν αὐτῷ: in Him; that is, in Christ, not “through Him” simply. But in what sense? It is true that Christ is the first “Elect” of God, and that our election is contained in His. But His election is not the matter in hand here, and the point, therefore, is not that in electing Christ God also elected us (Calv., Beng., etc.). Nor, again, is it that we are included in Him (Hofm.), for neither is this the point in view here. The immediate subject is not what we are or are made, but what God does—His election and how it proceeds. And the idea is that that election has its ground in Christ, in the sense that apart from Christ and without respect to His special relation to us, and His foreseen work, there would be no election of us. An extraordinary sense is attached to the ἐν αὐτῷ by Beys., who takes the point to be that the “divinely conceived prototypes of perfected believers are from eternity posited by God in the One Prototype of humanity acceptable unto Him” (Christ. d. N. T., p. 141). This is a philosophical notion wholly alien to Paul, on which see Meyer, in loc. The ἐν αὐτῷ might mean that God’s election of us was in Christ in so far as Christ was contemplated as having the relation of “head and representative of spiritual, as Adam was the representative of natural, humanity” (Ols., Ell.). But it is best taken as expressing again the broad idea that “in Christ lay for God the causa meritoria of our election” (Mey.).—πρὸ καταβολῆς τοῦ κόσμου: before the foundation of the world. This is the only occurrence of this particular expression in the Pauline writings, but it occurs also once in John (John 17:24) and once in Peter (1 Peter 1:20). It is akin to the form ἀπὸ καταβολῆς (Matthew 13:35, omitting κόσμου with LTTrWHR marg.), ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου (Luke 11:50; Hebrews 4:3; Revelation 13:8); as also to these phrases: ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς (1 Thessalonians 2:13), πρὸ τῶν αἰώνων (1 Corinthians 2:7), πρὸ χρόνων αἰωνίων (2 Timothy 1:9). It expresses most definitely the fact that the election in question is not the setting apart of certain persons at a definite period, an act in time, a historical selection, as some (e.g., Beys.) strive to prove, but an eternal choice, a determination of the Divine Mind before all time. The idea of the Divine election in the NT is not a philosophical idea expressing the ultimate explanation of the system of things or giving the rationale of the story of the human race as such, but a religious idea, a note of grace, expressing the fact that salvation is originally and wholly of God. In Pauline teaching the subjects of this Divine election are neither the Church as such (Ritschl), nor mankind as such (Beck), but Christian men and women, designated as ἡμεῖς, ὑμεῖς. It is, as is here clearly intimated, an eternal determination of the Divine Will, and it has its ground in the freedom of God, not in anything foreseen in its subjects. Of a prevision of faith as the basis or motive of the election there is no indication here. On the contrary, the character or distinguishing inward quality of the subjects of the election is presented in the next clause as the object of the election, the end it had in view. (See especially Haupt, in loc.)—εἶναι ἡμᾶς ἁγίους καὶ ἀμώμους: that we should be holy and without blemish. The election, therefore, had a definite purpose before it—the making of its subjects ἁγίους καὶ ἀμώμους. The simple infinitive is freely used to express the idea of purpose or design not only in the NT but in classical Greek (Soph., Oed. Col., 12; Thuc., i., 50, iv., 8; Herod., vii., 208, etc.; cf. Winer-Moult. Gram., p. 399). On the ἁγίους see under Ephesians 1:1. There is a question, however, as to the precise sense of ἀμώμους. The adjective means both “without blame” (inculpatus) and “without blemish” (immaculatus). In the LXX it is a sacrificial term, applied in the latter sense to victims (Exodus 29:1; Leviticus 1:3; Leviticus 1:10; Leviticus 3:1; Leviticus 3:6; Leviticus 3:9-10; Leviticus 22:19, etc.). It has this sense of “without blemish” also in Hebrews 9:14; 1 Peter 1:19; cf. the use of the noun in 2 Peter 2:13. In the Pauline writings it is found, in addition to the present passage, in Ephesians 5:27; Php 2:15 (according to the best reading); Colossians 1:22. In the first and third of these occurrences it is rendered by the RV “without blemish,” in the second, “blameless”. On the ground of usage, especially in the LXX, many commentators conclude for the second sense. Light., e.g., takes the point of the two adjectives to be that the former denotes the consecration of the victim and the latter its fitness for the consecration (Notes on Epistles of Paul, p. 313). The Vulg. gives immaculati, and Wycl. “without wene”. On the other hand, there is nothing in the verse to suggest the idea of sacrifice or a victim. The parallel passage, also, in Colossians 1:22, where we have not only ἁγίους and ἀμώμους but a third adjective ἀνεγκλήτους, is on the whole on the side of “blameless”. That, too, is the meaning of the word in classical Greek (e.g., Herod, ii., 177), and in inscriptions (C. I., 1974). Little indeed depends on the decision between the two senses; for both terms, “without blemish” and “without blame,” may have ethical applications. There is the further question, however, whether in this statement Paul has in view the standing of believers or their character—whether he thinks of them as justified or as designed to be sanctified. The arguments in support of the objective relation to God being a view here (Mey., Haupt, etc.) are weighty. It is held, e.g., that γίγνεσθαι would be more appropriate than εἶναι if the personal sanctification of believers was in the writer’s mind; that in that case the ἐν ἀγάπῃ would more naturally have come in before the κατενώπιον αὐτοῦ; above all, that the tenor of the section as a whole is on the side of the first view, the idea all through the paragraph (Ephesians 1:3-14) being what God does for us, not what we are now or are meant to be inwardly to Him, and the objective facts of the forgiveness of sin, adoption, etc., being clearly introduced in Ephesians 1:7 ff. On the other hand the ethical sense is strongly advocated by many (Chrys., Theophy., Alf., Ell., Candl., Abb., etc.) on the broad ground that it is so much Paul’s way to point us to newness and holiness of life as the great end of the Divine purpose and the Divine call (Php 2:15; 1 Thessalonians 4:7; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Titus 2:14). This is supported further by the presence of the qualifying ἐν ἀγάπῃ, if it is attached to Ephesians 1:4; and by the weighty consideration that the ἁγίους καὶ ἀμώμους καὶ ἀνεγκλήτους in the parallel passage in Colossians 1:22 is followed immediately by a reference to continuing “in the faith, grounded and stedfast, and not moved away from the hope of the Gospel”. Something depends, however, on the position of the following ἐν ἀγάπῃ, on which see below.—κατενώπιον αὐτοῦ: before Him; that is, before God. Read αὐτοῦ, not (as Harl., etc.) αὑτοῦ; see Winer-Moul., Gram., pp. 188, 189. So, too, in the parallel passage Colossians 1:22. The present approbation of God is in view, not His future judgment. Light, thinks that God Himself is thus regarded as the great μωμοσκόπος, who inspects the victims and takes cognizance of blemishes. But this is to import a priestly notion which is not expressed in the context. This phrase might be specially appropriate to the idea of the standing or relation of believers as supposed to be conveyed by ἀμώμους. But it also suits the idea of characterἀμώμους “in God’s sight,” “under the eye of God as Witness and Judge, and so in truth and reality”. The terms ἐνώπιον, κατενώπιον, κατέναντι are also used in this sense in the NT, and do not appear to occur in profane Greek. They are peculiar to the LXX, the Apocrypha, and the NT. All three are used by Paul, κατενώπιον and κατέναντι sparingly (the former only here and in Colossians 1:22, the latter in Romans 4:17; 2 Corinthians 2:17; 2 Corinthians 12:19); most frequently ἐνώπιον (Romans 3:20; Romans 12:17; Romans 14:22; 1 Corinthians 1:29; 2 Corinthians 4:2, etc.), which is also much employed in Luke and Revelation, never in Matthew or Mark.—ἐν ἀγάπῃ: in love. What does this qualify? The divine election, say some (Œc.; etc.). But the remoteness of the ἐν ἀγάπῃ from the ἐξελέξατο makes this, if not an impracticable, at least a less likely connection. It is possible, indeed, also to retain the connection of the ἐν ἀγάπῃ with Ephesians 1:4 and yet give it the sense of the Divine love, if we take it to qualify not the ἐξελέξατο alone, but the whole clause which it concludes. In that case the idea would be that the electing act and the object it had in view, namely holiness and blamelessness on our part, were both due to God’s love and had their explanation in it. The choice, however, appears to be between attaching the clause to the preceding ἁγίους καὶ ἀμώμους and attaching it to the following προορίσας. Commentators and Versions are widely divided on the question. The former is the connection in LP, the Goth. and Copt. Vv., the Vulg., the texts of Stephens, WH, and the Revisers, and it is preferred by Eras., Luth., Beza, Calv., Grot., Wetst., Alf., Light. The latter is the connection in the Syr.-P, and is followed by LTTr marg., RV marg., Orig., Chrys., Thdrt., Theophy., August., Beng., Harl., de Wette, Olsh., Hof., Bleek., Mey., Ell., V. Sod., Haupt, Abbott, etc. The propriety of understanding the ἐν ἀγάπῃ as meant to qualify the προορίσας is urged on such grounds as these—that the Pauline Epistles furnish no other instance of ἄγιος or ἄμωμος having attached to it any grace or virtue defined by ἐν as the form in which the holiness or blamelessness shows itself (Haupt); that it is befitting that the love which is its principle and ground should get emphatic expression when the Divine προορισμός is first introduced (Ell., etc.); that this connection is most in harmony with the ascription of praise (Mey.), and with the genius of the paragraph as a whole, which is concerned with what God is to us rather than what we are required to be to Him. On the other hand in support of attaching the ἐν ἀγάπῃ to the preceding, it is pointed out that in view of the subsequent κατʼ εὐδοκίαν there is less reason for introducing ἐν ἀγάπῃ in so emphatic a position before the προορίσας; that, if not in the Pauline Epistles themselves, yet elsewhere both within and without the NT we have instances analogous to the connection of ἐν ἀγάπῃ with ἀμώμους here—e.g., 2 Peter 3:14, ἀμώμητοιἐν εἰρήνῃ; Judges 1:24, ἀμώμους ἐν ἀγαλλιάσει; Clem. Rom., 50, ἵνα ἐν ἀγάπῃ εὑρεθῶμεν δίχα προσκλίσεως ἀνθρωπίνης ἄμωμοι (cited by Light., Notes; ut sup., 313), and above all that it is Paul’s usual, if not constant, habit to place ἐν ἀγάπῃ after the clause it qualifies (Ephesians 4:2; Ephesians 4:15-16; Ephesians 5:2; Colossians 2:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:13; cf. also, though in association with other terms, 1 Timothy 4:12; 2 Timothy 1:13). On the whole this connection is to be preferred, and the ἐν ἀγάπῃ will then define the holiness and blamelessness, which are the end and object of God’s election of us, as having their truth and perfection in the supreme Christian grace of love.

4. According as he hath chosen, &c.] Better, According as He chose, &c. The time-reference is the same as just above; to the Divine premundane deed of purpose.—“Chosen”:—out of mankind. See Romans 8:33 and its context for commentary on the idea of the word. The word “elect” (chosen) is generally used in N. T. in connexions where the highest level of Divine purposes, or spiritual privileges, is in view. In the O. T., Israel is “My people, My chosen” (Isaiah 43:20). In the N. T. the chosen are “the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16; cp. Galatians 3:29; Romans 4:11). As with the Old so with the New Israel the choice is emphatically sovereign; “not according to our works” (2 Timothy 1:9). On the other hand, it takes effect through means; a truth perfectly harmonious with sovereign purpose, while often conveyed in the language of ordinary contingency. Cp. 2 Timothy 2:10; and, by way of illustration, Acts 27:22 with 31.

before the foundation of the world] For the identical phrase, cp. John 17:24; 1 Peter 1:20. “From the foundation, &c.” occurs, among other places, Luke 11:50; Hebrews 4:3; Hebrews 9:26, where the apparent meaning is “since the beginning of human time.” But with the word “before”, as here, the context always suggests the highest reference; “before any created being began.” Cp. the parallel phrases “before the ages (œons)” (1 Corinthians 2:7); “before eternal (œonian) times” (2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2); and see Romans 16:25. Every genuine scientific discovery of vast antiquity in material nature throws a true though faint light on the grandeur of such words of Revelation.

that we should be, &c.] This clause, taken in itself, is of ambiguous reference. It may bear either (1) on the intended personal spiritual state of the elect, whether in this life, or in the life eternal, or in both; or (2) on their intended standing, as they are viewed as “in Christ,” their Covenant Head. In the first case it would convey the undoubted truth that the intention of the electing Father is a real and universal personal holiness, perfect in this life in principle and motive (cp. e.g. Matthew 5:48; below, Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 1 Peter 1:15-16; 1 John 3:3; 1 John 3:6; 1 John 3:9), and, in the life eternal, in attainment (cp. e.g. ch. Ephesians 5:27; Romans 4:22; 1 John 3:2; Jude 24). Cp. 1 Thessalonians 4:7 (where the “call” closely corresponds to the “choice” here, as to the persons in view), and 2 Thessalonians 2:13, a remarkable parallel. In the second case the clause would mean that the elect are to be viewed as holy and spotless because identified, for purposes of acceptance, with their absolutely holy Head and Representative, “in Whom” they stand. Cp. for illustration the whole range of passages where believers are said to have “died and risen with Christ,” in respect of atonement and justification, e.g. Romans 6:2, &c.; Colossians 3:1; Colossians 3:3. (And see Article XI. of the Church of England.) On the whole the powerful argument of context decides the ambiguity for the second alternative. The thought throughout this passage is of the relation of the elect to Christ as their Head and Representative in the pre-mundane Covenant of the Father and the Son. We may explain accordingly, “that we should stand, in the judgment of eternal and absolute Holiness, accepted and satisfactory because united to Christ.” Such a truth is only one aspect, but an all-important one, of the great Truth of Salvation.

in love] I.e., in the embrace of that Divine Love which gave, and sustains, our position (1 John 3:1). If we connect “in love” with the words previous (as A. V.), and explain those words as above, this must be the meaning. Many expositors, however, ancient and modern, and the important Peshito Syriac Version (cent. 2), connect “in love” with the words following; “in love having predestinated, &c.” So margin, R.V. But the cadence of the Greek is in favour of the ordinary connexion.—In questions of punctuation in the Greek Testament it must be remembered that the oldest MSS. are scarcely punctuated at all, and the decision must rest accordingly with grammar, context, or the like.

Ephesians 1:4. Καθὼς ἐξελέξατο ἡμᾶς, according as He has chosen us) The blessing corresponds to the [prior] election, and follows upon it and makes it manifest.—ἐν Αὐτῷ, in Him) Ephesians 3:11. These things presuppose the eternity of the Son of God; for the Son, before the world was made, was not merely the future, but even then the present object of the Father’s love; John 17:24; John 17:5, otherwise the Father would not have loved Him in [or for] Himself [per se], but likewise through another [per alium: God would have loved in connection with the Church, not in Himself purely].—πρὸ, before) John 17:24.—εἶναι, to be) i.e. τοῦ εἶναι, that we should be.—ἁγίους, holy) positively.—ἀμώμους, without blame) without evil and fault [ch. Ephesians 5:27].

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). Ephesians 1:4Even as (καθὼς)

Explaining blessed us, in Ephesians 1:3. His blessing is in conformity with the fact that He chose.

Chose (ἐξελέξατο)

Middle voice, for himself.

In Him

As the head and representative of our spiritual humanity. Compare 1 Corinthians 15:22. Divine election is in Christ the Redeemer. The crown of divine sovereignty is redemption. God rules the world to save it.

Holy and without blame (ἁγίους καὶ ἀμώμους)

The positive and negative aspects of christian life. See on Colossians 1:22. Rev., without blemish. The reference is to moral rather than to forensic righteousness. Compare 1 Thessalonians 4:7.

In love

Join with foreordained, Ephesians 1:5. Having in love foreordained.

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