Ephesians 1:5
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
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(5) Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself.—The idea of Election depends on the union of the sense of actual difference between men, as to privilege and spiritual life, with the conviction of God’s universal sovereignty. Hence, in all cases, it leads back to the idea of Predestination, that is, of the conception of the divine purpose in the mind of God, before its realisation in actual fact. On the doctrine of predestination see Romans 9. It will suffice to note that here (1) its source is placed in God’s love; (2) its meritorious cause is the mediation of the Lord Jesus Christ; (3) its result is adoption, so that He is (see Romans 8:29) “the firstborn of many brethren,” who are conformed to His image, and redeemed by Him from bondage to sonship (Galatians 4:5). (It is clear that the adoption here is not the final adoption of Romans 8:23; but the present adoption into the Christian covenant, there called “the firstfruits of the Spirit;”) (4) it is in itself the expression of “the good pleasure of His will” on which all ultimately depends; and (5) its final purpose is to show forth God’s glory in the gift of His grace. In a few words the whole doctrine is summed up, with that absolute completeness, so eminently characteristic of this Epistle.

According to the good pleasure of his will.—In our version, “good pleasure,” there is an ambiguity, reproducing the ambiguity of the original. The word used may signify (as in Matthew 11:26; Luke 10:21; Philippians 2:13) simply God’s free will, to which this or that “seemeth good,” or (as in Luke 11:14; Romans 10:1; Philippians 1:15) “His good will towards us.” Even the old Greek interpreters were divided upon it, and either sense will suit this passage. But the close parallel in Ephesians 1:11, “according to the counsel (deliberate purpose) of His will,” turns the balance in favour of the former rendering.



Ephesians 1:5; Ephesians 1:7.

That phrase, ‘according to,’ is one of the key-words of this profound epistle, which occurs over and over again, like a refrain. I reckon twelve instances of it in three chapters of the letter, and they all introduce one or other of the two thoughts which appear in the two fragments that I have taken for my text. They either point out how the great blessings of Christ’s mission have underlying them the divine purpose, or they point out how the process of the Christian life in the individual has for its source and measure the abundances, the wealth of the grace and the power of God. So in both aspects the facts of earth are traced up to, and declared to be, the outcome of the heavenly depths, and that gives solemnity, grandeur, elevation, to this epistle all its own. We are carried, as it were, away up into the recesses of the mountains of God, and we look down upon the unruffled, mysterious, deep lake, from which come the rivers that water all the plains beneath.

Now of these two types of reference to the divine will and the divine wealth, I should like to gather together the instances, as they occur in this letter, in so far as I can, in the course of a sermon, touching them, it must be, very imperfectly. But I fear that it is impossible to deal with both the phases of this ‘according to,’ in one discourse. So I confine myself to that which is suggested by the first of our two texts, in the hope that some other day we may be able to overtake the other. So then, we have set before us here the Christian thought of the divine will which underlies, and therefore is manifest by, the work of Jesus Christ, in its whole sweep and breadth. And I just take up the various instances in which this expression occurs in a great variety of forms, but all retaining substantially the same meaning.

I. Note that that divine will which underlies and is operative in, and therefore is certified to us by the whole work of Jesus Christ, in its facts and its consequences, is a ‘good pleasure.’

Now there are few thoughts which the history of the world has shown to be more productive of iron and steel in the human character than that of the sovereign will of God. That made Islam, and is the secret of its power to-day, amidst its many corruptions. Because these wild desert tribes were all stiffened, or I might say inflamed, by that profound conviction, the sovereign will of God, they came down like a hammer upon that corrupt so-called Christian Church, and swept it off the face of the earth, as it deserved to be swept. And the same thought of the sovereign will, of which we are but instruments-pawns on its chessboard-made the grand seventeenth century Puritanism in England, and its sister type of men and of religion in Holland. For this is a historically proved thesis, that there is nothing which so contributes to the formation, and valuation of, and the readiness to die for, civil liberty, as the firm grasp of that thought of the divine sovereignty. Just because a man realises that the will of God is supreme over all the earth, he rebels against all forms of human despotism.

But with all the good that is in that great thought-and the Christianity of this day sorely wants the strength that might be given it by the exhibition of that steel medicine-it wants another, ‘the good pleasure of His will.’ And that word, ‘good pleasure,’ does not express, as I think, in Paul’s usage of it, the simple notion of sovereignty, but always the notion of a benevolent sovereignty. It is ‘the good pleasure’-as it is put in another place by the same Apostle-’of His goodness.’ And that thought, let in upon the solemnity and severity of the other one, is all that it needs in order to make the man who grasps it not only a hero in conflict, and a patient martyr in endurance, but a child in his Father’s house, rejoicing in the love of his Father everywhere and always.

Paul would have us believe that if we will take the work of Jesus Christ in the facts of His life, and its results upon humanity, as our horn-book and lesson, we shall draw from that some conceptions of the great thing that underlies it, ‘the good pleasure of His will.’ We stand in front of this complex universe, and some of us say: ‘Law’; and some of us say: ‘A Lawgiver behind the law; a Person at the heart of all things’; but unless we can say: ‘And in the heart of the Person a will, which is the expression of a steadfast, omnipotent love,’ then the world seems to me to be a place of unsolvable riddles and a torture-house. There goes the great steam-roller along the road. Everybody can see that it crushes down, and makes its own path. Who drives it? The steam in the boiler, or is there a hand on the lever? And what drives the hand? Christianity answers, and answers with unfaltering lip, rising clear above contradictions apparent and difficulties real, ‘The good pleasure of His will,’ and there men can rest.

Then there is another step. Another form in which this ‘according to’ appears in this letter is, if we adopt the rendering, which I am disposed to do in the present case, of the Authorised Version rather than of the Revised, ‘according to His good pleasure ... which He hath purposed in Himself.’ The Revised Version says, ‘Which He hath purposed in Him,’ and that is a perfectly possible rendering. But to me the old one is not only more eloquent, but more in accordance with the connection. So I venture to accept it without further ado-’His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself.’

That brings us into the presence of that same great thought, which in another aspect is expressed in saying ‘His name is Jehovah,’ and in yet another aspect is expressed in saying ‘God is love,’ viz. the thought which sounds familiar, but which has in it depths of strength and illumination and joy, if we rightly ponder it, that, to use human words, the motive of the divine action is all found within the divine nature.

We love one another because we discern, or think we discern, lovable qualities in the being on whom our love falls. God loves because He is God. That great artesian fountain wells up from the depths, by its own sweet impulse, and pours itself out; and ‘the good pleasure of His goodness’ has no other explanation than that it is His nature and property to be merciful. And so, dear brethren, we get clean past what has sometimes been the misapprehension of good people, and has oftener been the caricatured representation of Evangelical truth which its enemies have put forth-that God was made to love and pity by reason of the sacrifice of the Son, whereas the very opposite is the case. God loves, therefore He sent His Son, ‘that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life,’ and the notion of the Cross of Christ as changing the divine heart is as far away from Evangelical truth as it is from the natural conceptions that men form of the divine nature. We shake hands with our so-called antagonists and say, ‘Yes! we believe as much as you do that God does not love us because Christ died, but we believe what perhaps you do not, that Christ died because God loves us, and would save us.’ ‘The good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself.’

Then, still further, there is another aspect of this same divine will brought out in other parts of this letter, of which this is a specimen, ‘Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fulness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ,’ which, being turned into more modern phraseology, is just this-that the great aim of that divine sovereign will, self-originated, full of loving-kindness to the world, is to manifest to all men what God is, that all men may know Him for what He is, and thereby be drawn back again, and grouped in peaceful unity round His Son, Jesus Christ. That is the intention which is deepest in the divine heart, the desire which God has most for every one of us. And when the Old Testament tells us that the great motive of the divine action is for ‘My own Name’s sake,’ that expression might be so regarded as to disclose an ugly despot, who only wants to be reverenced by abject and submissive subjects. But what it really means is this, that the divine love which hovers over its poor, prodigal children because it is love, and, therefore, lovingly delights in a loving recognition and response, desires most of all that all the wanderers should see the light, and that every soul of man should be able to whisper, with loving heart, the name, ‘Abba! Father!’ Is not that an uplifting thought as being the dominant motive which puts in action the whole of the divine activity? God created in order that He might fling His light upon creatures, who should thereby be glad. And God has redeemed in order that in Jesus Christ we might see Him, and, seeing Him, be at rest, and begin to grow like Him. This is the aim, ‘That they might know Thee, the only true God ... whom to know is eternal life.’ And so self-communication and self-revelation is the very central mystery of the will.

But that is not all. Another of the forms in which this phrase occurs tells us that that great purpose, the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord, was that, ‘Now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known’ by the Church ‘the manifold wisdom of God.’ And so we get another thought, that that whole work of redemption, operated by the Incarnation, and culminating in the Crucifixion and Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus Christ, stands as being the means by which other orders of creatures, besides ourselves, learn to know ‘the manifold wisdom of God.’ According to the grand old saying, at Creation the ‘morning stars sang together for joy.’ All spiritual creatures, be they ‘higher’ or ‘lower,’ can only know God by the observation of His acts.

‘‘Twas great to speak a world from nought,

‘Tis greater to redeem,’

and the same angelic lips that sang these praises on the morning of Creation have learnt a new song that they sing; ‘Glory and honour and dominion and power be unto the Lamb that was slain.’

Thus to principalities and powers, a diviner height in the loftiness, and a diviner depth in the condescension, and a diviner tenderness in the love, and a diviner energy in the power, of the redeeming God have been made known, and this is the thought of His eternal purpose. And that brings me to another point which is involved in the words that I have just quoted, which stand in connection with those that I have previously referred to. The phrase ‘eternal purpose’ literally rendered is, ‘the purpose of the ages,’ and that, no doubt, may mean ‘eternal’ in the sense of running on through all the ages; or it may mean, perhaps, that which we usually attach to the word ‘eternal,’ viz. unbeginning and unending. I take the former meaning as the more probable one, that the Apostle contemplates that great will of God which culminates in Jesus Christ, as coming solemnly sweeping through all the epochs of time from the beginning. In a deeper sense than the poet meant it, ‘Through the ages an increasing purpose runs,’ and that binds the epochs of humanity together-’the purpose of God in Christ Jesus.’ The philosophy of history lies there, and it is a true instinct that makes the cradle at Bethlehem the pivot around which the world’s chronology revolves. For the deepest thing about all the ages on the further side of it is that they are ‘Before Christ,’ and the formative fact for all the ages after it is that they are Anno Domini.

And now the last thing that is suggested by yet another of these eloquent expressions is deduced from another part of the same phrase. The purpose of the ages is described as that which ‘He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ Now the word ‘purposed’ literally is ‘made.’ And it may be a question whether ‘purposed’ or ‘accomplished’ is the special meaning to be attached to the general word ‘made.’ Either is legitimate. I take it that what the Apostle means here is that the purpose of God, which we have thus seen as sovereign, self-originated, having for its great aim the communication to all His creatures of the knowledge of Himself, and running through the ages, and binding them into a unity, reaches its entire accomplishment in the Cradle, and the Cross, and the Throne of Jesus Christ our Lord.

He fulfils the divine intention. There is that one life, and in that life alone of humanity you have a character which is in entire sympathy with the divine mind, which is in full possession of the divine truth, which never diverges or deviates by a hair’s-breadth from the divine will, which is the complete and perfect exponent to man of the divine heart and character; and that Christ is the fulfilment of all that God desired in the depths of eternity, and the abysses of His being. Did He will that men should know Him? Christ has declared Him. Did He will that men should be drawn back to Him? Christ lifted on the Cross draws all men unto Him. Was it ‘according to the good pleasure of His goodness’ that we men should attain to the adoption of sons? By that Son we too became sons. Was it the purpose of His will that we should obtain an ‘inheritance’? We obtain it in Jesus Christ, ‘being heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.’ All that God willed to do is done. And when we look, on the one hand, up to that infinite purpose, and on the other, to the Cross, we hear from the dying lips, ‘It is finished!’ The purpose of the ages is accomplished in Christ Jesus.

Is it accomplished with you? I have been speaking about the divine counsel which is a ‘good pleasure,’ which runs through the whole history of mankind. But it is a divine purpose that you can thwart as far as you are concerned. ‘How often would I have gathered ... and ye would not,’ and your ‘would not’ neutralises His ‘would.’ Do not stand in the way of the steam-roller. You cannot stop it, but it can crush you. Do not have Him say about you, ‘In vain have I smitten, in vain have I loved.’ Bow, accept, recognise that all God’s armoury is brought to bear upon each of us in that great Cross and Passion, in that great Incarnation and human life. And I beseech you, in your hearts, let the will of God be done even as for a world it has been done by the sacrifice of Calvary.

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.Having predestinated us - On the meaning of the word here used, see the notes at Romans 1:4; Romans 8:29, note. The word used πρωρίζω prōrizō means properly "to set bounds before;" and then to "pre-determine." There is the essential idea of setting bounds or limits, and of doing this beforehand. It is not that God determined to do it when it was actually done, but that he intended to do it beforehand. No language could express this more clearly, and I suppose this interpretation is generally admitted. Even by those who deny the doctrine of particular election, it is not denied that the word here used means to "pre-determine;" and they maintain that the sense is, that God had pre-determined to admit the Gentiles to the privileges of his people. Admitting then that the meaning is to predestinate in the proper sense, the only question is, "who" are predestinated? To whom does the expression apply? Is it to nations or to individuals? In reply to this, in addition to the remarks already made, I would observe,

(1) that there is no specification of "nations" here as such, no mention of the Gentiles in contradistinction from the Jews.

(2) those referred to were those included in the word "us," among whom Paul was one - but Paul was not a heathen.

(3) the same objection will lie against the doctrine of predestinating "nations" which will lie against predestinating "individuals."

(4) nations are made up of individuals, and the pre-determination must have had some reference to individuals.

What is a nation but a collection of individuals? There is no such abstract being or thing as a nation; and if there was any purpose in regard to a nation, it must have had some reference to the individuals composing it. He that would act on the ocean, must act on the drops of water that make up the ocean; for besides the collection of drops of water there is no ocean. He that would remove a mountain, must act on the particles of matter that compose that mountain; for there is no such thing as an abstract mountain. Perhaps there was never a greater illusion than to suppose that all difficulty is removed in regard to the doctrine of election and predestination, by saying that it refers to "nations." What difficulty is lessened? What is gained by it? How does it make God appear more amiable and good?

Does it render him less "partial" to suppose that he has made a difference among nations, than to suppose that he has made a difference among individuals? Does it remove any difficulty about the offer of salvation, to suppose that he has granted the knowledge of his truth to some "nations," and withheld it from others? The truth is, that all the reasoning which has been founded on this supposition, has been merely throwing dust in the eyes. If there is "any" well-founded objection to the doctrine of decrees or predestination, it is to the doctrine "at all," alike in regard to nations and individuals, and there are just the same difficulties in the one case as in the other. But there is no real difficulty in either. Who could worship or honor a God who had no plan, or purpose, or intention in what he did? Who can believe that the universe was formed and is governed without design? Who can doubt that what God "does" he always meant to do?

When, therefore, he converts and saves a soul, it is clear that he always intended to do it. He has no new plan. It is not an afterthought. It is not the work of chance. If I can find out anything that God has "done," I have the most certain conviction that he "always meant" to do it - and this is all that is intended by the doctrine of election or predestination. What God does, he always meant to do. What he permits, he always meant to permit. I may add further, that if it is right to "do" it, it was right to "intend" to do it. If there is no injustice or partiality in the act itself, there is no injustice or partiality in the intention to perform it. If it is right to save a soul, it was also right to intend to save it. If it is right to condemn a sinner to we, it was right to intend to do it. Let us then look "at the thing itself," and if that is not wrong, we should not blame the purpose to do it, however long it has been cherished.

Unto the adoption ... - see John 1:12 note; Romans 8:15 note.

According to the good pleasure of his will - The word rendered "good pleasure" - (εὐδοκία eudokia) - means "a being well pleased;" delight in anything, favor, good-will, Luke 2:14; Philippians 1:15; compare Luke 12:32. Then it denotes purpose, or will, the idea of benevolence being included - Robinson. Rosenmuller renders the phrase, "from his most benignant decree." The evident object of the apostle is to state why God chose the heirs of salvation. It was done as it seemed good to him in the circumstances of the case. It was not that man had any control over him, or that man was consulted in the determination, or that it was based on the good works of man, real or foreseen. But we are not to suppose that there were no good reasons for what he has thus done. Convicts are frequently pardoned by an executive. He does it according to his own will, or as seems good in his sight.

He is to be the judge, and no one has a right to control him in doing it. It may seeM to be entirely arbitrary. The executive may not have communicated the reasons why he did it, either to those who are pardoned, or to the other prisoners, or to anyone else. But we are not to infer that there was no "reason" for doing it. If he is a wise magistrate, and worthy of his station, it is to be presumed that there were reasons which, if known, would be satisfactory to all. But those reasons he is under no obligations to make known. Indeed, it might be improper that they should be known. Of that he is the best judge. Meantime, however, we may see what would be the effect in those who were not forgiven. It would excite, very likely, their hatred, and they would charge him with partiality or with tyranny. But they should remember that whoever might be pardoned, and on whatever ground it might be done, they could not complain.

They would suffer no more than they deserve. But what if, when the act of pardon was made known to one part, it was offered to the others also on certain plain and easy conditions? Suppose it should appear that while the executive meant, for wise but concealed reasons, to forgive a part, he had also determined to offer forgiveness to all. And suppose that they were in fact disposed in the highest degree to neglect it, and that no inducements or arguments could prevail on them to accept of it. Who then could blame the executive? Now this is about the case in regard to God, and the doctrine of election. All people were guilty and condemned. For wise reasons, which God has not communicated to us, he determined to bring a portion at least of the human race to salvation. This he did not intend to leave to chance and hap-hazard. He saw that all would of themselves reject the offer, and that unless some efficient means were used, the blood of the atonement would be shed in vain.

He did not make known to people who they were that he meant to save, nor the reason why they particularly were to be brought to heaven. Meantime he meant to make the offer universal; to make the terms as easy as possible, and thus to take away every ground of complaint. If people will not accept of pardon; if they prefer their sins; if nothing can induce them to come and be saved, why should they complain? If the doors of a prison are open, and the chains of the prisoners are knocked off, and they will not come out, why should they complain that others are in fact willing to come out and be saved? Let it be borne in mind that the purposes of God correspond exactly to facts as they actually occur, and much of the difficulty is taken away. If in the facts there is no just ground of complaint, there can be none, because it was the "intention of God that the facts should be so."

5. predestinated—more special in respect to the end and precise means, than "chosen" or elected. We are "chosen" out of the rest of the world; "predestinated" to all things that secure the inheritance for us (Eph 1:11; Ro 8:29). "Foreordained."

by Jesus—Greek, "through Jesus."

to himself—the Father (Col 1:20). Alford explains, "adoption … into Himself," that is, so that we should be partakers of the divine nature (2Pe 1:4). Lachmann reads, "unto Him." The context favors the explanation of Calvin: God has regard to Himself and the glory of His grace (Eph 1:6, 12, 14) as His ultimate end. He had one only-begotten Son, and He was pleased for His own glory, to choose out of a lost world many to become His adopted sons. Translate, "unto Himself."

the good pleasure of his will—So the Greek (Mt 11:26; Lu 10:21). We cannot go beyond "the good pleasure of His will" in searching into the causes of our salvation, or of any of His works (Eph 1:9). (Job 33:13.) Why needest thou philosophize about an imaginary world of optimism? Thy concern is to take heed that thou be not bad. There was nothing in us which deserved His love (Eph 1:1, 9, 11) [Bengel].

Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children; having appointed us unto a state of sonship and right to glory. This seems to be more than the former, a greater thing to be the sons of God, and heirs of heaven, than to be holy.

By Jesus Christ; as Mediator, and Head of the elect, and the foundation of all spiritual blessings vouchsafed them, and so of this relation into which they are brought, by being united to him. The adopted children come into that state by the intervention of the natural Son.

To himself; either:

1. In himself, i.e. looking no farther than to himself for the cause of and motive to his adopting them. Or:

2. To himself, (according to our translation), i.e. to God. Or, rather:

3. For himself (as the Syriac renders it); God would have the honour of having many adopted children that shall all call him Father.

According to the good pleasure of his will; his sovereign grace and good will, as the only spring from which predestination issued, God being moved to it by nothing out of himself.

Having predestinated us,.... Predestination, taken in a large sense, includes both election and reprobation, and even reaches to all affairs and occurrences in the world; to the persons, lives, and circumstances of men; to all mercies, temporal or spiritual; and to all afflictions, whether in love or in wrath: and indeed providence, or the dispensations of providence, are no other than the execution of divine predestination; but here it is the same with election, and is concerned with the same persons, and has regard to a special blessing, the elect are appointed to, as follows;

unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ unto himself; by which is meant, either the grace of adoption, which is an act of the Father's love, a blessing provided and secured in the covenant of grace; and is of persons to an inheritance, to which they have no legal right; and is entirely free, there being no need on the adopter's part, and no worth on the part of the adopted: or rather the inheritance they are adopted to; which exceeds all others, is incorruptible, undefiled, and fades not away; and lies among the saints in light, and belongs to all the children of God: and this they are predestinated unto by God the Father, who takes them into his family, puts them among the children, and gives them a goodly heritage: and that "by Jesus Christ"; or through him; for both the grace of adoption, and the kingdom and glory they are adopted to, come by and through him as Mediator; through his espousing their persons, assuming their nature, and redeeming them from under the law and its curses; through his giving them a power and privilege openly to be the sons of God; and through faith in him, whereby they are manifestly such: the phrase "unto himself", either refers to God the Father, who has chosen, set apart, formed and reserved his people and children for himself, for his peculiar treasure, and for his own glory; or to Jesus Christ, that he might have some brethren, and they be conformed to him, and he be the firstborn among them, and in all things have the pre-eminence; and that they might be with him, and behold his glory, and he be glorified in them: and this act of divine predestination was

according to the good pleasure of his will: the will of God is the rule of all his actions, and of all his acts of grace and goodness; and the good pleasure of it appears in the predestination of men to grace and glory: and from hence it is manifest, that foreseen faith, holiness, and good works, are excluded from being the moving cases of predestinating grace; and that it is wholly to be resolved into the good will and pleasure of God; the view in it being entirely as follows,

{8} Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ {h} to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

(8) Another plainer exposition of the efficient cause, and also of eternal election, by which God is said to have chosen us in Christ, that is, because it pleased him to appoint us when we were not yet born, whom he would make to be his children by Jesus Christ. So that there is no reason for our election to be looked for here, except in the free mercy of God. And neither is faith which God foresaw the cause of our predestination, but the effect.

(h) God respects nothing, either anything that is present, or anything that is to come, but himself only.

Ephesians 1:5. Love was the disposition of God, in which He through this our election predestined us to υἱοθεσία. Hence this divine motive, therefore, is prefixed with emphasis, quite in keeping with the character of ascription of praise marking the discourse. Consequently: in that He in love predestined us. Homberg has indeed conceived the relation of the time of προορίσας to ἐξελέξατο as: “postquam nos praedestinavit adoptandos, elegit etiam nos, ut simus sancti;” but the usual view correctly conceives προορίσας as coincident in point of time, and accomplished simultaneously with ἐξελέξατο, so that it is regarded as the modus of the latter (see on γνωρίσας, Ephesians 1:9). For the praedestinatio (the προορίζειν) is never elsewhere distinguished from the election as something preceding it; it rather substantially coincides with it (hence at Romans 8:29 only the expression προώρισε is used, while in Romans 8:33 only ἐκλεκτοί are mentioned), and only the πρόγνωσις is prior, Rom. l.c. Comp. Lampsing, Pauli de praedestinat. decreta, Leovard. 1858, p. 70. See on this use of the aorist participle, Hermann, ad Viger. p. 774; Bernhardy, p. 383; Winer, p. 321 [E. T. 430]. It is, we may add, purely arbitrary to distinguish ἐξελέξατο and προορίσας, so that the former should apply to individuals, the latter to the whole (Schenkel). Both verbs have in fact the same objects (ἡμᾶς, which denotes the persons); see on Romans 8:29.

The προ in προορίσας, beforehand, points to the future realization. Certainly the predestination has taken place before the creation of the world (Ephesians 1:4); but this is not expressed by προ, which rather looks always towards the future setting in of the thing predestined. See Romans 8:29; 1 Corinthians 2:7; Ephesians 1:11; Acts 4:28; Heliod. p. 298, 14, p. 266, 15; Sopater in Walz, Rhet. V. p. 152, 20.

εἰς υἱοθεσίαν διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς αὐτόν] are to be taken closely together: unto adoption through Jesus Christ in reference to Him,—that is, He has destined us to stand in the relation of those assumed as children through mediation of Jesus Christ to Him (to God). Comp. Romans 8:29. That υἱοθωσία is nowhere merely childship (as Meier and Bleek still take it here, following Usteri), but adoption,[96] see on Romans 7:15; Galatians 4:5. υἱοθεσία is never predicated of Christ Himself; for He is the born Son of God (Romans 8:3; Galatians 4:4), who procured for His own the assumption into the place of children (whereby they became de jure His brethren, Romans 8:29). The pre-eminence of Christ is therefore essential, not merely prototypal, as of the head of humanity;[97] He is the μονογενής. Through adoption believers have passed out (comp. Romans 7:24 f.) of their natural state, in which they by sin were liable to the wrath of God (Ephesians 2:3), and have entered into the state of reconciliation, in which they, through the mediation of the reconciling death of Christ (Ephesians 1:6-7), by means of the faith in it which was counted to them for righteousness (Galatians 3:26; Romans 4:5; Romans 4:23 f.), have forgiveness of sins, and are heirs of the Messianic blessedness (Ephesians 1:14; Galatians 4:7; Romans 8:10-11; Romans 8:17), as a guarantee of which the Holy Spirit is given to them (Ephesians 1:14; Galatians 4:6; Romans 8:16).

ΕἸς ΑὐΤΌΝ] does not apply to Christ (Anselm, Thomas, Castalio, Vorstius, Menochius, Cornelius a Lapide, and others, including de Wette), since Christ is mediator of the adoption, and this is a relation to God. This simple sense of reference toward is to be maintained, and we must not import either ad gloriam gratiae suae (Piscator; comp. Schenkel) or τὴν εἰς αὐτὸν ἀνάγουσαν τὸ γένος ἡμῶν (Theophylact). At variance with linguistic usage, Beza, Calvin, and Calixtus take it for ἘΝ ἙΑΥΤῷ, and discover in it the independence of the divine ΠΡΟΟΡΙΣΜΌς; and Grotius, Wolf, Baumgarten, Koppe, Holzhausen, Meier hold it as equivalent to sibi, לוֹ (“as children, who rightly belong to Him as His own,” Meier). Comp. also on Colossians 1:20.

We may add that here, too, we must not write (with Beza, Stephanus, Mill, Griesbach, Knapp, Meier, and others) ΑὙΤΌΝ, but ΑὐΤΌΝ. Comp. above on ΚΑΤΕΝΏΠΙΟΝ ΑὐΤΟῦ.

(not ΑὙΤΟῦ): conformably to the pleasure of His will, just as it was the purpose of His will. Comp. Matthew 11:26; Luke 10:21. So Vulgate, Erasmus, Calvin, Bengel, Flatt, and others, including Rückert, de Wette, Bleek. It may also signify: according to the benevolence of His will (see, generally, Fritzsche, ad Rom. II. p. 369 ff.). So Harless, Olshausen, Baumgarten-Crusius, following older expositors. But this notion is already and more strongly contained in ἘΝ ἈΓΆΠῌ; and the element which is here meant, of free self-determination, independent of all human desert, as regulative of the προορίζειν, is clearly pointed to in the parallel by ἣν προέθετο ἐν αὑτῷ. Comp. also Ephesians 1:11; 2 Timothy 1:9.

[96] Even the old theocratic υἱοθεσία was adoption; for the Jews were as such, and not as men generally, the chosen and peculiar people to whom the Messiah was promised. See on Romans 9:4.

[97] In opposition to Beyschlag, Christol. d. N.T. p. 222 f.


Predestination is not made dependent on any sort of causa meritoria on the part of man (comp. Ephesians 1:11), but is simply an act of free divine kindness, whose determination has its causa impulsiva only in Christ; so that, in the case of the predestined subjects, faith is set forth as the causa apprehendens of the salvation destined for them κατὰ πρόγνωσιν (Romans 8:29); and with this Romans 9, when rightly apprehended, agrees. The conditions mentally supplied by expositors (as e.g. Grotius, who finds in our passage “decretum ejus, quod Deus facere vult, si et homines faciant, quod debent;” comp. already Jerome) remove the relation out of the sphere of the divine εὐδοκία τοῦ θελήματος into that of dependence on human self-choice, and consequently into the domain of the accidental. The notion of absolute decree, however, breaks down before the πρόγνωσις as the necessary premiss of the divine ἐκλογή—a premiss, which doubtless involves the necessity of morally restricting the truncus aut lapis of the Formula Concordiae (comp. Luthardt, Lehre vom freien Willen, p. 272).

Ephesians 1:5. προορίσας ἡμᾶς: having foreordained us. Better, in that He foreordained us. Wycl. gives “hath bifore ordeyned us”; Tynd. and Cranmer, “ordeyned us”; and so the RV, “foreordained”. But the Genevan, the Rhemish and the AV, following the praedestinavit of the Vulg., give “did predestinate us,” “hath predestinated us,” “having predestinated us”. While in Romans and Ephesians the AV adopts “predestinated,” in 1 Corinthians 2:7 it has “foreordained”. It is best to adopt foreordain all through, as προορίζειν means to determine before. The verb seems not to occur either in the LXX or in any Greek writer before Paul. It is found in Heliodorus, Ignatius, etc. In the NT it is always used of God as determining from eternity, sometimes with the further definition πρὸ τῶν αἰώνων (1 Corinthians 2:7)—decreeing to do something (Acts 4:28); foreordaining things or persons (1 Corinthians 2:7; Romans 8:29 ff.); or, as here, appointing one beforehand to something. The πρὸ in the compound verb expresses the fact that the decree is prior to the realisation of its object. The aor. part, may be taken as temporal (so the Syr.-Phil.), in which case the foreordination would be something prior (not in time, indeed, but in logical order) to the election, and the election would be defined as proceeding on the foreordination (Ell., Alf., etc.). But it may also be taken as modal, not prior to the election but coincident with it, and expressing the mode of its action or the form which it took—“in that He foreordained us” (Mey., etc.). On this use of the aor. part, see Winer-Moul., Gram., p. 430. This is the more probable view, because no real distinction appears to be made between the ἐκλογή and the προορισμός beyond what may be suggested by the ἐκ in the one and the πρό in the other; the idea in the ἐκλογή being understood to be that of the mass from which the selection is made, and that of the προορισμός the priority of the decree (Ell.). It is also to be noticed (cf. Mey.) that both in Romans (Romans 8:29) and in 1 Peter (1 Peter 1:2) it is the πρόγνωσις, not the προορισμός, that is represented as antecedent to the election or as forming its ground. This Divine προορισμός, like the Divine ἐκλογή, has in the Pauline writings, in which it receives its loftiest, most complete, and most unqualified statement, not a speculative but an intensely practical interest, especially with regard to two things of most immediate personal concern—the believer’s incentive to live in newness and holiness of life (cf. Ephesians 2:10), and his encouragement to rest in the Divine salvation as for him an assured salvation.—εἰς υἱοθεσίαν: unto adoption. Or, as the RV gives it, following the adoptio filiorum of the Vulg., “unto adoption as sons”. It is a Pauline term, and conveys an idea distinct from that of sonship and explanatory of it. The sonship of believers, the fact that they are children of God, with the privileges and responsibilities belonging to such, finds frequent expression in the NT writings. But it is only in the Pauline Epistles that the specific idea of υἱοθεσία occurs, and there in five instances (Romans 8:15; Romans 8:23; Romans 9:4; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5). In one case it is applied to the special relation of Israel to God (Romans 9:4); thrice (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5) it is used of the present position of believers in Christ; once (Romans 8:23) it refers to their future consummation, the resurrection of life that will be the full manifestation of their sonship. It is a term of relation, expressing our sonship in respect of standing. It appears to be taken from the Roman custom, with which Paul could not fail to be acquainted. Among the Jews there were cases of informal adoption, as in the instance of Mordecai and Esther (Esther 2:7). But adoption in the sense of the legal transference of a child to a family to which it did not belong by birth had no place in the Jewish law. In Roman law, on the other hand, provision was made for the transaction known as adoptio, the taking of a child who was not one’s child by birth to be his son, and arrogatio, the transference of a son who was independent, as by the death of his proper father, to another father by solemn public act of the people. Thus among the Romans a citizen might receive a child who was not his own by birth into his family and give him his name, but he could do so only by a formal act, attested by witnesses, and the son thus adopted had in all its entirety the position of a child by birth, with all the rights and all the obligations pertaining to that. By “adoption,” therefore, Paul does not mean the bestowal of the full privileges of the family on those who are sons by nature, but the acceptance into the family of those who do not by nature belong to it, and the placing of those who are not sons originally and by right in the relation proper to those who are sons by birth. Hence υἱοθεσία is never affirmed of Christ; for he alone is Son of God by nature. So Paul regards our sonship, not as lying in the natural relation in which men stand to God as His children, but as implying a new relation of grace, founded on a covenant relation of God and on the work of Christ (Galatians 4:5 ff.).—διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ: through Jesus Christ; in this case not in Christ but through Him. That is, it is through the mediation of Christ that our adoption as sons is realised; cf. Galatians 3:26 to Galatians 4:7. Elsewhere the ethical side of the sonship is expressed. For God not only brings us into the relation of sons, but makes us sons in inward reality and character, giving us the filial mind, leading us by His Spirit, translating us into the liberty of the glory of His children (Romans 8:12; Romans 8:14; Romans 8:21; Galatians 4:6).—εἰς αὐτόν: unto Himself, that is, not unto Christ, as De Wette, V. Soden, etc., still think, but unto God. Here, as in Ephesians 1:4, we read αὐτοῦ, not αὐτοῦ (as Stephens, Mill, Griesbach, etc., put it), the writer giving it as from his own standpoint. How is this to be understood? It may mean simply that God Himself is the Father to whom we are brought into filial relation by adoption. In that case the point would be the glory of the adoption, inasmuch as it is God Himself and none less than He who becomes our Father by it and to whom the foreordination into the position of sons looks. Or it may be the deeper idea that God Himself is the end of the foreordination, as Christ is its medium or channel. The εἰς is not to be confused with ἐν, nor would the idea thus be reduced to that of simple possession. Here the εἰς may rather have its most definite force, expressing the goal of all. The final object of God’s foreordination of us to the standing of sons is to bring us to Himself, into perfect fellowship with Him, into adoring, loving relation to Himself as the true End and Object of our being.—κατὰ τὴν εὐδοκίαν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ: according to the good Pleasure of His will. Wycl. gives “by the purpose of His will”; Rhem., “according to the purpose of His will”; Tynd., “according to the pleasure of His will”; Cran., Gen., AV, “according to the good pleasure of His will”. The noun εὐδοκία (Vulg.-Clem., beneplacitum) is a biblical term. It is not current in profane Greek, but represents the רָצוֹו of the OT (especially in the Psalms), and occurs a good many times in Sir. In the NT it is found thrice in the Gospels (Matthew 11:26; Luke 2:14; Luke 10:21), and six times in the Pauline Epistles (Romans 10:1; Ephesians 1:5; Ephesians 1:9; Php 1:15; Php 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 1:11), but nowhere else. It has the sense (a) of will (Matthew 11:26; Luke 10:21), passing into that of desire (Romans 10:1); and (b) of good will (Luke 2:14; Ephesians 1:9; Php 1:15; Php 2:13), passing into that of delight or satisfaction (2 Thessalonians 1:11). Here it is taken by most (Mey., De Wette, Stier., Alf., Ell., Abbott, etc.) in the sense of beneplacitum, purpose, sovereign counsel, as equivalent to κατὰ τὴν βουλὴν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ in Ephesians 1:11. Light., e.g., is of opinion that, while its central idea is “satisfaction,” it will “only then mean ‘benevolence’ when the context points to some person towards whom the satisfaction is felt”. He refers to ἐν ᾧ εὐδόκησα in Matthew 3:17, and contends that without such indication of a personal object “the satisfaction is felt in the action itself, so that the word is used absolutely, and signifies ‘good pleasure,’ in the sense of ‘desire,’ ‘purpose,’ ‘design’ ” (Notes, ut sup., 314). But in the Pauline Epistles, when it is used of God, it is a term of grace, expressing “good pleasure” as kind intent, gracious will, and even when used of man it conveys the same idea of goodness (Romans 10:1; Php 1:15). Nor does the connotation appear to be different in the occurrences in the Gospels (Matthew 11:26; Luke 2:14; Luke 10:21). In the present passage it is only in relation to the grace of His dealings with sinful men that reference is made to the will of God. The clause in question presents that grace in the particular aspect of its sovereign, unmerited action. It adds the last note to the statement of the wonders of the Divine election by expressing the fact that that election and God’s foreordination of us unto adoption are not due to any desert in us or anything outside God Himself, but are acts of His own pure goodness, originating only and wholly in the freedom of His own thoughts and loving counsel.

5. Having predestinated us] Again an aorist, not a perfect, in the Greek; referring to a definite past act. For the same word, in the Greek, cp. Ephesians 1:11; Acts 4:28 (E. V. “determined”); Romans 8:29-30; 1 Corinthians 2:7 (E. V. “ordained”). It is lit. “to define, mark out, set apart, beforehand.” All idea of blind destiny must be excluded; the “pre-ordination” is the act of the Living and Holy God. But while we can thus repose upon its justice, it is none the less sovereign. And it is a cause, not an effect, of good desires and holiness in the saints.

the adoption of children] For the (one) word rendered thus, cp. Romans 8:15; Romans 8:23; Romans 9:4; Galatians 4:5. The sacred truth of the filial relation of the saints to their Lord’s Father (see above on Ephesians 1:2) comes out further Ephesians 3:15, Ephesians 4:6, Ephesians 5:1. This sonship has two aspects in the N. T.; the generative aspect, a change in the state of will, character, nature, a new birth; and, as here, the adoptive aspect, a divinely legal institution into filial position and privilege. In the eternal Idea this latter may be said to be first in order; and thus it stands here, in this account of the heavenly origin of our salvation.

by Jesus Christ] Lit., through Jesus Christ; Representative and Mediator. As in the Old Creation (see e.g. John 1:3, “all things came into being through Him; and cp. Hebrews 1:2) so in the New, the Father works through the Son, Whom He “gives,” “anoints,” “sanctifies,” “sends.”

to himself] As the Father is the Origin of the process of Redemption, so He is continually presented as its End. See the Lord’s discourses in St John’s Gospel, passim, and e.g. 1 Corinthians 15:28; Php 2:11. This fact makes it on the other hand the more deeply significant that the same language is used also with reference to the Son; e.g. below ch. Ephesians 5:27. And cp. “for Him,” Colossians 1:16.

according to the good pleasure &c.] The ultimate account of all Divine procedure, from the creature’s point of view. Nothing in that Will is capricious; all is supremely wise and good. But it enfolds an “unseen universe” of reasons and causes wholly beyond our discovery; and here precisely is one main field for the legitimate exercise of faith; personal confidence as to the unknown reasons for the revealed action of a Known God. Cp. Matthew 11:26; 1 Corinthians 1:21. The word rendered “good pleasure” means specially (in N. T.) deliberate beneficent resolve.

Verse 5. - Having predestinated (or, foreordained) us to adoption through Jesus Christ unto himself. The same idea is denoted by προορίσας in this verse and ἐξελέξατο in ver. 3, but while in ξελέξατο the idea of selection out from among others is prominent, in προορίσας the special phase of thought is that of the time, πρὸ, before - before the foundation of the world. Both denote the exercise of Divine sovereignty. In ver. 4 we have the ultimate purpose of God's decree the entire sanctification of the elect; here, in ver. 5, we find one of the intermediate steps of the process - adoption. The apostle's reason for speaking of adoption in this place, and of justification afterwards, is that be bad just referred to the restoration of a relation of lore between us and God as connected with our ultimate complete sanctification; thus it was natural for him to bring in our adoption as the preordained act in which this loving relation is formed. Our obedience is not the forced obedience of servants, but the loving obedience of sons. Adoption implies more than sentiment - a real legal relation to God as his sons (Romans 8:17). The adoption is "by Jesus Christ:" "As many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God" (John 1:12). And it is εἰς αὐτὸν, unto or into himself - denoting a movement towards God which terminates in union to Him. According to the good pleasure of his will. The spring or motive to the selection is solely in God, not in man. It is an act of sovereignty. It has been disputed whether "the good pleasure of his will" is equivalent to benevolentia or to bene placitum. Parallel passages like Matthew 11:26 and Luke 10:21 lead us to prefer the latter. The idea of kindness is not excluded, but it is not what is affirmed. Kindness is always involved in the Divine will; but the point here is simply that it pleased God to choose and ordain the Ephesian believers to the privilege of adoption through Jesus Christ. This is presented as a ground of praise, a reason for their blessing God. The Divine sovereignty is not presented in Scripture to seekers, but to finders. It is apt to embarrass those that seek; and accordingly the aspect of God's character presented to them is his good will to men, his free offer of mercy: "Look unto me, and be ye saved;" "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out." But it is a ground of thanksgiving to those who hare accepted the offer; they see that before the foundation of the world God chose them in Christ. What an interest he must have had in them, and how thoroughly they may rely on his finishing the work he has begun! Divine sovereignty, human responsibility, and the free and universal offer of mercy are all found in Scripture, and, though we are unable to harmonize them by our logic, ought all to have a place in our minds. Ephesians 1:5Having predestinated (προορίσας)

Rev. foreordained. From πρό before, ὁρίζω to define, the latter word being from ὅπος a boundary. Hence to define or determine beforehand.

Adoption (υἱοθεσίαν)

See on Romans 8:15. Never used of Christ.

Good pleasure (εὐδοκίαν)

Not strictly in the sense of kindly or friendly feeling, as Luke 2:14; Philippians 1:15, but because it pleased Him, see Luke 10:21; Matthew 11:26. The other sense, however, is included and implied, and is expressed by in love.

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