Here is my commentary on Ephesians 1:11. I am publishing these once or twice a week, but you can read all of the available articles at our web-site.
In him we are chosen, according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will.
It is hard to know who the “him” and the “his” refer to in this verse. Right through the chapter the subject is God the Father.
In God we were chosen (“Predestined” in the NIV) according to God’s purpose.
We were chosen. At first glance this would suggest the Calvinist doctrine of predestination. According to this doctrine, only some are chosen out of the whole of humanity, and it was only for those chosen ones that Christ died. Those chosen ones were “predestined” – that is qualified for heaven- before time began.
But God is bigger and more gracious than that. Jesus died for the whole of the human race. “God so loved the world that He sent His one and only Son.” (John 3:16) In that sense every person is “chosen”, but only those who receive Christ are in the Kingdom and share in eternal life.
We are chosen according to God’s purposes. He has a course for every person’s life, a path that He wants us to follow. That includes the saved and the unsaved alike.
We have all been created for the purpose of praising God and glorifying Him. The highest expression of that purpose is when we willingly and thankfully follow Christ, walking in the path of redemption and the process of becoming holy as God is holy.
Even those who are opposed to God’s purposes fulfil His purposes. Those who reject the way of Christ are still made in the image of God. Though reluctantly, they show the glory of God in the same way that the rocks and the stars sing praise to the Almighty.
At a deeper level, those of us who are saved and rejoice in Christ are a part of God’s purposes in redeeming creation. As we bear witness or testify to the power and glory of the gospel, more and more people are saved. The time will come when all people will be transformed by the Good News, and the mission work of the church will be completed.
It is hard to imagine what it would be like for the whole world to be under the Kingly reign of Christ, but that is God’s purpose for us.
God accomplishes all things in conformity to His will. God has purpose and will achieve it. He accomplishes all things. Nothing slips past Him as if it takes Him by surprise. “I never saw that coming” is not in His vocabulary.
He accomplishes all things. He always gets everything done that He intended. In that sense the broken world in which we live, with all its violence and sinfulness, is designed to achieve His purposes. Not that God is responsible for sin, but that He uses it.
We have to conclude that His purposes include raising a Kingdom of people who, though born in sin, raised in an environment of sin and constantly surrounded by sin, nevertheless still choose to follow Him and prefer righteousness.
Only humans, a breed of creatures who are both physical and spiritual, could achieve this. Only men and women can apprehend the glory of a God able to redeem them from sin. We are the chosen ones.
God accomplishes all things in conformity to His will. He has plan and purpose, and His deeds are directed by His purpose. This is Good News. It means that nothing is random or meaningless. God’s purpose is always present.
Evolutionists and cosmologists talk of random events- galaxies, mutations, big bangs and so on. Ascribing phenomena to randomness only indicates that we cannot see the whole picture. Our minds are too small to contain God’s purpose. This is especially true in science which consciously excludes God and is forced to insert randomness instead.
This is true of our lives. We see the idea of a random event and a random person as a way to explain this event and that person. Even the deepest tragedy is not random. It is not sent by God but it may be used by God in His purpose.
Key points in this verse:
- We are chosen by God
- We have a purpose- God’s purpose
- Nothing is random