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EPHESIANS - Chapter 1 - Verse 11

Verse 11. In whom also we have obtained an inheritance. We who are Christians. Most commentators suppose that by the word "we" the Jews particularly are intended, and that it stands in contradistinction from "ye," as referring to the Gentiles, in Eph 1:13. This construction, they suppose, is demanded by the nature of the passage. The meaning may then be, that the Jews who were believers had first obtained a part in the plan of redemption, as the offer was first made to them, and then that the same favour was conferred also on the Gentiles. Or it may refer to those who had been first converted, without particular reference to the fact that they were Jews; and the reference may be to the apostle and his fellow-labourers. This seems to me to be the correct interpretation. "We the ministers of religion first believed, and have obtained all inheritance in the hopes of Christians, that we should be to the praise of God's glory; and you also, after hearing the word of truth, believed," Eph 1:13. The word which is rendered "obtained our inheritance" klhrow—means, literally, to acquire by lot, and then to obtain, to receive. Here it means that they had received the favour of being to the praise of his glory, for having first trusted in the Lord Jesus.

Being predestinated. Eph 1:5.

According to the purpose. On the meaning of the word purpose, see Notes on Ro 8:28.

Of him who worketh all things. Of God, the universal Agent. The affirmation here is not merely that God accomplishes the designs of salvation according to the counsel of his own will, but that he does everything. His agency is not confined to one thing, or to one class of objects. Every object and event is under his control, and is in accordance with his eternal plan. The word rendered worketh energew—-means, to work, to be active, to produce, Eph 1:20; Ga 2:8; Php 2:13. A universal agency is ascribed to him. "The same God which worketh all in all," 1 Co 12:6. He has an agency in causing the emotions of our hearts. "God, who worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure," Php 2:13. He has an agency in distributing to men their various allotments and endowments. "All these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will," 1 Co 12:11. The agency of God is seen everywhere. Every leaf, flower, rose-bud, spire of grass; every sunbeam, and every flash of lightning; every cataract and every torrent, all declare his agency; and there is not an object that we see that does not bespeak the control of an all-present God. It would be impossible to affirm more explicitly, that God's agency is universal, than Paul does in the passage before us. He does not attempt to prove it. It is one of those points on which he does not deem it necessary to pause and reason, but which may be regarded as a conceded point in the discussion of other topics, and which may be employed without hesitation in their illustration. Paul does not state the mode in which this is done. He affirms merely the fact. He does not say that he compels men, or that he overbears them by mere physical force. His agency he affirms to be universal; but it is undoubtedly in accordance with the nature of the object, and with the laws which he has impressed on them. His agency in the work of creation was absolute and entire; for there was nothing to act on, and no established laws to be observed. Over the mineral kingdom his control must also be entire, yet in accordance with the laws which he has impressed on matter. The crystal and the snow are formed by his agency; but it is in accordance with the laws which he has been pleased to appoint. So in the vegetable world his agency is everywhere seen; but the lily and rose blossom in accordance with uniform laws, and not in an arbitrary manner. So in the animal kingdom. God gives sensibility to the nerve, and excitability and power to the muscle, He causes the lungs to heave, and the arteries and veins to bear the blood along the channels of life; but it is not in an arbitrary manner. It is in accordance with the laws which he has ordained, and [which] he never disregards in his agency over these kingdoms. So in his government of mind. He "works" everywhere. But he does it in accordance with the laws of mind. His agency is not exactly of the same kind on the rose-bud that it is on the diamond; nor on the nerve that it is on the rose-bud; nor on the heart and will that it is on the nerve. In all these things he consults the laws which he has impressed on them; and as he chooses that the nerve should be affected in accordance with its laws and properties, so it is with mind. God does not violate its laws. Mind is free. It is influenced by truth and motives. It has a sense of right and wrong. And there is no more reason to suppose that God disregards these laws of mind in controlling the intellect and the heart, than there is that he disregards the laws of crystallization in the formation of the ice, or of gravitation in the movements of the heavenly bodies. The general doctrine is, that God works in all things, and controls all; but that his agency everywhere is in accordance with the laws and nature of that part of his kingdom where it is exerted. By this simple principle we may secure the two great points which it is desirable to secure on this subject—

(1.) the doctrine of the universal agency of God; and

(2.) the doctrine of the freedom and responsibility of man.

After the counsel of his own will. Not by consulting his creatures, or conforming to their views, but by his own views of what is proper and right. We are not to suppose that this is by mere will, as if it were arbitrary, or that he determines anything without good reason. The meaning is, that his purpose is determined by what he views to be right, and without consulting his creatures or conforming to their views. His dealings often seem to us to be arbitrary. We are incapable of perceiving the reasons of what he does. He makes those his friends who we should have supposed would have been the last to have become Christians. He leaves those who seem to us to be on the borders of the kingdom, and they remain unmoved and uneffected. But we are not thence to suppose that he is arbitrary. In every instance, we are to believe that there is a good reason for what he does, and one which we may be permitted yet to see, and in which we shall wholly acquiesce. The phrase "counsel of his own will" is remarkable. It is designed to express in the strongest manner the fact that it is not by human counsel or advice. The word "counsel"—boulh—means, a council or senate; then a determination, purpose, or decree. See Rob. Lex. Here it means that his determination was formed by his own will, and not by human reasoning. Still, his will in the case may not have been arbitrary. When it is said of man that he forms his own purposes, and acts according to his own will, we are not to infer that he acts without reason, he may have the highest and best reasons for what he does, but he does not choose to make them known to others, or to consult others. So it may be of God, and so we should presume it to be. It may be added, that we ought to have such confidence in him as to believe that he will do all things well. The best possible evidence that anything is done in perfect wisdom and goodness, is the fact that God does it. When we have ascertained that, we should be satisfied that all is right.

{a} "being predestinated" Ac 20:22

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