Home > Uncategorized > The Letter of Paul to the Ephesians (Part 5 of 155)

The Letter of Paul to the Ephesians (Part 5 of 155)

September 18, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Ephesians 1.5: He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will…

Yesterday’s verse was about how God has chosen us, before time even began, to be two things before him: holy and blameless. And to be these things “in love.” In love, and before God, these aspects of a human character find their ultimate perfection, and God has chosen us in Christ for this. This choice itself is now taken up further in today’s verse.

To be honest, there are two things in this verse that have always bothered me. The first is the word “destined” which, in other translations, is given as “predestined.” The other is the phrase “the good pleasure of his will.” I have never been comfortable with the reformed or Calvinist understanding of predestination, and I reject it in many ways (though see the wisdom of it in some ways).

This is too difficult a territory to get into here, but basically I have trouble whenever I read “the good pleasure of his will.” I think this is because such a phrase has often been used, in defending the Calvinist understanding of predestination against our natural moral objections to it, to basically say, well “God can do as he pleases.” Now, it is certainly true that God can do whatever he wants, but I think we also ought not neglect an important point when we say this: what God wants and does is always good. Our theology should be formed around this reality (and I think that good Calvinists do not neglect this). I think that it is right to, in some sense, question what God does, according to our understanding of God. He has blessed us with an intuition for goodness; though admittedly this is corrupted by sin, I think it ought to be our moral duty to obey it in how we form our perceptions of him.

I want to read this verse not as an apologetic for reformed theology, but rather as the simple statement that God has made us his adopted children because he wanted to, because it gave him pleasure, gave him joy, to make us sons and daughters of God. God already has a beloved Son: Jesus Christ. Yet us sinners he has invited into his family, and treated as his own, through Jesus Christ.

We have been “adopted.” The language of adoption is interesting. An adopted child, in a loving family, is treated exactly the same as a true offspring, yet is known by his parents (and eventually by himself) to be different in nature, in origin, from his biological siblings. This fact can be seen simultaneously as irrelevant and essential. It is irrelevant because his parents have decided to love him as their own, but it is essential because he can never be exactly what a biological child is.

In the same way, Christ will always be of a different nature from us, concerning his divinity. A giant gulf will always exist between us and him, in this respect. Nothing can change this, and nothing should change this. But, his perfect Father has chosen to love us exactly as he love Christ. This is our adoption: we are to be treated like him, and thus made like him, formed into his image.

Here is tomorrow’s verse:

1.6 …to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

Categories: Uncategorized
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  1. September 19, 2010 at 10:29 am

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