Summary: Even after you come to know Jesus we often feel that though God may love us because of Jesus, He doesn’t like us very well. Learn the truth about how God feels about you and the destiny He has for you.
As God chose us (vs 4), picked us out from among others, before the universe began, so now He sets the course of the universe to a particular outcome for us—that in essence is predestination.
The Greek word pro-orizo means “to set a boundary, to mark out a thing in advance.” It’s where we get the word horizon. Paul may have actually coined this word as it first appears in Greek literature in his writings. The word is used six times in the New Testament. Every time it is used only of God.
Romans 8:29 “For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified.” (We receive the right to be adopted into God’s family through God’s predetermined plan – similar to what we see in Ephesians 1).
1Cor. 2:6 “However, we do speak a wisdom among the mature, but not a wisdom of this age, or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 On the contrary, we speak God’s hidden wisdom in a mystery, a wisdom God predestined before the ages for our glory.” (God’s mysterious plan of salvation was predetermined).
Acts 4:27 “For, in fact, in this city both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, assembled together against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your plan had predestined to take place.” (The sufferings of Jesus were predetermined by God).
Predestination is for a God-designed purpose – in this case, adoption of us into His family. God has to get from making a decision about us, to acting upon that decision, and that’s what predestination is all about. I like how simply the Holman Study Bible puts it: “Predestination refers to the consistent and coherent intention of God’s will, an eternal decision rendering certain that which will come to pass.”
There’s an interesting discussion about this phrase. Basically because God did this before time and space began, the order of God predestining us and us reaching out to God to become Christians cannot be determined. It’s quite possible that God made a decision about you and predestined you outside of time simultaneously with your decision to seek Him through Jesus in time. As we said last time, both God and man make decisions, it’s just that God’s decisions are more important than ours, more fair, and done always in love, and as we’ll see, in kindness.
To be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself
So how does this adoption work? The people who read or heard Ephesians would have lived under Roman law and would have understood adoption from that standpoint. In the Roman family the father had absolute authority (Hoehner, page 196). He could literally take the life of a family member and it would not be considered murder. He could also dispense the family property any way he wished.
Roman adoption had two steps. The first was the release of the child from their natural father. This happened by the natural father selling the child as a slave to the adopter three times. The son could then take the position of a natural son, continue the family line, and maintain property ownership. His allegiance to the new father continued until the father died.
What this means is that for us, who were previously labeled “sons of disobedience” and “children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:2-3), have no obligation or responsibility to our old father (Satan). Now God has absolute control over our lives. Since God never dies, He will always have that control over us.
This happened “through” Jesus Christ. The wording used here is the idea of passing through two items. It reminds me of Genesis 15:12-21 where God “cut the covenant” with Abram. God Himself passed between the pieces of the sacrifice alone, signifying that He would perform the covenant and bear the responsibility if it was broken, which it was. So God bore the consequences in the form of crucifying His own Son. So as Jesus flesh was torn it made a new covenant, a new one in His blood, that takes away our sin and allows us to be released from Satan and handed over to God blameless and without spot.
According to His favor and will
The word “favor” is the Greek word “delight”. Not only did God predestine us to be adopted into His family, He was tickled pink to do it. It’s also translated “kindly intent” and “pleasure.” “Will” means to purpose something. It wasn’t that God looked down and had pity on us poor humans, lost in our sin, and waved His magic wand to fix our dilemma but had no personal stake in it. Quite the contrary, He planned to do it because it pleased Him. It makes God happy to be able to bring you into His family. That should make you feel good. God wants to spend time with you in an intimate relationship for all of eternity and He literally moved heaven and earth to make it happen.