Summary: An exposition, with full text and passage outline, on Ephesians 1:3-14.
The Rev’d Quintin Morrow
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church
Fort Worth, Texas
The Text Outline:
I. Believers have been SELECTED (predestined) from all eternity (vv. 3-6).
A. We have been chosen:
1. Before the foundation of the world.
2. In Christ.
3. In love.
4. According to the good pleasure of His will.
B. We have been chosen for:
2. Adoption as His children.
3. Acceptance in Christ.
4. The praise of His grace.
II. Believers have been SAVED for all eternity (vv. 7-12).
A. We have:
1. Redemption (rescue from wrath).
2. Forgiveness of sins.
3. An everlasting inheritance in heaven.
4. The knowledge of the mystery of His will.
B. What we have been given we have been given:
1. Because of the riches of His grace.
2. Because of His good pleasure.
3. For the unity of all things in Jesus Christ.
4. For the praise of His glory.
III. Believers have been SEALED by the Holy Spirit in anticipation of eternity (vv. 13-14).
A. We received the Holy Spirit when we believed.
B. We received the Holy Spirit to authenticate our adoption (See Rev. 7:1-8).
St. Paul says that essential to the vocation of pastor/teacher is the task of correcting, reproving, persuading and instructing God’s people from the Word of life. And I shall certainly be earning my keep today as I instruct you in one of the most sublime, yet likewise profound, mysterious and possibly the most misunderstood teaching in all of Holy Scripture; namely, the doctrine of predestination. I have roughly 23 minutes to persuade you, with the tools of reason, experience, and theology, buttressed by the clear teaching of the Bible, that as a born again child of God your salvation was the work of God from beginning to end, that you played nothing but a passive role in your own redemption, and that God chose you from eternity past for salvation and wrote your name in the Lamb’s Book of Life before a single particle of matter was even spoken by God into existence. That’s a tall order indeed.
The Letter to the Ephesians is a prison epistle, as the Apostle Paul penned it while languishing in a Roman prison. The theme of the letter is the process and consequences of believers now being “in Christ” by virtue of their regeneration of the Holy Spirit and adoption into God’s family. Paul uses the two-letter Greek phrase en christo—“in Christ”—12 times in 6 short chapters.
The passage under consideration this morning—chapter 1:3-14—is about God’s selecting, electing, predestining believers from eternity past for everlasting life. As we shall see, God chose us without any regard to our own worthiness or merit, but simply because in His sovereign power and gracious will He decided to do so. Lest we think this teaching is some academic abstraction to Paul, you need to know that Ephesians 1:3-14 in the original Greek is one, long sentence, consisting of 202 words of unbroken thought and no period. It is as if the Apostle, once he begins discussing God’s unfathomable love, sovereign will, and predestining power, simply cannot stop until he reaches a suitable finish.