Figuring Things Out: Ephesians 1:4

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Hello friends! Welcome! I want to thank you for stopping in for a read. We are continuing on with our study on Ephesians. For those of you new to the study this is my attempt at trying to figure these scriptures out, in order to get to the deep rich meaning in the words. And with that lets get to unpacking.

He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.

Chose us in Him…

“He chose…” What does it mean when it says, He chose? The Greek word used here is eklegomai which is derived from the ek meaning out, out of, out from and lego meaning select, choose. The translation roughly meaning a smaller number selected out, singled out, or chosen out of from a larger majority. The first implication of this that jumps out to me is that the eklegomai are the minority(1). This is not the only place in the scriptures this term or idea is implied, as Christians being the elected few (Mark13:20, Luke6:13, Luke10:42, Luke 14:7, John6:70, John13:18, John15:16, Acts1:2, Acts1:24, James2:5, etc.) So, from my mind I see the idea that Christians should expect to be in the minority. Not that God has not made away for the entirity whole of humanity to be elected or chosen out of the kingdom of darkness. That goes against the idea of Jesus as the Messiah being the sacrificial lamb for all humankind. This has more to do with the idea that God knew before time immemorial who accept His gift of salvation.

Was this to be the case for time immemorial? I don’t think so. This is where contextualization comes in. These gospels, epistles, and personal letters were all written to a certain group of people at a certain time and place in history. At that time and in that place those early believers were the minority. However, that didn’t mean they were to stay in the minority by simply staying in their little group and not spreading the good news. No, they were to move out preach and and fight for their good news to be the majority. They were the early chosen of the faith, and they were chosen to spread the message.

Now, I have to ask myself, have we arrived at the majority yet? According to the latest figures the world population is around 7.8 billion people, and as of 2015 there were roughly 2.3 billion Christians. Another interesting figure according to the Pew Research Organization, at the same time it was estimated that there were 1.8 billion Muslims in the world, and by the year 2060 it’s estimated both religions will be balanced at 3 billion each(2). What does this imply? First, Christians are far from being the majority. Second, Christians seem to be slowing in growth as Islam rises. Third, this could lead to large scale tensions in the world, especially if Islam continues to keep to a militant militant war like orthodoxy. I’m sure you can figure out what I’m going to say next… Get out there and preach the love and good news of Christ Jesus.

Before the Foundation of the World

I’m not going to waste your time explaining ‘before,’ but I do want to talk about ‘foundation’ and ‘world.’ Foundation in this scripture is the Greek word katabole from the words kata meaning down and ballo meaning throw. This literally means throwing down or laying down. Thayer goes further by explaining the more metaphorical implications. This word also implies the depositing of virile semen in the womb, as well as, the seed of a plant or animal. So, you might also say that, “God chose us in Him before the injecting the world with the spark of life.”

Now, what about this word ‘world’ though? It comes form the Greek word kosmos as I’m sure you’ve already picked up that’s where we get the word ‘cosmos.’ Thayer describes it as:

  1. an apt and harmonious arrangement or constitution, order, government
  2. ornament, decoration, adornment, i.e. the arrangement of the stars, ‘the heavenly hosts’, as the ornament of the heavens. 1 Pet. 3:
  3. the world, the universe
  4. the circle of the earth, the earth
  5. the inhabitants of the earth, men, the human family
  6. the ungodly multitude; the whole mass of men alienated from God, and therefore hostile to the cause of Christ
  7. world affairs, the aggregate of things earthly
    1. the whole circle of earthly goods, endowments riches, advantages, pleasures, etc, which although hollow and frail and fleeting, stir desire, seduce from God and are obstacles to the cause of Christ
  8. any aggregate or general collection of particulars of any sort
    1. the Gentiles as contrasted to the Jews (Rom. 11:12 etc)(3)

As you can see this definition is quite varied. However, a point to make here is the word used is kosmos not chaos, which is unformed matter. So, in context to to the author’s writing, this word is referring to the balanced and harmonious state of the universe prior to the fall of mankind.

Holy and without Blame

I want to turn to the words holy and blameless now. First ‘holy’ in the Greek is the word hagios which is the same word for ‘saint’ which I covered in a previous post. You can find the link below(4). But what about ‘blameless?’ It is the Greek word amomos which comes from the words a meaning ‘without’ and momos meaning spot, literally meaning without spot. In the Old Testament it is referring to a Temple sacrifice that was to be without defect. So what this passage is saying here is, “God chose us before the foundation of the world to be ‘set apart vessels’ ‘without spot or defect’”

Before Him in Love

I really like this word ‘before’ or katenopion in the Greek. It comes from the words kata meaning ‘down’ and en meaning in and ops meaning face or eye. So, this phrase ‘before Him’ means ‘right down in front of the eyes of God.’ That’s pretty amazing that we were chose to be set down right in the God’s own eyes!

But, what does this ‘in Love’ mean? Well love here comes from the Greek agape meaning the unconditional, sacrificial love, the quality (and quantity) of love which God Himself is and which He freely bestows in Christ(5). So, we are set right down in front of the eyes of God in unconditional, sacrificial love, or more precisely because of His unconditional. He sees us before Him through the lens of Love. God has no conditions on His love. He doesn’t, “I will only love you IF. I will only have mercy on you IF. I will only heal you IF. I will only give you grace IF.” He is unconditional! He proves this by His act of giving Jesus as the sacrifice.

Alright, now lets try to tie this whole thing back together. “God selected us out from the majority of humanity before the creation of the balanced, harmonious cosmos that we should be set apart and defect-less vessels that are set right down before His eyes as He looks on us with joy through the lens of perfect unconditional grace, peace, mercy, love.” Whewww! There really is so much deep richness in the language of these verses, way more than can be seen reading on the surface level. Well I hope you learned something!

Grace and Peace

  1. https://www.studylight.org/lexicons/eng/greek/1586.html
  2. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/04/01/the-countries-with-the-10-largest-christian-populations-and-the-10-largest-muslim-populations/#:~:text=Overall%2C%20there%20are%20about%202.3,and%20nearly%203%20billion%20Muslims.
  3. https://www.studylight.org/lexicons/eng/greek/2889.html
  4. https://zacharyreavis.home.blog/2021/01/09/figuring-things-out-ephesians-11/
  5. https://www.preceptaustin.org/ephesians_13-4

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