God’s Own Possession
Ephesians Lesson #031
June 16, 2019
“Father, we’re thankful that we have a salvation, a “so great salvation” as the writer of Hebrews says, a salvation that is based exclusively on who Jesus Christ is and what He did on the Cross, that He paid the penalty in total. He paid for every sin. He paid the sin penalty. Nothing can be added to it. In fact, the attempt to add to it simply destroys the gift. Father, we’re thankful that all we need to do is simply accept it, believe it, trust in Him, and we have everlasting life.
“Father, now as we continue our study in this first chapter of Ephesians, emphasizing what we have in Christ as believers in this Church Age, we pray that it might drive us to a greater understanding of Your Word, a greater desire to respond to You in service and create a greater hunger in us to know Your word and to know You through knowing Your word.
“We pray this in Christ’s name, amen. “
Open your Bibles with me to Ephesians 1:11–12. Just think, there are only two more verses in this opening eulogy. I’ve used the word eulogy, which means a good or pleasant saying. It is something that is related to the Hebrew word berachah (berakhah), which means a blessing. That’s what this is. It is a berachah. It is a blessing statement by Paul. It’s modeled on various statements of blessing from the Old Testament and reflects his deep insights into the Old Testament as a result of his rabbinical training and understanding of the truth of the Scriptures.
This eulogy is divided into three sections. He stated the blessings that we have in Christ, first from the Father, second from the Son, and in Ephesians 1:13–14 from God the Holy Spirit. There are some fascinating interconnections between each of these statements. There are similarities of vocabulary. References and allusions back to what he stated before connect one Person of the Trinity to the next Person of the Trinity.
Some have taught for hundreds of hours on each of these verses. Of course, they are not really teaching these verses but what most of the Bible says. They are bringing that to expand the understanding of each word, each phrase, each clause of this particular opening eulogy. The emphasis in these next two verses, still talking about what we have in Christ in relation to the blessings from the Son, is on the fact that we are now God’s own possession.
This is going to be fun. I always enjoy a passage like this because we have to get into some interesting studies of the vocabulary and the grammar. I know that drives some of you a little nuts, but we have to get into that because there’s a certain amount of mistranslation and misunderstanding in the translations most of us use. We have to straighten some of that out.
So that we don’t lose sight of what we have studied and the context, this section from Ephesians 1:3–14 is all one sentence in the original. It’s been broken up in English translations in order to help the reader put these things together and to understand how they connect to one another. It’s all one long, long sentence in the Greek, which has its own issues. We’re going to focus on this. Let’s go back and pick up where we started in the section where the focus is on what we have in Christ as a result of our blessings in relation to the Second Person of the Trinity.
First of all, in Ephesians 1:7–8, God lavished or abounded His grace to us. We have received more grace than all previous dispensations. We should note also that when we look at Ephesians 1:7, it begins with “In Him.” We will come back and talk about that phrase, but it is all we have and enjoy in Christ. At the point of salvation, we are all entered into Christ. We’re identified, Scripture says, with His death, burial and resurrection, so that we have this new entity called the Church. That summarizes a lot of what we’re going to be looking at this morning.
The emphasis is on God’s grace to us. We’ve received more in this dispensation, which is more revelation from God. This is covered by the term “the mystery of His will.” The term mystery relates to previously unrevealed information. We don’t have to dig into it to find out exactly what it is, like you would solve a murder mystery or a puzzle or something of that nature. It simply means information, revelation, that was not revealed in the Old Testament to Israel. It’s not contained in the historical books, the former prophets, or the latter prophets. It’s not in the Torah. It was reserved for the believers in Jesus Christ. It was reserved for the church.
Part of this abundance of grace that God has given us is expanded revelation that has been recorded and preserved for us in the twenty-seven books of the New Testament. This is part of that grace package given to us.
Third, the content of this mystery doctrine within the context of this epistle is stated in Ephesians 3:5–6, the fact that in history, as God changed the way He had been administering history, He brought into existence a new entity called the church. It was not designed to replace Israel permanently but to replace them temporarily in what is sometimes referred to as a parenthesis in history between the Cross and the Rapture of the church.
During this time, God is doing something different than He did with Israel, but we can make a lot of similarities and a lot of comparisons. This new spiritual entity does not distinguish between Jew and Gentile, whereas in the previous age, the Age of Israel, a distinction was made between the Gentile and the Jew.
God gave specific spiritual responsibilities to Israel in the Old Testament. They were a nation set apart to God as His unique possession, and God gave them responsibilities. Through Israel, He revealed the truth of His Word, the Torah (the Ketuvim and the Nevi’im). As a result, they would be edified and were to serve as a witness to the world, a testimony of the grace of God. As people came to them, they would see a unique, distinct nation that lived and was blessed by God. They failed, and then they failed because when Messiah came, they rejected Him. They are now under divine discipline.
In their place, God raised up this new entity in which Jew and Gentile are united. It goes beyond that because we see from the passages that relate to that, that are focused on the baptism by the Holy Spirit, that all of the distinctions that were part of the law, distinctions economically or socioeconomically, between male and female, between slave and free man, are no longer issues in our personal relationship with God. Each has distinct roles, but that is quite different from the Old Testament. Now, Jew and Gentile all have equal benefits and blessings from being in Christ. This is specifically defined in Ephesians 3:6, “… that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel.”
Fourth, we have seen the importance of understanding this thing called dispensationalism, which is primarily a consistent interpretation of Scripture. At the very core, three elements are distinctive to dispensationalism. The first is a consistent literal interpretation of Scripture. Other people may say that they have that, but they aren’t consistent. They aren’t consistent when they interpret prophecy. They aren’t consistent when they interpret some aspects of the Old Testament. When they quote from the Old Testament in the New, they believe they can change the meaning simply because the Jews were disobedient. Because they do not literally interpret the Old Testament, they see a continuity between the people of God, so that the Israel in the Old Testament is the church of God, and the church in the New Testament is the new spiritual Israel. They don’t have a distinction between Israel and the church, and they think that the church has completely replaced Israel in God’s plan. That’s called Replacement Theology, and it is the fertile soil out of which the toxic weeds of anti-Semitism grow.
In dispensationalism, because we believe in a consistent interpretation of Scripture, we see that there is a distinction in God’s plan for Israel and God’s plan for the church. Thus, all of God’s covenants with Israel are still in effect, and eventually, He will fulfill those covenants when Jesus the Messiah comes to establish His Kingdom.
Fifth, we see that the Church Age believer is now made a new possession of God’s in Christ. This is phenomenal! I think it is fascinating. Because of the failure to translate the passage correctly, some of its significant truth is missed. When translated correctly, it fits phenomenally within the other statements that surround Ephesians 1:11. We see connections to Ephesians 1:12–14 that are pretty profound, pretty significant.
Ephesians 1:11—this is the New King James Version, which I will correct. “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.” As I stated earlier, the important term here is “in Him.” Just as we saw in Ephesians 1:7, it begins with “In Him.” The focal point is what we have in Christ. This echoes what has been said all through this, and what will be said all through this opening blessing statement. Ephesians 1:3, 4, and 6 all talk about what we have in Christ in relation to the blessing from God the Father. In Ephesians 1:7, 10, 11, we have statements about what we have in Christ in relation to God the Son. Then, in Ephesians 1:13, we find that it is “in Him” that we also were sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, a guarantee of our inheritance.
I bring that up because when we get into Ephesians 1:14, which states that the Holy Spirit is a guarantee of our inheritance, we recognize that at the beginning of Ephesians 1:11, it says something about our inheritance. “In Him we also have obtained an inheritance …” although that’s not a correct translation.
This chart demonstrates the eternal realities that we have in Christ. We’re told in Romans 6:3–6 that at the instant of salvation [though we don’t experience it. We don’t feel it. The only reason we know it happens is because the Scripture tells us that it happened.] the instant that we believe in Christ, God the Holy Spirit identifies us with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is so profound that it destroys the tyranny of the sin nature over us. It is the foundation for this new spiritual life that we have as believers in Christ, what we have in Him. As part of our eternal reality, we are in Christ. We can never be separated from Christ. It transforms who we are.
The right side of the chart describes our temporal realities. Sometimes, we are walking by the Spirit. Sometimes, we are not. Sometimes, when we are walking by the Spirit, we sin, and then we are no longer walking by the Spirit. We need to confess sin, but that’s another issue. I’m just focusing on the eternal reality of what we have in Christ.
We have to look at a couple of important issues related to the translation and the interpretation of this first phrase “we have obtained” or in some translations “we have received an inheritance.” The verb is the Greek verb KLEROO, which if you see the parsing of the verb, the part of speech, it is a first person plural. This is the first issue. First person plural is the pronoun we. It’s not I. It’s we, so who’s the we? Who’s included in the we here? There is debate over this because some say that here we refers to all believers in Christ, that no distinction is made between Jew and Gentile here as in chapter 2 and in chapter 3.
I disagree. I think Paul was walking them through a historical development, and he was referencing the fact that when the church was birthed in Acts 2, it was all Jews. The church was made up of Jewish believers until Acts 10 when God gave a vision to Peter to go to the centurion Cornelius in Caesarea. There, he gave the gospel to the Roman soldiers, the household of Cornelius, the Gentiles, and they become equal members in the church with Jews. It was to the Jew first and then to the Gentile. As we look at the flow here in Ephesians 1, 2, and 3, we see that starting in Ephesians 2:11–12 and following, it’s very clear that the “we” refers to we Jewish believers, and the “you” refers to you Gentile believers.
It’s also clear right here in this immediate context that Paul still had that distinction. In Ephesians 1:12, he said, “… that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.” That means that he was talking about the Jews. Right in the context, he was making a distinction between what we Jews experience and what you as Gentiles experience. He was taking the reader from the beginning, that we Jews experienced all these things as Jewish believers, but then as you Gentiles were brought into the body of Christ, you experienced all of those things. The bottom line, the eventual reality, is, yes, this is true for every believer, Jew or Gentile, but Paul was walking us through this chronologically, so the “we” here refers in the time in which Paul was writing to we Jews who first trusted in Christ.
The next two questions have to do with the translation of this verb. It is also a passive voice verb. For those of you who are grammatically challenged, an active voice verb means that the subject of the verb performs the action of the verb. In this case, it’s a first person plural, so the we describes those who would perform the action if it’s active voice. We would have to do a little bit of translational gymnastics to get that “we have obtained.” Even in the way they’ve translated the “have obtained,” the idea of reception is a passive idea. It’s a passive verb. Translating it “as we have obtained” tries to make it an active voice verb. This is how a number of translations handle this. They recognize that it’s a passive voice verb, but immediately they say that it should be understood as a middle voice and then translated as an active voice. How’s that for confusion?
This is what you will find, for example, in the King James Version, the New King James Version, the New American Standard (whether you have a 1977 version or 1995 version), NIV, and ESV, and any number of others. I take time to explain because there are always visitors and new people. It’s important to properly translate the text before we can ever understand what it means, before we can apply it. This is why it’s important to do what I did when I went through Dallas Theological Seminary, to get a firm grounding in the original languages.
Many men have firm grounding in the original languages. In fact, the men who translated the NASB and the NIV and others had as good if not better education in the original languages as I did, but we’re all subject to making mistakes and making errors.
One of my favorite quotes from a seminary professor was from Allen Ross, who taught Hebrew at Dallas, had a doctorate in theology from Dallas, and a PhD from Cambridge. He was on various upper level administrative and oversight roles in the translation of the NIV. I had him for a word study course, and he would often say, “I really wish we could’ve put in the margin that this is the Word of God by a vote of 5 to 4.” The reason I say that is not to put down these English translations, but to recognize that legitimate challenges come in making a translation.
Some people got the idea years ago that, “if I just learn the original languages, I won’t have any problems.” No, you’ll just have another set of problems. You’re just, as it were, pushing the ball down the road a little bit, but you are not avoiding problems. Knowing the original languages doesn’t solve the problems.
Even though a large group of translations translate it as more of an active voice verb, quite a few do not. Ephesians 1:11 in the American Standard Version says, “In whom also we were made a heritage …” That puts it in a passive form. We receive the action. God is doing the action, but we, the grammatical subject of the verb because it’s a passive voice verb, receive the action of the verb.
A simple illustration: If John hits the ball, John is the grammatical subject, but he performs the action of hitting the ball. If we change it to a passive voice, and we say, “The ball was hit by John,” the ball is the grammatical subject but the receiver of the action of the verb. In this case, we, the grammatical subject here, is the receiver of the action. The action is to make you an inheritance or a possession. The ASV translated it that way.
Slides 16 and 17
The NET—I’m critical of how they handle some things. I’m critical of the theology sometimes found by their translators, but they have accurately, I think, translated this the same way. They translated it, “In Christ, we too have been claimed as God’s own possession.”
I think that’s really interesting. We, too, have been claimed as God’s own possession. If you contrast it with Gordon Olson’s translation—and by the way, we have his translation of the New Testament available if anybody wants to pick one up. It’s the Resurrection New Testament, and in many ways, he has done a good job. It’s kind of a cross between a literal translation and, not paraphrased, but expanded translation. He says, “Also, it was through union with Him we were made His inheritance by His laying claim.” They both have this idea of laying claim, but he recognizes that the “laying claim” comes out of the verb that most people translate predestined.
The NET translators liked the idea of predestination because they were mostly pretty strong Calvinists. They brought this idea out of almost nowhere to add it into the first part to get that idea because it fits their context so well. What I’m pointing out is simply this, that men who are very well educated in the original languages and who recognize that some issues are involved here do disagree.
I think that because it’s a passive voice verb, it must be interpreted as a passive voice verb. It’s talking about the fact that at salvation we become God’s possessions. That’s the core idea of inheritance, which we will look at in just a minute. “In Him, we also have become His possession …” is how it should be translated.
We have a good basis for this when we look at the Old Testament and the corporate election of Israel. God has a corporate plan for Israel, a plan and purpose for Israel. It’s spelled out in the covenants with Israel. In a number of passages, God talked about Israel as a corporate entity, as His inheritance. Inheritance has an idea of ownership or property or a possession. Let me show you this because it builds the analogy that Paul was using that was in the back of his mind as he talked about this new entity called the Church.
In Deuteronomy 4:20, “But the Lord has taken you …” Moses was speaking. He was talking to the Israelites, saying that “the Lord has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be His people, an inheritance, as you are this day.” They, as a corporate entity, are a possession of God. Deuteronomy 7:6, “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself.”
Deuteronomy 9:26, “O Lord God, do not destroy Your people and Your inheritance—that is, Your possession.” Deuteronomy 9:29, “Yet they are Your people and Your inheritance.”
Deuteronomy 14:2, “God has chosen you to be a people for Himself.” The last use of this is in Deuteronomy 32:9, “For the Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob is the place of His inheritance.” Here, things start getting tied together, and we start seeing some connections. When the Hebrew describes Israel as “the Lord’s portion,” the Septuagint, that is the ancient Greek translation, about two-hundred years before Christ, of the Torah from Hebrew into Greek, used the word MERIS.
The rabbis who were translating the Hebrew into Greek understood exactly what this was saying. They chose this Greek word because it’s a technical word. We’ve studied its cognate MEROS in John 13. It is that portion of a will or testament describing the share of an inheritance. MEROS was used when the prodigal son went to his father and said, “I want my share of my inheritance.” This is a technical term for receiving a portion of property due someone. The Lord’s portion or His share is His people. The word portion is parallel to the word inheritance.
Inheritance in the Hebrew is nahalah, which means to give something as a possession. That’s important to understand. When we think of inheritance, we think of somebody dying and in his will designating a portion of his property to go to an heir. A death has to take place. That’s not the idea in the Hebrew word. Remember that Hebrew words and concepts are the frame of reference for the New Testament. The Hebrew concept of nahalah or inheritance is really a possession of property. Something is owned by someone. This is seen in all of the major lexica that describe this.
Nahalah is used 222 times in the Old Testament, 46 times in Numbers, and 50 times in Joshua. Why is that significant? Because those books of the Old Testament designated where the tribes would live once they got into the Promised Land. A lot of the second half of the Book of Joshua almost reads like a real estate document, giving the boundaries for all the different tribes and families, laying out their allotment or their portion, their inheritance.
The HALOT dictionary [The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament] says that the basic meaning for nahalah is “inalienable, hereditary property.” It’s possession. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament states that it can be translated inheritance, heritage, or possession; then, “the idea of possession was conceived of as a permanent and not entailing the idea of succession.”
It’s a permanent possession. It’s not something that is necessarily passed down to the next generation when someone dies. That’s the idea we get when we use the word inheritance, but it’s really a possession, ownership of something. The New Testament language also emphasized that an heir is somebody who has a possession. The inheritance should be translated as possession. We become a possession of God. God now owns us.
That’s reflected in the Greek. According to the Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker Greek Lexicon, the second meaning of KLERONOMIA, the Greek word for inheritance, is possession or property. That meaning is fabulous as we try to understand Ephesians 1:11, that we have become possessions of God. That’s quite different from saying that we’ve obtained a possession. It’s stating that we have become a possession of God. We have received the action of that verb.
I’ve translated this, “In addition, it was through union with Him we were made His possession.” We are now owned by God. This is the same thing Paul said in another way in 1 Corinthians 6:20, that we have been bought with a price. We are not our own. We are His. God has laid claim to us. There’s a property emphasis there.
The next word we studied earlier back in Ephesians 1:5 is often mistranslated as predestination. It really has the idea of laying claim to something. We talked about this before, so I want to review a couple of things before we go back into that. The interpretation that I’ve given you, that we become a possession of God, reinforces the idea throughout this section that this is talking about corporate election, not God picking. “OK, I’m going to take you. I’m going to take you. I’m not going to take you.” It’s not individual selection for salvation but God’s blessing to all those who are in Christ. We will look at that terminology in a minute.
1. This reinforces the idea of corporate election. It’s in Him that we are made a possession, those who are in Christ.
2. The idea of being made His possession fits in nicely with the concept of being sealed by the Spirit. That sealing by the Spirit is an action designating ownership.
3. Because God now owns us, this reinforces the entire idea of eternal security. We are saved eternally because of our position in Christ, which cannot be lost.
I have often, in order to communicate this to an American audience, said that the sealing of the Spirit is akin to being branded in the cattle industry, that you show ownership by branding cattle, and that identifies who the rancher is who owns those particular cows. So again, we have this idea of ownership and possession that runs all the way through this particular language.
When we come to the word that is translated predestination, the idea that usually comes into people’s minds is that God in eternity past, that’s the “pre” part, before there was anybody, before there was any human history, God chose who would go to Heaven and who would not go to Heaven. That’s the destiny part in predestination. We have seen that in a previous study—you can go back and listen to the details in Ephesians Lessons 16, 17, and 18, where I go into a lot more detail on this, that what this basically means is to ordain something ahead of time, which means to appoint somebody to a position ahead of time.
When I, as a pastor, was ordained back in 1981, it wasn’t a selection for ministry. It was a recognition that God had gifted me for ministry and was setting apart or appointing me to a role and a responsibility of serving God. That’s the emphasis in this terminology, that we are appointed to service to God. Those who are in Christ, those who are in the body of Christ, are all appointed to the service of God. It is not about individual destiny in Heaven or the Lake of Fire.
First of all, Calvinists and those who are more deterministic in their views usually ignore the fact that
1. In two key passages, the only passages where foreknowledge and election are referenced together, God’s foreknowledge preceded His foreordination. Romans 8:29–30; 1 Peter 1:2
The word foreknowledge means simply to know something ahead of time. All this boils down to God’s omniscience. The more we think about God’s omniscience, the more it ought to fry our brains because we have very little frame of reference to understand His omniscience.
First, it means that God knows everything. He knows everything that could happen, everything that should happen, everything that ought to happen, and everything that will happen. He knows the potentials. He knows the what-ifs. He knows everything. We can’t even imagine what kind of logarithm that would entail in order to come up with all of that information, but He knows all of that. He never acquires knowledge. He never learns anything.
A lot of the language that we use when we talk about God’s knowledge or His will or His plans and purpose, I believe is anthropomorphic—now there’s another big word answer—anthropopathic actually. Anthropomorphism is a term that means a form of man, ANTHRO from ANTHROPOS meaning man and MORPHE from form, assigning something human, such as an eye or an ear or a hand or arm to God. God doesn’t actually have eyes, ears, hands, or arms, but we use this as a figure of speech to communicate. The eyes of God relate to His knowledge, that He sees or knows everything. Same thing with the ear of God, He hears and knows everything. The arm of God relates to power, being able to do things that relate to His omnipotence, His ability to accomplish whatever He intends.
We have this term anthropomorphic, and then we have another term, anthropopathic, which assigns to God human emotions, human feelings. We can’t actually understand who God is in and of Himself, so we have analogies so that we can better understand who He is.
In knowledge, we can’t comprehend this kind of absolute intuitive knowledge since God has always known everything. The reason I bring that up is the last part of this particular verse, Ephesians 1:11, “He works all things according to the counsel of His will.” When we start talking about God’s will and God’s counsel, we immediately put things into chronological order as if God thinks through what He is going to do. God doesn’t think things through because He has always known everything absolutely without any chronological order. There never was a time when He didn’t know what was going to happen. There never was a time when He didn’t know what He was going to do. He has always known all of the intricacies and connections of every action and everything that was going on, but this is the best way to express this so that we can get some level of comprehension.
God’s foreknowledge involves the fact that before He created anything, in eternity past billions and billions and billions of years ago, He knew everything that was going to happen. He knew all the details. He knew everything that might’ve happened, could’ve happened, whatever. That forms part of the decision-making process of God if we use that anthropopathism. He always knew this, and that preceded His foreordination.
To say that God didn’t take into account any of His knowledge from His omniscience when He selected a plan, as it were, is absurd. Yet, that is what Calvinism does. Calvinism ignores the fact that foreknowledge precedes preordination and says that God cannot choose on the basis of this kind of knowledge because that means that human beings are chosen or God’s plan is determined by their volition, and that’s meritorious. I’ve demonstrated that that’s not true at all.
Their small God is not as great as a big God who handles everything and can know everything and can know it and oversee it in such a way that human volition, those crazy things that we decide to do, can still be allowed without destroying the outworking of God’s plan and purpose. That’s a bigger God than the god of Calvinism who doesn’t know all the things that could’ve happened because, since he determines everything that will happen, there’s no knowledge of what could have happened at all. That denies Scriptures that specifically say statements like Matthew 11:21. “If Sodom and Gomorrah had seen what Chorazin and Bethsaida had seen, then they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.”
Jesus knew what could have or might have happened under different scenarios, but that’s denied at the core of Calvinistic understanding of the omniscience of God. God’s foreknowledge precedes His plan and purposes, logically speaking.
2. The idea of pre-determining our eternal destiny is based on a mistranslation of the word PROORIZO, going back to the church father Augustine in about AD 400. He interpreted all of this in a somewhat deterministic fashion and influenced another church father by the name of Jerome, who translated the Hebrew and Greek of the Old and New Testament into Latin. He chose the word predestio, which means predestination, and that wasn’t an accurate translation of the Hebrew.
3. The idea of election was based on the possession of Christ’s righteousness. Because we possess Christ’s righteousness, we are choice. This is seen in Matthew 22:14, a verse that is often translated, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” If you look at the parable preceding it, the only people who make a choice are those who choose to respond to the invitation to come to the banquet. At the banquet, they are given new clothing, and it’s on the basis of the fact that they have this new clothing that they can stay. The one who shows up without the new clothing, which is a picture of possession of Christ’s righteousness, is the one who is eliminated. The idea of election and choosing is often mistranslated and should communicate the idea of choice.
As I’ve been reading lately through 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, and Chronicles, it’s amazing how many times this word bechar in the Hebrew is translated as chosen, but the idea is selection. David chose a thousand warriors, and the idea is really that they were choice warriors. He selected them on the basis of their qualifications. He had taken them through basic training, and the ones who did the best were the ones who were chosen for this elite force. It’s the idea they were choice, or they were select. The word choice means something of good quality. It’s excellent, or it’s the best.
The reason I have this Magnum Bar up here is because when I went to Israel, this was a number of years ago now, I was learning to read modern Hebrew script, and I was always bugging our guide to help me understand how the script was read or the modern vocabulary. Especially with the ice cream bars, which I love, I wanted to make sure I understood which flavors were which. We’re always motivated by our stomachs, I guess.
The Hebrew here is sheqadim mobecharim. The M at the beginning of mobecharim means it’s a verb that’s turned into a noun, a participle. The transliteration means choice almonds. There’s that word bechar in Hebrew that’s often translated chosen, but here it’s the idea of that which is choice. It is chosen because it meets the qualification. It is superior to other almonds. We have that many other times in the New Testament. It has that idea that for some purpose based on some qualification, God has made a selection.
In Isaiah 41:8, we see that Israel as a corporate entity was chosen. “But you, Israel, are My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen.” It’s a corporate entity, chosen for a purpose in history, not in terms of eternal salvation. Isaiah 41:9, “You whom I’ve taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest regions, and said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away.’ ”
Isaiah 42:1 describes the Servant, the Messiah. “You are My Elect One”—literally My Choice One—“in whom My soul delights!” Jesus wasn’t chosen from among many for His mission. He was the Choice One because He was the only One qualified for that mission.
In Matthew 22:14, the issue wasn’t who was chosen but their qualification of possessing the righteousness of Christ, the imputed righteousness of Christ.
Even in the Old Testament, it is recognized in Isaiah 61:10. “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation. He has covered me with the robe of righteousness.”
4. The compound PROHORIZO (formed from PRO, in front, before and HORIZO, to ordain, determine) is only used from the fourth century BC onward (Demosthenes 31, 4), and means to preordain. It is not found in the Septuagint (LXX).
When we look at this whole term in the New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, it recognizes that the Greek word PROHORIZO is extremely rare. In fact, in the New Testament, I think it’s only used six times. It’s only used one time in classical Greek literature outside the Bible. A whole theology has been built on this word with very little evidence of its meaning. In the one usage that we have in classical literature, in Demosthenes, it’s translated preordained or, literally, to lay a claim to something.
- The root word is HORIZO has the idea of determining or appointing boundaries. Again, it’s a property word.
- APHORIZO means to separate or remove those boundaries.
- PROHORIZO means to determine something or decide on something ahead of time, to appoint somebody to a position ahead of time.
In Demosthenes, the key statement is “but that he laid claim to 2000 drachmae.” That word “he laid claim” is PROHORIZO. He had the idea of laying claim to a possession of property, and that’s what fits the best.
Arthur Way, a classics scholar, translated Romans 8:29, “Long ere this He knew our hearts, long ere this He claimed us (as a man claims property by setting his landmark on it).” This has a solid basis, a lexical basis for translating it this way.
Ephesians 1:11 in the NBV translation says, “In Him we too were made His heritage”—
Notice that translates the verb correctly—“as foreordained according to His purpose.” That’s pre-appointed to a purpose.
In my translation, I said, “In addition, it was through union with Him we were made His possession by His laying claim to us according to His purpose who works all things according to the counsel of His will.” “His purpose” refers to God the Father who does this according to a standard, and that standard is described by two words. A lot of controversy, debates on and on, discuss the similarities and the differences in these two words that often are close synonyms.
“The counsel of His will.” That’s the standard in God’s laying claim to us. The first word, counsel, is the Greek BOULE. I think Harold Hoehner had a good interpretation of this word. He said it relates to the intelligent deliberation of God. THELEMA is the application or the outworking of that deliberation. “… Him who works all things according to the intelligent deliberation of His will or desire, His outworking.”
Then we come to the last verse, which is pretty simple. This expresses the purpose for laying claim to us in Christ, why those in Christ are His possession. In Ephesians 1:12, Paul said, “… that we who first trusted in Christ …” It doesn’t say trust in the text. It’s PROELPIZO. ELPIZO is the verb “to hope”. He was saying, “We who first hoped in Christ …” Those who first hoped in Christ were the Jews. “… to the praise of His glory.” Again, that ending states that all that we do is to the praise of His glory. Here, the word glory relates not to that effulgence that we often think of as God’s glory, the Shekinah, but it relates as a circumlocution (another way of saying it) to the essence of God.
Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Glory of God there represents His whole character, His essence. That’s His glory. Here, it is “to the praise of His essence,” and that lies behind all that we are talking about in this particular section.
Next time, we will get into the third part of this opening eulogy, looking at the role of the Holy Spirit and the blessings related to God the Holy Spirit.
“Father, we’re thankful that we are Your possessions. You have laid claim to us in Christ, that all those who are in Christ are marked by You as Your possession. You own us. We are Yours. Because we are Yours, You have a plan and purpose. You’ve designated a task for us to serve You and to carry out Your will as we live on this planet. Father, we thank You that we understand this, that everything in this passage seems to relate so closely to this idea of ownership and property inheritance, all of this because we are Yours. We are to live our lives for You.
“Father, we pray that if anyone is listening today or at another time, that they would understand that the key issue if they are not believers in Christ, is to trust in Him. We trust in Christ. It has no merit in itself. The merit is in what Christ did on the Cross. We are trusting in His work on the Cross. At that instant that we trust in Him, we have eternal life. At that moment, that instant, we are identified with Christ. We become in Him, in His body. We are a part of that corporate entity of this new body of Christ, and as such there is a new destiny and purpose, a new meaning for our lives that is not based on anything that we do but on Your grace and all that You have provided and supplied for us.
“Father, we pray that we can reflect on what we’ve learned today and that God the Holy Spirit would make clear to us its meaning and its impact for our day-to-day living, and we pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”