Ephesians Sentence by Sentence: 1:11-12

Ἐν ᾧ καὶ ἐκληρώθημεν προορισθέντες κατὰ πρόθεσιν τοῦ τὰ πάντα ἐνεργοῦντος κατὰ τὴν βουλὴν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ εἰς τὸ εἶναι ἡμᾶς εἰς ἔπαινον δόξης αὐτοῦ τοὺς προηλπικότας ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ. In whom we have also been appointed, having been predetermined according to the plan of the one who operates all things according to the counsel of his will for us, the ones who have hoped for before in Christ, to be for the praise of his glory.

The opening words refer us back to the Beloved (ἠγαπημένῳ) just as before in the previous sentence. It is likely, then, that we are actually still in the same sentence. However, we will stick to the punctuation provided in the 27th edition. The conjunction καὶ joins ἔχομεν with ἐκληρώθημεν. We see that it is in ἠγαπημένῳ that we have redemption and it is also in ἠγαπημένῳ that we have been appointed. It seems as though God is doing all of his work within ἠγαπημένῳ.

Paul identifies himself with his recipients again, just as he did in the previous sentence when he wrote ἔχομεν, when he wrote ἐκληρώθημεν. Paul and his recipients had been appointed. The aorist tense indicates an appointing that had happened sometime in the past, and that appointing has already been done. It is not continuing on, it did not happen in the past but continues on today, nor will it happen in the future, for it has already happened.

The participle that follows ἐκληρώθημεν is contemporaneous. It simultaneously occurs alongside of the appointing that has happened. Paul and the recipients have been appointed, and at the same time they have been predetermined according to the plan of God. The appointment and predetermining are done in accordance with the plan of God—the one who works all things. The participle ἐνεργοῦντος can mean a number of things. It can mean “the one who operates,” “the one who works,” “the one who accomplishes,” or “the one who is active in;” the verb basically connotes divine action (Liddell-Scott). God is the one who is divinely active in all things; he works and operates in all things. This operation is in accordance with God’s counsel of his will.

The word βουλὴν is used in reference to God, and therefore does not actually mean “counsel,” but is rendered “decree” or “design” (Liddell-Scott). God’s plan—his decree or his design—is tied to his will. The genitives τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ could be partitive, which would identify God’s βουλὴν as one part to the whole of his will, or it could be source, which would identify that God’s βουλὴν originates in his will. Given the context, source seems to fit the genitives best here, because the design of God is not just one part of the whole of God’s will, for that would mean that there are many parts to the will of God, but we do not have any indication in the immediate text to suggest that. However, the text does indicate that God’s design is his will, because his design is within his will and is therefore sourced in his will.

The εἰς + τὸ + infinitive construct indicates purpose, thus referring to the intent of the appointing and predestining. God has appointed and predestined Paul and his recipients for a purpose, which is to be or to live (exist) for the praise of his glory. God’s intentions for appointing Paul and his recipients was for the purpose that they would live for the praise of his glory. Paul defines who was appointed for this purpose: the ones who have (and continue to) placed hope before in Christ. It is quite awkward to render προηλπικότας “having placed hope before.” The verb entails anticipation (Liddell-Scott). However, the NIV, NASB and NRSV do not translate the participle in this way, but rather they render it with the idea of “the ones who have first hoped.” BDAG notes that most scholars take this verb alongside of ἡμεῖς, which is often understood to be in reference to Jewish Christians, and they interpret the προ in this verb to mean “before the Gentiles” or “before Christ appeared.” The problem is that ἡμεῖς has not been identified in the letter up through this point to be Jewish Christians, and in fact, later on in the letter, Paul identifies that his recipients are Gentiles (2:11; 3:1). Beyond that, this interpretation just does not quite fit the context (more on that to come). BDAG notes that if ἡμεῖς is in reference to all Christians rather than just Jewish Christians, then προ shows a hope for the fulfillment that will come in the future. This interpretation best fits the context, for in the previous verse we see the “fullness of the times,” which is a reference to the end times when time will be made complete in Christ. It is not only for this reason that it is the best interpretation, however, because it also does not look “Jewish Christians” into ἡμεῖς, but rather it allows the text to stand alone and speak for itself. Therefore, we should translate the participial phrase like this: “the ones who have placed hope for the completion of all things to come in Christ.” This participle is in the perfect tense, which means it has happened but continues to happen. Therefore, the placing of hope is something that happened in the past but continues on in the present.

In whom we have also been appointed, having been predetermined in accordance with the plan of the one who works in all things in accordance with the design of his will for us, the ones who have placed hope in the completion of all things to come in Christ, to live for the praise of his glory.

God deals with us completely in Christ. We are appointed and predestined for the praise of the glory of God in Christ. This appointing and predestining is done in accordance with God’s plan, and his plan comes from his will for us who have placed at one point in time and continue to place hope in the fullness of the times when all things will be summed up in Christ. Again, even in the end times God will work in Christ–the Beloved. We are blessed, therefore, to be in Christ, the place where God is at work, both now and in the future.

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