b) Eph 1:5-6: Scribes copied Greek manuscripts without punctuation, and no one supplied verse numbers until the 16th century.

Therefore, scholars disagree whether the words “in love” refer to what precedes them in Eph 1:4 or to what follows them in v. 5. Since Paul focused upon the Lord’s action, the phrase fits best with v. 5.[1]

This results in the translation, “In love he predestined us into adoption as sons through Jesus Christ into him, according to his good pleasure and will.”

All that God has done for us results from his great love (John 3:16–18).[2]

Apart from Eph 1, the verb “predestine” (proorizō) occurs in the New Testament (NT) only four times (Rom 8:29–30; Acts 4:27–28; 1 Cor 2:7). It carries the sense of “decide beforehand”[3] or “foreordain.” God has determined whom he will include in the events of salvation history (Jer 24:7).[4]

However, there is nothing cold and calculating about God’s election. He chose us because of his great love to be adopted as sons into the family of God (Rom 8:15–17, 23),[5] even though we were once “sons of disobedience” (Eph 2:1–3).

In Greco-Roman society, a wealthy man without children could choose to adopt an heir, usually an adult male.[6] This person could also be a slave, a woman, an orphan, or an illegitimate child.[7]

Roman law released an adopted man from the oversight of his birth father and granted him all the rights of a son born into the new family.[8] This included a new name and status.[9]

Although women could also inherit wealth, the law placed greater restrictions upon them regarding how they could use their inheritance.[10]

This is likely why Paul designates Christians of both genders as “sons” (huios) (Gal 3:28–29).

Emperors often employed adoption to ensure a smooth succession. For example, Julius Caesar adopted Augustus, who ruled at the time of Christ’s birth. In fact, four of the five Roman emperors in the second century AD, ascended by adoption.[11]

Adoption also comprised an important theme in the Old Testament (OT). After God promised to make Abraham into a great nation (Gen 12:2), Abraham complained that one of his servants would become his heir (Gen 15:2–3).[12]

The people of Israel enjoyed the status of adopted sons (Deut 7:6; Rom 9:4). In addition, the Lord vowed that he would treat David’s heir as his own son (2 Sam 7:12–16).[13]

According to a Jewish apocryphal book, this would occur:

Their souls will cleave to me and to all my commandments, and they will fulfill my commandments, and I shall be their Father and they will be my children.

And they will all be called children of the living God, and every angel and every spirit will know…that these are my children, and that I am their Father in uprightness and righteousness, and that I love them.[14]

Thus, election is relational. The Lord is forming for himself a family of sons and daughters in whom he takes great delight (Eph 1:18).

This teaching provided great hope for those in Ephesus who had formerly relied upon astrology, magic, and the worship of Artemis to determine their fate (Acts 19:17–20, 27).

Even before the world began, the God who created the universe chose them for himself and planned their future (Acts 13:48–49).[15]

Paul wrote that this is, “according to his good pleasure and will.”

Therefore, our redemption results from the Lord’s delight in bringing people into relationship with him.[16]

God has done this “to the praise of the glory of his grace, which he has bestowed upon us in his beloved one.”

This grace consists of the Lord’s unconditional acceptance of us as his people. Due to what God has accomplished on our behalf, we respond by give him glory,[17] for by his grace, we receive salvation (2 Cor 6:1–2).[18]

“The one being loved” is how the Greek OT translates God’s nickname for Israel, Jeshurun (Deut 33:26).[19] Israel initially formed the Lord’s beloved people (Isa 44:1–5).[20]

In the NT, the Father used this term for Jesus (Matt 3:17; Matt 17:1–5). Due to Christ being God’s especially chosen beloved one, those chosen by the Lord are also his beloved ones (Rom 1:6–7).[21]

Image via Wikimedia Commons

 

Read Eph 1:4–6. How did adoption in Greco-Roman society differ from that of our culture? Why did Paul describe all Christians, both men and women, as “adopted sons”? What are the implications of your adoption as a son into God’s family?

 

 

 

 

Go to Redemption through Christ’s Blood

 

[Related posts include Blessings from the Father (Eph 1:3–4); Redemption through Christ’s Blood (Eph 1:7–8); The Summing up of All Things (Eph 1:9–11); Ancient Literature; The Cult of Artemis (False Teaching in Ephesus); and Greek Translation of the Old Testament]

[Click here to go to Women and Marriage throughout Redemptive History; or to Chapter 3: The Image of God (Genesis 1:26–31)]

 

[1] Snodgrass, Ephesians, 50.

[2] Arnold, Ephesians, 82.

[3] Arnold, Ephesians, 82.

[4] Karl L. Schmidt, “προοριζω” (proorizō), TNDT 5:456.

[5] Arnold, Ephesians, 82.

[6] Lincoln, Ephesians, 25.

[7] Frederick W. Knobloch, “Adoption,” ABD 1:76–9, 79.

[8]Trevor Burke, “Pauline Adoption: A Sociological Approach,” EvQ 73, no. 2 (04/01/2001): 124, https://biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/eq/2001-2_119.pdf.

[9] Arnold, Ephesians, 82.

[10]Lynn H. Cohick, Women in the World of the Earliest Christians (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009), 43.

[11] Cohick, Women in the World of the Earliest Christians, 104.

[12] Lincoln, Ephesians, 25.

[13] Arnold, Ephesians, 82.

[14]Robert Henry Charles, trans., “The Book of Jubilees, or The Little Genesis” (Edinburgh; London: Black, 1902), 1:24–5, 6–7, https://archive.org/stream/bookofjubileesor00char#page/6/mode/2up.

[15]Arnold, Ephesians, 83.

[16]Lincoln, Ephesians, 26.

[17] Snodgrass, Ephesians, 50.

[18] Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians, 257–8.

[19] Lincoln, Ephesians, 26–7.

[20] Arnold, Ephesians, 84.

[21] Snodgrass, Ephesians, 51.