on Ephesians 1 :11
In whom - Christ Jesus; also we - believing Jews have obtained an inheritance - what was promised to Abraham and his spiritual seed, viz. the adoption of sons, and the kingdom of heaven, signified by the privileges under the Mosaic dispensation, and the possession of the promised land, but all these privileges being forfeited by the rebellion and unbelief of the Jews, they are now about to be finally cut off, and the believing part to be re-elected, and put in possession of the blessings promised to Abraham and his spiritual seed, by faith; for without a re-election, they cannot get possession of these spiritual privileges.
Being predestinated - God having determined to bring both Jews and Gentiles to salvation, not by works, nor by any human means or schemes, but by Jesus Christ; that salvation being defined and determined before in the Divine mind, and the means by which it should be brought about all being according to his purpose, who consults not his creatures, but operates according to the counsel of his own will, that being ever wise, gracious, and good.
The original reference is still kept up here in the word προορισθεντες, being predestinated, as in the word προορισας Ephesians 1:5. And as the apostle speaks of obtaining the inheritance, he most evidently refers to that of which the promised land was the type and pledge. And as that land was assigned to the Israelites by limit and lot, both of which were appointed by God so the salvation now sent to the Gentiles was as expressly their lot or portion, as the promised land was that of the people of Israel. All this shows that the Israelites were a typical people; their land, the manner of possessing it, their civil and religious code, etc., etc., all typical; and that in, by, and through them, God had fore-determined, fore-described, and fore-ascertained a greater and more glorious people, among whom the deepest counsels of his wisdom should be manifested, and the most powerful works of his eternal mercy, grace, holiness, goodness, and truth, be fully exhibited. Thus there was nothing fortuitous in the Christian scheme; all was the result of infinite counsel and design. See on Ephesians 1:5 (note).
on Ephesians 1 :11
In whom also we have obtained an inheritance - We who are Christians. Most commentators suppose that by the word "we" the Jews particularly are intended, and that it stands in contradistinction from "ye," as referring to the Gentiles, in Ephesians 1:13. This construction, they suppose is demanded by the nature of the passage. The meaning may then be, that the Jews who were believers had "first" obtained a part in the plan of redemption, as the offer was first made to them, and then that the same favor was conferred also on the Gentiles. Or it may refer to those who had been first converted, without particular reference to the fact that they were Jews; and the reference may be to the apostle and his fellow-laborers. This seems to me to be the correct interpretation. "We the ministers of religion first believed, and have obtained an inheritance in the hopes of Christians, that we should be to the praise of God's glory; and you also, after hearing the word of truth, believed;" Ephesians 1:13. The word which is rendered "obtained our inheritance" - κληρόω klēroō - means literally "to acquire by lot," and then to obtain, to receive. Here it means that they had received the favor of being to the praise of his glory for having first trusted in the Lord Jesus.
Being predestinated - Ephesians 1:5.
According to the purpose - On the meaning of the word "purpose," see the notes, Romans 8:28.
Of him who worketh all things - Of God, the universal agent. The affirmation here is not merely that God accomplishes the designs of salvation according to the counsel of his own will, but that "he does everything." His agency is not confined to one thing, or to one class of objects. Every object and event is under his control, and is in accordance with his eternal plan. The word rendered "worketh" - ἐνεργέω energeō - means to work, to be active, to produce; Ephesians 1:20; Galatians 2:8; Philippians 2:13. A universal agency is ascribed to him. "The same God which "worketh" all in all;" 1 Corinthians 12:6. He has an agency in causing the emotions of our hearts. "God, who worketh in you both to Will and to do of his good pleasure;" Philippians 2:13. He has an agency in distributing to people their various allotments and endowments. "All these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will;" 1 Corinthians 12:11.
The agency of God is seen everywhere. Every leaf, flower, rose-bud, spire of grass; every sun-beam, and every flash of lightning; every cataract and every torrent, all declare his agency; and there is not an object that we see that does not bespeak the control of an All-present God. It would be impossible to affirm more explicitly that God's agency is universal, than Paul does in the passage before us. He does not attempt to prove it. It is one of those points on which he does not deem it necessary to pause and reason, but which may be regarded as a conceded point in the discussion of other topics, and which may be employed without hesitation in their illustration. Paul does not state the "mode" in which this is done. He affirms merely the fact. He does not say that he "compels" men, or that he overbears them by mere physical force. His agency he affirms to be universal; but it is undoubtedly in accordance with the nature of the object, and with the laws which he has impressed on them.
His agency in the work of creation was absolute and entire; for there was nothing to act on, and no established laws to be observed. Over the mineral kingdom his control must also be entire, yet in accordance with the laws which he has impressed on matter. The crystal and the snow are formed by his agency; but it is in accordance with the laws which he has been pleased to appoint. So in the vegetable world his agency is everywhere seen; but the lily and the rose blossom in accordance with uniform laws, and not in an arbitrary manner. So in the animal kingdom. God gives sensibility to the nerve, and excitability and power to the muscle. He causes the lungs to heave, and the arteries and veins to bear the blood along the channels of life; but it is not in an arbitrary manner. It is in accordance with the laws which he has ordained and he never disregards in his agency over these kingdoms.
So in his government of mind. He works everywhere. But he does it in accordance with the laws of mind. His agency is not exactly of the same kind on the rose-bud that it is on the diamond nor on the nerve that it is on the rose-bud, nor on the heart and will that it is on the nerve. In all these things he consults the laws which he has impressed on them; and as he chooses that the nerve should be affected in accordance with its laws and properties, so it is with mind. God does not violate its laws. Mind is free. It is influenced by truth and motives. It has a sense of right and wrong. And there is no more reason to suppose that God disregards these laws of mind in controlling the intellect and the heart, than there is that he disregards the laws of crystalization in the formation of the ice, or of gravitation in the movements of the heavenly bodies. The general doctrine is, that God works in all things, and controls all; but that "his agency everywhere is in accordance with the laws and nature of that part of his kingdom where it is exerted." By this simple principle we may secure the two great points which it is desirable to secure on this subject:
(1) the doctrine of the universal agency of God; and,
(2) the doctrine of the freedom and responsibility of man.
After the counsel of his own will - Not by consulting his creatures, or conforming to their views, but by his own views of what is proper and right. We are not to suppose that this is by "mere" will, as if it were arbitrary, or that he determines anything without good reason. The meaning is, that his purpose is determined by what "he" views to be right, and without consulting his creatures or conforming to their views. His dealings often seem to us to be arbitrary. We are incapable of perceiving the reasons of what he does. He makes those his friends who we should have supposed would have been the last to have become Christians. He leaves those who seem to us to be on the borders of the kingdom, and they remain unmoved and unaffected. But we are not thence to suppose that he is arbitrary. In every instance, we are to believe that there is a good reason for what he does, and one which we may be permitted yet to see, and in which we shall wholly acquiesce.
The phrase "counsel of his own will" is remarkable. It is designed to express in the strongest manner the fact that it is not by human counsel or advice. The word "counsel" - βουλή boulē - means "a council" or "senate;" then a determination, purpose, or decree; see Robinson's Lexicon. Here it means that his determination was formed by his own will, and not by human reasoning. Still, his will in the case may not have been arbitrary. When it is said of man that he forms his own purposes, and acts according to his own will, we are not to infer that he acts without reason. He may have the highest and best reasons for what he does, but he does not choose to make them known to others, or to consult others. So it may be of God, and so we should presume it to be. It may be added, that we ought to have such confidence in him as to believe that he will do all things well. The best possible evidence that anything is done in perfect wisdom and goodness, is the fact that God does it. When we have ascertained that, we should be satisfied that all is right.
on Ephesians 1 :11
1:11 Through whom we - Jews. Also have obtained an inheritance - The glorious inheritance of the heavenly Canaan, to which, when believers, we were predestinated according to the purpose of him that worketh all things after the counsel of his own will - The unalterable decree, He that believeth shall be delivered; which will is not an arbitrary will, but flowing from the rectitude of his nature, else, what security would there be that it would be his will to keep his word even with the elect?