1:3 in heavenly places. This fascinating phrase occurs five times in this epistle (Ephesians 1:3; 1:20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12). The phrase could read simply “in the heavenlies,” since “places” has been inferred, as is clear especially in Ephesians 1:20, where Christ is said to be seated at God’s “right hand in the heavenly [places].”
1:4 chosen us. God chose us by His own will (Ephesians 1:11), not because He could foresee our choice of Him. Jesus made this compellingly clear: “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you” (John 15:16). Nevertheless, from our human perspective, every believer has also made his own willing decision to receive Christ (John 1:12; 3:16; Romans 10:13; etc.).
1:4 foundation of the world. God in Christ was the Creator of the space/matter/time universe, but before He began the world, in some way beyond our comprehension, we were chosen in Him. Note also the other events that were planned, and (since God does not change) in effect all consummated before the world began: (1) love within the Godhead (John 17:5,24); (2) Lamb of God slain (I Peter 1:20); (3) names written in Book of Life (Revelation 13:8; 17:8); (4) chosen ones saved by grace (II Timothy 1:9); (5) saved ones given assurance of eternal life (Titus 1:2); (6) established hidden wisdom of God (I Corinthians 2:7); (7) all God’s works known and planned (Acts 15:18). Even though our finite minds cannot really comprehend such truths, we can believe them since God has revealed them to us. He did not say we must understand the full depths of His gospel to be saved; we just have to believe!
1:5 predestinated. The goals of God’s predestinating work are given in this chapter as: (1) producing holiness in those so chosen (Ephesians 1:4); (2) adopting them as His own sons and daughters (Ephesians 1:5); (3) assuring them of an inheritance in eternity (Ephesians 1:11). Its over-all purpose is to be “to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:6,12,14; note also 3:21). The word “predestinate” is also used in Acts 4:28 (there rendered “determined before”), Romans 8:29, 30 (see notes on these verses), and I Corinthians 2:7 (rendered as “ordained before”). The same Greek word, without the prefix, is found in Luke 22:22, Acts 17:26 (“determined”), and Acts 10:42; 17:31 (“ordained”), with essentially the same meaning. Since our minds are finite, we are unable to comprehend the infinite character of the plan and purpose of God, which is exactly the situation with regard to the clearly Biblical truth of predestination. In no way does this preclude the ability of God to plan also the paradoxical truth of human freedom and responsibility, which also are clearly Biblical (remember God’s ability is infinite!). We cannot fully comprehend with our minds, but can believe and rejoice with our hearts that God has known and chosen us believers for Himself even before the world began.
1:6 accepted. “Accepted” is translated “highly favored” in the angel’s message to Mary (Luke 1:28). The Greek word, charitoo, means “graced,” or “graciously honored.”
1:6 in the beloved. Although Christ is called God’s “beloved Son” seven times in the New Testament (each time directly by the Father Himself), this is the only time (except in Matthew 12:18, quoting Isaiah 42:1) where He is spoken of simply as “the beloved.”