Q&R – Were only WE ‘saints’ chosen from eternity? Ephesians 1:4 – Brad Jersak
Brad, how do we counter the claim that Ephesians 1:4 was addressed to the “saints” in accordance with verse 1b and not everyone from before the foundation of the world?
My first instinct is not to counter the claim at all.
Here’s how I might approach it:
I would point out, first, that MAYBE we should say that while the letter is addressed to the saints in Ephesus (1b), the WE of verse 4 could EITHER refer to WE SAINTS, OR it could refer to the universal outcome anticipated in verse 10: “…as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.“
In other words, what has been predestined from before time? The gathering up of ALL things in him! Us saints, and everyone else, alive or dead, angelic or human, everything! This is as clearly all-encompassing as 1 Corinthians 15 where we read that at the END, Christ will give the whole enchilada to his Father and “God will be all in all.”
That’s the plan – that the One IN whom, and BY whom, and FOR whom ALL THINGS were planned and created will also be restored and united in Him at the END, and in fact, were in principle in the Incarnation when all that is God and all that is creation (including humanity) were united IN Him (the “hypostatic union”). BUT…
I would also be comfortable saying that verse 4 does in fact specify the ‘saints’ particular role in that grand plan. From the beginning, God has chosen a people called through Abraham to bless the whole world, and this would come to focus in his Seed, Jesus Christ, who would establish what Peter calls a “Royal Priesthood” for every tribe and tongue and nation of the world who announces that grand plan for all people, to all people. So we’re not simply chosen for salvation. No, this is about our vocation “for the life of the world.”
In that approach, a specifically chosen ekklesia is no problem, so long as we recognize that we were chosen as heralds of the Good News, rather than a closed family outside of which is only bad news (the very same mistake Jesus’s own kin had made). Indeed, our baptism is our ordination to that very priestly function in the world… to serve the nations as the stewards of this wonderful Mystery.
I hope that helps.