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Reason Why I believe in Corporate Election (Eph. 1:4-6)

Reason why I believe in corporate election



By: Gongthai

Ephesians 1:4-6:


4καθὼς ἐξελέξατο ἡμᾶς ἐν αὐτῷ πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου εἶναι ἡμᾶς ἁγίους καὶ ἀμώμους κατενώπιον αὐτοῦ. ἐν ἀγάπῃ 5 προορίσας ἡμᾶς εἰς υἱοθεσίαν διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς αὐτόν, κατὰ τὴν εὐδοκίαν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ, 6 εἰς ἔπαινον δόξης τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ ἧς ἐχαρίτωσεν ἡμᾶς ἐν τῷ ἠγαπημένῳ.

Parsing (topic-related keywords):


ἐξελέξατο: aorist middle indicative of ἐκλέγομαι: ‘to choose.’ This is in a middle voice and this indicates that God chose for himself.  
 ἡμᾶς: Pronoun 1st person plural Accusative of ἐγώ: ‘I’ Here, ‘us’ is inclusive (to both the writer of the epistle and the recipients- to the churches in Ephesus).

 ἐν: preposition with dative object: ‘in.’ Here in this verse, this preposition functions as agent/mean. This preposition ‘in’ has been translated by some version as ‘in union with/through our union with’ which, to me, is a very good rendering.

 καταβολῆς: feminine genitive singular of καταβολή: foundation. Some versions render as verb for this word ‘to begin.’

κόσμου: masculine genitive singular of κόσμος: ‘world’

 γίους: Adj. masculine accusative plural of ἅγιος: ‘Holy.’

 ἀμώμους: Adj. masculine accusative plural of ἄμωμος: ‘blameless.’ This connotes the absence of defects in sacrificial animals in the Old Testament.

Προορίσας: aorist active masculine participle of προορίζω: ‘to predestine.’ (deciding beforehand). According to Greek grammar, the action of aorist participle is before the action of the main verb which ‘predestination’ is before ‘chose’

υἱοθεσίαν: feminine accusative singular of υἱοθεσία: ‘adoption.’

διὰ: preposition with the genitive object: ‘through.’

εὐδοκίαν: feminine accusative singular of εὐδοκία: ‘(good) pleasure.’

 Θελήματος: neuter genitive singular of θέλημα: ‘will’

 ἔπαινον: masculine accusative singular of ἔπαινος: ‘praise’

 δόξης: feminine genitive singular of δόξα: ‘glory’

 χάριτος: feminine genitive singular of χάρις: ‘grace’

Translation: Even He chose us for Himself in Him (Christ) before the foundation of the world so that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love, having predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.


Comment:

V4: καθὼς ἐξελέξατο ἡμᾶς ἐν αὐτῷ πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου, εἶναι ἡμᾶς ἁγίους καὶ ἀμώμους κατενώπιον αὐτοῦ. ἐν ἀγάπῃ,

The word καθὼς ‘Even as’ introduces the whole statement from verse 4-14. ἐξελέξατο is the main verb here,  ‘he chose for himself’  which is referring back to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ in v3. He initiated the election. This shows God the Father is sovereign.
And ἡμᾶς, ‘us’ this is a very interesting word to discuss. No doubt, ἡμᾶς is a 1st person plural pronoun but the question is- ἡμᾶς refers to whom? Individuals? Or a group of people? If we go back and read the chapter 1:1, we will see the phrase τοῖς ἁγίοις τοῖς οὖσιν (ἐν Ἐφέσῳ), ‘to the holy ones/saints in Ephesus.’ That means this epistle was written by Paul to the body of Christ which is at Ephesus. If we go on and read chapter 2:11-21 we will see that the churches there in Ephesus are consist of both the Gentiles and Jews. Therefore, the word ‘ἡμᾶς’ is not referring to individuals not even referring to one race but it is referring to the body of Christ which includes both Jews and Gentiles. The other word for the body of Christ is the church.

ἐν αὐτῷ, ‘in him.’ The word ἐν is a preposition with dative object αὐτῷ, ‘him.’ This phrase means Christ is the reason why God chose us. So, that means Christ became an agent through Him God chose us.

And πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου, ‘before the foundation of the world’ which means God had chosen us even before the foundation of the world (heaven and earth).

 εἶναι ἡμᾶς ἁγίους καὶ ἀμώμους κατενώπιον αὐτοῦ ἐν ἀγάπῃ, in order that we should be holy and blameless before Him.’ Infinitive present active εἶναι, which is ‘to be’ indicates that the purpose God chose us. It is rendered as ‘that’ or ‘in order.’  And ἁγίους καὶ ἀμώμους, ‘holy and blameless’ I personally believe that ἁγίους καὶ ἀμώμους are reference to all whole concept of sanctification (present and future). κατενώπιον αὐτοῦ, ‘before Him’ some other translations render as “in His sight” which is quite good.

ἐν ἀγάπῃ: ‘in love’ There are different views whether this phrase should go with verse 4 or verse 5. But I believe this phrase ‘in love’ gives the reason why God decided to adopt the church, so this phrase link with verse 5.

V5: προορίσας ἡμᾶς εἰς υἱοθεσίαν διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς αὐτόν, κατὰ τὴν εὐδοκίαν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ,

προορίσας ἡμᾶς εἰς υἱοθεσίαν, ‘having predestined us to adoption’ According to Greek, the action aorist participle happens before the action of the main verb. Here, προορίσας ‘having predestined’ is an aorist participle and the main verb is (in verse 4) ἐξελέξατο ‘chose for himself’ which means predestination happens before choosing. Predestination means to determine ahead of time. ἡμᾶς, ‘us’ is referring to both writer of this epistle and to those recipients. So, according to what we believe, this epistle was written by Apostle Paul and the original audiences are churches of Ephesus (which I believe). Therefore, this is not about the individual but to the body of Christ. God chose the body of Christ and also God predestined the body of Christ. And υἱοθεσίαν, ‘adoption’ God adopts us as sons and He has given us the rights and privileges of a son to one who formerly did not have them.

διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς αὐτόν, κατὰ τὴν εὐδοκίαν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ, ‘through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will.’  διά ‘through’ This preposition indicates the agency. So, through Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ‘Jesus Christ’ we became the members of God’s family εἰς αὐτόν ‘in him.’

κατὰ τὴν εὐδοκίαν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ, according to the good pleasure of his will’  This phrase means God is delighted in making this decision.

V6: εἰς ἔπαινον δόξης τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ ἧς ἐχαρίτωσεν ἡμᾶς ἐν τῷ ἠγαπημένῳ.

Our election and predestination are ultimately for God’s glory. So, the purpose of adopting us is to praise Him for His grace. And more importantly, His grace was given freely to us through Jesus Christ His beloved.

CONCLUSION:

It is God who initiated the election! He chose (for Himself) the church in Christ before the foundation of the world so that we should be holy and blameless before Him. The concept of ‘choosing’ goes back to God chose His people Israel. God chose Israel not because of their works but it is solely due to God’s decision and action. So here in this passage too, God chose the body of Christ for Himself which is not based on our good deeds. Even John Piper who is a strong advocate of Individual election said that “the eternal salvation of the individual as Paul teaches it is seldom the subject of discussion in the OT."

In love, God predestined the body of Christ to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace which was given freely through Christ. Predestination is not horrible but it is good and pleasing to God. 

Therefore,

The Bible clearly teaches Corporate Election no Individuals Election.

Election was initiated by God (God chose us for Himself)


Election is not individuals but corporate (The word ‘us’ refers to holy ones/churches in Ephesus)


Election is Christocentric (Christ made possible for God to choose us based on Christ's sacrificial death on the cross and resurrection. Christ is the reason why God chose us. So, that means Christ became an agent through Him God chose us).


The doctrine of Election is not horrible but it is good and pleasing to God.


NB: I know some of you will talk about Romans 9, please click here.

References:
3.      NET Bible
4.      UBS Greek New Testament, 4th edition.