By Stan Brown
Ephesians 1:11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,
There are two possible ways to understand this verse both of which speak truth about our relationship with God in a profound way and both of which are supported by the Greek. (The Greek is not always as precise as my first Greek professor claimed.) I wonder at times if it is possible that God and perhaps Paul had both ideas in mind when this verse was written. After all, the Old Testament is replete with prophecies that have dual fulfillments. The other possibility is that since I cannot decide which view is correct, I accept both views.
The first view is that which is commonly assumed by most translations although a better translation might be, we have been made heirs or we have been given an inheritance which brings out the passive voice in the Greek. This emphasizes God as the One who has provided us with the magnificent inheritance that has been sealed by the Holy Spirit and procured by the sacrifice of the Son. This agrees with what Paul writes in his epistle to the Colossians. (giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Col 1:12-14).) The idea would be we are made partakers of an inheritance… in order that we might praise Him. This inheritance includes possession of redemption, forgiveness of sins and the sealing of the Spirit. The inheritance that we have received ultimately brings praise to God.
The second view is that we are God’s inheritance and would be translated we are God’s inheritance (possession)… in order that we might praise Him. This idea is supported by the Old Testament concept that Israel is God’s possession or inheritance (“For the LORD’S portion is His people; Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance (Deut. 32:9).) Israel was to bring praise to God. This fits the context in Ephesians where Paul speaks of Jews and Gentiles being brought together as one body to bring praise to God. Hoehner writes, “Not only do believers possess these benefits (possession of redemption, forgiveness of sins and the sealing of the Spirit), but moreover, God possesses the believers because of what He has done for them.” The inheritance that we are ultimately brings praise to God.
(Quick aside: both views are true whether or not they are both proclaimed in this verse.) We have been given a magnificent inheritance by God. We are God’s possession, purchased by the blood of Christ. God determined that these things would be true by taking counsel with Himself. The One who decided that we are to both be given the inheritance and be God’s inheritance is the One who has made the decision about the inheritance and worked out all the details that we might be to the praise of His glory. Paul will soon designate the Holy Spirit as the One who assures the fait accompli.