In the letter to the Ephesians Paul spends time expanding on the theme that God has a plan and is working out that plan. There is a purpose to the plan. The plan has existed since before time. Incredibly the plan is so detailed that from the beginning of creation it has included individual humans and as believers we are an integral part of this plan. It is an inclusive plan and as far as we are concerned an unmerited plan and yet we are inheritors of it. Crucially it is his plan not ours and he will and is securing its completion. Ephesus was a pagan city and Paul is contrasting God’s plan through Christ with the pagan God’s worshiped in the city. The pagan gods were often seen as inconsistent or unable to act. Paul however, says that God through Christ is the one, ‘who works all things according to the counsel of his will.’ v11 For believers though, how the sovereignty of God and human responsibility works together is a mystery, that we do not fully understand.
We were also chosen – 1:11
One of the great themes of Ephesians is the unity of the believing Jew and Gentile in Christ. God’s plan has moved on in Christ from the Old Testament position where the nation of Israel was to be a light to the nations of the world bringing glory to God. Now in Christ, all who believe, share in the same hope, assurance and purpose. Paul therefore writes as a Jew who brought the gospel to the Gentile city of Ephesus, a hostile place to the gospel and says remember it was us Jews who were the means by which you heard. This was always God’ plan. It, ‘conformed to the purpose of his will.’ v11 How quickly division can set in within the people of God. It occurs when criteria are applied that are not compliant with the gospel. It is when the values of the wider world become integrated into the church. Such things as nationalism, ethnicity, partiality, pride and personal ambition. It happens when we forget that we are undeserving sinners and the only claim we have is the grace of God not personal merit. Are we aware of any way in which we can promote unity in the family of God?