Adopted

Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
to the holy ones who are in Ephesus
and faithful in Christ Jesus:
grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ
with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,
as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world,
to be holy and without blemish before him.
In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ,
in accord with the favor of his will,
for the praise of the glory of his grace
that he granted us in the beloved.

In Christ we have redemption by his Blood,
the forgiveness of transgressions,
in accord with the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us.
In all wisdom and insight, he has made known to us
the mystery of his will in accord with his favor
that he set forth in him as a plan for the fullness of times,
to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth.
(Ephesians 1:1-10)   

Scripture Study

1:2 Father: The preeminent title for God in Ephesians (1:3, 17; 2:18; 3:14; 4:6; 5:20; 6:23).

1:3 in Christ: A description of our union with Jesus through grace. Similar expressions of incorporation punctuate the letter and culminate in Paul’s vision of Christ as the “head” of his mystical “body”, the Church (1:22–23; 2:16; 5:23). the heavenly places: I.e., the spiritual realm where believers sit enthroned with Christ (1:20; 2:6) and where angels and demons move about unseen (3:10; 6:12).

1:4 holy and blameless: The standard of spiritual perfection that God desires for his children (5:27; Col 1:22). ● Paul employs cultic terminology from the OT, where holy means “set apart” for the Lord and blameless means “unblemished” or “fit for sacrifice”. This recalls how animals were set apart for priestly inspection, and only those free of physical defects could be sacrificed to Yahweh (Lev 1:3, 10). These offerings were mere shadows of the Christian vocation to offer ourselves as holy and living sacrifices to the Father (Rom 12:1) (CCC 1426, 2807).

1:5 He destined us: The Father predestined believers for divine adoption (1:4). This eternal decree springs from his love and unfolds in history as the elect are saved by grace (Gal 4:5) and eventually brought to glory (Rom 8:23). Because the doctrine of predestination holds together two mysteries, one of divine sovereignty and one of human freedom, it should be an incentive for Christians to confirm their election through works of righteousness (2 Pet 1:10), rather than an excuse for spiritual indifference or moral laxity. We cannot gain access to God’s hidden plan, but we do know the precepts he has revealed for our salvation (Deut 29:29). As with the election of Israel, God took no consideration of our merits or worthiness when he predetermined our adoption in Christ (Deut 7:7; Rom 9:10–11) (CCC 381, 600). See note on Rom 8:29. ● Predestination can have no other cause than the will of God alone. And the sole motive for God’s predestinating will is to communicate his divine goodness to others (St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on Ephesians 1, 1).

1:7 redemption: Freedom purchased for a slave or prisoner by a ransom price. Christ redeemed us from sin and for divine sonship (Gal 4:5) at the expense of his own blood (Rev 5:9; CCC 517). ● Divine redemption is first displayed in the Bible in the Exodus (Ex 15:13; Deut 7:8). We participate in a new and spiritual Exodus when Christ rescues us from the bondage of guilt and the tyranny of the devil (Rom 6:15–18).

1:9 the mystery: A central theme in Ephesians, introduced here and developed more fully in 3:1–19.[1]

Reflection

In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ.”

Among the blessings God bestows on us in Christ is the blessing of adoption. We have been brought into God’s family and made God’s children. From God we have received “the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father’” (Rom. 8:15). As far as our status is concerned, we are no longer “strangers and aliens” to the people of God but “members of the household of God” (Eph. 2:19). The Christians in Ephesus may have no natural affinity to the descendants of Abraham, but God in His grace has addressed the issue of their spiritual alienation from His covenant by making them His sons and daughters.

It used to thrill me when my children were younger to hear one of our boys say, “I want to be like my dad.” I know of nothing that better evidences our adoption into God’s family than to wish, more than anything else in the world, that we could be more like our Father. That’s why He adopted us, after all.

– Ian Campbell

 

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

 

 

CCC Catechism of the Catholic Church

[1] The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: The New Testament (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), 345.