Brothers and sisters:
In Christ we were also chosen,
destined in accord with the purpose of the One
who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will,
so that we might exist for the praise of his glory,
we who first hoped in Christ.
In him you also, who have heard the word of truth,
the Gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him,
were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,
which is the first installment of our inheritance
toward redemption as God’s possession, to the praise of his glory.
1:12–13 Here and elsewhere Paul alternates between we and you. Among the options, (1) “we” could refer to Jewish Christians (us, 2:14), and “you” to Gentile Christians (2:11); or (2) “we” might refer to Christians known by Paul, and “you” to those unacquainted with Paul personally (1:15; 3:2); or (3) “we” might refer to believers long since converted (1:12), and “you” to more recent converts. None of these possibilities is mutually exclusive of another, so it is quite possible the groups in question fall into more than one category.
1:13 sealed: In the ancient world, seals were marks of ownership and protection (4:30; Ezek 9:4–6; Rev 7:4). Believers are divinely sealed by the Spirit. The Church Fathers employed this language to describe the indelible mark impressed upon the soul in Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders (CCC 698, 1272–74, 1296). See note on 2 Cor 1:22. In Pauline theology, Baptism does to the soul what circumcision did to body: it marks it with the sign and seal of the covenant (Rom 4:11).
1:14 guarantee: An expression derived from a Hebrew term meaning “pledge” or “down payment” (Gen 38:17–18). The Spirit received in Baptism (Acts 2:38) is thus a first installment of the fullness of God’s life and blessing we hope to possess in heaven (2 Cor 1:22; 5:5; CCC 1107).
“were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which is the first installment of our inheritance.”
Whose inheritance? God’s! The Christian community is God’s possession. What is the Christian’s possession? The same God whose possession is the Christian. There is a deep and a wonderful relation between the believing soul and God, and however different must be the two sides of that relation, the resemblance is greater than the difference. Surely that is the deepest, most blessed, and most strength-giving conception of the Christian life. My faith corresponds to His faithfulness and veracity. My obedience corresponds to His authority. My We possess God, and God possesses us, and it is the same set of facts which are set forth in the two thoughts, ‘We were made an inheritance, … the earnest of our inheritance.’
May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.