14 thoughts on “Ephesians 1: “He chose us to be in Him” or “He chose us in Him?”

  1. Not wanting to duplicate comments from the last discussion of this blog post, I will just share this thought. Has anybody else considered what a particularly useless bit of information being ‘chosen’ is, IF, as the Calvinist’s claim, God ‘chose’ us before the foundation of the world without any reference to being “chosen in Him”. It gives us no information as to who may be on this ‘list’ or indeed even if people ‘were’ on the list. Some of our spiritual heros may actually have not been on this list and we just didn’t know it. Nor presumably did they. It is actually just a useless piece of non-information. in reality it’s says absolutely nothing!

    To those who see scripture telling us that Jesus is actually the chosen one and that all those who come to faith in him are therefore ‘chosen in Him’ this verse is a great help. We know that we are ‘chosen’, not because we are special but simply because we have responded in faith and repentance to the call of God.

    There are some Calvinists who try to argue that they too can see that they are chosen because they have responded in faith. But this is only double speaking on their part. They cannot take up a position which says that people respond because they have been chosen prior to that response and then also justify their response on the basis of their having already been chosen. That is the circularity argument of Calvinism par excellence.

    They way Paul uses the phrase ‘in Him’ makes it clear that only those who are believers are said to be ‘in Him’. It makes very little sense to then say that people were chosen ‘in Him’ before the foundation of the world. Unless they also believe that they are born into this world ‘in Him’. In which case they cannot and indeed would not want to be “born again”.

      1. Jon Payne: This came up as an alert on my system so I’m not sure if your request refers to my comments or ‘the’ article. For my part I’m happy. Attribute it to me if you don’t mind the association 😉 as far as the whole article goes, I guess you should ask Leighton. Can’t see him saying no though. 🙂

  2. Definitely one of the top three favorite Calvinist texts that must be explained contextually and according to reason and normal grammar choices.

    I think it is normal to see Paul as speaking anachronistically in Eph 1:4. Any Christian Jew could say – “We were chosen in Abraham before Israel became a nation to possess the land of Canaan in the Millennium.” He would not be emphasizing being chosen as an individual back when Abraham lived, he would be speaking anachronistically, emphasizing the blessing that awaits in the future.

    That is what Paul is saying. The blessing is not being chosen TO BE in Christ before creation, the blessing is being chosen in Christ before creation TO BE holy and blameless before God in the future.
    For logically no-one but members of the Godhead existed to be chosen before creation.

    If one says – in God’s prescience the choice took place, I think one eventually has to admit that it is anthropomorphism that supports his language… for in Calvinism no real choice takes place in God’s mind from someone being unchosen to chosen. For all is eternally set in God’s mind in their view.

    I choose to see anachronism at play in this verse rather than wholesale anthropomorphism that overturns the normal understanding of Scripture and reality in a contradictory manner.

    1. Brian, I think the other main point people tend to gloss over is that Israel was never ‘chosen’ for salvation but to bring salvation to the world. This is precisely why Paul is able to quote that not all Israel are of Israel in Romans because nobody has ever been chosen for salvation on the basis of God’s choice alone. It’s always down to the individual to express faith in God.

  3. Dr. Flowers,

    I’ve recenlty become more interested in studying Calvinist “proof texts” because my church hired a new Pastor back in November of last year. He is fully Reformed and he can hardly give it a rest. That’s unfortunate for me since I am the Music Director at the church and need the job so I can’t really leave at this point. In researching Ephesians 1, I found many translations that put a comma in verse 4 that makes it sound like being blameless and holy is a prodcut of having been chosen for salvation rather than the faithful being chosen to do good works and live blameless lives “in Him”. I assumed that the Geneva Bible would also do the same thing, but, to my surprise that translation reads as follows: ” 4 As he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy, and without blame before him in love:” There is a comma; in fact there are two commas but they create a parenthetical phrase. Remove the parenthetical phrase and it reads: ” 4 As he hath chosen us in him that we should be holy, and without blame…” Even this thoroughly Calvinistic translation got it right. Too bad Calvinists still understand it the way they have “predetermined” to understand it.


  4. This is powerful. I “think” I see the arguement here. Im no scholar or academic, but rather a layman who would like to think Im a student of the School of Christ.

    This may be a little off topic but I do feel compelled to say that the feud between Dr. J. White & Dr. Flowers is immature in my opinion. Im NOT calling these two learned men “immature”, but rather some of the recent behaviors etc. Im guilty of it too at times. Too many lost people are dying without Christ as their Saviour & Lord. There is a place for debate and HEALTHY dialogue etc, HOWEVER, the slandering, name calling &/or divisiveness should stop! Sinners are watching (unbelieving sinners Im referring to), & we ALL are called to be mature Born Again followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. I have MANY flaws, so Im not asserting a place of superiority by any means, just an exhortation to walk as Messiah did.

    I have been tremendously blessed by BOTH of these men, & though Im NOT a Calvinist, my heart is literally grieved when I see leading Apologists arguing in an unbiblical way. We are better than this brethren. Pray for me as well, that I walk in humility. I need the mercy of God like anyone else.


  5. Calvinists unfortunately misread a lot of Paul’s writings. If Paul would have thought the way they do, he would have contradicted himself in Ephesians 1:13 “after that you heard the Word of truth…” which just confirms what he taught already in Romans 10:17, that faith comes by hearing the Word of God.
    Paul never confuses election with salvation, as the Calvinists do.

    1. Hello Rudy and welcome

      Your observation is insightful!

      Calvinism – because its foundational core – is EXHAUSTIVE DIVINE DETERMINISM is a belief system which the believer cannot possibly be logically coherent with – and at the same time retain any sense of human normalcy.

      This fact makes the Calvinist approach to everything an approach of DOUBLE-MINDEDNESS
      And since language is the outward expression of the thought – DOUBLE-SPEAK is going to be the outward expression of DOUBLE-MINDEDNESS.

      And since that pattern of thinking is forced on the Calvinist believer – it becomes the lens through which he sees his god.

      Hence – Calvin’s god decrees for example – the children of Israel will infallibly throw their babies into the fire.
      And the infallible decree – does not grant any alternative.

      After that decree – Calvin’s god then declares what they did was wrong – and insists he did not conceive of them doing such a thing – which of course is DOUBLE-SPEAK.

      So we have a DOUBLE-MINDED belief system – which creates a language of DOUBLE-SPEAK

      A belief system has a certain pattern – and can only create an image of a god after that pattern.
      Thus in Calvinism we have an image of a god who is DOUBLE-MINDED and who speaks DOUBLE-SPEAK


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