When comparing the translations of Ephesians 1:11, the word "predestined" is often translated as "planned in advance" or "ordained", but the footnotes agree that it is "predestined." A number of the folks I talked to seemed uncomfortable that the meaning some theologians place on it are misleading.

Below, are how some English translations handle the word προορισθέντες (proopsthentes).

New International Version: In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,

New Living Translation: Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.

English Standard Version: In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,

Berean Study Bible: In Him we were also chosen as God's own, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything by the counsel of His will,

New American Standard Bible: also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,

King James Bible: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

Holman Christian Standard Bible: We have also received an inheritance in Him, predestined according to the purpose of the One who works out everything in agreement with the decision of His will,

New Heart English Bible: in whom also we were assigned an inheritance, having been foreordained according to the purpose of him who works all things after the counsel of his will;

Aramaic Bible in Plain English: And we are chosen by him as he had before ordained us and willed to do all according to the counsel of his will,

Most others share similar wording.

In secular Greek documents of the time, how was the word προορισθέντες used? Does it mean the future is fixed or what? I want to know what the word means as used in the time it was written.

  • Would not "non-secular" documents - especially the commentaries of Greek Church Fathers - be of even more interest?
    – user33515
    Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 20:30
  • Absolutely. I just was curious what the word meant before Paul used it in the way you did.
    – Ted DeRose
    Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 23:18
  • The best response I've heard about this came from a university professor who teaches Islam. She said: "God chooses those who choose God." Commented Mar 4, 2017 at 1:23
  • The Slavic and Romanian words for prophet are prorok and prooroc, whose (striking) similarity to the Greek prooridzo is by no means coincidental. The words oridzo and horizon are also related.
    – Lucian
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 19:16

2 Answers 2


Bauer's Greek-English Lexicon indicates that the verb προορίζω is found in "Demosth. 31, 4 codd." and "Heliod. 7,24, 4". There are a couple other references indicated, but for writings from the 5th century AD and later. I could not track these secular writings down - maybe someone else can find them. It appears to be an extremely rare word and appears only 6 times in the New Testament (5 of the 6 in Paul's Epistles) and not at all in the Septuagint.

Ignatius (35-108) uses the word in the introduction to his Epistle to the Ephesians (Lightfoot's translation):

ἸΓΝΑΤΙΟΣ, ὁ καὶ Θεοφόρος, τῇ εὐλογημένῃ ἐν μεγέθει Θεοῦ πατρὸς πληρώματι, τῇ προωρισμένῃ πρὸ αἰώνων εἶναι διὰ παντὸς εἰς δόξαν παράμονον ἄτρεπτον

Ignatius, who is also Theophorus, unto her which hath been blessed in greatness through the plenitude of God the Father; which hath been foreordained before the ages to be for ever unto abiding and unchangeable glory

To my knowledge, there was no prominent teaching that Paul's writings nor any other Scripture implied that there was a "predestination" of some to be saved and others to be damned that was accepted by any of the Greek Church Fathers. Although written sometime in the 7th or 8th century, I think that what John of Damascus wrote in his Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith summarized the understanding of "predestination" by the Church up to his point in time:

We ought to understand that while God knows all things beforehand, yet He does not predetermine all things. For He knows beforehand those things that are in our power, but He does not predetermine them. For it is not His will that there should be wickedness nor does He choose to compel virtue.

Book II, Chapter XXX, "Concerning Prescience and Predestination"

  • This being a biblical hermeneutics site it seems inappropriate to appeal to Othodox personalities. What can you (or even what did they) expound the scriptures? That's all that should count here. -1
    – Ruminator
    Commented Mar 17, 2019 at 18:52

Paul is not saying that the Ephesians were elect but rather that the apostles were. Verses 3-12 are about the apostles. He begins to speak of the Ephesians in verse 13.

Note that in verse 11 and 12 he says "we":

[Eph 1:11-12 KJV] (11) In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: (12) That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

Then he switches to "you also":

[Eph 1:13 KJV] (13) In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

Then, "our" (the Ephesians and the apostles):

[Eph 1:14 KJV] (14) Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

And then, "I":

[Eph 1:15 KJV] (15) Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,

So what Paul says in verse 11 speaks of the apostles. So what is Paul saying about the apostles?:

  • In Christ they have been appointed co-heirs with Christ
  • the apostles have a divine destiny in God's wisdom
  • this was so that they would recommend his glory to others

Paul and the other apostles were all Jews, part of the new covenant. They were a light to lighten the gentiles and a glory to their people.

Paul speaks at length of the election/selection of a "remnant" by God that would return from bondage in Romans 9-12.

I would translate as "predesignated":

[Acts 9:15 KJV] (15) But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:

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