Ephesians 1:11 ESV "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, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory."

  1. Is the meaning of "all things" here to do with all things in the church? The immediate context is the church. e.g. Eph 1:11 "we have obtained an inheritance." "We" being "the church".

The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges commentary suggests that "energountes" is "worketh in us"-"the process of grace in the soul and the church". "Us" being "the church".

  1. Or, does "all things" refer to things inside and outside the church? e.g. "We have obtained an inheritance" implies, I suggest, that others have not done so but both situations are worked out by him.

The Expositors commentary puts it that the panta/all has the absolute sense..."and is connected with the foundation of things universally."


OP wrote: The immediate context is the church. e.g. Eph 1:7 "we have redemption through his blood."

Actually, there is one that is even more immediate:

7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11 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,

What does “all things” mean in Ephesians 1:11?

It means all things in heaven and on earth.

  • I have altered question. I am still interested in the Cambridge commentary comment to see what weight it might carry. – C. Stroud Jun 4 at 14:56
  • Link to Cambridge commentary? – Tony Chan Jun 4 at 15:02
  • Is it sufficient that I have put in full name of commentary in question? Philippians 2:13 has "God who works/energon in you." – C. Stroud Jun 4 at 15:13

The word "all" πᾶς occurs several times in the immediate verses around Eph 1:11 such as:

  • V3: every spiritual blessing in Christ
  • V8: all wisdom and understanding (ie, that comes from God)
  • V10: all things in heaven and on earth together in Christ
  • V11: everything by the counsel of His will

It is immediately obvious that "all" here does not include many things for which is NOT responsible such as bad and sinful events, else we blame God for the efforts of Satan. The "all" here includes all God's blessings, wisdom and spiritual understanding and things in heaven and earth for which God is responsible - God's divine providence, more generally.

Such things clearly involve more than simply ecclesiastical events as God's providence extends far beyond the church as well, because God's will extends far beyond the church. If it did not, no one outside the church would ever come to a knowledge of God and His church. In deed, we are told that God -

who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim 2:4)

Thus, it is impossible to understand the full extent of God's will and providence - else we would be God.

  • @ Dottard You mention 2. as the right interpretation; fine, good. It appears to me that you don't directly engage with 1. Has it nothing in its favour? – C. Stroud Jun 5 at 11:10
  • 1
    @C.Stroud - of course #1 is included in #2 - both are correct but #1 is too narrow. – Dottard Jun 5 at 11:13

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