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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."

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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.

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  • 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
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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.

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

God through Paul wrote to the Ephesians that He [God] will gather all things in heaven and the things on earth in Christ. Then with reference to "the things in heaven," says "we have obtained an inheritance," meaning those chosen as heirs with Christ. Paul explains:

Ephesians 1:10-11 ESV

10 as 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,

1/ Unite all things in him, who? -- Jesus

2/ Unite all things in him. where.-- in heaven and earth.

3/ Predestined: God predestined a group of humans to be as heirs with Jesus in his heavenly Kingdom, but not the individuals in the group. Jesus says that those faithful to the end - death, will receive the crown of life.

Revelation 2:10 NASB

10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. [a]Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

4/ In him [Jesus] we have obtained an inheritance. What inheritance? Imperishable and reserved in heaven as joint-heirs with Christ: Paul writes:

Romans 8:15-17 NASB

15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery [a]leading to fear again, but you have received [b]a spirit of adoption as sons and daughters by which we cry out, “Abba! [c]Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

1 Corinthians 1:1-2 ESV

1 Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, 2 To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:

Similarly, Peter writes, those chosen will "obtain an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,"

1 Peter 1:3-4 NASB

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,

"All things" in the context of the verse, those that "we have obtained an inheritance ", refers to those chosen by God [saints/holy people ]to be as heirs with Jesus in his heavenly Kingdom.

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