Ephesians 1:5 ESV

"he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,". [purpose/eudokian] My emphasis.

Does the "purpose" of his will here refer to his actions [predestinating] or the results of his actions ["us" being placed in sonship], or both?

Or does it imply something deeper such as God demonstrating who he is through these things?

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,". [purpose/prothesin]

Is there a special point to "purpose" being eudokian in Eph 1:5. In Eph 1:11 it is prothesin?

  • εὐδοκίαν isn't purpose, so I am not sure why the ESV and RSV translate it so. It basically mens "delight; pleasure; satisfaction; good will; benevolence". “Purpose” would be βουλή or πρόθεσις. Commented Mar 20 at 18:18
  • @DerÜbermensch Thanks. Be it purpose or pleasure either way I think we can ask how eudokian works here. And also why ESV puts what it does.
    – C. Stroud
    Commented Mar 20 at 18:59

2 Answers 2


The meaning of eudokia (εὐδοκία G2107), especially as used in Ephesians 1:5, is ambiguous (Ellicott’s commentary). The Expositor’s commentary provides a helpful summary of the occurrences of eudokia in the NT and some possible nuances of meaning.

Expositor’s Greek Testament

according to the good Pleasure of His will. Wycl. gives “by the purpose of His will”; Rhem., “according to the purpose of His will”; Tynd., “according to the pleasure of His will”; Cran., Gen., AV, “according to the good pleasure of His will”. The noun εὐδοκία (Vulg.-Clem., beneplacitum) is a biblical term. It is not current in profane Greek, but represents the רָצוֹו of the OT (especially in the Psalms), and occurs a good many times in Sir. In the NT it is found thrice in the Gospels (Matthew 11:26; Luke 2:14; Luke 10:21), and six times in the Pauline Epistles (Romans 10:1; Ephesians 1:5; Ephesians 1:9; Php 1:15; Php 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 1:11), but nowhere else. It has the sense (a) of will (Matthew 11:26; Luke 10:21), passing into that of desire (Romans 10:1); and (b) of good will (Luke 2:14; Ephesians 1:9; Php 1:15; Php 2:13), passing into that of delight or satisfaction (2 Thessalonians 1:11). Here it is taken by most (Mey., De Wette, Stier., Alf., Ell., Abbott, etc.) in the sense of beneplacitum, purpose, sovereign counsel, as equivalent to κατὰ τὴν βουλὴν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ in Ephesians 1:11.

As noted at the end of the above excerpt, there is a parallelism between verses 5 and 11, which helps to explain why translations such as the ESV have rendered two different Greek words, eudokia in v5 and prothesis in v11, as "purpose." The use of words that are far from synonymous does not support, however, an equivalency of meaning.

In context, Ephesians 1:5-12 details God’s purpose with respect to His will. While the word theléma (θέλημα G2307) is consistently used to reference God’s will, there are three different Greek nouns in Eph 1:5-12 that have “purpose” in their semantic range: eudokia, prothesis (πρόθεσις G4286 usage: a setting forth, the show-bread; purpose), and boulē (βουλή G1012 usage: counsel, decree).

To differentiate their use in Eph 1:5-12, it is helpful to consider the different connotations and uses of “purpose” as a verbal concept. Three aspects of purpose are particularly relevant to this discussion: 1) as referencing the reason behind something, with emphasis on the motive or intent 2) as referencing the reason/objective of something, with emphasis on the desired outcome 3) as referencing the function or instrumentality of something.

To illustrate, consider the different aspects of “purpose” in the giving of a gift. The giver wants to make someone happy - this is the purpose/motive behind the gift. The gift is given in order to make the receiver happy - this is the purpose/desired outcome of the gift. The gift is the means of making the receiver happy - this is the purpose/function of the gift.

Similarly, eudokia, prothesis, and boulē as used in Eph 1:5-12 relate to different aspects of God’s will. Following the above framework, eudokia is seen as referencing God's purpose/motive, prothesis the purpose/desired outcome, and boulē the purpose/counsel by which that outcome is achieved.

Ephesians 1:5-6 and 11-12 ESA [brackets added]

5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose [eudokia] of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace – Ephesians 1:5-6

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose [prothesis] of him who works all things according to the counsel [boulē] of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. – Ephesians 1:11-12

The noun eudokia is a presumed compound of eu (εὖ G2095 meaning good, well) and dokeó (δοκέω G1380 meaning to seem). Literally, it refers to that which seems good/pleasing. The eu in eudokia implies an underlying goodness/benevolence that can be sensed in every occurrence of the word.

Barnes commentary on Eph 1:5

The word rendered "good pleasure" - (εὐδοκία eudokia) - means "a being well pleased;" delight in anything, favor, good-will, Luke 2:14; Philippians 1:15; compare Luke 12:32. Then it denotes purpose, or will, the idea of benevolence being included - Robinson.

While the parallelism between verses 5 and 11 does not mean they are equivalent, it does serve as a link between the two verses. I see the connection as indicative of a harmony between the intent, desired outcome, and counsel of God’s will. Of these, eudokia is seen as the basis from which everything else flows. Inherent to eudokia is the idea of goodness/benevolence that is, I believe, reflective of God’s nature. As such, eudokia inspires trust in God and His purpose for those who love Him (cf Rom 8:28, Jer 29:11, Ps 34:7-8).


The word "eudokian" means delight, kindness, good pleasure. I'm not sure why it's translated purpose in some translations..

  1. eudokia ► Strong's Exhaustive Concordance delight, good pleasure satisfaction, (subjectively) delight,

having foreordained us to the adoption of sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.

All the incredible blessings that are mentioned in the following verses are all given to those who believe in Christ Jesus.

He designated believers before hand for the place of a son, whom He loves to lavish His incredible gifts upon through Christ. He is like a Father that loves to give everything He can give to His sons because of His great love for them. This gives him great pleasure in doing this.

He also uses that same word in Ephesians 1:9

And He has made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ.

Again, we see the delight of Him in giving all the incredible blessings mentioned in the following verses.

In Ephesians 1:11 the word prothesin means;

providence – literally, "a setting forth in advance for a specific purpose

purpose, showbread. a setting forth, i.e. (figuratively) proposal (intention); specially, the show-bread (in the Temple) as exposed before God -- purpose, shew(-bread).

setting forth of a thing, placing of it in view

Just as Israel were chosen as a nation, to be a blessing to the rest of the world, especially in the coming age, so God has chosen other sons in Christ to have an administration in the celestial realm, like Israel will have an administration on the terrestrial realm in the coming ages.

in regard to the dispensation of the fullness of the times, to bring into one the whole in the Christ, both the things in the heavens, and the things on the earth—in Him; in whom also we obtained an inheritance, being foreordained according to the purpose of Him who is working all things according to the counsel of His will. Ephesians.1:10-11

It's always fascinating to see the showbread that's always before Israel in the temple means purpose.

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