Not just a game of dice – Friday, 28th Week in ordinary time – Ephesians 1:11-14

Not just a game of dice – Friday, 28th Week in ordinary time – Ephesians 1:11-14

Verses 1-14 provide a thumbnail sketch of Paul’s theology. They are therefore dense and tightly packed. Yesterday, we studied verses 1-11 and today we look at the rest of this doxology; this hymn of praise. Keep at the back of your mind that this letter, while it did not deal primarily with community issues between Jews and Gentiles, did indeed clarify issues caused by division. To that effect I am first paraphrasing verses 11 to 14 for you so that you may understand the text before we look at it in details

The text of today (11-14)begins with a clear address to the Jews. In Christ “we” (Jews) have obtained an inheritance(verse 11). They were the “first to set their hope in Christ.” (verse 12). Now, that same hope of the inheritance is given also to the Gentiles (verse 13) for “in Him, YOU (Gentiles), when you heard the word of truth (that is the gospel) that saved you and when you believed in Christ, you too (like the Jews) were marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit (verse 13) that was promised (to the Jews). This is now not just the pledge of the inheritance to some (that is the Jews) but is now “OUR inheritance” (Jew and Gentile) by which we are saved. (verse 14)

Now let us look at this same text in its application to you and me. The Doxology of praise was to God who chose us and adopted us to be holy and blameless. But because of the adoption we have “obtained and inheritance”. This inheritance “was destined according to the purpose of Christ who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will.” At first glance verse 11 seems to throw up no challenges until you read the text in Greek. The translation of the word inheritance is “kleroo” and refers to ‘casting of lots’. So the question is, were we (and the Jews and Gentiles) adopted by chance?” Were we a game of dice for God?

“Kleero”  does not just refer to the casting of dice as chance but to the casting of lots to decide something or to choose a person for a critical task. A case in point being Acts 1:26 which tells us that after the death of Judas the betrayer, “lots were cast” and it fell on Mathias. Casting lots is not the same as throwing dice which is a game of chance. We tend to think of them as being the same because they resemble each other physically. However, the casting of lots did not depend on chance but was intended for God to make his will known to us. Paul tells us that God did make his will know and it was his will that we receive the gift of Christ so that we would be saved.

Paul tells the Jews that they have an inheritance but this inheritance now includes the Gentiles for they have become “fellow heirs, members of the same body and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus.” Being an heir with an inheritance determined a mans future. With an inheritance the Gentiles have something to poses and something to pass on to our heirs.

This inheritance, says Paul was well thought of by Christ. He has given it “counsel (Boule in Greek) and will.” Boule indicates that some deliberation has taken place so that one may arrive at a well-founded decision. God has given the election of Jews and Gentiles, as inheritors of salvation, a good thought. Like them, we too are not just some fallout of a cosmic upheaval or a result of some random choice. God has a wonderful plan for our lives and that plan includes a place at the table of grace.

It is for this reason that verse 12 introduces us to our natural response for having been chosen as inheritors. Imagine you receiving an apartment in your great aunts will whom you thought hated you; in spite of your differences with her you would praise and thank her. God is not some senile great aunt. He has loved us and so our natural response must be to praise and glorify him. This we do not just with our lips but with every action of ours that truly brings him glory.

Christ, who is worthy of our praise and glory has also ‘marked (Jews, Gentiles and us) with the Holy Spirit that was promised.’ This marking or sealing was indicative of several things. It could be used as an indication to authenticate ownership; as in, we truly belong to Christ. It could also be used by a king who gives or uses his seal to ensure that the message sent is understood as having come from the authority. We who are marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit are now subject to God’s ownership. We are to serve with Godly authority for we live under God’s protection.

This inheritance is given not by ‘chance” but by the will of God and sealed with the Holy Spirit as a stamp of his authority and is a pledged (Greek: arrabon) to us. Arrabon does not indicate that someone has said a few casual words promising to do something. Arrabon is a promise backed by a down payment. This pledge therefore will be seen through; this down payment is a guarantee of a promise to be fulfilled.

Paul is therefore saying that the gift of the Holy Spirit is an arrabon or a first instalment of our inheritance. God has given us the Holy Spirit, in part, to give us a glimpse of our future inheritance and a guarantee that we will receive it. This pledge of our inheritance in not just a pie in the sky when we die but wonderful gift of salvation. However, the sealing of the Holy spirit does not come before we believe; we are called first to believe. Those who demand some assurance from God before they believe treat God as if His word could not be trusted.


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One thought on “Not just a game of dice – Friday, 28th Week in ordinary time – Ephesians 1:11-14”

  • Excellent interpretation of the text. The crunch part is “the Gift of the Holy Spirit is an Arrabon or first instalment of our inheritance. However, the sealing of the Holy spirit does not come before we believe; we are called first to believe” Very well deciphered. Thank you Father.


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