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.