Ephesians 1:11-14

“In him we have also received an inheritance, because we were predestined according to the plan of the one who works out everything in agreement with the purpose of his will, so that we who had already put our hope in Christ might bring it to the praise of his glory. In him you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed. The Holy Spirit is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of the possession, to the praise of his glory.”

We have finally come to the end of the very long sentence that started back in verse 3. I need to go back to verse 10 for a moment to wrap up the idea of past, present and future blessings. I had covered the past and present blessings, but I failed to talk about verse 10 covering the future. When everything is brought together in Christ, both things in heaven and on earth, the future we have with him, these are our future blessings. We’ll be covering that a little more today, but I realized I had not finished this thought!

Now, back to our passage for today. Notice how Paul changed the pronouns from we to you and back again. John Stott argues in his book that this is to emphasize that the blessings belong equally to the Jewish and Gentile believers. Paul starts the paragraph using the pronoun we. Paul writes, “In him, we have also received an inheritance…so that we who had already put our hope…” He is referring to himself and his fellow Jewish believers. Then he moves to the pronoun you. “In him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit…” He is referring to the Gentile believers. Lastly he moves to our. “The Holy Spirit is a down payment of our inheritance…” Both the Jewish and Gentile believers share equally in the inheritance.

Everything in these sentences is connected to Christ. In him and in Christ is repeated several times in this section. One theologian has counted 33 uses of this phrase or its synonym in Ephesians and 169 times in the New Testament! It is through Christ that we are united. Colossians 1:16-18 says:

For everything was created by him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities- all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and by him all things hold together. He is also the head of the body, the church, he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything.

What is the inheritance? I have read several commentaries on this. The obvious conclusion is the inheritance of eternal life with Christ. Mitchell Jolly of the Theology in the Dirt website states, “we inherit a community of kingdom citizens as family all located in Christ together, in person with Christ together in the eternal Kingdom where we will dwell with Father, Son and Spirit in eternity with no more division or sin or rebellion or any such thing to distort the people, place and relationship to and with Father, Son and Spirit.”

Another interpretation of this part of the passage is that we are God’s inheritance. The NIV translates vs. 11 as “In him we were also chosen…” The NET as “In Christ we too have been claimed as God’s own possession…” The notes on the NET say that the Greek verb could be translated as both “appoint a portion, inherit” and “obtain a portion, inherit.” The passage can be read both ways. We are heirs, adopted as sons and daughters (vs. 5) so receiving an inheritance would naturally follow. But the other reading is equally plausible. Over and over again in the Old Testament, Israel is referred to as God’s possession, his inheritance. Just a few examples can be found in Deuteronomy 32:9, Psalm 33:12 and I Kings 8:51. Now in Ephesians, he is bringing in both the Jewish and the Gentile believers into his possession.

The last part of this passage is about the seal of the Holy Spirit. This passage states that when we are saved, we receive the Holy Spirit. It is upon our salvation that we receive Him. In the Old Testament, people received the Holy Spirit for a time, but it was not permanent. There are many examples of the Spirit of the Lord coming on a man to give him special power for that moment (Gideon, Sampson, David, and the prophets are some examples). But Jesus tells his disciples before he goes to his death that the Father will send the Holy Spirit. He says in John 14:15-17, “If you love me, you will keep my commands.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever.  He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive him because it doesn’t see him or know him. But you do know him, because he remains with you and will be in you.”

Some denominations teach that the filling of the Holy Spirit is separate from salvation, but that is not what is said in these verses. It clearly says, “In him you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed.” We are sealed with the Holy Spirit when we first believe. The Holy Spirit is God’s deposit in us. When I hear the word deposit, I think of a bottle or can. We pay a deposit on it, but we may or may not recycle it to get the deposit back. This is not an accurate picture of the deposit of the Holy Spirit in us. God is going to redeem us! It is more like a down payment on a house. When you put a down payment on a house, you live in that house while you continue to make payments. Stott says in his book, “So it is with the Holy Spirit. In giving him to us, God is not just promising us our final inheritance, but actually giving us a foretaste of it…”

God has put his Holy Spirit in us as a seal to mark us. The word sealed is used. In the Old Testament, there are several examples of a king giving someone his signet ring as a symbol of his power transferred to that person. The signet bore the seal of the king, and that seal was his bond. Pharoah gave Joseph his ring. In Esther, the king gave Haman his ring, and later took it back and gave it to Mordecai. Many of the commentaries I read said that the edict that King Darius signed was sealed with his signet ring, which is why he could not revoke it when he discovered that when Daniel was to be thrown into the lions’ den. As much as he wanted to save Daniel, he had put the seal on the edict, so it had to stand. The seal is a big deal! We are sealed by the Holy Spirit! This marks us as God’s children, to the praise of his glory!

So let’s do a quick review of what we have learned so far.  God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing. He chose us, he adopted us, he redeemed us, he has made known the mystery of his will, he has given us an inheritance and he has sealed us with the Holy Spirit. All of this was planned before the foundation of the world. Was it because of anything we have done to earn it? No! It was for the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he lavished on us in the Beloved One!

Grace be with you!


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