Corporate Election in Ephesians 1:4 – Rebuttal 1 – Part 2

by Oct 13, 2019Ephesians0 comments

- ...and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Eph. 6:17 NRS) -

Rebuttal response continued:

Concerning the lack of a subjunctive here, I would suggest that, like English, Greek is very flexible and contingent expressions are not limited to using the subjunctive. (As I recall, William Mounce, author of the Greek grammar used by many seminaries, recently expressed the same in a recent article.) For example, Romans 8:13 uses all indicatives to form its conditional statements. The very fact that in Ephesians the choosing is “in him” means that redemption is found for those who are “in him.” Therefore, redemption is conditional to being “in him.” Likewise, the inheritance is conditional for those who are “in him.” (I would be surprised if my opponent disagreed with this fact.) Even in the individualistic paradigm, no one outside of Christ is chosen or predestined. Therefore, it is dependent on Christ.

I agree with my opponent that this text does not say Christ is predestined. However, Christ is defined as “chosen” in the gospels – in Matthew 12:18 (quoting Isaiah 42:1 using airetizō), and in Luke 9:35 and 23:35, using the same Greek word (ἐκλέγομαι) as used in Ephesians 1:4. So, the concept of election does apply to Christ elsewhere. What I am suggesting is that in a covenantal framework, election is dependent on being in Christ and, as in Judaism (our foundation as Christians), it is inherited through another.

Concerning 1:5, predestination (proorizō) generally looks to the results of God’s actions, whereas election (the choosing) looks to the person or group. In 1:5 what is predestined is adoption or sonship for those in Christ. Once again, we see the language of the covenant, where Israel is declared God’s son (Exodus 4:22, Malachi 2:10). So, the language of sonship is certainly applicable to God’s people collectively or corporately. When Paul says that those who are in Christ are predestined to sonship (adoption), this is comparable to what we see with Israel in the covenant. Those who are in Christ also are predestined to the inheritance (1:11) according to God’s plan. While the barakah frames this in terms of the Jewish covenant, Paul leads us to the place where Gentiles are co-heir with Jews (3:6), which, in my opinion, is the pivotal statement of the letter. Therefore, everyone (and anyone) who is in Christ becomes recipients of the power of God towards those who believe (1:18-19).

Corporate election does not deny that adoption is an act of God. Rather it places it at the point of faith, when the Spirit unites with us and seals us (provides us a new name). Adoption is not a pre-temporal event, but one that occurs when we believe. As my opponent himself states (emphasis mine), “ALL THOSE who believe and belong to Jesus Christ are adopted children of God the Father.” It is hard to express this outside of a corporate framework, since this is dependent on being in Christ. The use of the plural first-person pronoun does not necessitate that individuals are in view, but simply that all those who are “in Christ” will be adopted. It seems odd then why there is an insistence that election would not be corporate, when all the blessings are simply “in Him.” What I would suggest is that adoption is also part of the language of covenant. In Ephesians, Paul expresses this covenant in terms of terms of the unification of Israel with the Gentiles by making Gentiles heirs to the promises of Abraham (Ephesians 2:19-22)