Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, ~Ephesians 1:5
God chose us out of the world “that we should be holy and blameless before Him in love,” because He had in His eternal purpose of grace “foreordained us (i.e. marked us out beforehand) unto adoption as sons.” This “adoption as sons” was “through Jesus Christ,” i.e., it would become ours through our accepting the Lord Jesus, the only begotten Son of God we obtain the right to become sons of God (John 1:12, R. V.)
This foreordination “unto adoption as sons” was wholly a matter of God’s own gracious will, and not at all of our desert, or, as Paul here puts it, “according to the good pleasure (kind intention) of His will.” However, it was not an arbitrary whim, it was the sovereign choice of one who wills what He will, but who is love and who only wills what Infinite love prescribes. Our “adoption as sons” is “unto (or rather into) Himself,” that is to say, He Himself is the goal toward which His eternal purpose in its execution leads us on. He takes us “into Himself,” into His very life (cf. John 14:20; 17:21, R. V.)
To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. ~Ephesians 1:6
Verse 6 begins in the middle of a sentence. The entire sentence covers twelve verses (3-14 R. V.), and every verse is packed full of meaning. There is perhaps no other such sentence in all literature. The heart of the whole sentence is found in two words of vast significance, “IN CHRIST.” These words, or synonymous words (“in Him,” “in whom,” “in the beloved”) are found in every verse excepting three (5, 8, 14), and in two verses they occur twice.
God’s choice of us before the foundation of the world (v. 4) and His foreordination of us into adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, was all “to (rather, unto) the praise of the glory of His grace (i.e., His loving favor all unmerited by us).” How wonderful His grace, His loving favor, all unmerited by us, shines forth in all this. We see the glory of His grace in all this and unless we are blind we must indeed praise Him for it with hearts that are full. And not only do we praise Him for it, but the whole heavenly world as well praise Him for it (cf. Eph. 3:10, 11). The glory of His grace will be the theme of heaven’s song through the coming ages of ages.
This grace He bestowed upon us as a free gift (v. 6, R. V.) “in the Beloved.” The Beloved is, of course, Jesus Christ, God’s Beloved One (see Matt. 3:17; Mark 12:6), and our Beloved One as well (I Peter 2:7). All this gloriously gracious eternal purpose of God regarding us was IN HIM. It was He who made possible this gracious purpose on the part of a holy God toward vile sinners, and it is all worked out through Him as a channel, and it is in union with Him that we enjoy the fruits of it. We are altogether unlovable in ourselves, but as we are “in Him” God has already bestowed His grace upon us in Christ, and all that we have to do is to appropriate as individuals this grace to ourselves.
[This was written by R.A. Torrey for his regular column, “Daily Devotional Studies in the New Testament: For Individual Meditation and Family Worship,” published regularly in Biola’s magazine The King’s Business from 1915-1918. These comments on Ephesians have never been republished since their original appearance there in the June, 1918 issue.]