In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: ~Ephesians 1:11
In this same Jesus in whom God will in “the fullness of the seasons” head up all things, we are also made a heritage of God (R. V.). The Authorized Version says, “We have obtained an inheritance.” That is true; we have obtained an inheritance in Christ (Acts 26:18), and a glorious one (I Peter 1:3-5), but that is not the truth of this passage, the translation of the Revised Version, “We were made a heritage” is the correct translation, and the thought is that we who are in Christ are God’s inheritance. This truth is in some respects a more inspiring one than the truth that we obtain an inheritance in Christ. Jehovah’s inheritance is His people (cf. Deut 32:9 and Eph. 1:18; see also Deut. 4:20; 9:29). Is it not wonderful that sinners such as we all have been, should be the inheritance which God chose for Himself, and in which He delights?
To this glorious position of being God’s inheritance we were foreordained from all eternity. This foreordination was God’s sovereign loving device determined by nothing outside Himself, “according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His will.” It is God’s own counsel that determines what He wills to do. One should notice the multiplication of words that indicate will, or self-determination in this phrase: “foreordained,” “purpose,” “counsel” (the Greek word translated “counsel” means will), “will.”
It is God’s own counsel that determines what He wills to do, but God’s counsel is not arbitrary caprice; it is His own infinitely wise and holy and loving thought (cf. Isa. 28:29). It is true that God does as He pleases, but it is also true that such a person as He is in His own character can never please to do anything but the very wisest and best and most loving thing. I am glad that He is going to do just what He pleases to do with me, because it is He that pleases to do it. I would not be glad to have any one else do just what he pleased with me. I am sure what He pleases to do is infinitely better than what would please poor foolish, ever-erring me.
But the point emphasized in verse 11 is not only that He is guided by His own counsel in His purpose, but also that whatsoever He wills He brings to pass: He “worketh all things after the counsel of His will.” We will many things but work few. God worketh all He willeth. Hallelujah! No failures with Him. The word translated “worketh,” if we should trace every part of the word (as we cannot always do in every place where it is used, but can here) means “inworketh.” It is in us that He works both to will and to work for the sake of His own good pleasure (Phil. 2:13, R. V.).
[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.]