The DEEP

To Be

the first.

Ephesians 1:11–12 (NIV)

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.

Everything. God works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will. In Greek it’s the boo-LAY of His THA-lay-ma (the immutable willing of what He wants). This passage is perfectly unambiguous. Everything is predestined – the fall of every sparrow, the vibration of every atom.

This leads to a number of tough questions about things like free will and responsibility. They’re important, but this is not the place. Paul tackles them in his epistle to the Romans. Chapter 3 of the Westminster Confession of Faith is also a good reference. For now, just know that God does this.

And then we’re told why – in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. This doesn’t sound right in English. Is this so that, “we might be for the praise of his glory,” as opposed to being, “against the praise of his glory”? That can’t be right.

If not that, then it sounds like it’s missing a word. Shouldn’t it say something like, “we might be strong for the praise of his glory.”? Or maybe, “active,” or, “diligent,” “for the praise of his glory”?

No, the verb is “to be.” It could be translated as, “in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might exist for the praise of his glory.” The first believers needed to be “present and accounted for” for the praise of his glory.

The first believers were essential. They were the eyewitnesses, the ones whose bulletproof faith gave the early church a backbone of steel.

And there’s a wondrous twist to this. It’s not exactly right to say that they simply had the gift of faith. They were just as skeptical as the next guy. They had the gift of being in the right place at the right time.

After Jesus was crucified, His followers were apparently sitting around stone-faced mumbling things like, “But He raised …” or, “But, but He said …” Then Jesus showed up, not just alive but walking around healthy. After that they would walk through fire if they had to. No amount of torture could get them to change their testimony.

And so many of them got the gift of martyrdom.


What would you give to have faith like that? Would you be willing to walk the road the first Christians walked? God didn’t give them the gift of being eyewitnesses so they could just put it in their pocket.

That principle applies generally. Spiritual blessings are given for a reason. They aren’t to be wasted.

God always has a purpose and a plan – for you, particularly for the gifts He has given you.


The weekly study guides, which include all five devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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