Does Ephesians 1 teach determinism/calvinism?


I think you’re conclusion is a stretch. It could mean we are all chosen in Him but we still have to respond. Or Paul could be referring to believers as a class or group rather then God choosing individual people, but again anyone can join the group. In the OT there was never any individual choosing and the OT is 2/3 of the bible.


I imagine Arminian, RCC, EO, Anglican, Pentecostal, Early Church Father, etc, commentators would have something to say about that, besides Freewill Universalists (as opposed to Calvinistic Universalists).

Then there are the rarely ever heard of (or known) Pantelist takes on it. Such as Pantelist Calvinism & Pantelist Arminianism & Pantelist Freewillism, etc.


It seems clear to me that the “us” is Christians.


We are so used to thinking as individuals in our individualistic countries that we don’t normally read Paul correctly. Who is the “us” to whom Paul refers? I suggest he speaks of all the members of the Body of Christ—all of Christ’s disciples everywhere. When we see it this way, we will understand that God chose that Body before the earth was made, a Body to be holy and blameless, a people group appointed for sonship long before any individuals in that group were born—and all the other wonderful things in God’s great plan, including His intention to ultimately unite every one in Himself!

Now try reading the passage with “us” being the whole Body instead of a select group of individuals, and all will become clear with no predestination, determinism or Calvinism!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him. In love he pre-appointed us for sonship through Jesus Christ, in keeping with the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved One. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forsaking of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight, making known to us the secret of his will, in keeping with his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (Ephesians 1:3-10)


THAT certainly is an evangelical way of reading it, i.e., your “saved” — even that “saved” doesn’t appear ANYWHERE in that text. What do YOU mean by “saved” qaz?

They were chosen to be “holy and blameless” and predestinedfor adoption to himself as sons” — certainly a privilege indeed.


How to read Ephesians 1 without Calvinist specs on:


This is a bit off topic, but what is the source of several translations rendering a Greek word as “adoption”?

The word does not occur in the Greek text. The word translated as “adoption” is “υιοθεσια” (huiothesia) which is a compound of “υιος” (son) and a derivative of τιθημι (to place). So the word “υιοθεσια” which has been translated as “adoption” should actually be translated as “placing as sons” or “sonship”

What may further complicate it for some is that in Romans 8:23, Paul places the phrase “the redemption of our body” in apposition to the word “sonship.”


@JasonPratt can you expound this text?


BTW thanks for those links origen. The only explanation I found somewhat plausible was Boyd’s.


Son-placement (the word translated “adoption”) is used by Paul in a few places, but he explains as clearly as possible what he means by the term (which he may have coined himself) at the start of Galatians 4: he’s talking about the practice of a family leader (typically the father) to judge his children ready to inherit the privileges and responsibilities of the family name. Until then, they count as slaves although children (under tutors) and, by the father’s intention, the inheritors of all.

The Father is under no obligation to judge a child mature enough to inherit apart from the truth of the child being truly mature enough to inherit. But the child is still his child (and ideally the father never gives up leading the child to be mature enough to inherit), not adopted in the sense we tend to think of. Even if the tutors rebel and lead the child astray!

This also has a lot of bearing on discussions in the Gospels about how people “may be enjoying the allotment of the inheritance”. They’re asking, and talking about, coming to be regarded as mature enough to operate as authorized bearers of the family name.

George MacDonald goes into a lot of detail about this, rather famously among our authors.

This doesn’t have anything to do with Calv vs Kath soteriology, pro or con. But Calvs at least ought to appreciate the persistence of God in the intention. (Unfortunately in my experience Calvs are even more likely than Arms to regard the adoption as that of creatures created by someone or something other than God, into God’s family. Which is a super-broken theology.)


As for Ephesians 1 pointing to Calv notions of election: the “secret will” of God later in the sentence, which we’re elected / chosen by God to proclaim, is that God intends to bring all creatures, even the spiritual rebels, under the leadership of Christ.

And that’s universal salvation, since rebels aren’t under the leadership of Christ.

So no, it isn’t talking about Calv notions of electing some people to be saved from their sins, and not electing other people (which amounts to actively choosing that they shall never be saved from their sins).

As God chooses the elect to lead the way in proclaiming the secret will of God about all rebels being brought under the headship of Christ; so God chooses for all rebels to be brought under the headship of Christ. The scope is total intention for saving sinners from sin. And not far away there are exhortations (as Calvs know) that God’s saving intentions shall surely succeed.


In a little more detail here:

More links to comments on Ephesians here: Christian Universalism: An Exegetical Compilation


Jason, what are your thoughts on the “predestined” in v 5?


I’ll await with interest what Jason has to say about predestination in verses 5 and 11 of the KJV version. This post isn’t intended to pre-empt him, far from it.

I have mentioned in other topics how The Living Bible was used extensively by my late wife Alida. Here are the TLB paraphrases of these verses: The emphases are mine.

5 His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by sending Jesus Christ to die for us. And he did this because he wanted to!

11 Moreover, because of what Christ has done, we have become gifts to God that he delights in, for as part of God’s sovereign plan we were chosen from the beginning to be his, and all things happen just as he decided long ago.

12 God’s purpose in this was that we should praise God and give glory to him for doing these mighty things for us, who were the first to trust in Christ.

Not being a Greek scholar, I don’t know what the word translated ‘predestination’ was intended by Paul to imply. Does it include for example reprobation (double predestination), surely an awful doctrine?


That sounds like a Calvinstic Universalism perspective, as opposed to a Libertarian Freewill Universalism viewpoint. Ephesians 1 goes on to say:

Eph.1:10 to have an administration of the complement of the eras, to head up all in the Christ - both that in the heavens and that on the earth 11 in Him in Whom our lot was cast also, being designated beforehand according to the purpose of the One Who is operating all in accord with the counsel of His will,

Those in the heavens (Eph.1:10) include spiritually wicked beings:

Eph.6:12 because we are not wrestling against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world’s rulers, of the darkness of this age, against the spiritual hosts of evil in the heavenlies.

So, they, also, will be saved “in Christ” as per Eph.1:10.


“This essay has provided reasons for why Classical Arminians and Calvinists should prefer a corporate Jewish Christian by election/individual Gentile by non-election (i.e. by individual hearing and believing) reading of Ephesians 1 rather than the individual election of all Christians (Jew and Gentile alike) interpretation because Ephesians 1 does not sufficiently support the idea that any individual is individually predestined and elected to eternal life.”


Non-Calvinistic Rendering: From the first verse of the chapter we learn that Paul is addressing “the faithful in Christ Jesus.” The theme of being “in Him” continues throughout the entire passage. The question is “how does one come to be in Christ?” The Calvinist contends that certain individuals were chosen before the world began and predestined to become believers, but that is simply not what the text says. Paul teaches that those “in Him” have been predestined to become “holy and blameless” and “to be adopted as sons,” but he never says that certain individuals were predestined to believe in Christ. Paul is speaking of what “the faithful in Christ” (vs. 1) have been predestined to become, not about God preselecting certain individuals before the foundation of the world to be irresistibly transformed into believers. In verse 13, the apostle clearly teaches his readers that it was when you “heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation” and “when you believed” that you were “marked in Him.”


“Suppose there are two football coaches living there in your hometown, Coach Calvin and Coach Hobbs. Coach Calvin is in a league where he pre-selects and compels each player to be on his team.”

“Coach Hobbs is in a league where he invites who ever wants to play football to join his team voluntarily. However, one thing they both have in common is that prior to the teams being formed both coaches had predetermined to conform their team members into well conditioned and trained football players.”

“Calvinists insist Ephesians 1 teaches that God is like “Coach Calvin” but all the text actually states is what the coach has predetermined for his team to become, it says nothing about his predetermining who would and would not be on the team (i.e. “in Him”).”

continued at:



Origen, IMO your links try to explain away the most plain meaning.