Have We Been Chosen by God? Or Have We Received an Inheritance from God?

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling

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,...

Ephesians 1:11

In the vast majority of instances, most English translations of the Bible say more or less the same thing. The wording and emphasis might differ a little, but, for the most part, the basic meaning rarely varies.

There are exceptions to this rule, however. Ephesians 1:11 offers an example. In our translation (NIV, 2011 version), we read, "In him we were also chosen…" But other translations differ considerably: "In him we have obtained an inheritance" (ESV); "In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance" (NRSV). In fact, the majority of popular English translations prefer something like "we have obtained an inheritance" rather than "we were also chosen." What should we make of this difference? How should we understand Ephesians 1:11?

The issue here is the unusual Greek verb used in this verse. Kleroo appears in the New Testament only in Ephesians 1:11. It is related to the Greek noun, kleros, which means "lot" or "inheritance," and has a basic meaning of "to appoint or obtain by lot or through inheritance." Thus, the passive use of kleroo in our verse could mean "we have been appointed or chosen by lot," along the lines of the NIV. Of course, we have also inherited many blessings through Christ, but this seems not to be the main point here.

The interpretation of 1:11 that stresses God's claim on us as his inheritance, so to speak, is strengthened by the use of this language in the Old Testament. In Deuteronomy 9:29, for example, Moses says to the Lord, "But they [the Israelites] are your people, your inheritance that you brought out by your great power and your outstretched arm.” The word translated here as inheritance is kleros in the Greek translation of the Old Testament. God's people are his "lot," his "inheritance," his chosen and special possession.

Ephesians 1:11 applies this language and imagery to those who are God's people in Christ. We belong to God in a special way because he has chosen us. We are his kleros, his portion, his prized inheritance.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Do you ever think of yourself as God's inheritance, God's special possession? How does this imagery speak to you today?

PRAYER: Gracious God, thank you for inheriting me, by your grace and according to your choice. Thank you that I belong to you, both now and forever. May this truth permeate my mind and heart today. May live it out in all that I do and in every situation. Amen.

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