Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. (Ephesians 1:5-6)
To the Praise of His Glory
In Ephesians 1, Paul lays out for the blessings we have in Christ and – perhaps more importantly – sums up the purpose for those blessings. You will see as he moves through the chapter that he repeatedly comes back to a pivotal phrase:
“to the praise of his glory” (vv. 6, 12,14)
We are redeemed to praise his glory. We see in this what the Westminster Shorter Catechism tells us is our main purpose, that is, to “glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.” In this, we see that we are constantly brought back to the praise of the Father. It is in the Son – “in whom we have obtained an inheritance” – that we praise the Father for his glorious purpose in redemption. It is by the Spirit – “the earnest of our inheritance” – who seals us with the promise of the inheritance which is to come through our union with Christ. All of this is to the praise of the Father. Yet, consistently we are brought back to the Son, Jesus Christ. Chrysostom notes: “Observe how he on all occasions speaks of Christ, as the Author of all things, and in no case gives Him the title of a subordinate agent, or a minister.” We see in these opening verses that before the foundation of the world we have been chosen “in him” – that is, in Christ – that Christ, according to his divinity, occupies a place of eternality. We see also the Spirit working for us to be to the praise of the Father. All of which was according to a plan which God purposed before the world began.
On the phrase “to the praise of his glory” in v. 12, Matthew Poole notes that this can mean that we are to the praise of the Father either actively or passively:
1. Passively, that the excellency and greatness of God’s wisdom, power, grace, mercy, &c. might be shown forth in us by our being predestinated, called, sanctified, saved: or rather:
2. Actively, that we, by the holiness, obedience, and fruitfulness of our conversations, suitable to such privileges, might manifest and set forth the glory of him that vouchsafed them to us.
As the text affords either meaning, we may ask the question: why not both? May we, through our proclamation of the gospel and through our meditation upon what Christ has accomplished and through holiness of our lives bring praise to “the Father of glory.” We were reconciled with Him to bring him praise. This was the final cause of our salvation; by which is meant, it is the purpose for which we were saved.
We were saved to praise Him. To show His glory.
Ask yourself: does you life show forth the glory of God? Do you love what He loves and hate what He hates? This is the reason for which we were called.
The King Over All
Paul says something remarkable in v.22:
“And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church”
What does Paul mean here when says “all things”? What does it mean that Christ is the head “to the church”? Many Reformed Presbyterians, especially those in the Covenanter tradition, affirm that Christ is King over not only the Church, but also the government, the family, the arts, culture, all things in the world are under his mediatorial dominion. This is a dominion given to Christ by the Father for the purpose of building the church.
William Symington, whose seminal work Messiah the Prince, tells us how and why Christ is King over all things:
“…the possession of universal power must, on a moment’s reflection, appear to be intimately connected with the interests of the church. Power beyond the church is essential to the existence, increase, and welfare of the church itself. That the members of his mystical body may be complete in him, he must have dominion over all principalities and powers. The overthrow of the church’s foes, the fulfillment of the church’s prospects, and the final victory of every member over death and grave, suppose him to rule with uncontrollable sway in the midst of his enemies.” – Symington, Messiah the Prince, p. 52
Bring this point back to our first topic. All things are put under the feet of Christ, so that he may be head over all things to the church. What is the purpose of the church? To be to the praise of his glory. Not only does the Father provide an all-sufficient Saviour, he gives him reign over all things for the purpose of gathering and shepherding a people for the sake of His glory.