What does it mean by "God chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy"?


Ephesians 1:4

NKJV - 4 Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.

Clarify Share Report Asked February 27 2014 Mini Jeriel Mitchell

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Closeup Jennifer Rothnie Supporter Housewife, Artist, Perpetually Curious
Taking the Greek word choice and the context of the passage, Eph 1:4-5 means that God had already planned before he created the world that believers would become Holy through Christ's work. This sentiment is repeated just a verse later, where it shows that He also predestined that believers would be adopted as sons of God through Christ.

This verse in more recent centuries has often been misinterpreted to claim that it proves God chooses who will be a believer, but there is no backing for this interpretation in the text or context itself.

To dive into this deeper, we must look at the audience, context, and text.

#1 Audience: Paul is addressing a mixed church of Jewish and Gentile believers. He addresses them specifically as "the faithful in Christ Jesus (Eph 1:1.)" Notably in this first chapter, he uses the pronoun "us" when describing believers of Jewish ethnicity since he is among them and "you" to reference Gentile believers.

#2 Context: Paul is explaining to a mixed church that the plan to save, sanctify, and adopt Gentile believers is nothing new. It wasn't plan B in case Israel didn't work out. God had a plan for one united church in Christ, Jew and Gentile, from before He created light! The reason for this explanation is two fold: to keep the Jewish believers from resentment that the Gentiles are somehow claiming their inheritance (like the older brother's struggle in the parable of the prodigal son) and to encourage the Gentiles that there is a wonderful inheritance for them - they are not second class Christians. The Jews had the advantages of growing up studying the promises of God, but now the Gentiles would learn of their hope and inheritance as they walked with Christ. Paul's prayer in Eph 1:18 sums this up: "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe."

Text: "Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before Him in love."

Who did He choose? 'Us in Him' - the faithful in Christ Jesus whom Paul is addressing. Specifically, he is here addressing the Jewish believers, but will soon expand the audience to the Gentile believers in Eph 1:13 to show that they are also among this group.

What did He choose believers to be? Holy and blameless. (further verses in the chapter mention adoption, redemption, forgiveness, and other things God also had planned for believers.) 

When did He make this plan? Before the creation of the world.

Note that nowhere in the verse does it say, "God chose some to be in Him before the foundation of the world," but rather that He chose those in Him to be Holy. This chapter is all about the blessings which believers receive, and how God had that planned for both Jew and Gentile before the foundation of the world.

In fact, the passage specifically mentions the point at which a Gentile would be included in Christ, and it doesn't say this is before the foundation of the world:

"And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory." Eph 1:13-14

For further exploration of this passage, here are some additional resources:


And here is an interesting, if long, video that goes incredibly in-depth as to audience/context/word use and examines some common misinterpretations of the text. Https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o43rLyiM2aU

March 13 2018 4 responses Vote Up Share Report

Q jcryle001 JD Abshire
In the Hebrew and according to Strong's the word elect is bä·khēr' Its usage in the OT is exclusively I. chosen, choice one, chosen one, elect (of God).

Let's take a look at the word chose in the Greek according to Strong's Concordance. It is rendered ek-le'-go-mī with the following biblical usages:

I.to pick out, choose, to pick or choose out for one's self

A. choosing one out of many, i.e. Jesus choosing his disciples

B. choosing one for an office

C. of God choosing whom he judged fit to receive his favours and separated from the rest of mankind to be peculiarly his own and to be attended continually by his gracious oversight

I. i.e. the Israelites

D. of God the Father choosing Christians, as those whom he set apart from the irreligious multitude as dear unto himself, and whom he has rendered, through faith in Christ, citizens in the Messianic kingdom: (James 2:5) so that the ground of the choice lies in Christ and his merits only

The Greek rendering of the word elect is ek-lek-to's meaning:

I. picked out, chosen

A. chosen by God,

I. to obtain salvation through Christ

a. Christians are called "chosen or elect" of God

ii. The Messiah is called "elect", as appointed by God to the most exalted office conceivable

iii. Choice, select, i.e. the best of its kind or class, excellence preeminent: applied to certain individual Christians

Simply and biblically stated, God in and of himself without outside influence chose, elected and ordained certain individuals out from among humanity unto salvation. He did this before the world began or came into existence and obviously prior to the creation of man.

I believe if you do a word search on choice, chosen, ordained and elected or election in any concordance you will consistently get the same definition.

Many (most) will try to redefine the word election and make election dependent upon God's foreknowledge. I.e. (God knew who would accept him and so his election is based on what he foreknew would happen.) However, this renders the word election senseless and ridiculous!

Look at Romans 8:29 "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."

It does not say "what" God knew but rather "WHOM" he foreknew. Whom is a pronoun.

February 27 2014 22 responses Vote Up Share Report

Give us your guns 1 Ron Stauffer
My opinion re THE LORD Choosing "us," - from The Foundation - tells me before Adam was, before his Earth was - HE Wrote Complete, HIS Book of Life! ALL the names that were to be, in this Book, from The Beginning - were Divinely Written into It!

HE Never asked Michael or Gabriel "to gather some darts," - and throw them at some pictures "so-selecting "Eternal Life Candidates!" By HIS OWN Supernatural Power - HE Wrote, Without Error - the entire "roll call," of-all who will-have "their own part," - of The New Earth! When that "role call," is Called - those whose names were no-longer, to be found, in HIS Book - will find their-selves in a completely different Eternity!

mustang777 signing off

March 13 2018 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini James Kraft 74 year old retired pipeline worker
It says he has chosen us IN HIM before the foundation of the world. God made the way of salvation through faith before the foundation of the world. And when we accept Him as our savior, we are IN HIM, and He is IN US. 

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

God has made the way of salvation open to everyone. Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. First John 2:2. But only those who believe it are saved and have eternal life.

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace ye are saved, (how) through faith, and that not of yourselves, (we did nothing for it) it is the GIFT of God, not of works, (what we do or do not do) lest any man should boast. 

We are saved and made complete IN HIM when we believe the gospel. Colossians 2:10 And ye are complete IN Him, who is the head of all principalities and power. Colossians 2:13 And you, being dead in your sins, and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses.

When we believe the gospel, we are chosen. We are predestined to be raised at the resurrection. We enter in by the door of faith, (believe the evidence) know we are sinners and need a savior. When we heard the good news that Christ died for all our sins, we believe what he said and are born into the family of God by faith alone. Romans 3:28 Therefore we conclude a man is justified by faith, apart from the deeds of the law.

So when we trust Jesus as our savior, we are chosen IN HIM, before the foundation of the world. We are not chosen to be saved, but after we believe we are chosen because we believed. 

Can anyone be saved without believing the gospel? The bible says no. We have to believe it to receive the free gift of salvation by grace. God does not give us the faith to believe. He does give us the ability to exercise our faith. Every one has a belief system. Even atheist believe there is no God. That is what they believe even though they are wrong. But, that is what they believe. We are saved by what we believe, the gospel of our salvation. But we are not saved until we believe. Ephesians 1:13. In whom ye also trusted, after ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, AFTER ye believed, were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.

The whole gospel. John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.

First John 5:13 These things have I written unto you that BELEIVE on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know ye have eternal life. The free gift of God to all who believe.

March 20 2018 2 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini ainsley chalmers Medical Research Scientist, devoted family man.
This comment seems to indicate that God knew beforehand whom He would save which seems to imply that no matter what we do if we are not selected then it is bad luck folks. 

However we need to realize from John 3:17,18 that Christ's atonement in unlimited in its invitation (God wills that all be saved) but limited in its application (whosoever believes shall not perish but have eternal life). So God knew who beforehand would accept His invitation to salvation as he is Omniscient. Just like a teacher knows beforehand that the committed, hard working student will pass the exams.

March 16 2018 8 responses Vote Up Share Report

Nils 1 Nils Jansma Missionary in San Diego California
What does it really mean by "God chose us before the foundation of the world to be holy"? This is a very difficult question to answer without addressing what God’s “foreknowledge” is. 

Apparently, God’s “foreknowledge” allows Him to know everything that is going to happen or the “end from the beginning.” (Isaiah 46:10) It is very important to realize that to God, everything that will happen has already happened. (Ecclesiastes 3:10) If this were not the case, then God’s “foreknowledge” would be a form of “determinism.” If God knows the future based on His advanced skill of interpreting “cause and effects” relationships, then we have no “free will.” Such a view is called “Causal Determinism” which has been around since ancient times. If this were the basis for God’s foreknowledge, then you can see that everything that happens is predictable based upon physical processes alone without any free will input from us.

Knowing that everything has already happened to God, allows us to answer the question about God choosing us from “before the foundation of the world.” The process that explains how God knows everything in advance is called “Middle Knowledge” among other things. The theory was first advanced by the 16th-century Spanish Jesuit theologian Luis de Molina and is also referred to as “Molinism.” This theory about God’s foreknowledge is endorsed by a number of contemporary Christian philosophers. 

In very simplistic terms, Molinism proposes that God created in His mind the reality we experience “before the foundation of the world.” This is not just an imaginary fabrication, it is the actual events from the beginning to end. It does not involve determinism because in His mind, we are all actors who are motivated by free will. He even can create actual events in His mind that never happen but would under the right circumstances.

A good example of this is found in 1 Samuel 23 where David hears that Saul is planning to trap him in the city of Keilah. So David askes the LORD whether Saul would come and if the citizens of Keilah would “surrender” him to Saul. The answer was, “He will” and “They will.” Hearing this, David and his men left, and Saul didn’t go to Keilah. The significance of this is that God could create these events in His mind and tell David infallibly what would happen. However, since David left, the events were never “actualized” in our time. Had David chose to ignore God’s warning, history as we know it, would have been changed.

The point of this example is to illustrate how God interacted with His creation before the “founding of the World.” Everything hinges upon what God choses to “actualize in our time.” In this case God chose to let David escape from Saul because he followed God’s warning.

Now we can apply this information to our original question. There were, no doubt, a myriad of events that could have happened like the example of David, but only those God chose to actualize in our time happened. Think back in the Bible of examples where important choices were made that could have changed history but didn’t. For instance, what if Pharaoh’s daughter didn’t decide to bathe at just the exact time Moses was drifting by, would that have changed history? I don’t know but it could have been that in God’s mind, many sequences of the same event might have occurred before the series that allowed Pharaoh’s daughter to choose of her own free will to bath at just the right time to find Moses. Since God “chose” to actualize those events, it can be said that they were “predestined” to happen from before the “founding of the World.” 

Based upon the theory of “Middle Knowledge” and its integration with our “free will” we can say that God “chose” all those who believe according to His will by actualizing their experiences in our time.

March 23 2018 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Internet image Ben Jones Retired Professional Photographer
As Dr. Charles Swindoll says, "If the normal sense makes good sense seek no other sense." What does the passage say? "According as he [God] hath chosen us [the elect] in him [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love." 

If Christ died for anyone who seeks for him, He died for absolutely no one because no one seeks for God (Romans 3:11.) So Christ died for a select group of individuals that the scriptures call the elect. His death was efficacious only for those He elected to salvation. 

In the OT God had a select group of individuals that He called His chosen people, also known as the Hebrews. God didn't choose the Amalakites, the Jebusites, the Ishmalites, the Elamites, the Phillistines or the Egyptians. In the NT God has a select group of individuals that He has added to the Hebrews. They too are His chosen people, and have been grafted into the "Olive tree" (Romans 11:17.) So it is "unfair" that God doesn't choose the entire world for salvation? Was God unfair to NOT choose the Amalakites, the Jebusites, the Ishmalites, the Elamites, the Phillistines or the Egyptians in the OT? BE VERY CAREFUL. I have actually seen people call God a "monster" because He chose some for salvation and some for destruction. Romans 9:20-21, "But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, 'Why have you made me like this?' Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? Romans 9:18 "Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens." 

God is absolutely sovereign over absolutely everyone and absolutely everything. God's word was written before the foundation of the world and Christ died before the foundation of the world.

October 14 2020 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

My picture Jack Gutknecht ABC/DTS graduate, guitar music ministry Baptist church
This is an interesting question, Jeriel Mitchell!

The Life Application Study Bible has, "Paul says that 'chose us in him' to emphasize that salvation depends totally on God. We're not saved because we deserve it, but because God is gracious and freely gives salvation."

(Wiersbe adds, "salvation begins with God, and not with man,--all Christians will agree. “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you” (John 15:16). The lost sinner, left to his own ways, does not seek God (Rom. 3:10-11); God in His love seeks the sinner (Luke 19:10).")

Because of Jesus, we are holy and blameless in his sight. 
EPH 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 

How vast the benefits divine which we in Christ possess!
We are redeemed from guilt and shame and called to holiness.
But not for works which we have done, or shall hereafter do, [Tit. 3:5]
Hath God decreed on sinful men salvation to bestow. 

--Augustus Toplady (1774)

(My answer to the question, "What does it mean by 'God chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy'?")

July 10 2021 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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