Ephesians; 1:5 – The predestined will be conformed to His image; the parable of the vineyard workers.

Sunday March 31, 2019


Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,


Eph 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love


Eph 1:5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,


Eph 1:6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.


We have the aorist active participle of proorizo. Pro = before + horizo = a boundary or limit. It means to predetermine, to decide beforehand, or to foreordain.


This verb is used six times in the NT. Significantly, Paul uses it again in this chapter in verse 11.


Eph 1:11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,


Eph 1:12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.


In verse 5, the Father predestined us to adoption as sons and in vs. 11, He predestined us in general, meaning as His sons. And as sons, we have also obtained an inheritance.


We do not find the word “predestined” referring to the day to day planning of your life by God. Rather, we read of God’s will, His pleasure, His commands, and His desire for your character. He does not tell us what job to take, what time to wake up, how many hours of sleep, what to eat, what to wear, who to marry or not marry, etc.


Predestined is used for you as a person and not day to day events. God gives us His will, a mystery predestined, a character to apply to our day to day events.


1Co 2:7 but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God predestined before the ages to our glory;


Proorizo used in: Eph 1:5, 11; 1Co 2:7; Act 4:28 (of our Lord); Rom 8:29,30.


We will investigate our Lord’s predestination and summarize all of them again later on.


Rom 8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren;


Rom 8:30 and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.


We have been predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ and every son will be so conformed in heaven.


All believers may know on the authority of God that it is settled forever, that some day we will be exactly like Him.


Some, who don’t quite fully understand the grace of God, may want to criticize this interpretation, and for the reason that they strive to be like Christ in time while many Christians do not. It might not seem fair that those who have striven and sacrificed to obey the will of God will stand next to a brother in heaven who was ignorant and distracted, but who is just as much like Christ as he is.


Christ told a parable about workers in a vineyard. The men who worked all day, 12 hours, were paid the same as those who worked only an hour. The all-day workers in the parable protested in the same way. Now, some may interpret that parable another way. Perhaps Jesus meant those who believed just before they died, or those who believed just before the Rapture. Yet maybe it applies to them as well as our current idea.


If a sacrifice is made merely for the sake of winning for oneself some greater gain, then it is no longer a sacrifice but a bargain.


We are not mercenaries for Christ, but the humble subjects of His kingdom.


That attitude betrays a hidden part that needs some light. Ask yourself, if everyone will be of the same status and with the same rewards in heaven and in the same likeness of character, would you stop serving God now and become a weak, carnal Christian? If you would, or think you might, you have to ask yourself why you are serving Him now.


The word predestined leaves out all conditions. It is not predestined to be conformed to Christ if… All the body will be conformed to His image.


Love and trust are the essence of sacrifice. Do we love and trust our King, our Master, our vineyard owner explicitly?


1Jo 3:1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.


1Jo 3:2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.


1Jo 3:3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.


The parable of the workers in the vineyard is a response to the rich man’s unwillingness to give up all his possessions and Peter’s response that he had given up everything to follow Christ, and what was to be his reward?


Mat 19:21 Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." 


Mat 19:22 But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieved; for he was one who owned much property.


Mat 19:23 And Jesus said to His disciples, "Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.


Mat 19:24 "And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." 


Mat 19:25 And when the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, "Then who can be saved?"


Mat 19:26 And looking upon them Jesus said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."


Mat 19:27 Then Peter answered and said to Him, "Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?"


Christ assures Peter and the others that they will share with Christ in the work as well as the reward. But what is Christ’s reward? Is it not the salvation of others, the giving of the Christ-life to others, and the undeserved suffering that went with doing that?


Having given them that assurance, He takes occasion to rebuke the disposition to bargain. He warns them against comparing their sacrifices to others. After all, the apostles are at the beginning. All of them but John are martyred. All of them suffered exceptional hardship in establishing the church in the Roman Empire against great opposition.


You and I will never have to do what Paul or Peter did, and will they be more conformed in the image of Christ than you in heaven? The parable states that the apostles will be no better off than the members of the body who were less seemly.


Yet also in the parable, the first workers who worked all day were agreed upon a denarius for their wage. To the workers who came later, the landowner said that whatever wage was right, he would give them.


Mat 20:1 "For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.


Mat 20:2 "And when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard.


Mat 20:3 "And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the market place;


Mat 20:4 and to those he said, 'You too go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.' And so they went.


Mat 20:5 "Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did the same thing.


Mat 20:6 "And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing; and he said to them, 'Why have you been standing here idle all day long?'


Mat 20:7 "They said to him, 'Because no one hired us.' He said to them, 'You too go into the vineyard.'


Mat 20:8 "And when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last group to the first.'


Mat 20:9 "And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each one received a denarius.


Mat 20:10 "And when those hired first came, they thought that they would receive more; and they also received each one a denarius.


Mat 20:11 "And when they received it, they grumbled at the landowner,


Mat 20:12 saying,' These last men have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day.'


Mat 20:13 "But he answered and said to one of them, 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius?


Mat 20:14 'Take what is yours and go your way, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you.


Mat 20:15 'Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?'


Mat 20:16 "Thus the last shall be first, and the first last."


The first are expecting a wage – they are not unlike mercenaries. The second are trusting the landowner only to give them what is right, but they do not know what that is.


The second type of laborer, all of whom worked for different amounts of time, are what we sons and daughters of God should all be like. We work for the Master and leave to Him what will be right to give us.


The men who bargained at the start of the day were paid according to their bargain; the men who trusted got far more than they could have dared bargain for. The point is to not make any bargains with God. He will not accept them, so don’t fool yourself.


The man who bargains wants everything in writing, in black and white, and thus shows that in working for you it is himself he is looking after and seeking to profit, gets every penny he bargained for.


The sons of God do not work for Him as hirelings. Our work is done out of love, as sons to our Father; personal, wishing we could do more if we could. 


After listening, Peter must have felt himself gravely rebuked by the picture here drawn of the man who listened to the first call of Christ, but who, after an honest day’s work, was found to be possessed of a selfish, grudging spirit that filled him with discontent and envy.


English sailors have been known to be filled with pity for their comrades whose ships only hove in sight in time to see the enemy’s flag run down, or to fire the last shot in a long day’s engagement. They have so pitied them for having no share in the excitement and glory of the day that they would willingly give them as a compensation their own pay and prize-money. And the true follower of Christ, who has listened to the earliest call of his Master and has reveled in the glory of serving Him throughout life, will from the bottom of his heart pity the man who has only late in life recognized the glory of the service, and has had barely time to pick up his tools when the dusk of evening falls upon him.


It is impossible that a man who chief desire was to advance his Master’s work, should envy another laborer who had done much less than himself.


Many that are first will be last. “Many” but not all. Many who have done the most work in the church will be known by our Lord to be mercenaries. They worked under the thought of bargain, thinking themselves to be handsomely paid. The Lord will know this, but not us. It is our command in love to believe all things and hope all things. Many who have done little will be first. These merely found it a privilege to serve their Father as sons and to leave all reward to Him.


We know from the gospel account, and certainly from Peter’s announcement here, that the disciples are trending more towards being mercenaries who will be last.


Do we find it difficult to avoid inwardly comparing ourselves with those who waste their day? Do we live outwardly blameless and correct lives, and abound in practical work, but do so because we are originally of a calculating disposition towards a wage from God?


The solution is obviously not sin and laziness. Peter changed and so must we. It is our motive that needs changing if it is trending towards calculation.


The solution is also not about pretending lowliness or humility. He didn’t say all the first would be last; He said many of the first would be last. We are to do the labor that God has foreordained for us to do, which we will find if we humbly seek His will in study and prayer.


We are sons who work for the Father out of love and adoration for Him. Nothing else. We do not look for men to notice or for the amount of God’s reward, nor do we compare ourselves with others. 

© Grace and Truth Ministries / Pastor Joseph Sugrue • cgtruth.org • All rights reserved.