Ephesians 1:12

... we who first hoped in Christ have been destined and appointed to live for the praise of His glory.

The “we” in this verse is widely believed to be the Jewish believers in Christ as opposed to the “you” in the next verse which refers to the Gentile believers in Ephesus. Some translations actually add the word “Jews” in this verse, even though it is not explicitly given in the original.

The first believers were Jewish, and it took some major revelations for Peter, Paul and the other apostles to realise that the gospel was for all people, and not just for the Jews.

These first believers put their hope in Christ. They realised that He was the Messiah long foretold by the prophets.

Their hope in Christ was firstly for salvation. They knew that they were sinners needing forgiveness because they could not keep the Law.

The Law as it was written was exacting enough, but Jesus made the heart of men the heart of the Law. Jesus said that an angry insult was like murder and a lascivious look was like adultery. Sin starts in the heart long before it comes out in an action.

They recognised that Jesus is the Passover Lamb who takes away the sins of the world.

The Jewish believers were also looking for the salvation of Israel. Every Jew at that time longed for God’s Messiah to come and redeem Israel, setting them free from Roman occupation. There were countless attempted insurrections, but they were all put down with ruthless efficiency.

Jesus talked often about the Kingdom of God. It wasn’t until the Day of Pentecost, when the disciples received the Holy Spirit, that they realised that God’s Kingdom was not about a country on earth but something much bigger.

These first Jewish christians, according to Paul, were destined and appointed.

To be destined suggests that they were in a path or trajectory which they had no way of choosing. Before they were born, before the beginning of the world even, God set events in place that meant these people were on a particular path determined by Him. They were living in a kairos moment, and God had plans for them.

To be appointed suggests that they were chosen for a task and given authority to do it. Of all the christians and of all the Jews in history, these particular men and women have been chosen for a task and given authority by God Himself.

Their destiny, then, was not a blind force propelling them along the current of history. This is not “fate” or “karma” or “The Force” or any other term used by people to suggest an implacable, impersonal process that runs the universe. They were appointed by God the Father for this role.

That role is to live for God’s praise and glory. The phrase “to live for the praise of his glory” can be equally translated as “to live for his glory and praise.”

These Jewish believers, the first generation of believers, were assigned a task that is common to all believers in all time periods. We have been set apart to live for God’s glory.

In the Old Testament, the priests and Levites were set apart (or “appointed”) to live for God’s glory. They didn’t stop being priests when they left the Temple. Their whole life was appointed for God’s glory.

All christians are set apart- appointed- to give praise and glory to God. Our lives are meant to be a witness or a testimony of what God has done in our lives through Jesus Christ.

When I walk in humble obedience to God, I am living for His praise and glory. My every word and action should show people “This is what God looks like.” Jesus said, “Let your light shine before people that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). When we live for God, we bring glory and praise to Him.

These Jews who first hoped in Christ had a particular role. They were the first generation of disciples. They represented the redemption of Israel to the world and the redemption of the world to Israel.

Israel was established as a beach head for heaven’s invasion of earth. It was intended to be a light shining in a world corrupted by sin. It would show the world what it is like to live in holiness and in fellowship with God.

Israel failed in its purpose. Rather than being light in the darkness it became corrupted by sin. The Jewish christians were a sign to the world that in Christ the purpose of Israel was fulfilled.

Likewise, these same Jewish christians were a sign to Israel that its redemption had arrived and the salvation of the world, including Israel, was at hand.

Key points from this verse:

  • The first Jewish christians were chosen by God

  • Their role was to live for the praise and glory of God

  • Our role is exactly the same- to live for the praise and glory of God.