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Does Ephesians 1 Teach Calvinism?

Does Ephesians 1 Teach Calvinism?


God’s Sovereign Choice in Salvation

Ephesians 1 is a critical text for understanding the Calvinistic doctrine of predestination and election. The chapter begins with Paul’s praise for God’s blessings in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). A key verse, Ephesians 1:4, states that God chose believers in Christ “before the foundation of the world.” This indicates that the election is not based on any foreseen merit or decision on the part of humans, but purely on God’s sovereign choice. Such a pre-temporal decision aligns with the Calvinistic view of God’s sovereignty in salvation, where His choice is independent of human action.

The Apostle Paul continues in verses 5-6 to discuss predestination, stating that believers were predestined for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ. This language of adoption further emphasizes the initiative of God in the process of salvation. The basis of this predestination is according to God’s pleasure and will, not any human merit or work (Ephesians 1:5). This aligns with the Reformed emphasis on the doctrine of sola gratia, or salvation by grace alone.


Chosen Before the Foundation of the World

Ephesians 1:4 underscores the Calvinistic concept that believers are chosen by God before the creation of the world. This pre-temporal aspect of election highlights that God’s choice is not reactionary or contingent upon human actions. The verse also specifies the purpose of this election: that we should be holy and blameless before Him. This purpose points to the transformative effect of election, a key aspect of Reformed soteriology, where salvation leads to sanctification.

The Calvinistic doctrine of unconditional election is reflected here. God’s choosing of individuals is based solely on His will and purpose, not conditioned by any human factors. This teaching asserts that God’s election is an act of grace, underscoring the Reformed emphasis on God’s sovereign grace in the salvation of sinners.

Holy and Blameless: The Purpose of Election

The statement that God chose us to be holy and blameless before Him (Ephesians 1:4) speaks to the transformative nature of God’s election. In Reformed theology, election is not merely about being chosen for salvation but also for sanctification. This aligns with the Calvinistic view that salvation is a comprehensive process involving justification, sanctification, and glorification. The aim of election, therefore, is not just to save from sin but to transform into the likeness of Christ.

This transformative aspect of election is critical in understanding the Reformed perspective on salvation. It underlines the work of the Holy Spirit in regenerating and sanctifying believers, a process initiated and sustained by God’s grace.

Irresistible and Effectual Grace in Ephesians 1

The concept of irresistible grace, a key tenet of Calvinism, is evident in Ephesians 1. Paul speaks of believers having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will (Ephesians 1:11). This suggests that God’s purpose in election is sure and cannot be thwarted. The idea that those who are chosen by God will inevitably come to faith aligns with the Calvinistic doctrine of irresistible grace, where the grace of God effectually draws sinners to Christ.

Furthermore, the sealing of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14) as a guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession, underscores the effectual nature of God’s grace. In Calvinism, this is seen as evidence that God’s grace not only initiates but also secures salvation, ensuring that those who are chosen will persevere to the end.


Ephesians 1 strongly supports the Calvinistic doctrines of predestination and election. It emphasizes God’s sovereignty in salvation, His initiative in choosing believers before the foundation of the world, and the purpose of election to transform lives. The chapter also aligns with the concepts of irresistible and effectual grace, key tenets of Reformed theology. This alignment underscores the scriptural basis for the Calvinistic understanding of salvation as a work of God’s sovereign grace.

Read More

  1. “Chosen in Christ: The Glory of Grace in Ephesians 1” by Richard D. Phillips – This book offers a thorough exploration of Ephesians 1, providing insights into its teachings on election and predestination from a Reformed perspective.
  2. “Ephesians: An Expositional Commentary” by James Montgomery Boice – Boice’s commentary provides a detailed analysis of Ephesians, including its teachings on God’s sovereignty and grace, consistent with Calvinistic theology.

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