August 26, 2007


Ephesians 1:9


   God’s will is mentioned four times in Ephesians 1:1-11. His will is expressed in Paul’s apostleship (v. 1). Believers are foreordained to sonship “...according to the good pleasure of His will” (v. 5). God has now made known “the mystery (secret) of His will” (v. 9), and that He “works all things after the counsel of His will” (v. 11).
   Exactly how are we to think of God’s will? Is the will of God fiat, fixed, firm and final; something inevitable and inflexible, includible and inescap-able? Some tell us that everything which happens, whether good or bad, happens because God willed it, even the things God does not want!
   The Greek word for “will” as a verb appears 212 times and as a noun 64 times. In our passage all four times it is a noun, but the verb gives us insight into its meaning. The KJV translated it variously, will, would, desire, will have, or would have, and list, as in John 3:8 where the “wind blows where it lists...” In Acts 10:10 the hungry Peter “would have eaten.” If we reflect on his situation we might translate it alternately: Peter desired to taste food; Peter wished to taste food; Peter willed (that is determined) to taste food; Peter was willing (that is, agreeable) to taste food; or Peter wanted to taste food. We believe WANT is the best choice for similarly any child would have said, “I want something to eat.” This accords with the definition, “a natural impulse or desire, the ground of which is generally obvious...”A thoughtful review of all its uses will confirm our choice.
   Concerning Jerusalem the Lord expressed His will, “how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Mt. 23:37). Was that not the will of God, what He wanted? Did He fail? Was His will frustrated? He simply expressed what God wanted and Jerusalem wanted otherwise.
   “This is the will of God, even your sanctification” (1 Th. 4:3). Simply put, that is what God wants. We are to “prove (test) what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:2). There are things outside God’s will. We are to discern what is, and what is not, His will for us.

Ivan L. Burgener