Ephesians 1:4 4even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him in love

This verse explains God’s goal for humanity. God had this plan before even the world was created. The reason we have been created is to be in Christ. God’s goal for us is to be in relationship with Jesus Christ, to find our purpose for living in him and to be remade into his likeness. When Adam and Eve were created, they were made in the image of God. This image from the human side is seen perfectly in Jesus, who was perfect love and without sin. To be “Christlike” is more than a way of life or fulfilling a set of do’s and don’ts. It is a relationship of love from which everything else in life finds its meaning.

God chose us for a special purpose, as Paul explains in this verse: to be holy, blameless, and in love. Each of these adjectives is significant biblically, theologically, and experientially. God commands his people to be holy (Leviticus 19:2; 1 Peter 1:15). For us to be in relationship with God, to come into his presence, we must be holy (Hebrews 12:14). Only that which is holy can be in the presence of the Holy God. The only way for us to be holy is in relationship with Christ, as we put our faith in him and receive God’s grace through the Holy Spirit. Paul will elaborate on this later in the letter.

Blameless has a strong ethical quality to it and refers to something without blemish or fault. This is not absolute perfection, which belongs only to God. Nor is it perfect in everything we do, which is impossible in this life. It is more the obedience that comes from a heart that has been sanctified and purified by the presence of the Holy Spirit. It is living in such a way as to be blameless and pure (Philippians 2:15). The Bible gives examples of blameless people, like Noah (Genesis 6:9). God called his people, Israel, to be blameless before him (Deuteronomy 18:13). This will require standing behind the cross and allowing Jesus’ righteousness to infiltrate our lives so that we follow Jesus’ example and not our own. This is not a works righteousness but works down out of God’s power and presence working within us. We cannot be passive and expect to live a blameless life. We must walk in obedience. It takes effort, but this is not an effort to look good but an effort done out of love for God and faith in God’s promises.

Finally, this is all to be done in love. The position of this prepositional phrase is controversial. Some modern translations being a new sentence and include this phrase with the next verse. The original Greek had no punctuation and not even spaces, so this is all a matter of interpretation. This prepositional phrase stands isolated and could go either with what comes before it or with what comes after. It makes good sense to connect it with God’s purpose for us in Christ. The reason we are to be holy and blameless is that God has created us to love him and know this love in our relationships with other people. Love is the focus of being in Christ. Paul will give a prayer in 3:14-21 with a focus on love. Each of these three key words in this sentence are important throughout this letter.

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