You may not
have heard of purposeful phrases before but I want to introduce you to them as
they are a helpful way to study the Bible. A purposeful phrase is a condensed collection
of words that answer the question, why.
It can be a short phrase or even a few sentences or even a bit longer,
but it is a short explanation of the purpose behind the action. Generally it is just a verse or two, or even
just a part of a verse. Quite often, it
will begin with the word, “that”, but it is not always the case. It reveals the thinking or purpose of
something that may not be obvious at first glance. It is particularly helpful to understanding
the purposes of God in His working with and on man.
In the book
of Ephesians, there are five purposeful phrases (1:4, 1:12, 2:7, 3:6, 5:27) and
we will look at each of them.
Collectively, they give us a picture of the thinking of God in His
creation of man and how He intends to bring it to pass.
Eph 1:4 According as he hath chosen
us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and
without blame before him in love: The purposeful phrase is the last
part of the verse that I have underlined.
The first part of the verse gives us the setting of that purpose which
is His choosing us and that it was before the foundation of the world. In other words, God knew us before he created
time and space and that His plan has always been that we should be holy (a
separated people) and without blame (does not mean never to have sinned, but
having no sin charged to our account) before Him (abiding in His presence) in
love (our character and nature has been fully conformed and fashioned like He
is). That was His overarching plan for
man, that is why He made man. Simply
put, to fellowship with him.
Eph 1:12 That we should be to the
praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
It can be argued that verse 1:10 is another purposeful phrase but I do
not list it as such because it does not answer the question “why”, but rather
the question, “how”. The real purpose is
found in verse 12 as I have underlined.
His purpose for us may include our vocation here but that is not his
primary purpose. God’s purpose for us is
not just temporal but eternal. I suspect
that it matters little whether you are a doctor, statesman, craftsman, etc. except
to the extent of how it enables you to take on God’s purpose of properly
reflecting His image and being conformed to His likeness and values. Everything God does is with the view of its Eternal
Eph 2:7 That in the ages to come
he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us
through Christ Jesus. This verse is the answer to the
question why would God go to such a great expense for the likes of me? His return is not monetary, nor is it for any
gain for Himself as He already owns everything.
His return is us. Our victory
over sin, our transformation into His image and likeness, our final state of
the full realization of what it means to be the children of God are all part of
the revelation of who and what God is.
In the end it will all be understood as to why He loves us so.
Eph 3:6 That the Gentiles should
be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ
by the gospel: The mystery of the ages was how did the
Gentiles fit in to the plan of God since the Jews were the chosen people of
God? God has always planned for all
people to be a part of His plan as children of God. God is not a respecter of persons that He
loves the Jew more than the Gentile for He loves them the same. The Jews were chosen to be the priest nation
to all nations and that will yet come to pass, even though they have not
fulfilled that role yet. Nothing has
taken God by surprise and nothing has thwarted His plan. It is not a favoritism to be chosen for a
particular service, for we have all been chosen by God, even before the
foundation of the world. The hammer is
not a better tool than the saw for both are necessary. Verse 3:10 would be an example of a
purposeful verse that didn’t begin with the word, “that”, except for the fact
that it is a further explanation of how the eternal purpose is realized; which
makes it a commentary on the purpose instead of being a purposeful phrase.
Eph 5:27 That he might present it
to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing;
but that it should be holy and without blemish.
The question that precedes this purposeful phrase is “Why is it
important that the church be sanctified?”
The church is a great mystery to the world. They neither understand its purpose or its function. To them it is just another organization when
it is actually a living organism with eternal purpose. It is the bride of Christ and must meet His
standards. We are in the word but we are
not of the world. Tit 2:14 Who gave
himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto
himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Tit 2:14 Who gave himself for us,
that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar
people, zealous of good works. 1Pe 2:9
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar
people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of
darkness into his marvellous light: God is not content to just get us out
of the world and free from sin and its influence but is at work in displaying
through eternity His great love, great grace, great salvation, in and for
us. He is not just interested in getting
us to heaven, but is even more earnest in preparing us for heaven, so that when
we do finally get there we can call it home.