God’s Glorious Inheritance
“…what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints…” (Ephesians 1:18)
Bible Reading: Ephesians 1:18
The second request Paul makes in his prayers for the Ephesians is that they, through the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, might know “what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18).
This request has generated surprise for Bible readers and interpreters over the centuries. At first sight, it seems mistaken or at least inappropriate to speak of God having an “inheritance”. Typically, the Bible uses the term to refer to blessings God has laid up for his people, as we have already seen. But here, it seems clear that the “inheritance” mentioned has reference to God. And it is the “riches” and “glorious” character of that inheritance that Paul wants his readers to be able to see.
How are we to understand this? The Old Testament gives hints of this idea when it speaks of God choosing Israel to be his “treasured possession”. We first meet with that expression in Exodus 19:5 where we read, “Now, therefore, if you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine.” The same language occurs in Deuteronomy 7:6; 14:2; 26:18; Psalm 135:4; Malachi 3:17. It surfaces in the New Testament too in Paul’s letter to Titus, where Jesus is said to “purify for himself a people for his own possession” (Titus 2:14).
The Malachi passage noted above is of special interest in that it refers to God remembering his faithful ones in a future day. “They shall be mine, says the Lord of Hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession” (Malachi 3:17). This suggests a particular time – the context points to the climax of the age – when God will “make up” or “receive” his treasured possession. That would fit with the idea of a “glorious inheritance” awaiting him in his saints.
Then, there is a verse that I frequently refer to in the book of Hebrews (Hebrews 2:10) that encourages us to think in these terms. It speaks of how it was fitting “in bringing many sons to glory”, that God, the one “for whom and by whom are all things exist”, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. Here, the goal or destiny toward which all things are moving is spoken of in terms of God “bringing many sons to glory”. It was for this reason that Jesus was sent and suffered – that his Father would have “many sons” sharing in an endless future of glory.
Paul, then, is not speaking out of line when he refers to “the riches of God’s glorious inheritance in the saints”. There is a day when God will “inherit”, as it were, his people, perfected in glory, his dear children. If he finds delight in them now (Zechariah 3:17), how much more so in the day when he “makes up his treasure.”
What a privilege to be included in that number.
- Do you think of yourself as loved and treasured by God?
- Is it not conceivable that God waits eagerly for his children to be with him in glory?
– Andrew Young