In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
Let's just start with this: Israel was regarded as the Lord's inheritance and portion. The church, the new Israel, becomes a part of that same promise. Here is the basis for these verses: Paul is reminding his readers that his people, the Jews, were the first to put their hope in Christ, in a coming Messiah. This idea was distinct to their faith. No other faith held the idea of a savior within their belief systems. The Gentiles had not entertained this notion. So as not to think that somehow Christians have usurped Jewish privileges, Paul is emphasizing Israel's important role in God's story to expand His kingdom. It was Israel who was chosen to introduce God's mercy and grace to all the nations. It was Israel who was chosen to bring forth God's word from generation to generation. No, Christians have not usurped Jewish privileges . . . they have been brought in to inherit those same privileges to the praise and glory of God who has worked this out from the beginning.
Israel was regarded as the Lord's inheritance and portion. I've always found this to be a difficult concept. Here's what I think it means. "Inheritance" should be thought of as qualities and markings and characteristics we inherit from our parents. In this sense, Israel was to reflect the goodness of God. And "portion," in this sense, means part of a whole. Israel was a part of God's creation just like the other nations. The difference being that God took that portion (Israel) and cared for them and gave them promises as an example of what He wants for all of us. The foreordained plan for Israel was to make known to the nations the wondrous works of God, His unfathomable and all-consuming love and His unending mercy and grace to the rest of us. Now, maybe they haven't always succeeded in that task, but then, neither have I.
My next post (Ephesians 1:13-14) will bring further clarification on these verses and will hopefully round it out a bit more.
To his glory,