Word Study - God's Inheritance

Those Whom God Will Inherit

Ephesians 1:4-5

Even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blemish before Him in love, predestinating us unto sonship through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.

Ephesians 1:11-12, 18b
In whom also we were designated as an inheritance, having been predestinated according to the purpose of the One who works all things according to the counsel of His will. That we would be to the praise of His glory who have first hoped in Christ….That you may know… what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.

The phrase, 'to be holy' (1:4), must apply to each part of our being - spirit, soul, and body. Regeneration is 'to be holy' in our spirit, sanctification is 'to be holy' in our soul, and redemption is 'to be holy' in our body. Paul says in 1Thessalonians 5:23, "And the God of peace Himself sanctify (or 'make holy') you wholly (completely, holoteleis)" - which is followed by the extent - "and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete (entirely, holokleron)."

God made a choice (predestinated, proorizo) in eternity to have a corporate group of people as His inheritance (Eph. 1:11). Coupled with that choice for an inheritance was the desire that His inheritance would match Him in life (have the sonship, 1:5) and in nature (be holy, 1:4). This desire was also His in eternity: "predestinating us unto sonship" (v. 5), referring to the "eternal counsels of God" (Lightfoot), and "chosen…before the foundation of the world to be holy" (v. 4), which also means "from all eternity" (Lightfoot).

Meaning of Inheritance

Old Testament
The Hebrew word for 'inheritance' is nahala from nahal, to inherit or possess.

The revelation of God's inheritance is firstly seen in the OT when God took His people out of Egypt. Both in the books of Moses, in the Kings, and throughout the Psalms, this same theme is repeated. In addition to God's people being His inheritance, the psalmist also adds to God's inheritance (LXX, kleronomia) the holy temple and the holy city, Jerusalem (Psa. 79:1). Zech-ariah (2:12) includes the holy land in God's inheritance.

Other examples of inheritance in the OT are as follows: Israel is God's people and His inheritance (Deut. 9:26, 27, LXX, kleros). He took His people out of Egypt that they could be His inheritance (Deut. 4:20; cf. Deut. 9:29 and 1Kings 8:51, 53). Jacob is referred to as the lot (LXX, meros) of God's inheritance (LXX, kleronomia) (Deut. 32:9). Jacob is God's people and Israel is His inheritance (Psa. 78:71).

New Testament
The Greek word for 'inheritance' is kleronomia (Eph. 1:18; 14X in NT) or kleros (Acts 26:18) from kleronomos (Gal. 4:1; 14X in NT), an heir, which is from kleroo (Eph. 1:11), to inherit.

In the NT, only the saints are mentioned as God's inheritance (Eph. 1:18), but the saints are typified as the temple. It is from Christ, typified as the land, that we enjoy His unlimited riches to be made constituents of the city, New Jerusalem.

Besides the glorious inheritance we saints have in store, F. F. Bruce notes that God, too, has an inheritance. He says,

We must not overlook the fact that His people constitute an inheritance for God, His own possession, in whom He will display to the universe the untold riches of His glory. We can scarcely realize what it must mean to God to see His purpose complete, to see creatures of His hand, sinners redeemed by His grace, reflecting His own glory (40).

Witness Lee points out the importance of God's inheritance, related to His glory, in the New Testament and the need for the Lord to gradually dispense His divine nature into us:

We, the saints, are God's inheritance. What we are by nature, however, cannot be God's inheritance. God does not desire to inherit our nature, our flesh, our natural being. He desires to inherit all that He has wrought into us of Himself. Therefore, whatever God has wrought into us of Himself becomes His inheritance....It is God Himself within us that constitutes His inheritance among the saints. In this inheritance there are the riches of His glory (Ephesians, 15:137, 138).

Lee further relates holiness, sonship, and inheritance. He says,

(The saints need to) know Him as the One operating in them to make them holy, to constitute them the sons of God and to cause them to become the inheritance of God....God will work within us to make us worthy, precious, and valuable, a unique treasure in the universe as an inheritance for Him…. God is the treasure, and He is working Himself as the treasure into us that we may become a treasure to Him (Ibid., 17:147, 148).

God is working in us day-by-day to perfect His inheritance. Lee notes,

He is transforming us metabolically, making us a particular treasure to become God's private possession, even God's heritage, God's inheritance (Eph. 1:11). God wants to inherit something. He wants to inherit those who were once sinners and who have become a treasure….We are expecting to be glorified, and God is also expecting to see that we are glorified. Then He will have a complete treasure. This may seem like a dream, but one day this dream will be fulfilled (The Issue of the Dispensing, 30).

The New Jerusalem
Witness Lee points out how the matters of holiness (holy), sonship, and inheritance are all brought together in the New Jerusalem. He says,

The New Jerusalem will be the embodiment of holiness, a composition of the sons of God, and a mutual inheritance for God and man. Moreover, the New Jerusalem will have the glory of God, which is the glory of God's inheritance, the riches of the glory of His inheritance among the saints (Ephesians, 17:148).

-James Reetzke

Bruce, F. F. The Epistle to the Ephesians. Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, 1961.
Lee, Witness. Life-Study of Ephesians. Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry, 1984.
______. The Issue of the Dispensing of the Processed Trinity and the Transmitting of the Transcending Christ. Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry, 1993.
Lightfoot, J. B. Notes on the Epistles of St. Paul. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1895. Reprint 1957.

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