There is a small word in Aramaic, qedam, which means “beforehand.” This word is used in combination with other verbs as an adverb to tell the time in which an action took place. It is very revealing to see these combinations of what God did beforehand in light of our calling. Many of the places are in the first chapter of Ephesians.
What God Did Beforehand
Ephesians 1:4-5 (MGI translation):
even as he chose us beforehand in him, from before the foundations of the world, that we should be holy [ones] and without blemish before him. And in love he marked us out beforehand for himself.
God chose us beforehand. The exact time of this is further clarified by the next phrase: before the foundations of the world. Before the founding of the world, God chose us. That is a remarkable truth. We ought to be jumping up and down and shouting “glory, hallelujah!” God in his wisdom knew that we would believe so he knew that when he called, we would answer the call. He had it all set up and knew that we would be saints, “holy [ones]” and would be able to stand before him without blemish. Before God created the heavens and the earth, he had us in mind.
Then verse 5 goes on to say, he also “marked us out beforehand.” This verb is the Aramaic word, reshem, which means to engrave, mark, inscribe. It is used in the Peshitta Old Testament in Isaiah 49:16, where God “engraved us on the palms of his hands.” We were inscribed on God’s hands beforehand — before the foundation of the world! How did he do this? By his foreknowledge, he already knew that we would believe by our freedom of will and would become a part of his family. Just like he marked out the horizon for the separation between earth and heaven, he marked out the place where we would be in the future. It has been taught that this is a “predestination” and that we have no choice about it. Part of the marking out was our free will. It is only that God is all-knowing so he knew what we would choose.
The next use of qedam in Ephesians 1 shows more about God’s knowledge beforehand.
Ephesians 1:9-10 (MGI):
And he has made known to us the mystery of his will, which he had determined beforehand to accomplish in him
in the administration of the fullness of times, that everything that is in heaven and in earth should be made new again in Christ.
God set or determined beforehand, before the foundation of the world, that he would accomplish all that was necessary so that everything would be made new again in Christ. He had a “secret purpose or will” that was not revealed in other ages that there would be a “new man” (Ephesians 2:15) made from both Jews and Gentiles and that it would be “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). It was his determination alone that brought this secret to pass because the mystery was never revealed until God made it known to the apostle Paul. It says in I Peter that the angels desired to look into it, but they never saw the time period that we live in now. They and other prophets in the Old Testament saw that there was a break between the sufferings and the glory, but did not know what it was. It was God’s secret! And ultimately, EVERYTHING will be new again in Christ.
Ephesians 1:11,12 continues to show the reason we were marked out beforehand. We are to show God’s magnificence, to be to the praise of his glory.
Ephesians 1:11-12 (MGI):
And we were chosen in him, even as he marked us out beforehand and he willed, he who performs everything according to the purpose of his will, that we, those who first trusted in Christ, should be for the esteem of his magnificence.
This “chosen in him” has to do with our inheritance. God marked us out to be His inheritance, his portion. When? He marked us out beforehand, before the foundations of the world! He called us and gave us the gift of Holy Spirit as a down payment to show us that we would have the full inheritance in the fullness of times. If you read the verses without the phrases in the commas, it is simply, “he willed that we should be for the esteem of his magnificence”. What does that mean? He gave us the Holy Spirit so that we could demonstrate to the world his magnificent glory. Every time we walk by the Spirit, heal someone, prophesy, speak revelation from God, we are demonstrating God’s glory! That is our life now until we can come into the full redemption of our bodies when Christ comes back. Again, we should we shouting “glory, hallelujah!” But most of all, we should get busy walking by the Spirit and learning all that we have in Christ! God even prepared the works for us to walk in beforehand (Ephesians 2:10).
So now we have a choice. We learned about everything that God did beforehand --he chose us beforehand to be His sons, holy and without blemish. He marked us out and engraved us on his hands beforehand. He determined beforehand to accomplish all that was necessary so that we might have the revelation of the mystery and have all the power of the risen Christ. And he marked us out beforehand for his inheritance so that we would be to the praise of His glory. All these things were done beforehand, before the foundations of the world. Are we going to walk in those works that he prepared for us or not? Are we willing to have our lives be to the praise of his glory?