Dr. Randy White

The Apostle Paul has a great prayer for the Gentile believers at Ephesus: “that ye may know…what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18).  Has this prayer been answered? Is the Gentile church aware of the riches of the glory of God’s inheritance? Sadly, I am afraid that in addition to not knowing of the riches of the glory of this inheritance, we blatantly teach a complete fabrication of God’s inheritance.

Our Fabricated Idea of God’s Inheritance

Ask just about any preacher, “What is God’s inheritance?”  If I was a gambling man, I’d put money on the line that you’ll get the wrong answer.  The answer will be heartfelt, sincere, ill-informed, and doggedly adhered to (a bad combination!).

Here is a sampling of answers I discovered in just a few minutes of internet research (emphasis added).

“Just as Canaan was Israel’s inheritance, and Hebron was the best of Canaan, so it is with the church which is the greatest of all the things that Christ will inherit.” Living Waters [1]

“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…. (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” Witness Lee[2]

“You are a beloved child of God; you are the heir of God’s inheritance.” Charles Stanley [3]

“The idea that God, by His grace, makes us into His inheritance is incredible.” Ligonier Ministries[4]

I could literally go on for pages and pages with quotes from preachers and bloggers, professors and laymen, famous and unknown. Each of them would celebrate the wonderful glory God is going to enjoy when He receives….us!

Sadly, it is all wrong.  It is a fabricated “truth” (that is, a lie!). Those who wrote it do not realize it is wrong, and they did not set out to deceive.  Rather, they simply repeated what they had been told…and told…and told.  We have all heard the line for so long that we assume it must be true.

And Satan smiles!

Remember that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.  He is the father of lies. Satan’s lies are evil in nature and always directed against God’s ultimate plan which leads to God’s reign and Satan’s defeat.

The Biblical Revelation of God’s Inheritance

When we come upon a passage like the one at hand, we should always use Scripture to interpret Scripture.  In the case of God’s inheritance and Ephesians 1:18, this practice is almost never done.  Instead, we just take the first thing that comes to mind and run with it as if it is the “Gospel truth,” using the verse as a proof-text.

In this case, however, the truth shouts out with almost unequaled clarity. There are at least thirty-eight Scripture passages which unquestionably define God’s inheritance.  I’ll share few, and then ask you if you know what God’s inheritance is—

“But the LORD hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be unto him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day.” (Deuteronomy 4:20)

“For the LORD’S portion is His people; Jacob is the lot of His inheritance.” (Deuteronomy 32:9)

“Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance; feed them also, and lift them up for ever.” (Psalm 28:9)

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom He hath chosen for his own inheritance.” (Psalm 33:12)  [Incidentally, this is one of the most frequently misused and misquoted passages from the Old Testament].

This is just a sampling of the thirty-eight passages which speak of Israel as God’s possession and His inheritance.

So, when Paul prays that we would know “what the riches of the glory of his inheritance” we cannot just assume ourselves into the inheritance position.  A good Bible student will ask the Scripture, “What is God’s inheritance?”  The Scripture will answer with clarity, “It is the redeemed nation of Israel.”

Undoubtedly, someone will bring up the fact that Ephesians speaks of “his inheritance in the saints.” From here, they will argue that His original inheritance rejected Him and now His new inheritance is in the church.   If they don’t want to go that far into replacement theology, they will claim that the church is now added to His inheritance with Ephesians 1:18 proving the matter.  This objection is easily solved, however, when you realize that the word “saints” is an English translation (and an unfortunate one at that) of the word Greek word that means “holy ones.”  Who are the Holy ones?  You can either make up an answer (which is the American way!) or you can let Scripture make the interpretation.  Allowing Scripture to do its work, you will find that Israel was chosen as “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people” (1 Peter 2:9).  The “Holy ones” in Ephesians 1:18 are God’s inheritance, which is consistently revealed by God to be the redeemed nation of Israel.

The Riches of the Glory of God’s Inheritance

Paul’s prayer is that the Gentile believers would be enlightened to know “the riches of the glory of his inheritance.”  That is, Paul wants gentile believers to recognize the glory God will receive in the Jewish people at the conclusion of this age.

The glory, still yet to come, of God’s inheritance in Israel is also spoken of numerous times in Scripture. Here is a sampling—

“… according to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought!” (Numbers 23:23)

“This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise” (Isaiah 43:21).

“Sing,  O ye heavens; for the LORD hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth in singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel” (Isaiah 44:23).

“Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified” (Isaiah 60:21).

“And I will cause the captivity of Judah and the captivity of Israel to return, and will build them, as at the first. And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me. And it shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and an honour before all the nations of the earth, which shall hear all the good that I do unto them: and they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and for all the prosperity that I procure unto it. ” (Jeremiah 33:7–9)

Each one of these Scripture passages speaks of the glory of God in Israel.  Each passage is a prophetic passage that is yet to be fulfilled.  Each one speaks to the fact that God will enjoy “the riches of the glory of his inheritance” in a coming day.

A Therapeutic Hermeneutic

Hermeneutics is the fancy word that refers to the “set of rules for interpretation of Scripture.”  Each person must build his own set of rules, but every “hermeneutic” will not lead to the same interpretation. Since Scripture can only have one correct interpretation, it is important that our hermeneutic be carefully thought out.  I am afraid that today’s American Christian has a “therapeutic hermeneutic” in which Scripture is read looking for something that will encourage the soul, boost the self-esteem, and bless the heart.  Those are all nice things, but it is only the truth that will set us free!


Dr. Randy White is the founder and CEO of Dispensational Publishing House. He teaches the Bible online at www.randywhiteministries.org and lives in Taos, NM.

[1] http://www.livingwaters.ws/magazine/19/02.htm
[2] Life Study of Ephesians by Witness Lee, pg. 148 Accessed here.
[3] Discovering Your Identity by Charles Stanley – publisher’s promotional material, accessed here.
[4] https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/providence-and-gods-inheritance/