“Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ. For he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him.”
First, let’s clear up the pronouns. Who blessed us? God did. Who chose us? God chose us in Christ, before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him (God). Now that we’ve cleared that up, we can move on to the meaning of the verse. I thought I was going to cover two verses in this post, but as I started writing, I realized that this one verse had so much, I had to go back and revise my original message!
According to John Stott’s “The Message of Ephesians” Paul is making a deliberate reference to the Trinity in verse 3. The origin of the blessing is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, it is through Christ that he has blessed us, and the nature of the blessing is spiritual. As Stott says, “a phrase which may well mean ‘every blessing of the Holy Spirit’ who as the divine executive applies the work of Christ to our hearts.” I love that! We just finished Anne Graham Lotz’ Bible Study on the Holy Spirit called “Jesus in Me.” I think we often forget that we have the Holy Spirit as our advocate and comforter.
The word blessed or blessing is used three times in this verse. First Paul uses it as an adjective to describe God. He is using it to praise him. He is praising him for what God has done for us, which is to bless us. Bless is uses as a verb in this case. Lastly, blessing is used as a noun to describe what God has given us, what we are receiving. Let’s look at the use of each one. In the original Greek, the twelve sentences (Ephesians 1:3-14) are a single, complex sentence. Paul starts, “Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…” God is the source of all the blessings that follow and so Paul starts his letter with a sense of adoration and love. Next is blessed as a verb and then blessing as a noun. We are the recipients of these blessings and God is the giver. Paul will use much of the remainder of this chapter describing these blessings.
In the heavens is an interesting expression in that Paul never used it in any of his other letters, but he used it five times in Ephesians. John Stott says that “The five uses of the expression in Ephesians indicate that ‘the heavenly realms’ are the sphere in which the ‘rulers and authorities’ continue to operate (3:10, 6:12), in which Christ reigns supreme and his people reign with him (1:20, 2:6), and in which therefore God blesses us with every spiritual blessing in Christ (1:3).” Other commentaries suggest that Paul has choses this expression to show that these blessings are eternal in value.
The next verses that I will be covering are 4-6, and go into election and predestination. Hold on to your hats! Just kidding… sort of! I’ve been listing to podcasts and reading articles on Calvinism and Arminianism to prepare and I think I will do a separate blog post on that subject! I think I am somewhere in the middle. But I will be taking a quick break from Ephesians with my next post. I bought myself a new Bible when I retired (The Apologetics Study Bible in the Christian Standard Bible version) and it got me to thinking about all of the versions out there. So I’ve been doing some research on the various translations- and a couple of paraphrases- and will post my research as soon as I get it all typed out.
Grace be with you!