Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places
As you probably know, the title of this post comes from Ephesians 1:3. Also, if you’ve been following this blog for a few weeks (or if you read my post from yesterday called “A typical atypical gathering with the church“), then you also know that we are getting ready to study Ephesians weekly when we gather together with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Next Sunday, we’re planning to study Ephesians 1:1-14, which includes Paul’s address, as well as a long section that begins with the title of this post. Some people know that this long section (Ephesians 1:3-14) is actually one long sentence in Greek, although it’s usually broken up into smaller sections in our English translations to make it more readable.
Before we can begin to understand what Paul meant by this passage, we need to first understand how the words and phrases within the paragraph relate to one another grammatically and syntactically. I’m not going to attempt to analyze the grammar and syntax of each word and phrase. Instead, I’m simply laying out the main structure of the paragraph.
Paul begins by explaining that God is “blessed” (or perhaps “praised” or “praiseworthy”), and he describes God as “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” and the one who “blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (‘heavenlies’).” He uses that entire phrase to describe God, and he doesn’t end there.
The next phrase is parallel to the previous one, and also describes God:
…even as [just as] he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us [“has given us grace”] in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:4-6 ESV)
Like I said, there is no sentence break between verses 4 and 5, so it could be translated as “in love having predestined us for adoption as sons…” While this translation makes the sentence harder to read (and probably explains why it is broken up in English translations), it also shows the relationship between the participle “having predestined” and the previous subject/verb/object “he chose us.”
The final parts of this long section probably follow from the word “the Beloved” and describe how God “has given us grace” in the Beloved. (I say “probably” because it is grammatically possible that each “in whom” relative clause actually refer back to God. But, more likely, the relative pronoun “whom” refers back to the noun “the Beloved.”)
… he has given us grace in the Beloved:
In him [whom] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
In him [whom] we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.
In him [whom] you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:7-14 ESV)
So, we can see that Paul’s main points in the last part of this long paragraph is that God has given us grace in the Beloved (Jesus Christ), because of three things that we have in Christ: 1) we have redemption through his blood, 2) we have received an inheritance, and 3) we were sealed with the Holy Spirit. Why? Because God chose us to be his adopted children in Jesus Christ. And because of all this, God is blessed (by us) (i.e., he is worthy of praise).
I’d love to hear your thoughts.