Lesson 2: A Sentence Begun in Eternity Part 1 of 4 (Ephesians series)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

Commentary on the Book of Ephesians

By: Tom Lowe
Date: 11/30/16

Lesson 2: A Sentence Begun in Eternity (1:3-6)

Ephesians 1:3-6 (NIV)

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.
In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—
6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

Introduction

Paul is already teaching us to use the grammar of the gospel. It is because we receive grace that we become faithful; because we are “in Christ” we can be “saints” even if we live in Ephesus. What follows, however, almost suggests that Paul cared very little about ordinary grammar! While verses 3-14 are broken down into five sentences in our translation, they are actually only one sentence in Greek—stretching to over 200 words— the longest sentence in the Word of God! They constitute a doxology, a poem of praise to God for all the blessings of the Gospel. There is a reason for this: Into these verses is woven the most thrilling account of spiritual blessings and provisions revealed in the Word of God. There is no place for a period in this account, because three persons are involved. They are inseparable, both in their being and in their activity as it relates to our salvation. Therefore, Ephesians 1:3-14 is one great sentence describing the one great provision made for hell-deserving sinners.

God is to be blessed because He has blessed us (3). “Bless” here means “to speak well” of someone. We speak well of the Lord (Blessed be…God) because in Christ, the Living Word, he has spoken well (blessed) us.

Dear reader, one of the richest and most overwhelming passages in the Bible is this discussion of the blessings which are ours now in Christ Jesus.

Commentary

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…” It all begins in the mind of “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” the God who had revealed Himself uniquely to Jesus as Abba, Father, and had raised Him from the dead.

“…Who has blessed us in the heavenly realms…” The word “blessed” has in it the thought of happiness and joy. It says “Who has blessed us.” I can’t think of anything more wonderful than this. He is not speaking here of something that may be ours when we get to heaven but of something that is ours right now.

The phrase “the heavenly realms” does not refer to a physical reality but to a celestial region, a sphere of spiritual activities to which the believer has been lifted in Christ. This reality can be found in several places in Ephesians (1:20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12). It refers not to the heaven of the future but to the new realm of spiritual realities, the heaven which lies even now within and around the Christian, the heaven into which believers have been brought in Christ. Believers do in reality belong to two worlds (Philippines 3:20). Temporally they belong to the earth; but spiritually their lives are linked with Christ’s, and they belong to the heavenly realm. The Gospel does not promise material blessings as its central benefit (although its power in a person’s life may create greater diligence and wisdom that will lead to such prosperity.) In fact, the blessings of the Gospel are for those who take up the cross and die daily (Luke 9:23); suffering with Christ is part of our inheritance in Christ: “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:17).

“…with every spiritual blessing…” The word “spiritual” defines the nature of our blessings. These blessings come to us in accordance with an eternal purpose of God. The main idea seems to be that they are spiritual as opposed to natural, material, or temporal. Paul, a childless, landless, homeless man, knew little of blessings of this latter sort, but in regard to spiritual blessings, he knew himself to have boundless wealth. The contemplation of these blessings opened in his heart the floodgates of grateful praise. “All spiritual blessings” may be understood in the sense of “every kind of.” Whatever our spiritual lives require, God amply and abundantly provides. He has given us “every possible spiritual benefit in Christ!” He is the great reservoir of blessing, but only those who have a living connection with Him share in

His benefits. To those, however, who do enjoy this vital union God gives the key to His treasures and says in effect, “Go in and take whatever you want.”

When we become Christians we do not merely receive a “benefits package” from Christ—containing forgiveness, new life, new hope and so on. Much more than that is involved; we receive Christ Himself. We are united to Him by His Spirit so that all that He achieved for us becomes ours. In this sense, says Paul, we died with Christ, were buried and raised with Him, ascended with Him, reign with Him and will be with Him when He comes in glory (Colossians 3:1). Here we are given a catalog of the superabundance of blessing that comes to us in and with Christ; election adoption, redemption, sanctification, forgiveness. Big words—big blessings.

How have God’s blessings in Christ come to us? By faith, as Paul says later (13). But while it is through faith that we are saved (2:8), that faith cannot be our own doing, because, by nature, we were dead in our sins, captive of an evil one. The spiritually dead are incapable of signs of life. New life must, therefore, be the result of something God does. The origin of our faith is found in God’s action, God’s purpose, God’s will.

Moreover, God the Father planned and was the originator of every spiritual blessing. All spiritual blessings are ours (if we are believers) in Christ, by Whom we were redeemed. All spiritual blessings are spirit bestowed. God’s blessings in the Spirit come only as we yield fully to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. If we refuse to be led by the Spirit, we cannot hope to share the blessings of the Spirit.

Receiving grace leads to enjoying every spiritual blessing—many of which Paul mentions in the verses that follow.

“In Christ.” Christ Himself is the source of these blessings. It is in Christ that God blesses us, not apart from Him. This expression and its equivalents occur over and over in these verses (in Christ, through Jesus Christ, in Him, in Christ, in Christ Jesus). It is Paul’s description of a Christian (a word he never uses in his epistles). In fact, the words “In Christ” are the KEY that unlocks this storehouse of spiritual blessings. In Christ is the KEY that opens the door and permits us to look into the storehouse of this epistle. Every believer, every born again child of God is “in Christ” because he has been baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-13). Paul makes the same statement in other words in Philippians 4:19: “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in Glory in Christ Jesus.”

Paul even goes so far as to say—every spiritual blessing is ours in Christ. They are all ours the instant we are in Christ. Why then, would you look for God’s blessing anywhere else than in Christ.

Were it not for the fact that Jesus lives today, seated at the right hand of the Father to intercede for us, spiritual life on this earth would be an impossibility. We live in a non-spiritual atmosphere. We live in a world that is steeped in sin. The whole world “lieth in the lap of the wicked one.” Therefore, if we were not literally connected to the heavenly Man who makes intercession for us and pleads our case before a holy God, it would be impossible for us to live a spiritual life on this earth. Therefore, man born of God cannot live a spiritual life without a constant supply of Heaven-sent grace, strength, power, and blessing. If Jesus withdrew His power and His grace for one split second, we could not stand . . . we surely would fall! I am so glad “if God is for us, who can be against us?”(Romans 8:31) In Him “we live and move and have our being.” In Christ we have salvation. In Christ we have the strength to live a Christian life. In Christ we have overcome Satan. In Christ our needs are all supplied.

Did you notice that it does not say here that these blessings are with Christ (there are those who read it like that)? Right now you and I are seated in Christ. Let me say this to you; if you’re going to heaven, you’re already there in Christ. He has blessed you in the heavenlies in Christ, and you are there regardless of what your position is down here. Your life down here may not be good, but if you are a child of God, you are already in Christ. The fact of the matter is you are in the heavenlies in Christ even when you are down in the dumps. Everyone who is in Christ is seated in the heavenlies in Him. That is the position which He has given to us.

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