“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…” Eph 1:3 Take a look at Psalm 103 for King David’s thoughts on those spiritual blessings.
Paul repeatedly praises God’s “glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved” (Eph 1:6). In Isaiah 55, the prophet foretold what God’s “grace” would mean: “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
In Eph. 1:3-14, Paul praises God for his grace, as well as the spiritual blessings we have as a result of that grace. But this isn’t just a one-way relationship that Paul describes. As theologian John Oswalt writes, “If we merely accept grace without changing our identity, we never fulfill our purpose.” In this early portion of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he sets up the framework of what it means to live a NEW life “in Christ.”
In Eph. 1:3-14, Paul frequently mentions predestination. Theologian Greg Boyd offers one perspective of how Second Temple Jews (which includes Paul) viewed this concept: “In keeping with the Jewish practice of his day, I think Paul was speaking of a corporate election in this passage. When Jews thought of election or predestination, they thought primarily of the nation of Israel. Israel as a nation was elected (not for salvation, but for service). But this didn’t mean that every individual born into Israel was part of God’s chosen people. Only those who kept covenant with God were considered true Israelites.”
As Paul praises life in Christ in Ephesians 1:3-14, he also imbeds the doctrine of the Trinity. As you read, look for triads and think about how they reflect the Trinitarian relationship of Father, Son, and Spirit.
Ephesians 1:15-23. Where Paul used the opening doxology to teach about worship, he uses this next section to teach about prayer, again by modeling it. As you read, keep in mind that 90% of the time when Paul says “you,” he means “ALL of you” – the entire body of Christ. In our modern world of individualism, it’s good to have a reminder of our corporate identity in Christ. Paul uses this moment of prayer as such a reminder.
Eph. 1:18, Paul prays for his readers to have “the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you.” One theologian has called hope, “faith standing on tiptoe.” I love that image because it reflects how Hope not only means something about our future, but also about our present. Give some thought today to how knowing the hope of your future in Christ changes your present life in Christ.
“United by faith with Jesus, every Christian is a temple, and every church is a temple of the Holy Spirit—a magnificent wonder of the modern world. We may meet in a crumby school hall, a medieval stone building, or a leaky corrugated-iron hut. But every gathered assembly of God’s people is God’s temple, his dwelling-place among us; his palace, where he governs us; and his temple, where we celebrate the finished sacrifice of Jesus.” (R. Coekin, Ephesians for You)