What blessing from God are you most grateful for? Your answer may be your mate, your children, and your grandchildren. Others might think of some dramatic answer to a prayer. Some might immediately think of God’s material provisions.
But for the Apostle Paul, the answer to that question was easy. From the moment of his encounter with the living Christ on the way to Damascus until the moment he drew his last breath with one quick stroke of a Roman sword, Paul could never get over his deliverance from the wrath of God by the death of Jesus Christ on his behalf.
And that is why Paul begins his letter to the Ephesians with a Eulogy—words of praise for what God has done for him.
In the last blog, we saw this eulogy—this tribute to God in verses 3-14 is one sentence in the Greek text. Yet, one way to outline this passage is by the members of the Trinity.
1. The Blessings From God the Father (Ephesians 1:3-6)
- God Has Chosen Us (Ephesians 1:3-4)
Election and predestination are difficult to comprehend, but what is clear from Scripture is this. Our salvation does not begin with us; it begins with God. As Jesus said, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you” (John 15:16).
- God Has Adopted Us as Sons (Ephesians 1:5-6)
While “election” deals with people, “predestination” deals with purpose. Why did God choose us? To adopt us into His family—not as babies with few or any rights, but as adults with the full rights that belong to a grown child. We are joint heirs with Jesus Christ, God’s own beloved son.
Next, Paul praises God the Son.
2. The Blessings From God The Son (Ephesians 1:7-12)
Although the Father initiates the plan, the Son of God, Jesus, implements the plan by which we are saved from the consequences of our sins and placed into God’s family.
Paul outlines four things God the Son, Jesus Christ, has done for us. The first two are described with two spiritually significant words—“redemption” and “forgiveness.”
- Christ Has Redeemed Us (Ephesians 1:7a)
The New Testament uses six Greek words to describe our redemption. The word used here is apolytrosis, which refers to a buying back or setting free after a ransom price has been met. This is what Jesus did for us.
When we get to chapter 5, verse 16, Paul uses another Greek word for “redeem” or “redemption.” The New American Standard Bible translates that verse, “making the most of your time because the days are evil.” Literally, it reads, “redeeming the time because the days are evil.” The word here is exagorazo, and that is where the word agora comes in. Ex means “out of,” and agora means “the marketplace of slavery.”
So, whether we’re talking about Christ paying our ransom price or purchasing us out of the marketplace of sin, the effect is the same: He has freed us from the spiritual consequences of our sin, which is eternal punishment, and from the present slavery to sin, which means we’re free to live as God intended—as saints, enjoying our spiritual blessings as His beloved children.
God looked down on your condition and my condition and saw that we were slaves in the marketplace of sin. Satan was our master—he had complete rights over us; we were his slaves. We had no hope at all—we were chained to sin and headed for an eternity of separation from God.
But God, because of His love, chose to save us. To do that, however, someone would have to pay the ransom price to release us from slavery. And the price was steep—a sinless sacrifice. So, God, in His great mercy and grace toward us, sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross to pay the debt we owe.
- Christ Has Forgiven Us (Ephesians 1:7b-8a)
The second important term Paul used is also found in verse 7—“the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.”
The word forgiveness means to “carry away.” We have a beautiful picture of the meaning of this word from the ritual on the Jewish Day of Atonement, observed once a year. You remember that the High Priest would kill a goat, take its blood, and sprinkle it on the Mercy seat on top of the Ark of the Covenant in the holy of Holies so that when God looked down, he no longer saw His law which had been broken, but the blood of an innocent animal.
But the ritual did not stop there. Then the high priest would take a live goat, known as the scapegoat, and he would confess the sins of the people over that live goat, and the goat was then set loose in the wilderness, picturing the taking away of the sins. When Christ, the true lamb of God, died, he not only paid for our sins, but he also carried away our sins so that they would never be seen again.
Verses 7-8 say Christ has forgiven us “according to the riches of His grace which he lavished upon us.” You can’t outsin the grace of God. No matter how much you have stained your life with sin, God’s grace is like a bucket filled with detergent that he pours upon your sin. He lavishes you; He floods you with his grace.
- Christ Has Revealed His Will to Us (Ephesians 1:9-10)
Jesus has redeemed us, forgiven us, and third, according to verse 9, “He makes known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him.”
By “His will,” it does not mean that God has revealed to us the future about whom we’re to marry or where we are to go to school. The word mystery refers to something previously unknown but has now been revealed, and it relates to the plan of God.
- Christ Has Given Us an Inheritance (Ephesians 1:11-12)
Through the death of Christ, we have received an inheritance, as Paul points out in verse 11—part of it we enjoy right now: Peace with God, freedom from the chains of sin.
But a part of our inheritance will be ours later when we enjoy the riches of heaven. And will you note that our inheritance is irrevocable? We never have to worry about God changing the will. Romans 11:29 says that the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Regardless of what we do or don’t do, our inheritance is secure. That is another reason to praise God.
3. The Blessings From God the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14)
In New Testament times, a seal was used for three reasons.
- To Authenticate an Object
- To Make an Object Secure
- To Mark an Object for Ownership
We’ve talked about the word “redemption” before, in verse 7. Here, in verse 14, Paul brings it up again. This time, however, Paul uses the word differently than in verse 7. There, Paul emphasized our release from sin’s penalty. But here, Paul emphasizes our release from sin’s presence.
Three Aspects of Salvation
- Justification: I am saved from sin’s penalty (Romans 8:1).
- Sanctification: I am being saved from sin’s power (Romans 6:11-12).
- Glorification: I will be saved from sin’s presence (1 Corinthians 15:51-55).
Sometimes, when we put together a worship service, I wonder what part of the service is most pleasing to God. He enjoys hearing His word proclaimed, He no doubt listens when we pray to Him, and He delights in the offerings we bring to Him. But what moves God most is when we praise Him for what He has done for us.
That’s what Paul does—He eulogizes God, blesses God, He praises God for all the Father, Son, and Spirit have done for us.
Full Passage: Ephesians 1:3-14