Ephesians 1:3 MEANING

Ephesians 1:3
(3) It may be noted, as bearing on the question of the general or special character of this Epistle, that (with the single exception of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, which may be looked upon as virtually a continuation of the First Epistle) all St. Paul's Epistles addressed to particular churches pass at once from the salutation to refer to the particular circumstances, gifts, and needs of the Church, generally in the form of thanksgiving and prayer, sometimes (as in Galatians 1:6) in rebuke. In St. Peter's First Epistle, on the other hand, addressed to those "scattered" through many churches, we have an opening exactly similar to the opening of this Epistle. There is, indeed, here a thanksgiving below (Ephesians 1:15-22), but it is entirely general, belonging to the whole Church.

The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.--On this phrase (used in Romans 15:6; 2 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 11:31; 1 Peter 1:3) see Note on Romans 15:6. It is, however, to be noted here, that in the Vatican MS. the words "and Father" are omitted, and that the phrase "the God of our Lord Jesus Christ" occurs below in Ephesians 1:17.

Blessed be . . . who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings.--The frequent phrase "Blessed be God" (Luke 1:68; Romans 1:25; Romans 9:5; 2 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 11:31; 1 Peter 1:3) is here used with an unique antithesis. We can "bless" God only in thanksgiving of heart and voice, with which He deigns to be pleased, as He "rejoices over the works of His hands." God blesses us in real and life-giving "spiritual blessing," i.e., blessing of the gift of the Spirit, for which we can return nothing except thanksgiving. So in Psalm 116:12-13, the natural question of the thoughtful soul--"What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits towards me?"--is answered simply by the words, "I will receive the cup of salvation, and call on the name of the Lord."

Who hath blessed us . . . in heavenly-places.--It should be, who blessed us (once for all), in the election and predestination spoken of in the next verse. If this be noted, the sense of the phrase "in heavenly places" becomes far clearer. It has been doubted whether we ought to supply the word "places" or "things" (as in John 3:12) in rendering this phrase, which is peculiar to this Epistle, and used in it no less than five times. In three out of the other four places (Ephesians 1:20; Ephesians 2:6; Ephesians 3:10) the local sense is manifest; in the fourth (Ephesians 6:12) and in this it might be doubtful. But (1) it is altogether unlikely that so unique a phrase would be used in two different senses; (2) the original word for "heavenly" has most properly and most usually a local meaning; (3) the transference of the thoughts to heaven above suits especially the whole tone of this Epistle and the parallel Epistle to the Colossians; and (4) the local sense agrees best with the context here, for the Apostle is speaking of the election "before the foundation of the world" as made by the foreknowledge of God in heaven, where Christ is "in the beginning with God."

It has been noticed here that we have one of those implicit references to the Holy Trinity--the blessing from God the Father, in Christ, and by the Spirit--with which St. Paul's Epistles abound.

In Christ--i.e., in the unity with Christ, which is "the life eternal," ordained for us in the foreknowledge of God, and viewed as already existing. (See the whole of John 17, especially Ephesians 1:21-23.)

(3) In Ephesians 1:15-23, this introductory chapter ends in a prayer for the enlightenment of the readers of this Epistle, that they may understand all the fulness of the blessings of the gospel. In accordance with the heavenward direction of the thought of the whole Epistle, these blessings are viewed in their future completeness of glory and power, of which the present exaltation of the risen Lord to the right hand of God, as the Lord of all creatures, and the Head of the Church His body, is the earnest and assurance.

Verses 3-14. - THANKSGIVING FOR THEIR DIVINE ORDINATION TO THE BLESSINGS OF GRACE. In this glorious anthem, in which the apostle, tracing all to the Divine Fountain, enumerates the glorious privileges of the Church, and blesses God for them, he first (ver. 3) states summarily the ground of thanksgiving, expanding it with glowing fullness in vers. 4-14. Verse 3. - Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every blessing of the Spirit, in heavenly places in Christ. Here we have

(1) the Author of our blessings;

(2) their nature and sphere;

(3) the Medium through whom we have them.

1. The Author is "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Jesus called God his God and his Father (John 20:17) in virtue of the state of subjection to him in which, as the Son of man, he had voluntarily placed himself. In this aspect and relation to Christ, God is here thanked because he hath blessed us in him.

2. Αν πασῄ εὐλογὶᾳ πνευματικῇ: not merely spiritual as opposed to material, but as applied by the Holy Spirit, the office of the Third Person being to bring Divine things into actual contact with human souls - to apply to us the blessings purchased by Christ; which blessings are ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις ( ιν heavenly places. They belong to the heavenly kingdom; they are therefore the highest we can attain to. The expression occurs three times, and with the same meaning.

3. Αν Ξριστᾷ. The Medium or Mediator through whom they come is Christ; they are not fruits of the mere natural bounty of God, but of his redeeming bounty - fruits of the mediatorial work of Jesus Christ. Thus, in this summary, we recognize what is eminently characteristic of this Epistle - the doctrine of the Trinity, and the function of each Person in the work of redemption. No other writing of the New Testament is so pervaded with the doctrine of the Trinity. The three great topics of the Epistle will be found to be considered in relation to the three Persons of the Trinity. Thus:

1. Origin and foundation of the Church, referred to the eternal counsel and good pleasure of the Father.

2. The actual birth or existence of the Church with all its privileges, to the atoning grace and merit of the Son.

3. The transformation of the Church, the realization of its end or purpose, in its final holiness and glory, to the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit. This throws light on the expression, "every blessing;" it includes

(1) all that the Father can bestow;

(2) all that the Son can provide;

(3) all that the Spirit can apply.

The resources of all the three Persons thus conspire to bless the Church. In the verses that follow, the First Person is prominent in vers. 4-6; the second is introduced in vers. 6-12; and the third in vers. 13, 14. But all through the First Person is the great directing Power.

1:3-8 Spiritual and heavenly blessings are the best blessings; with which we cannot be miserable, and without which we cannot but be so. This was from the choice of them in Christ, before the foundation of the world, that they should be made holy by separation from sin, being set apart to God, and sanctified by the Holy Spirit, in consequence of their election in Christ. All who are chosen to happiness as the end, are chosen to holiness as the means. In love they were predestinated, or fore-ordained, to be adopted as children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, and to be openly admitted to the privileges of that high relation to himself. The reconciled and adopted believer, the pardoned sinner, gives all the praise of his salvation to his gracious Father. His love appointed this method of redemption, spared not his own Son, and brought believers to hear and embrace this salvation. It was rich grace to provide such a surety as his own Son, and freely to deliver him up. This method of grace gives no encouragement to evil, but shows sin in all its hatefulness, and how it deserves vengeance. The believer's actions, as well as his words, declare the praises of Divine mercy.Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,.... God, the first person in the Trinity, is the God of Christ, as Christ is man and Mediator; he chose and appointed him to be the Mediator, and made a covenant with him as such; he formed and prepared an human nature for him, and anointed it with the Holy Ghost above measure, and supported it under all his trials and sufferings, and at last glorified it: and Christ, as man, prayed to him as his God, believed, hoped, and trusted in him as such, and loved him as in such a relation to him, and cheerfully obeyed his commands. And the same is the Father of Christ, as Christ is God; as such he is the Son of God; not by creation, as angels and Adam, nor by adoption, as saints, but by natural generation; he being the only begotten of the Father, his own proper Son, of the same nature and perfections with him, and equal to him. Now to "bless" God is neither to invoke nor confer a blessing on him; for there is none greater than he to be called upon; nor does he need anything, nor can he receive anything from his creature; but it is either to congratulate his greatness and goodness, to ascribe blessing, glory, and honour to him, or to give thanks unto him, both for temporal and spiritual mercies. And the reasons why he is blessed, or praised by the saints as the God and Father of Christ, are; because these are his New Testament titles, under which he is more clearly made known, and in which he delights; and because he is their God and Father in Christ; nor can they come to him in any other way, but through him; and because it is through him that all their blessings come to them, and therefore all their praises must go this way, as follows:

who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: God is the author and giver of all blessings; and he blesses his people with them, as he is the God and Father of Christ, and as he is their covenant God and Father in Christ; and he only can bless; if he blesses not, none can; and if he blesses, they are blessed indeed: the "us" that are blessed, are such who deserve, according to the tenor of the law, to be cursed; and are not all men, but some distinct from others; and who are before described as saints, and faithful in Christ Jesus; and include both Jews and Gentiles, who belong to the election of grace. And the blessings such are blessed with are spiritual, so called to distinguish them from temporal blessings. The Jews have the like distinction of , "temporal blessings", and , "spiritual blessings" (d); which latter are solid, substantial, and lasting blessings; and which concern the good of the soul or spirit of man; and are agreeable to, and desired by a spiritual man; and are applied by the Holy Spirit of God; and so the Ethiopic version renders it, "with every blessing of the Holy Spirit": and which are very comprehensive, and take in all the fulness of grace in Christ; all the blessings and sure mercies of the everlasting covenant; all things pertaining to life and godliness, such as justification, peace, pardon, adoption, sanctification, and eternal life: and with these the saints are blessed "in heavenly" places; God that blesses them is in heaven, and so is Christ, in whom they are blessed; and the completion of their blessedness will be in heaven, where their hope is laid up, and their inheritance is reserved: and this phrase may denote the safety of them, being out of the reach of any enemy, sin, Satan, or the world, to deprive them of them, as well as the nature of them; for it may be read, "in heavenly things", and so distinguishes these blessings from such as are of an earthly kind; and points at the original of them, being such as descend from above, come down from heaven; and also the tendency of them, which is to heaven; and being what give a right unto, and a meetness for the kingdom of heaven: and these they are blessed with "in Christ"; as he is their head and representative, and as they are members in him, and partakers of him; through whom, and for whose sake, they are conveyed unto them, and who himself is the sum and substance of them. Agreeably to this way of speaking, the Targumist, Jonathan ben Uzziel, on Numbers 6:27 paraphrases the last clause thus, "I will bless them", "in my word". The date of these blessings, "hath blessed us", may respect either first conversion, when the discovery and application of the blessings of grace are made to God's people; or the making of the covenant with Christ, their head, to whom all grace was then given, and to them in him, and their election was in Christ, as follows.

(d) Tzeror Hammor, fol. 79. 2.

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