2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our Spiritual Blessings in Christ
“When God is the object of a person’s blessing, it has the idea of ‘praise’ and when a person is the object of God’s blessings it has the idea of ‘happiness, success, an increase in earthly possessions’” (Hoehner p. 165)
Praise [cf. “Blessed” - ESV] be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ “Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working." For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. ” (John 5:17-19)
with every spiritual blessing in Christ.A spiritual blessing is a supernatural benefit that comes from God – as opposed to a material or physical blessing.
Paul will list and explain these blessings in more detail in the verses that follow.
“Spiritual blessings are those which are appropriate to people who have their true home in the heavenly realm; they are the Christian counterpart to those temporal blessings which the Old Testament promised to those who were pressing to an earthly inheritance” (F.F. Bruce, p. 27)
4 For [“Even as” – ESV] he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.
every spiritual blessing in Christ.The phrase “in Christ” (or some form of it) is used 36 times in the book of Ephesians!®“in Christ” (EN CHRISTO) – 1:3; 4:32®“in Christ Jesus” (EN CHRISTO IESOU) – 1:1; 2:6, 7, 10, 13; 3:6 ,21®“in Christ” (EN TO CHRISTO) – 1:10, 12, 20®“in Christ Jesus” (EN TO CHRISTO IESOU) – 3:11®“in Jesus” (EN TO IESOU) – 4:21®“in the Lord” (EN KURIO) – 2:21; 4:1, 17; 5:8; 6:1, 10, 21®“in the Lord Jesus” (EN TO KURIO IESOU) – 1:15®“in Him” (EN AUTO) – 1:4, 9, 10; 2:15, 16; 4:21®“in Him” (EN HO) – 1:7, 11, 13, 13, 2:21, 22, 3:12; 4:30(Hoehner, p.173-174)The rich meaning of this phrase will begin to unfold more and more as we work our way through the book.
who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.Here Paul tells us that he and his Christian readers are in the heavenly realms in Christ “because Christ Himself is now exalted in the heavenly realm, those who are in Him belong to that heavenly realm, too, in the mind of God.” (F.F. Bruce, p. 27)“Of course, in one sense I’m still here, not there. But God views me as ‘in Christ,’ and Christ is seated with his Father in the heavenlies, therefore God views me as there in principle. That is my destination; that is where I properly belong, because of God’s great love for me.” (D.A. Carson, A Call to Spiritual Reformation, p.179)
In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-- Paul has just finished telling us that God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing.In these next eleven verses (4-14) Paul lists what the triune God has done for us:The Father has chosen and predestined us (1:4-5)The Son has redeemed us (1:7ff)The Holy Spirit has sealed us (1:13-14) The word that Paul uses to introduce this list (Greek: KATHOS) indicates that the items listed tell us either:Why (“for”) God has blessed usHow (“even as”) God has blessed usBoth are true!“This means that the election of the Father, the redemption of the Son, and the seal of the Holy Spirit are themselves spiritual benefits as well as being the basis for every spiritual benefit. (Hoehner, p.175)
For [“Even as” – ESV] he chose us in him Here we see the ultimate cause of our salvation: God’s choice of us!Our choice of God, like our love of God, is a result of His choice and love of us:We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)Or as Jesus said to His disciples: You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit (John 15:16 )
“In the Old Testament . . .the Lord chose Israel to be His treasured possession from among all the peoples. Her election was due solely to God’s gracious decision; it had nothing to do with Israel’s choice or righteous behavior” (O’Brien, p.99)
God’s Choosing of Israel in the OT:“The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people . . . The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 7:6-8 )“for you are a people holy to the LORD your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the LORD has chosen you to be his treasured possession.” (Deuteronomy 14:2)God’s choice of the nation of Israel from among all the nations of the world is a picture of God’s choice of us as a spiritual “nation”‘You will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.“ (Exodus 19:6)But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God. (1 Peter 2:9)
he chose us in him before the creation of the worldHere we see when God chose to save us: “God chose the believer before the world was even created, that is, in eternity past.As God chose Jacob over Esau before they were born or had done anything to merit God’s favor (Rom 9:11), so God chose us before the world began” (Hoehner p.178)
In other words, “To say that election took place before creation indicates that God’s choice was due to his own free decision and love, which were not dependent on temporal circumstances or human merit” (O’Brien p.100)
he chose us in himWayne Grudem observes:“Since we did not exist before the foundation of the world, these verses indicate that God looking into the future and knowing that we would exist, thought of us being in a special relationship with Christ.He did not first choose us and later decide to relate us to Christ. Rather, while choosing us, he at the same time thought about us belonging to Christ in a special way as being ‘in Christ’.Therefore, [God the Father] thought about us as eventually having the right to share in the blessings of Christ’s work”(Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology, p.841)
he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.Here we see the purpose God had in choosing to save us.“God did not choose anyone because they were holy but he chose them in order that they might be holy” (Hoehner p.179 – emphasis added)
Holy -Can be used of impersonal things in which case it means something has been set apart for special use in service of God (cf. Lev 6:16).Blameless -
Is mainly used of personal beings (e.g. men, angels) such as in verse 4 (above) where it means that we have been chosen by God to reflect God’s character.Unable to be blamed, morally without blemish.When is it that God intends for us to be holy and blameless in His sight?
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her . . . to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25,27 )Ultimately it is in the future when we go to the heavenly realms to stand in His presence (cf. Eph 5:25,27)
But we are to start now:Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life-(Philippians 2:14-16 )
6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.It is not certain whether the words “in love” go with the words before or the words after:Either: “God chose us to be holy and blameless in love”Or: “In love God predestined us”Both are true!
he predestined us to be adopted as his sonsThe word for predestine (PROORIZO) means to predetermine, “to decide upon beforehand” (BAGD).The word appears six times in the NT (Rom 8:29,30; 1Cor 2:7;Eph 1:5,11;Acts 4:28), is used exclusively of God and serves to emphasize his sole initiative and authority in our salvation (O’Brien p.102)
he predestined us to be adopted as his sonsHere we see that we are destined to something: adoption into the family of God as sons!God has determined in advance to bestow on us “not only a new name, a new legal standing, and a new family relationship, but a new image” (Hendriksen p.79)For those God foreknew [loved ahead of time] he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers (Rom 8:29)Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1John 3:2)
adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ“Being adopted into his family as sons (and daughters) is an incredible privilege, because those now able to call upon him as Father were at one time ‘sons of disobedience’ and ‘children of wrath’ (2:2,3). This personal relationship is made possible only through Jesus Christ, a highly significant expression that points to his agency” (O’Brien p.103)
adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will--Here we see the ultimate motive for God’s choosing of us and his predestining us to sonship.Does it say that God chose us because:Of something good we have done?He looked down the “corridors of time” and foresaw something good we would do (like believing)?NO! God chose us according to his pleasure and his will.“In the context of Eph 1:5 and 9, God’s pleasure is expressed freely from his own will, which is not influenced by any other person or thing.” (Hoehner p. 199)“The ground of God’s choice, of His foreordaining us to be his sons, cannot be found in us. It is not because he foresaw something acceptable in us, not even because he foreknew we would believe in the gospel, that he singled us out for such an honor as this. The ground must be sought exclusively in his own gracious character. ” (F.F. Bruce, p.30)
Here we are given God’s ultimate purpose.We have seen his intermediate purposes:That we should be holy and blamelessThat we should receive adoption as sons
Here we are given God’s ultimate purpose: that he receive praise for the glorious kindness that he has shown to undeserving sinners like us!
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
which he has freely given us in the One he loves [“in the Beloved” – ESV].The One he loves = Christ (cf. Mark 1:11 “my beloved Son”; Col 1:13 “his beloved Son”; etc.)Here we see that it is because of our special relationship with Christ that we receive the spiritual blessings that causes Paul to praise God.This sets us up to look at the next set of blessings that we have as a result of the work of Christ
In the Beloved
“In the Beloved” accepted am I,
Risen, ascended, and seated on high;
Saved from all sin thro’ His infinite grace,
With the redeemed ones accorded a place.
“In the Beloved,” God’s marvelous grace
Calls me to dwell in this wonderful place;
God sees my Savior, and then He sees me,
“In the Beloved,” accepted and free.In the NT, redemption (APOLUTROSIS) refers to the fact that we who are in Christ have been set free (from the penalty of sin and God’s resulting wrath) on the basis of a price paid to God by Christ’s death.
we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins
The forgiveness of sins “is the permanent cancellation of or release from the punishment for sin because it has been paid by Christ’s sacrifice” (Hoehner p.207)Here Paul equates redemption with the forgiveness of sins.
in accordance with the riches of God's graceGod’s redemption and forgiveness were not “out of” but “according to” the riches of his grace.
It took the riches of God’s grace to redeem and forgive the sinner.The cost was the supreme sacrifice of God’s Son Jesus Christ.
8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.9 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment-- to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.God’s grace which provided redemption and the forgiveness of sins also lavishes on us all wisdom and understanding.Not only do we understand such things as God has given us in grace, but the next verses show that this insight and discretion that God gives the believer is for the purposes of understanding God’s plan for the ages.In the NT “mystery” refers to something that was hidden in ages past but has now been revealed through the teachings of the apostles.
the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints (Colossians 1:26)11 In him we were also chosen [as God’s portion], having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
according to his good pleasure“This secret plan of God’s will was not given begrudgingly but with God’s pleasure.” (Hoehner, p.215)
which he purposed in ChristIt is God’s purpose to accomplish this mystery (= this grand event which was hidden in ages past but has now been revealed) in and through Christ
to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillmentThe wording here is very similar to Gal.4:4 –But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son…Here it refers to the final stage of history when God will bring everything to fulfillment.
to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.[NAS: the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth]A similar description of this event is given in 1 Corinthians 15:25-27 –For [Christ] must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For "God has put all things in subjection under his feet." Note that all of creation must be redeemed in and through Christ – for all of creation was corrupted by the Fall:For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:19-23) “In him” points back to the previous verse so that: “The Christ who is at the center of God’s plan to sum up all things in heaven and on earth is also the one in whom we are claimed by God as his portion” (O’Brien, p.115)12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,
we were also chosen [as God’s portion]And we have been chosen by God (cf. 1:4) to be in Christ – the One God has appointed to bring all things in heaven and on earth together and to be the head of all things.
having been predestinedIn verse 5 we saw that God predestined us “in accordance with his pleasure and will”Here we see that our being predestined is also in accordance with God’s plan.
according to the plan of himAnd again, where in verse 5 God predestined us “in accordance with his pleasure and will” – here our being predestined is in accordance with God’s plan.
who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his willFurthermore, Paul tells us that God works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.
In this context, everything includes not only things related to our salvation but all things in all places at all times:“all things in heaven and on earth” (verse 10)So in other words – everything – no matter how big, no matter how small, no matter whether it is in and of itself good or evil – everything that happens is a part of God’s plan to accomplish his purposes!
from “before the creation of the world” (verse 4)until the end of the ages when “the times will have reached their fulfillment” (verse 10)These ideas are taught numerous times in both the Bible:I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. (Isaiah 46:9b-10 )But [God] stands alone, and who can oppose him? He does whatever he pleases. (Job 23:13)
For the LORD Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back? (Isaiah 14:27)I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things. (Isaiah 45:7 )Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come? (Lamentations 3:37-38)Years ago, even newspapers used to recognize God’s sovereign control over the events of history – including disasters:“The Water flowed over our Wharffs and into our streets to a very surprising height. They say the Tide rose 20 Inches higher than ever was known before . . . The loss and damage sustained is very great . . . . Let us fear the GOD of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land, who commandeth & raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves; who ruleth the raging of the sea, and when the waves thereof arise, He stilleth them.” (Boston NewsLetter, January 21, 1723 – quoted by Marvin Olasky in CENTRAL IDEAS IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF AMERICAN JOURNALISM: A Narrative History)Even the sinful acts of man are ordained by God to accomplish His purposes:Even sin and other evils however contrary to His will, can be turned by Him to serve His purposes of glory and blessing. (F.F. Bruce on Eph 1:11, p.34)
[Joseph said to his brothers:] you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. (Genesis 50:20 - ESV)Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. (Acts 4:27-28)
in order that we, who were the first to hope in ChristAs Paul transitions from Christ’s work of redemption on our behalf (vs. 7) to the work of the Holy Spirit who seals us (vs. 13) he alludes to the distinction between Jew and Gentile – a theme that he develops more fully in 2:11ff.14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession-- to the praise of his glory.“Paul points to the distinction between Jewish believers (‘we’) and Gentile believers (‘you also’) in order to bring out more fully the central emphasis of this epistle – that Gentile believers have been incorporated along with Jewish believers as members of the body of Christ and sharers of the heritage of God.” (F.F. Bruce, p.35)
“Gentile Christians, who are now addressed specifically as you also, were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise and made his own when they heard the message of truth and received it. Within God’s eternal purpose in Christ, Gentile believers were incorporated into the one people of God. Their share in God’s heritage was as complete as those of Jewish birth who first hoped in Christ.” (O’Brien, p.118)
might be for the praise of his glory“The outworking of God’s gracious purposes for Jews (and Gentiles cf. v.14) is for his own glory.” (O’Brien, p.118)
you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy SpiritHere Paul begins to further unfold the sequence of events associated with salvation – what theologians sometimes refer to as the “Ordo Salutis ” (order of salvation).We have already seen in v.5 that those who were to be included in Christ were chosen by God before the creation of the world.Here we see that their inclusion in Christ actually takes place when:They heard the word of truth (= the gospel)And they believed itAnd then, having believed, they were sealed with the Holy Spirit
you were marked in him with a sealIn the ancient world, a seal served four purposes:To avoid tampering, denoting securitySo they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard. (Matthew 27:66)To authenticate. . .On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval. (John 6:27b)To certify genuinenessThe man who has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. (John 3:33 )To denote identification of ownership[God] set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (2 Corinthians 1:22 )
(Hoehner, p. 238)In the NT age, we are sealed (secured, authenticated, certified, and marked as owned) when we receive the Holy Spirit upon hearing and believing the gospel.
the promised Holy SpiritNote the giving of the Holy Spirit as described here was promised and is therefore unique to the NT age:The Spirit was promised in the OT –And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. 29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. (Joel 2:28-29)The Spirit was promised by Jesus –When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. (John 15:26)The Holy Spirit is a “deposit” or “first installment”:“For first installment, Paul uses the word ARRABON … it often refers to earnest money in the purchase of an animal or even of a wife …The first installment is, accordingly, a pledge or guarantee of glory to come, a glory arriving not only when soul and body part but also and especially in the great consummation of all things at Christ’s return.The fruits which this indwelling and sanctifying Spirit bestows … are ‘first fruits’ (Rom. 8:23). They are a foretaste of the future, ineffable bliss”.(Hendriksen, p.91-92)
until the redemption of those who are God's possession-Hendriksen observes:“Now the end or purpose of all things lies never in man but always in God …At the moment when believers receive their full inheritance, which includes a glorious resurrection body (4:30), the redemption of God’s own possession takes place, that is, the full release to him of that which is his by virtue of the fact that he both made it and bought it.”(Hendriksen, p.92-93)
to the praise of his glory.This is the third time this phrase or one like it has been used in vs. 3-14.It occurs after the work of each member of the Trinity is described:The Father has chosen and predestined us (1:4-5) - to the praise of his glorious grace (vs.6)The Son has redeemed us (1:7ff) - in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory (vs.12).The Holy Spirit has sealed us (1:13-14) - to the praise of his glory (vs.14).(cf. Hoehner, p.245)
Paul’s Prayer for the Ephesians
15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.D.A. Carson makes the following observations:“As he frequently does elsewhere, Paul links the content of his prayer (1:15-23) with the praise he offers to God (1:3-14)... The words this reason refer to the line of thought in the earlier verses”Paul has been outlining God’s sovereignty [in salvation]…As he thinks about these things, Paul finds specific things to pray for…In short, Paul’s prayer in this chapter is a model of how to pray under the sovereignty of God.(D.A. Carson, A Call to Spiritual Reformation, pp.167-170)Paul has just spent nine verses telling us that God is sovereign in the salvation of his people.
So who does Paul thank for the faith and love that accompanied the Ephesians' salvation?Who does Paul always thank for the faith and love of other Christians?I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. (Romans 1:8)We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints– (Colossians 1:3-4 )We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. (2 Thessalonians 1:3)I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints. (Philemon 1:4-5)Therefore when we see or hear of genuine faith and love displayed in the life of others, we should follow Paul’s example and thank God for the faith and love which he has given them.If even the angels of heaven rejoice over a single sinner who repents, it does not seem too much to ask the people of God to offer thanksgiving at the same news.” (Carson, pp.171-172)“For what do we commonly give thanks? We say grace at meals thanking God for our food; we give thanks when we receive material blessings – when the mortgage we’ve applied for comes through, or when we first turn on the ignition in a car we’ve just purchased. We may sigh a prayer of sweaty thanks after a near miss on the highway; we may utter a word of sincere and fervent thanks when we recover from serious illness. We may offer brief thanksgiving when we hear that someone we know has been converted. But by and large, our thanksgiving seems to be tied to our material well-being and comfort. The unvarnished truth is that what we most frequently give thanks for betrays what we most highly value… That is why, when we first turn to Paul’s thanksgivings, they startle us; they may even seem alien, for they do not focus on what many of us habitually cherish. Paul gives thanks for signs of grace among Christians…” (Carson, p.41)Here we see that Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians is that they might know God better.“Of all the things that Paul might have asked for, that is what he puts at the top of his list.” (Carson, p.172)
the God of our Lord Jesus Christ“To pray in Jesus’ name, or to address God as the Father of Jesus Christ, is to recognize the ground on which God answers such requests: Jesus himself.” (Carson p.173)
the glorious FatherWe must never forget that we are praying to a glorious God who “lives in unapproachable light”(1 Timothy 6:16).
may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelationWisdom:Insight into the true nature of things (Hoehner, p.256)Probably here referring to how to live in God’s universe so as to please him (Carson, p.174)Revelation:Can refer to God’s unique revelation as given in the ScripturesIt can also refer to what we mean by “illumination”. (Carson pp.174-175)Carson further observes:“Christians need the Spirit of God to reveal more of himself and his ways to us, if we are to know God better, for it is the Spirit’s task to take things that belong to the domain of God, the domain of glory, and bring them to us so that we can receive them (1 Cor. 2:9-16).” (p.175)1 Corinthians 2:9-12 - "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him"-- but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.
may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.“It is not the facts about God that are most important but knowing him personally and intimately. One can know many facts about the leader of a nation through the news media, but that is quite different from knowing the leader as his or her family does.Thus, one acquires this knowledge of God not only by facts from the Bible but by the Holy Spirit giving insight and disclosure in the knowledge of God himself.” (Hoehner, p. 259)
Paul ... understands that it is ultimately God, God alone, who both reveals and enables us to grasp what he reveals.” (Carson p.175)
that you may know the hope to which he has called you
“This hope is nothing less than life in the new heaven and new earth, life in the presence of God. It is the ‘hope of the glory of God’ (Rom 5:2)… the hope of appearing with Christ in glory at the end (Col. 3:4).” (Carson, p.176)
- “In Paul’s writings... the call or calling of God is always effective: those who are called by God are truly saved.” (Carson p.52 – emphasis added)
- …those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. (Romans 8:30)Perhaps another way to say this is that Paul is praying for the Ephesians to have a confident expectation and longing for the heavenly blessings that are the final result of their salvation.
the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints“We are God’s inheritance; to use the language of the fourth gospel, we are those whom the Father has given to the Son, his gift to his Messiah…We need to know who we are, as God sees us… not because we are intrinsically worthy, but because we have been identified with Christ.” (Carson p.176)Remember who you are and remember whose your are!
and his incomparably great power for us who believe.“Paul cannot be satisfied with a brand of Christianity that is orthodox but dead, rich in the theory of justification but powerless when it comes to transforming people’s lives.” (Carson p.177)
“For an omnipotent God there cannot be degrees of difficulty. There is no one act that is ‘most powerful’. Paul does not hunt for the most powerful or most difficult displays of God’s power, since such categories are essentially meaningless. Rather he hunts for the most glorious, the most revealing.”(Carson p.178)
which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead“The power that Christians must experience is like the power God exerted in Christ ‘when he raised him from the dead’(1:20). Here is the undoing of death, the destruction of sin…”(Carson p.178)
Cf. Romans 6:4b - just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realmsChrist being seated at the right hand of the Father is a clear reference to Psalm 110:1 – The LORD says to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet."
“There are levels of authority of which we know very little, demonic powers, seraphic powers, not only in this world but in the heavenlies… But over all of them is Christ Jesus, elevated to the Father’s right hand…”(Carson p.179)Compare this with a similar passage where Christ’s dominion is connected to his role as Creator: For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. (Colossians 1:16)
O’Brien explains Paul’s use of “church” (EKKLESIA):“The term ‘church’, in which Paul frequently refers to a local congregation of Christians in a particular place (1Thes. 1:1, 2Thes. 1:1, Gal. 1:2, etc.)… can on occasion have a wider reference…It is [best] to understand the term metaphorically of a heavenly gathering around Christ in which believers participate (cf. Hebrews 12:22-24) .”But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven… to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant…“The readers of the letter have already been ‘blessed…in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ’ (1:3), and God has made them alive with him, raised them up with him, and seated them in the heavenly realms with Christ (2:5-6).To speak of ‘church’ as a gathering taking place in heaven where believers are already assembled around Christ is a metaphorical way of saying they now enjoy fellowship with him…And Paul’s point in the immediate passage is that Christ’s headship over the universe is for the benefit of his people who gather around him in fellowship.”(O’Brien, pp.146-147)
The Church's One Foundation
The Church's one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord;
She is His new creation by water and the word:
From Heav'n He came and sought her to be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her, and for her life He died.
Elect from every nation, yet one o'er all the earth,
Her charter of salvation, one Lord, one faith, one birth;
One holy name she blesses, partakes one holy food;
And to one hope she presses, With every grace endued.
'Mid toil and tribulation, and tumult of her war,
She waits the consummation of peace forevermore;
Till, with the vision glorious, her longing eyes are blest,
And the great church victorious shall be the church at rest.
Yet she on earth hath union with God the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion with those whose rest is won:
O happy ones and holy! Lord, give us grace that we,
Like them, the meek and lowly, on high may dwell with Thee.
And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the churchTherefore verse 22 is saying that:God the Father has placed all things under Christ’s authority.And all of this sovereign power has been invested in Christ for the good of the church.
appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his bodyAs we have already seen in verse 22, Christ is described as “head” (that is authority) over all creation.But in verse 23 the church is described as his “body”, which seems to convey two ideas:Christ is in authority over the church as well as creationBut Christ is also in organic union with the church.The idea of the church as Christ's body is a natural development from Paul’s earlier letters, where he uses the analogy of the body to describe the mutual relationships and obligations of church members to one another (Rom 12:4-5; 1Cor 12:12-27).
the fullness of him who fills everything in every wayThe final phrase in verse 23… is one of the most complex in Ephesians. (O’Brien, p.149)In this case the church is described as the fullness or complement of Christ, just as the body is a necessary complement of the head in order to make up the complete man. (F.F. Bruce, p.45)The words “who fills all in all” mean that Christ fills all the universe in all respects; that is, the entire universe is not only dependent on him for the fulfillment of its every need but is also governed by him in the interest of the church… (Hendriksen, p. 105)“Not a drop of rain can fall outside the orb of Jesus’ sovereignty. All our days – our health, our illness, our joys, our victories, our tears, our prayers, and the answers to our prayers – fall within the sweep of the sovereignty of one who wears a human face, a thorn shadowed face. All of God’s sovereignty is mediated through one who was crucified on my behalf. (Carson, p.180)