Why embark on such a journey? As the old saying puts it, “Why not!” There are many good reasons why it would be a good idea. One reason is that it is always good to base one’s prayers upon God’s revealed truth rather than simply wandering off in our own thoughts as we pray. A second reason is that this Epistle has some of the deepest theological truths that one can find in all the Bible. A third reason is that this is a very practical letter with instructions applicable to various groupings of people. It is relevant. It is real. It is true.
Following his greeting to the believers in Ephesus, Paul wrote one long sentence in the Greek text that goes from verses 3 to 14. ( I originally thought that I would look at the following passage from verses 3 to 6. But as you will see I was impacted by incredible truths just in verse 3.)
(3) “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, (4) even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love (5) he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, (6) to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.”
SOME AMAZING TRUTHS in Ephesians 1:3. God has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.
Paul began verse 3 with a blessing – to God! He is about to describe the blessings God has bestowed on His people. However he begins the passage with his focus on God as the One who blesses, before he begins to elaborate on the blessings God bestows. (It’s always a good thing in prayer to focus on the Lord in praise and adoration before we begin to speak about His blessings.)
We see a wonderful link in this verse.
- “Blessed” in “Blessed be God” is the Greek adjective (eulogētós).
- The phrase “Has blessed us” is from the verb (eulogéō) and
- the “blessing” in “every spiritual blessing” is the noun (eulogia). The words all come from a common root. What a blessed verse this is! We are blessing the One who has blessed us with blessings!
Does this sound familiar? We find a similar expression used in the call of Abraham in the Septuagint Greek version of the Old Testament. Gen 12:1 “Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you (eulogéō) and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” (eulogētós, an adjective from the verb (eulogéō). The people of God are blessed by Him to be a blessing to others. We note that they are the same words used in Ephesians 1:3.
God had another promise of blessing for His people in Gen 12:3, “I will bless those who bless you (both are from the verb eulogéō) and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (eneulogéō from en = in and eulogéō, meaning to bless in or through someone). He was promising to bless those who blessed His people and that through His people the whole family on earth would be blessed. That was God’s declared purpose. It meant on the other hand that those who frustrated His purpose by dishonouring His people would come under His curse.
We see that it is incumbent on the people of God throughout all the ages to fulfil their God-given responsibility by living for God in the way He intended them to live. If they do, God can bless them by working through them to bring blessing to the nations. If they fail to live as they should, multitudes miss out on His blessing.
St Paul had also painted a cosmic responsibility for the people of God in the letter to the Romans. Twice he wrote that the gospel message was to be spread throughout the world so that people of all nations could come to the obedience of faith. Rom 1:5 “through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations”, and Rom 16:25 “Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith.” If the people of God shared the gospel message throughout the world and the people of other nations accepted the message, then they would all be able to participate in the promises of blessings God has prepared for His people throughout the world and throughout the ages.
Blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places!
What sort of blessings are “spiritual blessings?” They contain, in the spiritual realm (as we have seen above), the incredible privilege of belonging to the people of God. They include all the other blessings that flow from that relationship. (More about that in the following articles.)
Paul uses the word “spiritual” as a contrast to “material” in these verses. Rom 15:27 For … if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. AND 1Cor 9:11 If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? Recipients of spiritual blessings should feel obligated to make some material contribution to those who shared those blessings with them.
Another spiritual blessing is to be able to receive a deeper spiritual knowledge of the will of God. Eg., Col_1:9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, AND 1Cor 2:13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
Spiritual songs are part of the spiritual blessings God gives to His people. Eph_5:19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, AND Col_3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. They are used in expressing our praise to God and to encourage others in worship.
Spiritual gifts are also part of the spiritual blessings. Paul mentions them in these verses, Rom 1:11 “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— AND 1Cor 12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed”. AND 1Cor 14:1 “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.” A spiritual gift enables us to live and to minister beyond our natural resources. God gives us gifts to enable us to fulfil His purpose for us as we seek to live for Him. He also gives them so that others are blessed through our exercise of those spiritual gifts.
It seems that even in this one verse Eph 1:3, we have enough to turn into prayer. We will have lots of opportunities to look further into the blessings God has given us in Christ as we journey through this the rest of this epistle. But now is the time for prayer.
A SUGGESTED PRAYER BASED ON Eph 1:3
“Heavenly Father, we thank You for all You have done for us in Jesus. We thank You for all You have given us in Him. We thank You that You have blessed us in Him with every spiritual blessing. We thank You that through faith, we are the children of Abraham and that we have been blessed by You to be a blessing.
Help us Lord to realise that this world is not about us, but that it is about You. It’s about Your purpose to bless the world in Your love. We thank You that not only are we the recipients of Your love but that we also have the wonderful privilege and responsibility of being instruments of Your love and blessings to others in this world.
Grant us the wisdom to know Your will and the power by Your Spirit to do it so that we might fulfil Your purpose for us. We ask these things in Jesus’ name. AMEN!”
Blog No.193. Jim Holbeck. Posted Sat 13th August 2016