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Ephesians: Spiritual Blessings in Christ

 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ…”

Ephesians 1:3 (LSB)

The word that Paul uses here for blessed is eulogetos, the adjective of the word eulogeo, which means to speak well of. But this word means not just to speak a blessing on someone, but for one to be well spoken of and worthy of praise. When this word is used in the New Testament, it is always ascribed to God because no one is inherently worthy of praise except for God!

No person, no king, no queen, no president, no emperor, no ruler, no pope, no apostle can match the glories of God. He himself is inherently good and in His essence holy, so truly He alone can be blessed in the way Paul speaks of here. All creatures ever created, all men ever created, have been created to give this blessing and praise to God.“My mouth will speak the praise of Yahweh, and all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever” (Psalm 145:21, LSB).

However, the people of God especially are to speak this blessing and praise to God. “Bless Yahweh, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name” (Psalm 103:1, LSB). How is it that as a child of God that you experience the grace and forgiveness of Christ, and then not declare his praise? “But you are a chosen family, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9, LSB).

Even as he begins this great epistle, the apostle Paul, caught up in the truth of what he is about to write to the Ephesians, breaks out in praise and giving blessing to God the Father, who gave up His only begotten Son so that the plan of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit from before time began might be fulfilled. Paul was included in that plan, and those of us who have believed in Christ are included in this plan, and we should like Paul by giving blessing and praise to our God.

Then Paul uses the phrase our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul makes this reality personal to us: we belong to Him; He has purchased us on the cross of Calvary with His blood and we can truly say He is our Lord (Romans 1:4), our Savior (2 Timothy 1:10), our Redeemer (Revelation 5:9), our Shepherd (John 10:14, 16) and our Advocate (1 John 2:1; Hebrews 4:15-16). Before Paul launches into this letter, he makes sure that these believers know they personally belong to Christ.

Here Paul speaks of believers as in Christ. What a tremendous term this is, a beloved phrase that the apostle Paul uses throughout his epistles. In fact, in Ephesians Paul uses the phrase thirty-four times. This term is a favorite of the apostle when expressing the personal and dynamic relationship between believers and Jesus.

At the core of Pauline theology lies the concept of union with Christ. Paul places significant emphasis on the spiritual life in Christ as a central element of his understanding of religious experience. Communion with Christ is essentially equated with salvation, which is attained through faith and perfected through love. It is essential to maintain the unity of Christ for us with Christ in us in our understanding. The term in the original Greek conveys a union of our life in Him and a vital connection with Christ. There is no eternal life apart from Him. To paraphrase R.C.H. Lenski, the declaration of these blessings, which we have in Christ, can only be truly valued and celebrated by those who are in Christ.

These blessings of which Paul speaks are not limited to a few spiritual elite, but rather belong to all of those who are in Christ. Paul gives us a glimpse in Romans 5:12-21 into what we were prior to being in Christ. There we are told that before our salvation we were in Adam, having a soul but having no spiritual life, and instead of eternal blessings having only the promise of eternal condemnation and separation from God (John 3:18). Consequently, we conducted ourselves in accordance with the patterns and course of this world (Ephesians 2:1), but God, rich in mercy and with great love, saved us by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:4-10). Because of that mercy, love, and grace, we now have intimate and eternal union with Christ and we are in Christ, no longer in sin or in Adam, but in Christ.

In Jesus’ teaching in John 15:1-17 concerning the vine and the branches, He teaches that the branches have their life in the vine, and that there is not any life apart from the vine. Likewise, our life, our spiritual life, our life eternal and everlasting is in Christ. “For you died and your life has been hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3, LSB). Satan cannot sever me from this life, or take this life from me, because it is hidden in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our life that is no longer enslaved to sin is in Christ.

Jesus also said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6, LSB). He is our life: our union with Him gives us life, and when we are in Christ there is no fear any longer of condemnation or loss of this life, for this union is eternal. What did Paul write in Romans 8:1? “[T]here is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1, LSB). What a glorious truth! No wonder Paul was already proclaiming blessing and praise to our God.

For further reading
Commentary on Ephesians by Williams Hendriksen
God's Ultimate Purpose by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Commentary on Ephesians by John MacArthur
Interpretation of St Paul's Epistle to Ephesians and Philippians (Lenski's Commentary on the New Testament) by Richard C.H. Lenski
David Webber

David Webber

David Webber is married to Mary and they have four children and four grandchildren. He is the Pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Longview, TX. Webber earned a BS in History from the University of Texas at Tyler, TX, and attended Baptist Missionary Association Theological Seminary in Jacksonville, TX. Throughout his ministry, he has served as a guest preacher and teacher in many churches and various Bible conferences.

November 13, 2023

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