All right I need a little help and it’s time for you to weigh in here. I’ve been reading over Paul’s words to the Ephesians today and I’m interested in your understanding of Ephesians 1:3-14. This passage is one long sentence in the Greek and we often refer to this as one of Paul’s doxology statements. Read the passage and give me your understanding of this passage, especially the section in bold. How do you understand the way we have been given “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms”? What does this mean? What are these blessings? I’d love to get a variety of viewpoints here. Don’t feel like you have to be a Bible scholar or anything. Just tell me what you think this passage is about.
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, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:3-14, English Standard Version
Okay Jason, I had to pull out my Study Bible for this one. When I first read this passage, I immediately felt security and comfort. As stated in my study section, this section of scripture can be divided out into 3 sections. The first being how God has blessed us, the second, how Jesus has blessed us, and finally the way the Holy Spirit blesses us. This passage reminds us of all that God has done for us. About “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places”… what my study Bible says is this “Paul exerts that through our union with Christ, Christians have already been made beneficiaries of every spiritual blessing that belongs to and comes from the heavenly realms”. My question is this… if we have been made beneficiaries, does that mean that we have these blessings now, or when we join our Lord and Savior in heaven?Once again, I believe that this message is just a reminder of all that our God has done for us. He has gone to amazing depths and lengths all for us!
Great thoughts, Sunny. Your question is an important one: have we received these blessings already or not yet? I’d love to hear the input of a few more people before I give my own answer here.
I think we understate Pauls enthusiasm here. Remember he is talking to people, who for the first time in, well forever, have been included with the Jews in God’s blessings. These people know all to well what it is like to be on the outside of these blessings and now they have full access to the thim. As far as the spiritual blessings I think that we have received some on here (i.e. the peace that surpasses all understanding, fruits of the spirit, etc). I think that these blessings here are but a taste of what is to come in heaven. I think that this is a buildup of Paul’s next verse explaining how God knew the world would fall and He would have to send Jesus to die so that we could be adopted (reconciled) to him. I think that the majority of these blessings are “in the heavenly places”. He set out a plan for us to be adopted by him and we have these blessings awaiting us. To make sure that we make it there He blessed us with the Holy Spirit to guide us into all understading while we are still down here. I think we don’t quite understand(I know I don’t) the Holy Spirit and we leave this power often untapped.
Hey thanks for coming by my blog. I am honored. I could not agree more with you on N.T. Wright’s Simply Christian. I like all of his stuff. Just got finished reading his “Judas and the Gospel of Jesus.” I hope to see your around more. I will be back myself.Shalom,Bobby Valentine
Bobby,Thanks for stopping by. As I said, Simply Christian is great. An important read. I’ve recently picked up his The Last Word and The Challenge of Jesus. He’s great. Do you recommend Judas and the Gospel of Jesus?
Well, I’ve waited all day and it doesn’t look like anybody else is going to weigh in here. So here’s my take.Paul says we have already received every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm. Just as Christ is already exalted to heaven, those of us who are “in Christ” already share his heavenly reign. Among these blessings are…1. Redemption (v7)2. Reconciliation (v10)3. Resurrection (v20; also 2:6)We have already experienced redemption through His atoning death. We have already been reconciled to Him according to His purpose. And we have already begun to experience the resurrection life in the here and now. To be sure, there’s a not yet element to this passage, too. But it seems to me that we’ve almost exclusively written off this passage as having much to say about the already.If you look at the further context, everytime Paul mentions the heavenly realms here, he references resurrection. I think the greatest blessing God could give us is to grant us access to resurrection life NOW, which He does through Christ. In that sense, He has given us every spiritual blessing necessary for new life, a life characterized by the powerful little phrase “in Christ”.Anyway, that’s my two cents. I could be wrong. I solict any input from anyone else here.
Jon,You’re right about us not understanding the Holy Spirit. That’s a discussion for a whole different time.
It is probably a both-and rather than an either or. We receive these things here and now and there and then. It is a continum. One thing I would like to point out is that we read heavenly with a lot of presuppositions here. Other places in Ephesians Paul uses heavenly places to mean – not of this earth. In 6:12 he says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”It almost seems like Paul is not talking about timing but his emphasis is on the nature of the blessing = the what and not the when. That makes it clear that the blessings he speaks of are not of this world. But that doesn’t mean that some of it has not already happened – it has just taken place spiritually.
Matt,Thanks for weighing in. Your observation is correct: we want to break Paul’s language down to either-or when both-and is probably truer to the heart of the text. That’s why the already & not yet language of theology resonates with me so much.Feel free to stop by anytime, man!