Key Verse: 1:3
Ephesians 1 – Blessings In Christ: Christ and the Church
Our first impression is that this chapter must be stunningly significant for us as believers in Christ. There are astounding declarations of irreversible Divine purpose relating to Christ and a people united to Him as His body. Preceding the physical creation itself (v 4), these plans of necessity determine the progress of each succeeding age, and completely dominate the character of the future ‘”fulness of times” (v 10). Christ raised from the dead, and seated at God’s right hand (v 20) is the assurance of irresistible divine power to fulfill His will.
1:1-14 Praise for Spiritual Possession
Praise punctuates the recounting of His delight, as “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v 3), to bless us together with Christ. The risen Lord conveyed this blessed relationship, linking us with Himself: “My brethren … My Father, and your Father; and My God, and your God” (Jn 20:17). The expression in verse 3 may be, “Blessed us in every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ.” “In Christ” is a key expression bringing us into the realm of the new creation, where all status and blessing flows from relationship to God through the risen Christ and His redemption. To what do “the heavenlies” refer? Christ is seated “at His (God’s) right hand in the heavenlies, far above…” (v 20). Where He is, and what He has, is ours to share! It is the heavenly realm as opposed to the earthly realm. It is spiritual in contrast to material blessing. Furthermore, we are to possess these spiritual blessings now, though it is also clear that there is a fullness that awaits the redemption of our bodies and the translation to heaven itself. But in Christ, they are already secured to us. Yet there is also present conflict with opposing spiritual powers in the heavenlies, as chapter 6:12 reminds us, in contrast to the physical enemies who opposed Israel’s earthly inheritance in Canaan. The following verses reveal these spiritual blessings as relational and personal riches: “holy and without blemish before Him in love” (v 4), “sonship” (v 5), “highly favored in the Beloved” (v 6). All of this originated in the loving choice and predetermining will of the Eternal God. His sovereign choice is in perfect harmony with all that He is: His foreknowledge, holiness, righteousness, wisdom, and love. His unfathomable grace has been manifested in and through Christ, Who paid the supreme relational cost to remove every barrier between us and God (v 7). Now, grace in the Beloved, not sin, determines the character of our relationship with God.
What is “the mystery of His will” (vv 9-10)? It is the great secret treasured up in Himself from eternity which focuses upon Christ as Heir and Administrator of every realm. In Old Testament prophecy, the universal kingdom–rule of Messiah on earth was revealed. Now, to the New Testament apostles, and to Paul particularly (3:3), it was revealed that Christ is head of everything in heaven and earth, and that the Church will be associated with Him in His administration. God is working to unite and integrate everything under His leadership which will be experienced fully in “the fullness of times” (v 10), which seems to embrace both the millennial kingdom and its consummation in His eternal kingdom in the new heavens and new earth (note ch 3:11, 21).
In harmony with this unifying purpose, both Jews (vv 11-12) and Gentiles (vv 13-14) are now brought together as co-heirs in Christ. Despite Israel’s ongoing blind rejection of Christ, individual Jews are “pre-hoping” in Christ, and receiving a greater inheritance. As individual Gentiles also hear the salvation-bearing message of truth and believe in Christ, they too are immediately sealed by the Spirit as His possession. The indwelling Spirit is God’s pledge to us of a future fullness of inheritance, when we will be fully liberated, and will be everything He desires us to be, “to the praise of His glory.” His workmanship, His wisdom, His love will be displayed through us in His presence.
1:15-23 Prayer for Spiritual Perception
For what do we pray? For whom do we pray? The apostle’s constant communion with God is filled with gratitude for God’s beloved people, and supplication for God’s blessing upon them, as “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v 17). Christ in permanent glorified manhood, Head over all things, is the foundation of hope and blessing. “The Father of glory” (v 17) reveals Him as the source of everything possessing excellence and worth: life, truth, righteousness, love, joy, strength, wisdom, authority, and majesty. Such hope is inherent in this expression, for He is OUR FATHER. We will be brought to perfection and likeness as sons of God, and presented before Him for His joy and delight.
The threefold petition (vv 18-19) is that God would grant enlightenment by His Spirit upon our spirits to discern our great future, and the wealth of His glory to be inherited and experienced, and the greatness of His power toward us. The first two relate primarily to the preceding catalogue of purposed divine blessings; the third is developed in verses 20-23, and leads into the second chapter outlining His intervention in our salvation.
How great is His power toward us? Look at Christ, enthroned at the right hand of God. The same irresistible power that raised the Lord Jesus out of death against all opposition, and established Him above every realm of authority and power, is directed toward us who believe! Both spirit and human realms of authority and dominion are encompassed in this sweeping statement. His Name will outshine and outrank all others forever. Imbedded in this glorious statement of His eternal supremacy is a unique entity possessing a unique relationship to Him: “the Church, which is His body,” His companion and complement! His influence and control will bring all things into harmony with God’s blessed nature, but His glory will be seen supremely in us.