Ephesians 1:3 3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him in love

Verses 3-14 is one of the longest sentences in Greek literature. Most English translations break it down into smaller sentences and paragraphs. It is also one of the most profound theological passages in the New Testament and deserves careful study. This would typically be the thanksgiving section of a Greco-Roman letter. As such, it begins with a statement of praise in the form of a blessing to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. This description of God is significant because it shows the source of all that follows. It also connects what Jesus did with God’s eternal plan. It proclaims Jesus to be both the Messiah and Sovereign of the universe.

The adjective blessed is a word of praise, literally a “good word.” Paul “blesses” God for the blessings the Father has provided through Messiah Jesus. These blessings are described as spiritual blessings. The word spiritual has to do with things of the spiritual realm.  This is more than the human spirit or something abstract but is at the heart of who we are as human beings. This world of flesh and bone is temporary and fleeting, but the spiritual realm is eternal. These blessings are found in the heavenly places, where God’s presence is and which is our ultimate goal. We get a taste of heaven here on earth during this lifetime. We experience these blessings now.  We do not have to wait. How do we experience these blessings?  Through the Holy Spirit who operates at the spiritual level. Our spiritual disposition should affect everything else about us, including how we live. This verse has an inference to every member of the Trinity. The work of the Spirit to transform how we live will be discussed in more detail at the end of ch. 4.

The source of these blessings is in Christ. This is a key phrase Paul will repeat many times in this opening section, although he will use the pronoun form, “in him.” To be in Christ is the very reason we have been created. The challenge for us is to understand what Paul means by this prepositional phrase. The preposition “in” can be used to designated a metaphorical location, and in theological terms, it refers to intimate, unhindered relationship. We enter this relationship with Christ because of God’s gracious offer of forgiveness and cleansing and through trusting in God’s offer of salvation. This new relationship with God through Christ begins to change us and conform us to God’s own likeness of holiness and love. This will be a key theme throughout this letter and is also at the heart of Paul’s theology as he works this out in all of his letters.

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