Title: Ephesians; 1:4 - Election, part 1.
EPH 1:3 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
Though spiritual, the blessings are tangible. Election, predestination, adoption, wisdom, redemption, etc. are all spiritual and are a reality of life, used in life, and real in terms of promise and elevated happiness.
Heavenly and spiritual do not mean merely ethereal, unknown, invisible, etc. It is source and type: heaven and Christ.
It is not merely that the blessings with which God blessed us are blessings having their origin in heaven..., but that they are blessings which have their seat where God Himself is and where Christ reigns. [Vincent]
In other words, they are not just from heaven but they are of heaven. The spiritual blessings from the Father are a part of His essence. We think of heaven as a place with a throne, yet God is omnipresent and therefore heaven must be an infinite place without boundaries. Hence, heaven, the abode of God, is not a place He needs to live and it must also be a part of His essence in some way that is impossible for us to comprehend. These blessings are of heaven, of God, and given to insignificant man.
It must not be missed that these blessings are “in Christ” and not “with Christ.” The spiritual blessings in the heavenlies are in Christ and so only those who are in Christ possess them.
2CO 4:1Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart,
2CO 4:2 but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
2CO 4:3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,
2CO 4:4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
Satan has attempts to blind every mind, and on some it works.
2CO 4:5 For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus' sake.
2CO 4:6 For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
Paul was a Roman citizen, brought up with Greek knowledge, and born a Jew and trained as a Pharisee.
God’s greatest symbol to the Jew was light, to the Roman, glory, and to the Greek knowledge. Paul combines all three in verse 6. The God of all men has given life and light to all men.
This phrase, “in Christ,” will occur nine more times in vv. 3-14, including the forms “in the Beloved” and “in Him.”
Moving on to verse 4, we don’t have hardly any translational challenges in vv. 1-3. Yet, we have already encountered a great richness in doctrinal truth.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are [at Ephesus], and who are believers [faithful in NASB] in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Worthy of praise [Blessed] be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies [heavenly places] in Christ,
What we have worked on so far:
Paul was changed from Saul and made an apostle, a messenger for God.
All believers are saints, set apart unto God.
Grace is the wonderful vehicle through which God has blessed us with everything in Christ.
Peace is the eternal relationship every believer has with God.
Peace is the state of untroubled, undisturbed well-being which comes from believing the truth about God and our relationship to Him.
God the Father is worthy of praise and glory because of who He is and what He had done for us. His blessings abound to us. They are spiritual in this passage and have their origin in the heavens. These blessings, revealed by Paul subsequently, open the way of our proper conduct in a material world, therefore giving meaning and purpose to all material and earthly things.
There has already been a great emphasis on faith and obedience.
EPH 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. (In love)
EPH 1:5 (In love) He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,
There is a question, still fully unresolved as to whether “in love” is connected to being holy and blameless or in God predestinating us. Since there is no punctuation or spaces in the original letter, we cannot tell which thing Paul had in mind to modify with “in love”. Agape certainly applies to both.
Paul uses the phrase “in love” eleven times in his epistles and in the other ten times it sits close to what it is modifying. But this still doesn’t resolve the question, since he could be saying that we are to be “blameless before Him in love,” or he could be saying, “In love He predestined us.” Since both of these statements are true, our resolution of the matter is not vital.
God blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies just as He chose [elected] us in Him before the foundation of the world.
The first spiritual blessing listed by God through Paul is election.
Christ is actually the Chosen One of God par excellence and we are elected in Him. Everything that has to do with our election depends solely upon Him. We will look at the election of Christ on its own, and I was tempted to begin with it, since all elections depend upon Him, but our passage deals with our own election, and so we will begin there.
“Just as” - kathos = explaining “blessed us” in vs. 3.
“He chose us” - eklego (aorist middle indicative) = to select, elect, or choose. Middle = He chose for Himself.
The use of the middle is wonderful. He chose us for Himself. Just think about that.
Now, if we go full Arminianism in our description of the reason for election, then we surmise that God looked down the corridors of time and saw our faith, and because of this He elected us. But the Bible doesn’t say that. In every passage where God’s foreknowledge is mentioned, our faith never is.
If we go full, strict Calvinism, then God chose you for Himself, and that’s wonderful and extremely tender, but also God forsook others for some unknown purpose and His love is diminished along with pretty much everything in our relationship with Him.
Yet, neither of these are true. Strict Calvinism is wrong because the unlimited atonement is clearly taught in the Scripture. Arminianism is wrong because the Bible never states that God chose you solely because He saw your faith.
What we know from the Scripture is that election depends upon faith and also on God’s purpose. He does not reveal how that works. We can only surmise that it has something to do with God not being burdened by time or chronology, while we are, and so it would be like a two dimensional world trying to understand a three dimensional world. All the best explanations in the world would never get them to understand it. There is no reference in their world to it.
This will all be presented to our hearts as we progress. I would encourage you to not get dismayed. Everything that God does is beautiful and wonderful. You know this. Don’t let the unknowns of God bother you. Rejoice in the fact that He is too wonderful and set your faith upon it.
Okay, back to our point. God chose you for Himself. Don’t get bogged down on “why.” Just rejoice in the intimate, special tenderness of it.