Of God, By God, For God (Ephesians 1.3–14)



Ephesians 1.3–14


After I proposed to Tiffany, we called everyone we knew to share our good news. We couldn’t stop talking about our engagement. After we got married, we couldn’t stop talking about how enjoyable our wedding and reception were. To this day, any mention of our wedding will spark a long, excited conversation between us. And why not? Good experiences should be talked about.

In Ephesians 1.3–14, Paul writes about salvation. But his words are not dry or academic. They are a Niagara Falls of praise, gushing forth excitedly and spilling over the boundaries of grammar and punctuation. The English Standard Version divides verses 3–14 into five complete sentences, the New International Version into eight, and the New Living Translation into fifteen. In Greek, verses 3–14 are one long sentence with 202 words. Paul simply cannot stop praising God, “who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.”

Tomorrow, I will write about “every spiritual blessing,” but today I would like to keep your attention focused on God. Why? Because we are constantly in danger of losing sight of the Giver for the gift. In verses 3–14, Paul mentions numerous spiritual blessings: We have been chosen by God, adopted into his family, forgiven of our sins, enlightened regarding God’s plan for the ages, given an eternal inheritance, and sealed with the Holy Spirit. It is easy to focus on these wonderful gifts. But isn’t the Giver most important? The wedding ring Tiffany gave me is quite valuable, but she’s the real prize. Just so, “every spiritual blessing” is good news, but God himself is the gospel. Paul keeps our attention focused on the Giver of “every spiritual blessing” in three ways.

First, he emphasizes that God initiates our salvation. In verse 4 we read, “He chose us…before the foundation of the world.” In verse 5, Paul writes, “He predestined us…according to the purpose of his will.” Verse 10 speaks of his “plan for the fullness of time.” And verse 11 mentions “having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.” The language of choice, predestination, purpose, plan, counsel, and will reinforce the fact that our salvation is God’s decision.

Second, God accomplishes our salvation through his Son. Pay attention to these prepositional phrases: “in Christ” (verses 3, 9, 12), “in him” (verses 4, 7, 10, 11, 13), “through Jesus Christ” (verse 5), “in the Beloved” (verse 6), and “through his blood” (verse 7). Nearly every verse of Paul’s doxology points to Jesus Christ and his cross as the means of our salvation.

Third, God’s ultimate purpose in our salvation is his own glory. Notice the language of verse 6: “to the praise of his glorious grace.” And of verses 12 and 14: “to the praise of his glory.” At first glance, God’s ultimate purpose seems self-centered, as if he saves us so that we might toot his horn. But in reality, it is self-giving, for what God offers us is eternal joy with him. Always remember, God himself—and not merely his spiritual blessings—is the real gift of the gospel.

Our salvation is of God, by God, and for God, so let us praise him!

One thought on “Of God, By God, For God (Ephesians 1.3–14)

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  1. George: I love your treatment of Ephesians, Chapter 1. I have taken special notice of how Paul mentions the word “freely” (vs. 6), i.e., no expectations, no obligations, no strings attached, and above all, no personal works or words for merit required. That’s what the Bible teaches: “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Rom 8:32 NAS).

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