September 04, 2022 Grace United Church Northampton

Ephesians 1:1-3

Ephesians 1:1-3

Skip the intro straight to the text of Ephesians starting with the greeting:


Ephesians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 


Paul was just a man like us. Feet of clay. Food occasionally stuck in his teeth. He did some things he wished he stopped doing. But he was called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will and the predetermined grace of God.


As we saw last week, Paul loved this church and they loved him. But instead of writing, “Hey, it’s your good buddy, Paul,” he says, “It’s Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.” As he did with the Father and our Lord Jesus, he refers to his official title.


I think he's saying. “Church, I’m as close to you as anyone. You know my heart of love, and my genuine care for you. But in this that I write you, I want you to receive this letter as the words of 'Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.' In other words, receive this letter as God’s Word.”


Receive this letter as the words of 'Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.' In other words, receive this letter as God’s Holy Word.”


He also reminds them who they are too: To the saints [the holy community of God’s people] who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus.


This is super relational. You guys, you are holy to God, and faithful in Christ. And he doesn’t then say, “Watch out, straighten up, listen here you!” But…


2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


This whole letter conveys God’s favor and peace. All relational. All gift. No matter what happens.  


Then, as Paul pens the body of his letter, as he starts to tell us about God the Father, joy floods his heart and joy turns to praise in verse 3. "Bless be God!"


As an aside, it’s very telling that a true knowledge of God, and a NT theology of grace leads to praise. That's not the case with a theology of laws and rules, or of human effort and goodness. But a theology of grace leads to both a changed life (ch 4-6) and a free and joyful heart of praise,


A theology of grace leads to both a changed life and to a heart of praise.


Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be [Blessed is] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 


The Greek word for blessed (eulogetos) that Paul used, “Blessed be God,” is different from the Greek word that Jesus used in his Sermon on the Mount—“Blessed (makarios) are the humble, the peacemakers. The word Jesus used meant “fortunate” or “happy” and referred to the spiritual description of the believer's life. But the word Paul used means “worthy of praise.” This adjective is used eight times in the NT, and each time refers exclusively to God. 


The word for "blessed" that Paul used means “worthy of praise.” This adjective is used eight times in the NT, and always refers exclusively to God. 


At first glance this seems to be a command to praise God. But remember, in Ephesians chs 1-3 are descriptive, there are no commands or imperatives. So how can it start off with Paul commanding us to bless or praise God?


The word “Blessed" be God is an adjective. An adjective describes a noun. Paul is telling, God is blessed or worthy of praise, with the emphasis on blessed. “Blessed be or Blessed IS God—He is fully deserving all our praise! 


And notice, who, specifically, is blessed or fully deserving of our praise?


"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,"


This seems to be Abba’s formal title; how he wants to be known by us. And at the very root of His title or identity is His relationship to the Son: He is both the God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.


This appears to be the official title of both God the Father and the Son.


See also...


1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…


2 Corinthians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…


In each of these doxologies, as in Ephesians, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is the One who evokes blessing and joy and praise.  


Back to Ephesians, which word do you see repeated three times? Once an adjective, a verb, and a noun.


1:3 Blessed [adj.] be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us [verb] with every spiritual blessing [noun] in the heavenly places in Christ, 


This shows us God’s character. He does what He is. He gives us what He is. God the Father is blessed—i.e., He is worthy of praise—because He has blessed us—freely, undeservedly, generously—with every spiritual blessing.


Why does God the Father deserve our love and praise?


God the Father evokes joy and is worthy of our love and praise because He has loved us and blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Jesus Christ.


Everything that Jesus accomplished for us, everything we’ve been given is a result of the love and purpose of God the Father.


Paul will reveal some of these blessings over the next verses, but note, He has given them to you; they are yours already. Yet they are spiritual blessings not brick and mortar or flesh and bone. Not salty and sweet. Beyond these.


For where does Paul say they are? They are held for us in the heavenly places.


But this doesn’t mean we don’t experience them until after we die!


Ephesians 2:6 [God] raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,


Paul's letter to the Colossians parallels his letter to the Ephesians.


Colossians 3:1 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 


Paul is telling us that every spiritual blessing the Father has given us is in Christ. Look to Him, abide in Him that you may enjoy these now. 

For they aren’t only in heaven but they are more personally “in Christ.”


The phrase “in Christ” or in “in Him” or “in the beloved” is mentioned 27 times in Ephesians. This is also a major theme in NT grace theology.


So Paul immediate says we were chosen in Him and forgiven in Him. 

Whatever is given to the believer “in Christ” is one of the spiritual blessings from God the Father. They’re all reasons to praise Him.


2 Corinthians 5:21 [For God] made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God [where?] in Him [in Christ].


Your past identity issues, feeling small, unloved, rejected; and trying to appear important, smart, beautiful, competent—someone to look up to; and all of the sin and shame that comes with not being all that we try to present, all the messes with our heads—Jesus bore every bit of these on the cross. 


The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ affirms you in His Son, righteous with Jesus’ righteousness, not your own, but Christ’s imputed to you. 


Who you are, how God accepts you doesn’t depend on how well you treat others. How good of a mom you are. Whether you do holy things, or not. 


Galatians 6:15 For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.


And guess what? The moment you trust Jesus for eternal you are in Christ, and in Him you are a new creation. New identity. New relation to God.


2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 


God sees you this way, in Christ. He tells you this so that you see it this way. Here’s another reason the Father is blessed, worthy of our praise.


Each of the spiritual blessings the Father has given us in Christ has to do with our identity, each of these changes how God sees and relates to us.


Starting in verse 4, Paul highlights a list of our spiritual blessings in Christ. And at the top of the list is this—God chose you to spend eternity with Him. 


Ephesians 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, 4 just as [or starting with this blessing—] He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him in love.


You did not write your name in the book of life—the Father did. Before the foundation of the world. Before the beginning of time. Before sin came between us! Before you did anything good or evil. This is such good new because perfection is demanded yet we’re prone to mess up. All of us. 


We are chosen to be holy and blameless before Him in love. Positionally and in practice. Not perfect. Not sinless today. But holy and blameless in Christ, blameless before Him in love.


The fact God chose you was not based on the fact He knew you’d choose Him; He knew you wouldn’t. Paul reminds us in Romans, “For there is no one who seeks God; all have turned aside.” God knows this better than we do.


Isaiah 53:6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way…


Sounds hopeless. We are this is why we praise God for choosing us.


Acts 13:48 But as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.


God’s choice does not violate anyone’s free will. No one is forced to choose Jesus. And He does not compel anyone to reject Him. But God does call, He does soften hearts to believe. More so, He grant us the faith to believe. 


Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one may boast. [Except to boast in God and in His grace.]


He doesn’t leave it up to us. He has chosen us to spend eternity with Him starting now. This is the first of our spiritual blessings in Christ. This is why Paul wants our hearts to love and praise Him.


Why does God the Father deserve all love and praise? 


He deserves our love and praise because He loves us and He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing—every promise, every treasure—in Jesus Christ.

Not in our good works. Not anywhere but in His Son. Praise God.


Not one day when we mature. Not just when we get to heaven. But now. 

So may we turn to Jesus in faith and trust Him that we may walk in them.