Christians who are familiar with traditional hymns know very well a poem written by Fanny Crosby. The poem starts with a beautiful line: “To God be the glory, great things He has done! So loved He the world that He gave us His Son….” We do not know whether Ms. Crosby uses Ephesians in this particular poem, but Paul certainly started the book by describing great blessings that God has blessed us with through Christ.
When we read Ephesians chapters 1 to 3, we might see different topics discussed and think that they are simply different topics, but if we pay attention to the grand theme behind these topics, we noticed they are all inter-related. The theme is what God has done for believers through Christ and what He will do for believers in Christ. Paul then ended this big section with another praise to God.
So we have in chapters 1-3 of the book of Ephesians:
Praise be to God (1:3)
who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ (1:3)
[explanation of the blessings]
to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (3:20)
to him be glory… throughout all generations, for ever and ever! (3:21)
Or, in summary form:
- To God be the glory, great things he has done! (1:3-4)
- To God be the glory, great things he will do! (vv. 3:20-21)
We are reminded of at least 2 things:
To live our lives with a grateful heart
- for great blessings he has blessed us with (1:3-14)
- for great hope, great inheritance and great power we have (1:18-20)
- for great work he has done in raising us from spiritual death, and great plan he has for us to do good work (2:1-10)
- for great peace we are enjoying in the new body, the Church (2:11-22)
- for great love he has shown toward us (1:16-19)
- for immeasurable great things He will do for us (1:20-21)
To live our lives glorifying him
- All spiritual blessings should lead to the praise of God’s glory (1:3-14).
- All great things that God has done for us should bring forth our praise (3:21-21).
Although this has been mentioned when we talked about spiritual blessings in chapter 1, I think it is worth pointing out again the Biblical view of the supremacy of God. We exist for Him and His glory. Somehow in reality we seem to live our lives differently and expect God to “live” for us. When we are sad, God is supposed to comfort us. When we are weak, he is supposed to strengthen us. When we are helpless, he is supposed to help us. When we are sick, he is supposed to heal us.
Sure, God is above us; we can accept that, but the universe and God still revolve around us. If God does not do those things or does not live for us, we don’t seem to see the point of God’s existence altogether.
May the reading of the book of Ephesians change our heart and our mind.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (Psa 19:1)
“To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Eph 3:21)
Since I have some Chinese Christian brothers and sisters reading the blog, I would like to point out the Chinese Union version breaks vv. 20-21 into 2 sentences. The original text in Greek has only one sentence, which the English translation is closer to. Even the English translation sounds a little awkward grammatically, however, and that illustrates a difficulty common in translating.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)