Scripture: Ephesians 1:3-14 (text at bottom of post)
Psalmists in the Old Testament remind us to praise God and not to forget His grace. Most of us are familiar with what David says in Psalm 103:2, “Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” David then proceeds to list the benefits that he has received from God: forgiveness of sins, healing of diseases, deliverance from threats, crown of love and compassion, and so on.
In Ephesians 1:3-14, Paul is basically doing the same thing, except that he is talking about spiritual blessing.
Both the psalmists and Paul set good examples of praising God: thankfulness is an inner attitude, but it is also accompanied with recalling of God’s grace and actual thanksgiving.
We have mentioned that Ephesians 1:3-14 is one long sentence. While the main clause of the sentence is “praise be to God,” a little study of the sentence reveals its fuller structure as “praise be to God who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing.”1 The rest of the sentence describes what the blessing consists of.
In other words, Paul is saying, “let us praise God, for he has blessed us with all these blessings!” Or, “since God has blessed us with all these blessings, he is worthy of our praises!”
This urging of lifting praises out of appreciation of the spiritual blessing (which in the context means our salvation) can be seen even clearer if we recognize a play on the word “bless.” The phrase that most translations have as “praise be to God” can also be translated as “blessed is (be to) God.”2 This “blessed” in the description of “blessed is God” comes from the same verb as the other “blessed” and the “blessing” in the sentence. Here is the sentence if we translate it directly:
Blessed (eulogetos) is God… who has blessed (eulogesas) us with every spiritual blessing (eulogia). 3
Here we see a person, truly understanding God’s blessing in his life, responds in turn with blessing God (“blessing” means praising when it is used toward God). Paul is not taking God’s grace for granted. He knows it, apprehends it, appreciates it, and he praises God who has given him the blessing.
Sometimes we fall short in giving praises to God. This is especially true if we have being saved for a long time. We know we should praise God, but somehow we seem to have lost the passion. We might not be deliberately taking God’s grace for granted, but somehow his blessing has become “common.”
About 10 years after Paul brought the gospel to Ephesus, he wrote to the church and nearby churches. From a prison, he reminded them to remember God’s grace and praise God for the blessing they have received.
May we all be reminded to do the same!
A summary up to this point:
- Ephesians 1:3-14 is one sentence.
- The main clause of the sentence is “praise be to God.”
- Including the subordinate clause, the sentence is “praise be to God who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing.”
- The message and application for us is pretty obvious: “Be thankful and praise God!
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will– to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment–to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:3-14 TNIV)
- Again, we removed the modifiers, qualifiers, and participial clauses to make the sentence plain. ↩
- The reason we don’t translate it this way is because in modern English, it is not common to say “we bless God” or “I bless God.” ↩
- In Greek: Εὐλογητὸς ὁ θεὸς… ὁ εὐλογήσας ἡμᾶς ἐν πάσῃ εὐλογίᾳ πνευματικη. ↩