We have mentioned early on that Ephesians 1:3-14 is one single sentence. It is a praise to God and at the same time an invitation to praise God. Regconizing it as one sentence and praise will remind us to respond with praise. Hopefully it will also prevent us from entering into endless debates on issues such as election and predestination, which are still being debated after over 2000 years.
Studying those topics is still important and beneficial to us, for sure, but we should humble ourselves and remember that the purpose of Paul’s long sentence here is not to provoke arguments but to incite praise. All descriptions of blessing should ultimately end with praise of the glory of God!
Blessing to Us
Space and time does not permit us to go into details, so I will simply list the benefits we have received from the blessing, for our own study, meditation, and thanksgiving:1
- being holy and blameless in his sight (v. 4)
- adoption to sonship (v. 5)
- redemption through his blood (v. 7)
- forgiveness of sins (v. 7)
- knowing the mystery of his will (v. 9)
- guarantee of our inheritance (v. 14)
Glory to God
Furthermore, anyone who studied this passage would notice a threefold mention of God’s glory. Each of them follows the work of each person of the Trinity (vv. 6, 12, 14).2 To make this clear and easy to remember, we add this threefold mention of God’s glory into our structual view of the passage:
Praise be to God who blesses us with every spiritual blessing, namely
the Father chose us before the creation of the world… to the praise of his glorious grace!3
the Son redeemed us through His blood… that we might be for the praise of his glory!
the Spirit marked us to guarantee our inheritance… to the praise of his glory!
It is clear that although Paul described our benefits from God’s redemption so that we would respond with praise, we were not the center of attention. God is. We can almost hear Paul proclaiming “glory to God, for he has chosen us! Glory to God, for Christ has redeemed us! Glory to God, for the Holy Spirit has marked and sealed us!” Again, this passage of praise reminds us that the ultimate the goal/result of redemption should be the praise of God’s glory.
That is why I view this passage as a call to live our redeemed lives glorifying God. Although this is easy to agree logically/intellectually, to truly live it out requires a real change of heart, world view, behavior, and daily living. It is easy to say praises with our mouth (and doing so is good and taught in the Bible as well), but to truly live our life such that every part of it is for the glory of God requires a lot of real changes, both in heart and in action.
May our Lord continue to help each one of us in our pursuit to live a life glorifying him!
“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)
- Some of them have occurred in the past; some are continuous processes until the day we see Him. ↩
- This is part of the reason why I choose to structure the passage the way it is presented here. Both the context and the syntactical elements seem to support this threefold division. ↩
- I am using Today’s New International Version here, but literally it says, “to the praise of the glory of the grace of his” (εἰς ἔπαινον δόξης τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ). Different translations are possible, but because of its parallelism with the other two, the more likely translation might actually be “to the praise of the glory of his grace. See the discussion in Harold W. Hoehner, Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002), 199-202.” ↩