“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ …”
- The book of Ephesians has two parts – the doctrinal (chapters 1-3) and the practical (chapters 4-6).
- Ephesus was a great city of sin, witchcraft, and pagan idolatry in lesser Asia – very western Turkey.
- Along with Romans 9, this chapter exalts the sovereignty of God in salvation like no other in the N.T.
- Here is where election is defined by God’s choice of us and predestination is mentioned twice.
- Here is where the will of God is mentioned four times but the will of man is not mentioned at all!
- Here is where the modern heresy of accepting Jesus is replaced with God accepting us in Jesus!
- Here is where praise of his glorious is mentioned three times but praise of men is not mentioned!
- Here is where the emphasis is on the pleasure (2) and purpose (1) of God, not the desire of man!
- Here is where the emphasis is on God’s glory (5) and grace (3), not the inherent worth of man!
- Here is where Jesus Christ is exalted far above the high heaven and for why? For you and me!
- Here is where we are told the power necessary to cause a sinner to believe – resurrecting power!
- Here is where we are told that the blessed God works all things after the counsel of His own will!
- Here is where God and His purpose in Himself is more important than any purpose men have.
- This chapter presents the truth of the gospel kept secret since the beginning of the world and from most Christians even today (1:8-9; 3:1-13; I Cor 2:6-16).
1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:
- You can read more about Paul (Acts 9:1-31; 13:1-3; 15:22-41; 22:1-30; 26:1-32; Gal 1; etc.).
- An apostle was the highest office in the church – a messenger/witness of Christ (I Co 12:28).
- They had the most power for signs and wonders and the most knowledge (II Cor 12:12).
- They had to be eyewitnesses of our resurrected Lord to testify (Acts 1:21-22; I Cor 15:8).
- Paul was an apostle by the will of God: he did not choose the office (Acts 9:15; Heb 5:4).
- The epistle was written to saints – sanctified believers – that were in the church at Ephesus.
- You can read further about this church (Acts 18:18-28; 19:1-41; 20:1,16-38; I Cor 15:32; 16:8; I Tim 1:3; II Tim 1:18; 4:12; Rev 2:1-7).
- The faithful in Christ Jesus are sanctified believers in other churches and places (I Cor 1:2).
- Do not overlook that Jesus Christ is the centerpiece of our religion – twice here in this verse!
- He is the Apostle and High Priest and more of our religion (Heb 3:1). Do you know Him?
2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
- You live and breathe naturally and spiritually by the grace of God. Are you thankful for it?
- God is at peace with us through Jesus Christ. Are you at peace with Him and with all others?
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
- The source of all spiritual blessings is God, Who is also the God and Father of Jesus Christ.
- There would be no spiritual blessings for sinners at all, if it were not for His Son’s sacrifice.
- Note again there are five references to Jesus Christ in just three verses. He is that important!
- We are blessed, because the blessed God has blessed us with spiritual blessings. Count three!
- We have blessings here and now, but the greatest blessings are heavenly verities and riches.
- The reference to heavenly places, as shown by the following context, is our legal standing in Christ and the eternal inheritance of glorified bodies there with Him that awaits all saints!
- These legal blessings includes election, adoption, justification, reconciliation, etc., etc.
- The eternal inheritance includes heaven and all its intended riches for glorified saints.
- There is no other Saviour! All spiritual blessings are in Christ! There are none in Mohamed, Mary, Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, Joseph Smith, Abraham, Vishnu, or Buddha!
- There is no other place to find God’s spiritual blessings! They are all in heaven! There are none in Rome, Mecca, Salt Lake City, Tibet, Jerusalem, or any other such place.
- If the blessed God gave His Son for us, then He will give all other things as well (Rom 8:32).
4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
- The “in Christ” relationship on which all spiritual blessings depend is our election in Him, as can be clearly seen by the connection of this verse to the preceding verse.
- All spiritual blessings of the previous verse are in Christ. How do sinners get into Christ?
- The Roman Catholic Church would say we must be baptized into it in order to be in Him.
- Alexander Campbell’s so-called Church of Christ would say the same thing (Gal 3:27).
- But the true gospel of Jesus Christ declares right here that it is based on election in Christ.
- Salvation is by God’s purpose and grace given in Christ before the world (II Tim 1:9).
- God chose Paul and the Ephesian saints and us in Jesus Christ – this is election defined.
- The “in Christ” relationship must be divided and defined by the five phases of salvation.
- The great determining factor in salvation and the spiritual riches of Christ is God’s choice.
- According as: Consistently as, exactly or just as, in a manner corresponding to the way in which …”
- If you choose God or not has only practical benefits or consequences, not eternal life.
- It is the sovereign will of the great God that determines salvation (Romans 9:10-24).
- He did not choose by foreknowledge those who had chosen to be in Christ, for (a) this contradicts Psalm 14:1-3 and Romans 3:9-18 and (b) it would make your choice supreme.
- God’s eternal choice was to place and view the elect in Jesus Christ legally and covenantly.
- The choice was made before the foundation of the world – before the act of creation.
- Here are cross-references for this ancient decree in the mind of God (Matt 25:34; Acts 15:18; Eph 3:11; II Tim 1:9; Titus 1:2; I Pet 1:20; Rev 13:8; 17:8).
- In this eternal sense, they were already viewed as adopted, justified, reconciled, etc., etc.
- This is the proper basis for blessing God – He chose us to all spiritual blessings long ago.
- John Gill, John Brine, and others taught eternal justification based on this eternal choice.
- Chosen in Jesus Christ, God views His elect as holy, without blame, and objects of His love.
- By foreknowledge and fact, we were rebellious sinners and children of wrath even as the reprobates (Ps 14:1-3; 53:1-3; Rom 9:21; Eph 2:1-3; Titus 3:3).
- By grace and election, we are seen as sanctified and spotless children that He fully loves.
- This is not election so that we should live practical lives of holiness and love to God (though this is true), but He rather chose us in order to view us as holy objects of love.
- The issue here is our legal position and standing in Jesus Christ – clothed in His holiness!
- God cannot love sin or sinners, so He chose us in Christ where He could love us (1:6)!
- Romans 5:8 exalts God’s love for us by Christ dying for sinners: but He did not love us as sinners: He loved us as chosen in Christ, Who died for us when still sinners!
5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
- Predestination is God choice to appoint, ordain, or fix some person or event beforehand.
- It is as simple as determining the destiny, not the destination, of a person beforehand.
- The term is in the Bible four times, though unknown by most (Rom 8:29-30; Eph 1:5,11).
- In each place “predestination” is used, it is related to children and/or their inheritance.
- In the case at hand, God chose before creation to appoint certain sinners to be His children.
- It is not your choice that determines if you are a child of God or not; it is His choice.
- God chose to have sinners for His children, so He predestinated sinners to adoption.
- It is not your choice to become God’s child any more than orphans choose their adoption!
- Adoption is based on predestination, which is based on the good pleasure of God’s own will.
- According to: ‘In a manner agreeing with, consistent with, or answering to; agreeably to.
- It was God’s pleasure to elect and predestinate some sinners for all spiritual blessings.
- It was God’s pleasure to reject and leave other sinners for their just deserts in hell.
- The basis of God’s compassion or mercy in ones life is His will alone (Romans 9:15-16).
- This doctrine is rather clear when describing becoming God’s child (John 1:13; 3:8).
- We are predestinarian Baptists, because we believe these verses unlike most other Baptists.
6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
- Election and predestination to justify and adopt some is to praise the glory of His grace.
- God did not elect and predestinate to save because He felt bad for condemned rebels.
- God elected and predestinated because it maximizes praise for the glory of His grace.
- Grace is demerited favor! You deserve eternal hell! He chose you His eternal son!
- If you can ever tire of singing about the grace of God, you do not know His grace yet!
- If you want to fulfill your purpose in life, then choose the ways you will praise His grace!
- If you do not like to praise His grace now, what will you do in heaven (Eph 2:7)?
- No one in heaven will be looking up any soul winner to congratulate them as Saviour!
- God will not share His glory with any other, especially for eternal life (I Cor 1:29-31).
- All the attention and affection in heaven will be for God and His grace in Jesus Christ!
- God made you acceptable in His sight by choosing you in Christ Jesus in eternity past.
- The beloved here is Jesus Christ, the beloved Son of God (Matthew 3:17; 12:18; 17:5).
- It is not whether you have accepted God, but whether God has made you acceptable!
- This verse reveals the utter folly, heresy, and vanity of the modern invitational system!
- It is the grace of God “wherein” we are chosen in Jesus Christ and made acceptable.
- Peter knew quickly that Cornelius showed the fruits of this acceptance (Acts 10:34-35).
- Outside of Jesus Christ, where you were chosen before the foundation of the world, you are utterly and totally and only despicable, depraved, profane, and unfit for heaven.
7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
- Continuing the list of spiritual blessings in Christ, Paul lists and defines our redemption.
- The “whom” we are in is Jesus Christ, and we are in Him by God choosing us to be there.
- Redeem is an economic or financial term, meaning to buy a thing from another’s claim.
- God had the claim against us – sinners must die (Ex 34:7; Eze 18:4; Nah 1:3; Rom 6:23).
- The economic price paid to buy us back was the precious blood of Christ (I Pet 1:18-20).
- God had to forgive us in view of the legal price of Christ’s death (Heb 9:12; I Pet 1:2).
- The condemned criminal is redeemed from His punishment once the crimes are paid for.
- Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sins by His death on the cross, thus redeeming us.
- God’s rich grace was the basis for the plan and payment of our redemption from damnation.
- According to: ‘In a manner agreeing with, consistent with, or answering to; agreeably to.
- It is pure grace that the Judge of sinners would require His Son to take their punishment!
- If you say your sins are too many or too great, His rich grace is greater (Rom 5:20-21).
- This is not practical forgiveness based on your confession, but legal forgiveness based on God’s acceptance of Christ’s blood payment for your sins (Ps 32:1-6; I John 1:9).
8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
- God’s wisdom and prudence is most gloriously displayed in designing and executing the plan of salvation for the elect through Jesus Christ (I Cor 1:24; Eph 3:10; Is 52:13; Rom 11:33).
- How could the infinitely just God justify sinners (Ex 34:7; Nah 1:3)? In Christ (Rom 3:26)!
- When a child of God hears the gospel, he sees in it God’s power and wisdom (I Cor 1:24).
- Jesus Christ is the great wisdom of God in the plan of salvation (I Cor 1:30; I Timothy 3:16).
- The wisdom of salvation in Christ is hidden in the gospel for the elect only (I Cor 2:6-16).
- The rich grace of God’s forgiveness in Christ is abounding in its glorious news for the elect!
- The apostles, especially Paul, were given knowledge of things that had been secret (3:1-12).
9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
- The blessed God not only did all these things, but He has also told us about what He did!
- The apostles and prophets of Jesus Christ were given the knowledge first (Ephesians 3:1-6).
- If a mystery is made known, then it is no longer a mystery to some, but it once was to all!
- According to: ‘In a manner agreeing with, consistent with, or answering to; agreeably to.
- God does not owe any man the truth, but He reveals the truth out of His own purposes.
- The word “mystery” is most often used in the N.T. for things hidden from natural men.
- The mysteries of the kingdom of heaven are not mysteries to saints, because the N.T. spells them out rather plainly for those who read and study the Bible.
- The mystery of his will is the whole plan of salvation, including what immediately follows.
- Salvation is according to the good pleasure of God, which He hath purposed in Himself.
- There is nothing you, another man, or all men can do to alter God’s pleasure and purpose.
10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
- The “dispensation of the fulness of times” is the time of the gospel and Christ (Gal 4:2-4).
- Dispensation refers to the administration, office, ordering, or management of things.
- The universe revolves around what God will do through Jesus Christ, His glorious Son, which is focused on gathering together His elect (and all other things) into one glorious kingdom for eternity. There will be nothing amiss or any adversity or enemies in that world.
- Jesus Christ is the Head of the church – all saints dead, living, or yet future (Heb 12:22-24).
- Jesus Christ is the Head of all principalities and powers – angels good and bad (I Pet 3:22).
- Jesus Christ, as the Surety and Covenant Mediator of His people, was ordained to gather together all the elect of God into one glorious body, which He began to do with His coming.
- Jacob first prophesied this work of Christ when giving Judah’s blessing (Genesis 49:10).
11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
- The adverb “also” describes the blessing of heaven in addition to the previous blessings.
- The blessing of heaven is in the Lord Jesus Christ as well as all those other legal blessings.
- Those who have heaven as their destiny were predestinated to it by a very sovereign God.
- Heaven is not offered to men by the gospel; the elect were predestinated to heaven by God.
- God works all things after the counsel of His own will, including the acts of devils and men.
- There is no event in the universe that He does not fully control and use to His glory.
- He has not been surprised by any event at anytime by any creature, including Eden.
- He is able to take the evil acts of men and use them for His own glory (Is 10:5-15).
- See also Dan 4:35; Ps 76:10; Prov 16:4; Acts 2:23; 4:27-28; 15:18; Deut 29:29.
12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
- Paul here refers to himself and the other apostles and Jews who first believed on Jesus Christ.
- Paul was part of those chosen by God for the praise of His glory, proven by faith in Christ.
- If trusting Christ were something Paul chose to do, the praise would not be to God’s glory!
- It is only by the electing purpose of God that any depraved men would believe or trust God.
13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
- Having identified himself and Jews as first believers, he now includes the Gentile Ephesians.
- The word of truth is not the means of obtaining the things listed, but of learning about them.
- The gospel of your salvation is the good news of your salvation through the revelation of God’s mystery kept secret from the foundation of the world (Rom 1:16; I Cor 1:18,24).
- If these Ephesians or anyone else believes the gospel, it proves predestination (Acts 13:48).
- A king could seal any thing with his signet, marking it as His own, much as a notary does today in sealing a signed document or a governmental unit does by its seal.
- After believing, we were given the seal and proof of our sonship, the Holy Spirit of promise, which gives internal and external evidence (Rom 8:14-16; Eph 4:30; II Cor 1:22; 5:5).
14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
- The earnest, or downpayment to show earnestness in intention, is the Holy Spirit (II Cor 5:5).
- The purchased possession is our bodies, which completes our redemption to God (Ro 8:23).
- All of these things, from first to last, are being done for the praise of His glory (Prov 16:4).
- Every moment of pure spiritual delight you have in fellowship with God is a down payment.
15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,
- The first step with God’s elect is teaching them the word of truth and the gospel of salvation, but the apostle here adds the need to grow further in their spiritual understanding (1:17-19).
- After seeing their faith and love growing, it is time to pray for further understanding of grace.
- Paul had been separated from them for a while, but he had a good report of their conversion.
16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
- Faith and love on the part of saints causes ministers to be very thankful for their people.
- Faith is that confidence in God that carries believers through any form of trial in life.
- Love is that treatment of others that eliminates all problems and strife in a church.
- Paul regularly and frequently prayed for the Ephesians, making mention of them.
- Paul made mention of things in prayer (Romans 1:9; I Thess 1:2; Philemon 1:4).
- You do not have to describe the details for the Lord – He already knows all of them!
17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:
- This verse and the two following spell out Paul’s prayer request for the Ephesian saints.
- Though the word “spirit” is not capitalized, it is the Holy Spirit. Compare Gen 6:3; Ex 31:3; 35:31; Num 11:29; 24:2; 27:18; Deut 34:9; I Chron 12:18; Neh 9:30; Ps 51:11; II Cor 3:6.
- Unless God reveals things to you, as to Peter, you cannot know anything right (Matt 16:17).
- The Spirit reveals the mysteries of the gospel in spiritual words by preaching (I Cor 2:6-16).
- This verse has a subtle, but still clear, indication of the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
- Paul will pursue this Spirit-induced understanding even further with these saints (3:14-19).
- When did you last pray for spiritual understanding by the Spirit (Luke 11:13; Ps 119:18)?
18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
- There is more enlightenment after regeneration and conversion (3:14-20). We must covet it!
- What is the hope of his calling? The future expectation of final salvation in heaven, for we seek the redemption of our bodies and the coming of the Lord (Col 1:5; Rom 8:17-25; II Cor 4:17 – 5:5; I Thess 2:12; II Thess 2:16; Titus 2:13; 3:7; I Pet 1:3; 5:10; I John 1:1-3).
- It is this simple! If our eyes and hearts were on our heavenly hope, this world would be dull.
- What are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints? The incredible wealth and happiness God has in store for His saints (I Cor 2:9; Matt 25:34; John 14:1-3; II Cor 4:17).
- It is this simple! If our eyes and hearts were set on these riches, money here would be a joke.
- These two things – your hope and future inheritance – are only known by further revelation!
- Paul wanted them to have more than a greater head knowledge of these things; He sought a personal and passionate appreciation that would change their lives (3:14-19; II Cor 5:14-17).
19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
- This is the third thing that Paul prayed might be revealed to Ephesian saints for their profit.
- If you believe the gospel, God worked the exceeding greatness of His mighty power in you.
- This great and glorious power did things to His Son (1:20), which He also did to us (2:1-6).
- It takes further revelation by the Spirit for you to fully grasp the work of God in regeneration.
- Do you fully understand? By nature you had no inclination or desire for God – you much preferred the devil himself as your leader, and you followed the course of the world (2:1-3).
- It would not matter if one rose from the dead and came to warn you of hell (Luke 16:31).
- It would not matter if you were given every possible environmental advantage (Is 26:10).
- Listen to John on the subject of human blindness to Christ (John 3:3; 6:44; 8:45; 10:26).
20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
- It took the exceeding greatness of His mighty power to raise Jesus Christ from the dead!
- But He did not merely resurrect Him! He took Him into heaven and glorified Him at His own right hand on the throne of David over all principalities and powers of every sort. Glory!
- The heavenly places are those places not of this world, not of Canaan, but of God’s presence.
- Remember, we find Jesus Christ on Mount Sion of the heavenly Jerusalem (Heb 12:22-24)!
- There is an emphasis on heavenly places against earthly ambitions (1:3,20; 2:6; Phil 3:20).
- This same power used to raise Jesus Christ from the dead and advance Him into the heavenly places was shown in us by the act of regeneration and our vital union to Him (1:19 cp 2:1-6).
- No wonder regeneration is described and compared to resurrection (John 5:25-29; Rev 20:6)!
- If He used His exceeding great and mighty power to regenerate us, He will finally save us.
21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
- Adding to the previous verse of Jesus on His throne, Paul declares His position in heaven.
- Jesus Christ was not just raised from the dead. He was advanced very high with great glory.
- Principalities, powers, might, and dominion are describing all sort of authority in the universe, including the holy angels, the fallen angels, and all earthly civil governments (Eph 3:10; 6:12; Col 1:16; 2:15; Titus 3:1; I Pet 3:22; Jude 1:8).
- Every name that is named includes any name you can think of that opposes Jesus Christ or you i.e. popes, presidents, apostles, priests, parents, Satan, Caesar, Mary, or Caiaphas.
- Jesus Christ is not just over them, not just above them, not just far above them, not just above them all – He is far above them all! You have a glorious King to trust for time and eternity!
- There is no threat of any of them separating you from God’s love in Christ (Rom 8:38-39).
- The world to come is the new heavens and new earth after Christ’s coming (I Cor 15:23-24).
- The devil took our first parents and us captive, but the stronger man saved us (Luk 11:20-22).
- Jesus Christ made an open show of the devil on the cross (Col 2:15; Heb 2:14-15; I Jn 3:8).
22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
- Our Lord Jesus Christ is Head over all – He is not in a manger or on a crucifix. Glory!
- He is the Head of all things to (for the benefit of) the church (the whole body of the elect).
- All things are being put under his feet in various ways and degrees as I speak, including the nearby abolition of death (I Cor 15:24-28; Heb 2:8-9; Phil 3:21).
- There is nothing in heaven or earth to fear – not even death (Rom 8:38-39; II Tim 1:10).
- He is most worthy of our utmost in faith and love, for He is King of kings for you and me!
23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
- The body here described is the whole congregation of the elect as opposed to just Ephesus.
- Since it is the fullness of Jesus Christ, it is more than a local assembly (Cp I Cor 12:27).
- The earlier contextual emphasis is on gathering all the elect into one body (1:10).
- The role in context is one of universal authority in both worlds for a church (1:22).
- Jesus Christ fills all things – He is the omnipresent God – He is the fullness of God in every sense and fills all things with goodness (Jer 23:24; John 1:16; Eph 4:10; Col 1:19; 2:9; 3:11).
- Yet we as the elect and predestinated sons of God are the fullness of Jesus Christ Himself.
- He is the covenant Head and Surety for the elect – which makes Him a public Person.
- He does not have a complete purpose without His elect, for He was ordained for them.
- The elect complete Him by filling out His body, purpose, commission, and office.
- Without our bodies, we are incomplete; so without His body – us, He is incomplete.
- It is the combination of our head and body that makes a complete person, and the Lord Jesus Christ is the head of the church, and we are the body, and thus a complete kingdom.
- Reading/meditating on the words, phrases, and clauses of this chapter is a glorious spiritual exercise.
- Here is the truth of the gospel kept secret since the beginning of the world and from most Christians even today (1:8-9; 3:1-13; I Cor 2:6-16).
For Further Study:
- Web Document: “When Were You Saved?” which details the five phases of salvation for dividing scripture.
- Sermon Outline: “The Sons of God,” details and exalts the doctrine of adoption as the sons of God. Glory!
- Sermon Outline: “Eternal Life Is a Gift,” corrects many heresies about the giving and accepting of salvation.
- Sermon Outline: “Is Election Fair?” proves that election is more than fair; it is grace – demerited favor!
- Sermon Outline: “The Book of Life,” considers the names in the book of life from every vantage point.
- Sermon Outline: “Why Preach the Gospel?” properly relates the preaching of the gospel to eternal life.