The Epistle to the Ephesians
Spiritual Blessings And Divine Purpose — Chapter 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: Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ” (1:1-2).
Greetings: God had willed that the Apostle Paul should proclaim His grace to the whole creation under Heaven, and make known His purpose to the saints. Therefore, when on a mission of wrath against the Christians, in which he thought he was doing God’s service, he was rescued from that evil purpose by Jesus Christ, to become His apostle. As such he now writes to the Ephesians whom he addresses as “the saints and faithful in Christ Jesus” (New Tran.). As to the word “faithful” the following remark is enlightening: “The word translated “faithful” might be rendered “believers.” It is used as a term of superscription both here and in the Epistle to the Colossians. We must remember that the Apostle was now in prison, and that Christianity which had been established for some years, was exposed to all kinds of attack. To say that one was a believer at the beginning of the Church era was to say that he was faithful. The word then does not merely express that they believed or that each individual walked faithfully, but that the Apostle addressed himself to those who by grace faithfully maintained the faith they received” (Darby).
To these then, sanctified in Christ Jesus, the divine good wishes are now conveyed: “Grace be to you, and peace from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” Such a greeting given to saints already conscious of standing in grace, and in peace, expressed the divine desire for their continued and further enjoyment of these blessings.
Every Spiritual Blessing
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 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. Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved. In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace; wherein He hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence” (1:3-8).
In contemplating what he is about to unfold, the Apostle cannot contain himself, but breaks out in adoration. Unlike Old Testament introductions to Israel as “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” which called attention to God’s ways with the patriarchs, He is now introduced as “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
It has been pointed out by another that the phrase “God… of our Lord Jesus Christ” recognizes the position Christ took as Man before God, God regarded in His nature as such, while the expression “Father of our Lord Jesus ‘Christ” suggests how Christ is looked at as the Son of the Father’s love. However, let us remember that as the “Only Begotten” He is unique, the Son ever with the Father who in time sent Him “into the world” (John 10:36). He is also presented in Scripture as the Son of God born in time (Psa. 2:7; Luke 1:35), and as such He associates us with Himself in sonship. Even as such, however, He is the “Firstborn,” in His preeminence. Hence, in the message to the disciples by Mary Magdalene, our Lord says: “I ascend unto My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.” He does not say, to our Father and to our God: He preserves, as a matter of necessity, the peculiar place that is His, and yet He brings us, by virtue of what He is, into relationships which are characterized by His relationships, “My Father” and therefore “your Father”; “My God” and therefore “your God” (Numerical Bible).
Every Spiritual Blessing: This is the text which describes the blessings known in Christianity as distinguished from those in Judaism. We are blessed with “every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ.” Consequently, while there are distinctive blessings known in the Church which are not for the enjoyment of other saints of God, “every” blessing which is “spiritual” is the portion of the Church. These blessings are “in heavenly places in Christ,” the One in whom there we are seated (2:6).
As we consider these things, it is well to remember that the Ephesians were in a condition to appropriate the teaching of this Epistle, for we know that the Apostle adapted his ministry to the capacity of his audiences. He informed the Corinthians of this when he said: “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat, for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet are ye able” (1 Cor. 3:2). Nevertheless, it is solemn that even in Ephesus before the Apostle’s death, there had been declension (2 Tim. 1:15), and thirty years later had to be reproved in these words: “Thou hast left thy first love.” The word “first” is in the sense of quality, and the same as the adjective in Luke 15: “Bring forth the best robe.” We sometimes speak as if “first love” was a term describing the love of a “convert,” and as if that was the best period in Christian experience. Well, it is true that the simplicity and warmth of a young convert is very blessed and that it is sad when it gives place to dullness and coldness. Alas! there are cases indeed, where the period of conversion is the brightest! Are we to believe that the longer we know the Lord, the less we shall respond to His love? Far be the thought! On the contrary, “the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day” (Pro. 4:18). The young convert has been likened to a rivulet high in the mountains, leaping from crag to crag, running swiftly here, slowly there, singing and dancing on its way — a beautiful sight and sound. Later it reaches the valley and becomes a river, deep and flowing irresistibly on its steady course, the promoter of fertility and commerce.
What we find in Ephesus — “object of desire” — is departure of heart in a church which, while retaining many commendable qualities, had departed from first love, from “full satisfaction with the object” of the heart. Let us remember that in the matter of spiritual values, when the best is lost, the remainder will gradually disappear. How suggestive then that in the record of Church declension, what might be regarded as the most prosperous of churches is first on the list of downgrade! Does it not reveal the craftiness of the enemy in making the attack upon the best first of all? May it teach us to appreciate the gifts of love, but above all the Lover Himself.
A story has been told regarding a son of C. H. Mackintosh, who, with a school problem, came to his father.
The father only too gladly gave him the necessary assistance to work it out satisfactorily. Some time later the lad returned to the room; whereupon the father said, “Well, son, what can I do for you now?” To which the boy replied, “Nothing father, I just wanted to be with you!” Yes! lovely experiences like this do take place in human families! But alas! is it not true that very much of our intercourse with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ is in the nature of seeking benefits? Seldom do we approach Him just to enjoy personal contact with God because of the exceeding grace of His presence and company.