hotrodhell

Ephesians 1 An Ancient Hymn

In Apologetics on October 26, 2011 at 6:07 am

Ephesians 1:3-6 ESV Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

Ephesians 1:7-12 ESV In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.

Ephesians 1:13-14 ESV In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Trinity (1:3–14). This doctrine holds that Scripture’s one God exists in three coequal Persons. The word “trinity” is not found in the Bible. But the N.T. clearly teaches what the O.T. intimates: Jesus is God the Son, who from eternity was God with the Father (cf. John 1:1–14; Phil. 2:5–11), and that the Holy Spirit is a Person of the same kind (cf. John 14:16).

Divine roles in salvation’s grand design (1:3–14). God the Father is pictured as the One who devised the plan of salvation (vv. 3–6). God the Son carried out the plan, shedding His blood to win us redemption and forgiveness (vv. 7–13). And God the Holy Spirit “included us in Christ” when we believed and remains in us as the guarantee of our complete redemption (vv. 14–15).[1]

Contextual Insights to 1:1–23

A. The phrase “in Ephesus” is omitted in the RSV, NJB and Williams translations because it is missing in some of the earliest Greek manuscripts (P46, א, and B). There was a blank space, apparently, where a place name should have been inserted. It was a circular letter for all of the churches of Asia Minor. The letters to the seven churches in Rev. 2–3 show an ancient Roman postal route.

B. The Trinity is praised in Ephesians 1 (and also 1:17; 2:18; 3:14–17; 4:4–6)

1. the Father in eternity, vv. 3–6 (the Father’s love and purpose in Himself)

2. the Son in time, vv. 7–12 (the Father’s love and purpose in Christ)

3. the Spirit in the future, vv. 13–14 (the Father’s love and purpose in the Spirit)

Verses 3–14 form one beautiful prayer of praise to the Triune God! Each section closes with the phrase “to the praise of His glory” (cf. vv. 6, 12, 14). Even though all three persons of the Trinity are mentioned, it is God the Father who is emphasized (as in vv. 15–23)! See Special Topic: The Trinity at 1:3.

C. Election is a wonderful doctrine. However, it is not a call to favoritism, but a call to be a channel, a tool or means of others’ redemption! In the Old Testament the term was used primarily for service; in the New Testament it is used primarily for salvation which issues in service. The Bible never reconciles the seeming contradiction between God’s sovereignty and mankind’s free will, but affirms them both! A good example of the biblical tension would be Romans 9 on God’s sovereign choice and Romans 10 on mankind’s necessary response (cf. 10:11, 13).

The key to this theological tension may be found in Eph. 1:4. Jesus is God’s elect man and all are potentially elect in Him (Karl Barth). Jesus is God’s “yes” to fallen mankind’s need (Karl Barth). Ephesians 1:4 also helps clarify the issue by asserting that the goal of predestination is not heaven, but holiness (Christlikeness). We are often attracted to the benefits of the gospel and ignore the responsibilities! God’s call (election) is for time as well as eternity!

Doctrines come in relation to other truths, not as single, unrelated truths. A good analogy would be a constellation versus a single star. God presents truth in eastern, not western, genres. We must not remove the tension caused by dialectical (paradoxical) pairs of doctrinal truths (Ex.: God as transcendent versus God as immanent; security vs. perseverance; Jesus as equal with the Father vs. Jesus as subservient to the Father; Christian freedom vs. Christian responsibility to a covenant partner; etc.).

The theological concept of “covenant” unites the sovereignty of God (who always takes the initiative and sets the agenda) with a mandatory initial and continuing repentant, faith response from humanity. Be careful of proof-texting one side of the paradox and depreciating the other! Be careful of advocating only your favorite doctrine or system of theology![2]

“Christ” This is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew term “messiah,” which meant “an anointed one.” It implies “one called and equipped by God for a specific task.” In the OT three groups of leaders: priests, kings and prophets were anointed. Jesus fulfills all three of these anointed offices (cf. Heb. 1:2–3).

“Jesus” This Hebrew name meant “YHWH saves” or “YHWH brings salvation.” It was revealed to his parents by an angel (cf. Matt. 1:21). “Jesus” is derived from the Hebrew word for salvation, hosea, suffixed to the covenant name for God, “YHWH.” It is the same as the Hebrew name Joshua.[3]

“Father” This term is not used in the sense of sexual generation nor chronological sequence, but of intimate family relationship. God chose family terms to reveal Himself to mankind (Example: Hosea 2–3 as passionate, faithful lover, Hosea 11 as loving father and mother).

“Lord” The Greek term “Lord” (kurios) can be used in a general sense or in a developed theological sense. It can mean “mister,” “sir,” “master,” “owner,” “husband” or “the full God-man” (cf. John 9:36, 38). The OT (Hebrew, adon ) usage of this term came from the Jews’ reluctance to pronounce the covenant name for God, YHWH, which was the CAUSATIVE form of the Hebrew verb “to be” (cf. Exod. 3:14). They were afraid of breaking the Commandment, which said, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain” (cf. Exod. 20:7; Deut. 5:11). Therefore, they thought if they did not pronounce it, they could not take it in vain. So, they substituted the Hebrew word adon, which had a similar meaning to the Greek word kurios (Lord). The NT authors used this term to describe the full deity of Christ. The phrase “Jesus is Lord” was the public confession of faith and a baptismal formula of the early church (cf. Rom. 10:9–13; I Cor. 12:3; Phil. 2:11).[4]

“Blessed be the God” This Greek term “eulogy” (eulogō) was always used of praising God. It is a different term from the “blessed” (makarios) of the beatitudes (cf. Matt. 5:1–9, 10–11). The Father sent the Son and the Spirit to bring believers into fellowship with Himself and fellowship with one another.

Paul typically opens his letters with a prayer of thanksgiving for the recipients (cf. 1:15–23), but here, uniquely, he pens an extensive doxology to the Triune God.

“who has blessed us … in Christ” The blessed God blesses believers! Believers receive everything through Christ. Jesus is the elect man. Verses 3–14 are one sentence in Greek, which shows the work of the Trinity, before time, in time and beyond time. However, the Father’s instigation is magnified in all three sections (cf. vv. 3–6, 7–12 and 13–14).[5]

Notice the activity of all three Persons of the Trinity in vv. 4–6. The term “trinity” (it was first coined by Tertullian) is not a biblical word, but the concept is pervasive.

1. The Gospels

a. Matthew 3:16–17; 28:19

b. John 14:26

2. Acts – Acts 2:32–33, 38–39

3. Paul

a. Romans 1:4–5; 5:1, 5; 8:1–4, 8–10

b. I Corinthians 12:4–6

c. II Corinthians 1:21; 13:14

d. Galatians 4:4–6

e. Ephesians 1:3–14, 17; 2:18; 3:14–17; 4:4–6

f. I Thessalonians 1:2–5

g. II Thessalonians 2:13

h. Titus 3:4–6

4. Peter – I Peter 1:2

5. Jude – vv. 20–21

It is hinted at in the OT:

1. Use of plurals for God

a. Name Elohim is plural but when used of God always has a singular verb

b. “Us” in Genesis 1:26–27; 3:22; 11:7

c. “one” in Deuteronomy 6:4 is plural (as it is in Gen. 2:24; Ezek. 37:17)

2. The angel of the Lord as a physical representative of deity

a. Genesis 16:7–13; 22:11–15; 31:11, 13; 48:15–16

b. Exodus 3:2, 4; 13:21; 14:19

c. Judges 2:1; 6:22–23; 13:3–22

d. Zechariah 3:1–2

3. God and Spirit separate, Genesis 1:1–2; Psalm 104:30; Isa. 63:9–11; Ezek. 37:13–14

4. God (YHWH) and Messiah (Adon), separate, Psalm 45:6–7; 110:1; Zechariah 2:8–11; 10:9–12

5. Messiah and Spirit separate, Zechariah 12:10

6. All three mentioned in Isa. 48:16; 61:1

The deity of Jesus and the personality of the Spirit caused problems for the strict, monotheistic, early believers:

1. Tertullian – subordinated the Son to the Father

2. Origen – subordinated the divine essence of the Son and the Spirit

3. Arius – denied deity to the Son and Spirit

4. Monarchianism – believed in a successive manifestation of God

The trinity is historically developed formulation informed by the biblical material:

1. The full deity of Jesus, equal to the Father, affirmed in 325 a.d. by the Council of Nicea

2. The full personality and deity of the Spirit equal to the Father and Son affirmed by the Council of Constantinople (381 a.d.)

3. The doctrine of the trinity fully expressed by Augustine’s work De Trinitate

There is truly mystery here. But the NT seems to affirm one divine essence but three eternal personal manifestations.[6]

The Trinity is salvation and salvation is in the Trinity!

GREEK VERB TENSES USED FOR SALVATION

Salvation is not a product, but a relationship. It is not finished when one trusts Christ; it has only begun! It is not a fire insurance policy, nor a ticket to heaven but a personal relationship with Jesus that issues in daily Christlikeness.

SALVATION AS A COMPLETED ACTION (AORIST TENSE)

Acts 15:11

Romans 8:24

II Timothy 1:9

Titus 3:5

Romans 13:11 (combines the AORIST with a FUTURE orientation)

SALVATION AS A STATE OF BEING (PERFECT TENSE)

Ephesians 2:5, 8

SALVATION AS A CONTINUING PROCESS (PRESENT TENSE)

I Corinthians 1:18; 15:2

II Corinthians 2:15

I Peter 3:21; 4:18

SALVATION AS A FUTURE CONSUMMATION (FUTURE in VERB TENSE or context)

Romans 5:9, 10; 10:9, 13; 11:26; 13:11

I Corinthians 3:15; 5:5

Philippians 1:28;

I Thessalonians 5:8–9; Hebrews 1:14; 9:28

(Implied in Matt. 10:22, 24:13; Mark 13:13; I Pet. 1:5)

Therefore, salvation begins with an initial faith decision (cf. John 1:12; 3:16; Rom. 10:9–13), but this must issue in a process of lifestyle faith (cf. Ro. 8:29; Gal. 4:19; Eph. 1:4; 2:10) which will one day be consummated in sight (cf, I John 3:2). This final state is called glorification. This can be illustrated as

1. initial salvation—justification (saved from the penalty of sin)

2. progressive salvation—sanctification (saved from the power of sin)

3. final salvation—glorification (saved from the presence of sin).[7]


[1] Lawrence O. Richards, The Bible Readers Companion, electronic ed. (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1991), 797.

[2] Robert James Dr. Utley, vol. Volume 8, Paul Bound, the Gospel Unbound: Letters from Prison (Colossians, Ephesians and Philemon, Then Later, Philippians), Study Guide Commentary Series (Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International, 1997), 70.

[3] Robert James Dr. Utley, vol. Volume 8, Paul Bound, the Gospel Unbound: Letters from Prison (Colossians, Ephesians and Philemon, Then Later, Philippians), Study Guide Commentary Series (Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International, 1997), 71.

OT Old Testament

[4] Robert James Dr. Utley, vol. Volume 8, Paul Bound, the Gospel Unbound: Letters from Prison (Colossians, Ephesians and Philemon, Then Later, Philippians), Study Guide Commentary Series (Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International, 1997), 71.

[5] Robert James Dr. Utley, vol. Volume 8, Paul Bound, the Gospel Unbound: Letters from Prison (Colossians, Ephesians and Philemon, Then Later, Philippians), Study Guide Commentary Series (Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International, 1997), 72.

[6] Robert James Dr. Utley, vol. Volume 8, Paul Bound, the Gospel Unbound: Letters from Prison (Colossians, Ephesians and Philemon, Then Later, Philippians), Study Guide Commentary Series (Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International, 1997), 72-73.

[7] Robert James Dr. Utley, vol. Volume 8, Paul Bound, the Gospel Unbound: Letters from Prison (Colossians, Ephesians and Philemon, Then Later, Philippians), Study Guide Commentary Series (Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International, 1997), 75-76.

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