Blessed be the God - See the note on 2 Corinthians 1:3, where the same form is used.
With all spiritual blessings - With the pure doctrines of the Gospel, and the abundant gifts and graces of the Holy Ghost, justifying, sanctifying, and building us up on our most holy faith.
In heavenly places - Εν τοις επουρανιοις· In heavenly things, such as those mentioned above; they were not yet in heavenly places, but they had abundance of heavenly things to prepare them for heavenly places. Some think the word should be understood as signifying blessings of the most exalted or excellent kind, such as are spiritual in opposition to those that are earthly, such as are eternal in opposition to those that are temporal; and all these in, through and by Christ. We have already seen, on Galatians 4:26, that the heavenly Jerusalem, or Jerusalem which is from above, is used by the Jews to signify the days of the Messiah, and that state of grace and glory which should follow the Levitical worship and ceremonies; and it is possible that St. Paul may use the word επουρανια, heavenly things, in this sense: God hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly things, or in this heavenly state, in which life and immortality are brought to light by the Gospel. This is apparently the preferable sense.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ - This commences a sentence which continues to the close of Ephesians 1:12. The length of the periods in the writings of Paul, is one cause of the obscurity of his style, and renders an explanation often difficult. The meaning of this phrase is, that God has laid a foundation for gratitude for what he has done. The ground or reason of the praise here referred to, is that which is stated in the following verses. The leading thing on which the apostle dwells is God‘s eternal purpose - his everlasting counsel in regard to the salvation of man. Paul breaks out into the exclamation that God is worthy of praise for such a plan, and that his eternal purposes, now manifest to people, give exalted views of the character and glory of God. Most persons suppose the contrary. They feel that the plans of God are dark, and stern, and forbidding, and such as to render his character anything but amiable.
They speak of him, when he is referred to as a sovereign, as if he were tyrannical and unjust, and they never connect the idea of that which is amiable and lovely with the doctrine of eternal purposes. There is no doctrine that is usually so unpopular; none that is so much reproached; none that is so much abused. There is none that people desire so much to disbelieve or avoid; none that they are so unwilling to have preached; and none that they are so reluctant to find in the Scriptures. Even many Christians turn away from it with dread; or if they “tolerate” it, they yet feel that there is something about it that is especially dark and forbidding. Not so felt Paul. He felt that it laid the foundation for eternal praise; that it presented glorious views of God; that it was the ground of confidence and hope; and that it was desirable that Christians should dwell upon it and praise God for it. Let us feel, therefore, as we enter upon the exposition of this chapter, that God is to be praised for all his plans, and that it is “possible” for Christians to have such views of the doctrine of “eternal predestination” as to give them most elevated conceptions of the glory of the divine character. And let us also be “willing” to know the truth. Let us approach word after word, and phrase after phrase, and verse after verse, in this chapter, willing to know all that God teaches; to believe all that he has revealed; and ready to say, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ for all that he has done.”
Who hath blessed us - Who does Paul mean here by “us?” Does he mean all the world? This cannot be, for all the world are not thus blessed with “all” spiritual blessings. Does he mean “nations?” For the same reason this cannot be. Does he mean the Gentiles in contradistinction from the Jews? Why then does he use the word “us,” including himself, who was a Jew? Does he mean to say that they were blessed with external privileges, and that this was the only object of the eternal purposes of God? This cannot be, for he speaks of “spiritual blessings;” he speaks of the persons referred to as having “redemption” and “the forgiveness of sins;” as having “obtained an inheritance,” and as being sealed with the “Holy Spirit of promise.” These appertain not to nations, or to external privileges, or the mere offers of the gospel, but to true Christians; to persons who have been redeemed. The persons referred to by the word “us,” are those who are mentioned in Ephesians 1:1, as “saints,” - ἅγίοις hagiois- “holy;” and “faithful” - πιστοῖς pistois- “believing,” or “believers.”
This observation is important, because it shows that the plan or decree of God had reference to individuals, and not merely to nations. Many have supposed (see Whitby, Dr. A. Clarke, Bloomfield, and others) that the apostle here refers to the “Gentiles,” and that his object is to show that they were now admitted to the same privileges as the ancient Jews, and that the whole doctrine of predestination here referred to, has relation to that fact. But, I would ask, were there no Jews in the church at Ephesus? See Acts 18:20, Acts 18:24; Acts 19:1-8. The matter of fact seems to have been, that Paul was uncommonly successful there among his own countrymen, and that his chief difficulty there arose, not from the Jews, but from the influence of the heathen; Acts 19:24. Besides what evidence is there that the apostle speaks in this chapter especially of the Gentiles, or that he was writing to that portion of the church at Ephesus which was of Gentile origin? And if he was, why did he name himself among them as one on whom this blessing had been bestowed? The fact is, that this is a mere supposition, resorted to without evidence, and in the face of every fair principle of interpretation, to avoid an unpleasant doctrine. Nothing can be clearer than that Paul meant to write to “Christians as such;” to speak of privileges which they enjoyed as special to themselves; and that he had no particular reference to “nations,” and did not design merely to refer to external privileges.
With all spiritual blessings - Pardon, peace, redemption, adoption, the earnest of the Spirit, etc., referred to in the following verses - blessings which “individual Christians” enjoy, and not external privileges conferred on nations.
In heavenly places in Christ - The word “places” is here understood, and is not in the original. It may mean heavenly “places,” or heavenly “things.” The word “places” does not express the best sense. The idea seems to be, that God has blessed us in Christ in regard to heavenly subjects or matters. In Ephesians 1:20, the word “places” seems to be inserted with more propriety. The same phrase occurs again in Ephesians 2:6; Ephesians 3:10; and it is remarkable that it should occur in the same elliptical form four times in this one epistle, and, I believe, in no other part of the writings of Paul. Our translators have in each instance supplied the word “places,” as denoting the rank or station of Christians, of the angels, and of the Saviour, to each of whom it is applied. The phrase probably means, in things pertaining to heaven; suited to prepare us for heaven; and tending toward heaven. It probably refers here to every thing that was heavenly in its nature, or that had relation to heaven, whether gifts or graces. As the apostle is speaking, however, of the mass of Christians on whom these things had been bestowed, I rather suppose that he refers to what are called Christian graces, than to the extraordinary endowments bestowed on the few. The sense is, that in Christ, i. e. through Christ, or by means of him, God had bestowed all spiritual blessings that were suited to prepare for heaven - such as pardon, adoption, the illumination of the Spirit, etc.
Peace comes with dependence on divine power. As fast as the soul resolves to act in accordance with the light given, the Holy Spirit gives more light and strength. The grace of the Spirit is supplied to cooperate with the soul's resolve, but it is not a substitute for the individual exercise of faith. Success in the Christian life depends upon the appropriation of the light that God has given. It is not an abundance of light and evidence that makes the soul free in Christ; it is the rising of the powers and the will and the energies of the soul to cry out sincerely, “Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief.” TM 518.1
I rejoice in the bright prospects of the future, and so may you. Be cheerful, and praise the Lord for His loving-kindness. That which you cannot understand, commit to Him. He loves you and pities your every weakness. He “hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” It would not satisfy the heart of the Infinite One to give those who love His Son a lesser blessing than He gives His Son. TM 518.2
Satan seeks to draw our minds away from the mighty Helper, to lead us to ponder over our degeneration of soul. But though Jesus sees the guilt of the past, He speaks pardon; and we should not dishonor Him by doubting His love. The feeling of guiltiness must be laid at the foot of the cross, or it will poison the springs of life. When Satan thrusts his threatenings upon you, turn from them, and comfort your soul with the promises of God. The cloud may be dark in itself, but when filled with the light of heaven, it turns to the brightness of gold; for the glory of God rests upon it. TM 518.3Read in context »
“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.” Before the foundations of the earth were laid, the covenant was made that all who were obedient, all who should through the abundant grace provided, become holy in character, and without blame before God, by appropriating that grace, should be children of God. This covenant, made from eternity, was given to Abraham hundreds of years before Christ came. With what interest and what intensity did Christ in humanity study the human race to see if they would avail themselves of the provision offered. FE 403.1
“This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.” These words are an eye opener to all who will see. The knowledge of God is a knowledge which will not need to be left behind when our probation closes, a knowledge which is of the most lasting benefit to the world and to us individually. Why, then, should we put the word of God in the background when it is wisdom unto salvation. “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation.” We are neglecting our salvation if we give authors who have but a confused idea of what religion means, the most conspicuous place and devoted respect, and make the Bible secondary. Those who have been enlightened in reference to the truth for these last days will not find instruction in the books generally studied today, in regard to the things which are coming upon our world; but the Bible is full of the knowledge of God, and is competent to educate the student for usefulness in this life and for the eternal life. FE 403.2Read in context »
God cannot glorify His name through His people while they are leaning upon man and making flesh their arm. Their present state of weakness will continue until Christ alone shall be exalted; until, with John the Baptist, they shall say from a humble and reverent heart: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Words have been given me to speak to the people of God: “Lift Him up, the Man of Calvary. Let humanity stand back, that all may behold Him in whom their hopes of eternal life are centered. Says the prophet Isaiah: ‘Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.’ Let the church and the world look upon their Redeemer. Let every voice proclaim with John: ‘Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.’” 5T 729.1
It is to the thirsting soul that the fountain of living waters is open. God declares: “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground.” To souls that are earnestly seeking for light and that accept with gladness every ray of divine illumination from His holy word, to such alone light will be given. It is through these souls that God will reveal that light and power which will lighten the whole earth with His glory. 5T 729.2
*****Read in context »