Bible Passage: Ephesians 1:3-14

3 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.

 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love

 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-

 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace

 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding,

 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ,

 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfilment- to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

 11 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,

 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.

 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,

 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession- to the praise of his glory. (Eph. 1:3-14 NIB)


Key OT/NT passages on how this passage fits within the Bible story as a whole

Right from Genesis 2, God created mankind for a reason – to relate to one another and to him, and to rule over his creation. Following the fall, men and women have suppressed that purpose, turning away from relationship with their creator, and seeking self-rule. God’s gracious purpose is to return mankind to the purpose for which they were created, re-uniting them to God and one another through the cross, in Christ, as his church, and bringing them to a new creation where they will rule under his authority forever.


Brief note on context/key themes of book

Ephesians is a circular letter from Paul, written from prison (6:20). It is being sent to a number of churches including the church in Ephesus, where Paul had been only 7 years previously. It is a book of two halves, with 1:10 as the key verse. The first half teaches us that God has made us one people under one Christ (chapters 1-3), while the second half teaches us to live as one people under one Christ (chapters 4-6).


Structure of the passage

Bless the God who has blessed you in Christ (3)

Paul calls on the Ephesian church to respond to the way in which God has blessed them, by blessing God (v.3 starts literally “Blessed be the God and Father of…”).

He chose us… (4)

God chose us to be holy and blameless in his sight – we were his free decision, to be perfected in the future.

He predestined us… (5-6)

God took the sole initiative in our salvation, personally overseeing our adoption into sonship. It was an act of love, driven by own will and for his own satisfaction.

He redeemed us… (7-8)

We were held captive to sin, death and the devil, but Jesus personally paid for our release from slavery. It cost him his blood, but through it we enjoy complete forgiveness.

He let us in on his plans… (9-10)

As if it weren’t enough to rescue us, God has revealed to us the sweep of his grand plan, through to the future (the ‘fulness of time’). It’s to bring everything into unity under his Son.

And has brought together a new society. (11-14)

The Jews were chosen (the word means 'chosen to be God's inheritance', compare Psalm 135:4) according to God's plan, worked out in the pages of the Old Testament. That plan has now come to include the Gentiles, who have heard the gospel, and now have the Spirit as the guarantee of their future redemption. Both groups can be assured that God's plan is fully on track.


Suggestions for any tricky bits?

What are the heavenly realms (3)?

Paul comes back to this idea time and again in Ephesians. The heavenly realms are the place where not only God and the ascended Christ live (and we live with him), but also where the evil spiritual powers live (1:20-21; 6:12; cf. 3:10). At the moment there is war in those realms (6:10) but one day the evil powers there will be completely eradicated (1 Cor 15:24-26).


Summary of author’s main point

Christians bless God for all the blessings they enjoy in Christ

Aim/purpose for original audience

For Christians to bless God for all the blessings they enjoy in Christ

Aim/purpose for us today

For Christians to bless God for all the blessings they enjoy in Christ


Key area of application

In history, the reason for our existence was acknowledged to be “to glorify God and enjoy him forever”. People who rejected that purpose not only struggled to replace it with any other sense of purpose or meaning, but failed to live consistently with a sense of meaninglessness. Ultimately, it is the God of Ephesians 1 who gives purpose. He has called, predestined, and redeemed a people, who are caught up in his salvation plan. The reason that that gives us for existence is not just logical, it is joyful.