Ephesians 1:3 – 14
3 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, 4just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. 5He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight 9he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. 13In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14this is the pledge of our inheritance towards redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.
In the Greek, this entire segment is one long sentence (wouldn’t your English teacher hate that!). It is a blessing, and an introduction of the themes of the letter. It begins with blessing – blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus – we often ask blessings of God, but do we often bless God? And yet, here, the author says God is blessed, and he has blessed “us” – those to whom he writes, specifically, but more generally, all Christians – with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Such a blessing of God, for creation and deliverance, was a part of the liturgy of the synagogue. Indeed, much of this passage may have been taken from the liturgy of the early Christian churches.
Some of this passage leads to the idea of predestination – “he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world”, “he destined us for adoption as his children”. In our time, we tend to think in individual terms, of individual, personal salvation – leading us to the conclusion, from these words, that God has already decided who will be saved. But that is not the intention of the author here. He/she is speaking of God’s choice of the Church, the body of followers of Christ – that body, that community, is what was chosen before the foundation of the world, and we, as a part of that body, are adopted as his children. It is in the church, as a part of the body, that we are blessed by the grace that he has lavished on us. It is as a part of his church that we are a part of God’s will for the fullness of time.
It is in Christ that we are destined for an inheritance – all who are in Christ are destined for that inheritance, all who hear his word and believe in him are marked with the seal of his Holy Spirit – through baptism. And all are invited to be a part of this body!
Thus, followers of Christ become God’s chosen people. And in this we offer him our praise!