Chewing on Chapter One


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[b]for adoption to himself 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. 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[c] to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Paul begins his letter to the Ephesians with an excited, seemingly breathless recitation of the blessings we have in Christ.  If I read this first part of the letter in any of the standard translations, I can easily get lost.  Paul is definitely fired up.  His language here – if the translations are to be trusted – is what we folk out in the country call “high flown.”  But is he fired up about blessings that have to do with our status before God, like the escape from the final judgement we deserve?  Such blessings are “unspeakably great,” but they have to do with what seem in a way – dare I say it – abstractions.  That is, they have to do with metaphysical realities that we may appreciate through a glass darkly in an intellectual way here and now but only fully enjoy and experience after we die.

Understand, readers.  These are not the conclusions of any scholar or theologian.  They are merely the immediate reactions and questions of a lay reader.

Here is what I want to know:  How do these spiritual blessings change or affect our lives, here and now.  Of course, of course, they must change our long-term perspective.  We need not fear death.  We need not fear judgement.  And, again, lest I be accused of ingratitude or stupidity, let me say:  these blessings – these here-and-now effects – are unspeakably great.

But is there more?  Is there something else?  Are the lives of believers changed in concrete ways in the day-to-day living?

Let’s go on.  Moffat translates verses nine through ten in this way:

So richly has God lavished upon us his grace, granting us complete insight and understanding of the open secret of his will, showing us how it was the purpose of his design so to order it in the fullness of the ages that all things in heaven and earth alike should be gathered up in Christ.

So, we are in on the great (open) secret.  The great mystery.  We know the end of history.  The ushering in of the Messianic Kingdom.  The Kingdom of God, where justice will prevail and where every tear will be wiped away and where the lion will lie down with the lamb and the child will put his hand over the adder’s den.  All of that.

Again, this gives us perspective.  God will finally prevail.  In the end, all will be well.  But just how does that perspective change everyday living?

Time for a break.  More later.


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