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Studies to edify, motivate, inspire and amaze. Learning to be a Christian “unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).
“…all spiritual blessings” are “in heavenly places”
DIVINE PREDESTINATION “…he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world”
“…he hath made us accepted in the beloved”
“…that in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth”
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Questions, exercises and tasks
1. Paul was an apostle of Jesus Christ “by the will of God.” Do you have some ministry in the church? _______ (evangelist, teacher, elder, deacon, etc.) If yes, please identify which. ________________________________________________________________
a) By whose will do you carry on your ministry, or ministries? By your own, by that of other people or by God’s? Explain.
b) Supposing you respond: “By the will of God,” what evidence would you offer to prove that God really wills you to be his servant?
2. Self examination. Paul directs his words “to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus.”
a) If you belong to a congregation, what is its name and where is it located?
b) Do you figure among the saints and faithful in that place and congregation? _________ Would you be willing to confidently affirm: “I am truly one the saints and faithful in Christ Jesus in (place) _____________________? ___________
173 words, 26 transcendental subjects
In the year 62 a. d., in a jail in Rome, the apostle Paul took his pen and wrote a really eloquent declaration…
…consisting of 268 words…
(Ephesians 1:3-14, in the King James version)
…of which we cite 173 for this lesson.
In them, we find some 26 transcendental subjects…
…of incomparable sublimity and spiritual relevance.
“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, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: that in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:…”
A grammatical schematic of the 173 words cited
A grammatical schematic of the text serves to highlight its many great subjects and how they are related in terms of personages, times and places.
a) In his writings, the apostle Paul assures us he speaks and writes by divine inspiration. This superlative passage, very complex and broadly encompassing, sustains his claim. In what way does it do that?
b) Would the Ephesian Christians of the First Century, at least a majority of them, have understood this long and impressive statement? Not only the elders (Acts 20:17-28) and deacons, but the rest of the members. It is to be supposed that they would, for God does not send, by means of his servants, messages that cannot be understood. The same line of reasoning leads us to presume that, today, we also can understand the teachings set forth in this text. Let each of us pray, then, that “the eyes” of our“understanding may be enlightened” (Ephesians 1:18) so that we may discover the treasures of the revelation and make them our very own.
c) Now, we take a summary look at the grammatical structure of the statement, beginning with verse 3 and through verse 10, and from there, go on to analyze, taking our time, its numerous, different parts.
Image 1 of the schematic
Image 2 of the schematic
Image 3 of the schematic
Image 4 of the schematic
Questions, exercises and tasks
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ …”
3. “Blessed be the God and Father…”
a) Is it your custom to speak in this way of God the Father? ___________
b) How often and for what reason, or reasons?
c) Exercise. As you continue with this study, compare your way of saying that God is blessed with that of the apostle Paul.
4. “…the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…”
a) Is God the God of the Lord Jesus Christ? ___________ Look up the following texts, writing down the key phrases that state their relationship.
John 20:16-17 _____________________________________________
Hebrews 1:9 _______________________________________________
b) Is God the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ? __________
c) How many divine figures are there in the phrase? ____________
d) Who is the head of Christ? 1 Corinthians 11:3. ___________
5. “…who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ…”
a) Who is the subject of the verb “blessed”? That is, who is it who blesses us? ___________________
b) With what does he bless us? ____________________________________
c) What is the opposite of “spiritual blessings” _________________________
d) Was Paul focusing on material blessings or spiritual blessings for himself, as well as for the saints and faithful in Ephesus? _______________________
(1) In the context of “blessings,” does Paul bring up, at the very beginning of his letter to the Ephesians, the subject of “physical-material blessings?” ______________ Why would he not do that?
(2) Imprisoned during two years, or so, without a doubt, Paul would not have enjoyed a number of physical-material blessings, among them: complete personal liberty, normal personal security, healthy hygienic conditions, good physical health and personal privacy, as also a healthy diet and perhaps adequate, clean garments. Why would he not begin his letter to the Ephesians, mentioning such things and asking the church to continually pray about his physical-material situation?
e) Self examination. When you think about receiving blessings from God, do you more often visualize materials ones than spiritual ones, concerned more for the material-physical that for the spiritual?
f) When the subject of God’s blessings is brought up in your congregation, to what kind of blessings is the most emphasis, importance and priority given? To the material ones or to the spiritual?
g) Are the “material prosperity gospel” and the “physical health gospel” preached in your congregation? _______________ Whatever your answer may be, please state the evidences for it?
Set down two differences between “the gospel of material prosperity and physical health” on the one hand, and, on the other, “the gospel of your salvation” (Ephesians 1:13) preached by Paul and the other true apostles of the Jesus Christ.
h) Where are all spiritual blessings offered by God to be found?
i) The term “heavenly places” is plural. Identify those places.
j) Is it necessary to be in one of those “heavenly places” in order to receive “all spiritual blessings?”_________ Do you find yourself in a place of that kind? _______
k) Self examination. Are you sincerely and truly interested in receiving “all spiritual blessings?”___________ Or, are only material ones important to you?
l) “…all spiritual blessings” are found not only in the “heavenly places” but also “in Christ.” According to Galatians 3:27, how do we come to be “in Christ?”
m) Self examination. At the present time, are you “in Christ?” ____________ Holy and faithful in him? ________________
Tasks for the next seven days
A. Answer all the questions in Lesson 1, also doing the exercises.
B. Read the entire six chapters of Ephesians, looking specifically for any reprimands or censures of the apostle Paul for the Christians in that city of Ephesus. Write down the ones you find.
C. As you read, thoughtfully and attentively, the entire letter to the Ephesians, think about the tone of it, and describe its general tone in ten words, or less.
D. Read the four chapters of Colossians, noting down examples of any reprimands of the apostle Paul for the Christians in Colosse.
E. Make a list of “all spiritual blessings” available in “heavenly places.” At least, the major ones.
F. Read the history of the establishment of the church of Christ in Ephesus as it is recounted y the physician Luke in Acts 19:1-41 and 20:1. In addition, the story of the meeting of Paul with the elders of the church in Ephesus that took place in Militus, according to Acts 20:17-38.