Given the fact that entire books have been written and lengthy expository series have been preached on the first chapter of Ephesians, it would be preposterous to think that much of value could be said about that chapter in this small space. But there is room to make one point. First, we must note the general agreement concerning the theme of the passage. Five of my annotated Bibles give the following headings: “Spiritual Blessing in Christ” (2); “Redemption in Christ”; “The Believer’s Position in Grace”; and “The Blessings of Redemption.” I readily accept any of those as a statement of the theme for the passage under consideration. What we must guard against when reading the first chapter of Ephesians is focusing on the believer’s position or his blessings to the exclusion of the “in Christ” or “in grace” part. In other words, this chapter is intended both to reveal the riches of the position of the believer and to exalt the Persons of the Father and Son and Their work in providing them. One means of noting what the chapter emphasizes in this regard is to recognize the repeated use of the pronoun His.
“The kind intention of His will” (v. 5). Paul begins this ineffable passage praising “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” for blessing us “with every spiritual blessing” in Christ, for choosing us, and for adopting us “as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself.” He has done all this “according to the kind intention of His will.” We are reminded of John’s declaration that believers are “born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (1:13). God’s will plans, initiates, and executes the entire work of salvation from beginning to end.
“To the praise of the glory of His grace” (v. 6). Just in case we have missed the significance of the fact that all the work and blessing of salvation are in accord with the ordaining force of His will, Paul assures us that it is so in order that the glory of God’s undeserved favor might be praised. Any thought that man can stand before God on His own merit in any way is chopped off at the knees by these two phrases.
“Redemption through His blood . . . according to the riches of His grace” (v. 7). What God has determined and planned by His will and proffered by grace—namely, salvation—He provides through the death and shed blood of Christ.
“His will, according to His kind intention” (v. 9). Continuing in the same vein, Paul explains that God then made known to us “His will” (we could have discovered it in no other way), and that He did so according to “His kind intention” toward us “which He purposed” in Christ.
“Predestined according to His purpose” (v. 11). If the ninth verse emphasizes the loving motive behind God’s will, this verse exposes the ironclad certainty of its accomplishment. What God has predetermined will be brought to pass—without fail and without exception because He “works all things after the counsel of His will” (v. 11).
“To the praise of His glory” (vv. 12, 14). All this is done that lost men might be blessed, yes, but ultimately that God’s glory might be manifest. God is the sole Actor in salvation from beginning to end in order that He alone might be glorified.
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