By Monica Patterson
Ephesians 1: 1-3
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
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…”
Writing from prison in Rome, Paul wrote this epistle to encourage the church in the thriving port city of Ephesus in the Roman Empire. This city boasted one of the seven wonders of the ancient world – the temple of Artemis. Tourists today can visit the excavated ruins of Ephesus in modern-day Turkey, and experience something of this city’s wealth and power.
Paul begins this letter with a call for God to be blessed because of His blessing to us: “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” (Eph 1:3). Essentially: God is worthy of praise for sharing the abundance of His goodness with us.
Note the Giver of the blessings. Whatever we have, we have from God. Whatever we need, He has provided. God is not stingy with His blessing. He does not withhold from us. There is no need in our lives that Christ’s life, death and resurrection has not already fulfilled. These blessings are:
Paul mentions these specifically in this epistle, and there are others we could include, such as joy, peace, love, and intimacy and communion with God.
Note where the blessings are located. These blessings are ours in the heavenly places. This phrase refers not to a particular location or time, rather, it means wherever Christ is. It is God’s world, and it is where we already partly enjoy God’s presence and commune with Jesus.
Note the condition for receiving these blessings. These blessings are only ours “in Christ”. Christ is where believers live. He is the source of our salvation and blessing. Apart from being in Christ, there can be no participation in these blessings. Unless you have repented of your sin and turned to Christ for forgiveness, there can be no expectation of blessing for you.
We live in a time where we have a foretaste of the future blessing in Christ. Yet as we live in this fallen world we await the realization of promised future blessing. While we wait, John Calvin encourages us:
And whatever happens to us, let us always assure ourselves that we have good cause to praise our God, and that even if we are poor and miserable in this world, the happiness of heaven is enough to appease us, to sweeten all our afflictions and sorrows, and to give us such content that we may nevertheless have our mouths open to bless God for showing himself so kindhearted and liberal towards us as even to adopt us as his children, and to show us that the heritage which has been purchased for us by the blood of his only Son is ready for us, and that we cannot miss it, seeing that we go to it with true and invincible constancy of faith.
Today, all that is left of the great city of Ephesus is ruins. In contrast, the promised blessing for God’s children is not like the ruins of Ephesus. Rather it is kept in heaven for us, secure in Christ.
Monica Paterson is the wife of Keith and mom of 3 busy boys, artist and somewhat reluctant writer yet a lover of God’s Word. Born and raised in South Africa, she has traveled to many parts of the world since then and the strangest job she ever had was to wash Halloween pumpkins in England for a weekend. She currently resides in London, England. Her great joy is teaching ladies how to study the Bible and watch their love for God deepen.
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