Thursday, January 29, 2015

Redemption, forgiveness, riches of grace. Interrogating Ephesians 1:7

Ephesians 1:3-10
Spiritual Blessings in 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, 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 for adoption 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 to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.


1. In him. Who is him?
-- It could be either God the Father (the subject in Ephesians 1:3,4,5, and the independent clause in verse 6)
-- it could be Jesus, the beloved, the closest antecedent being "the beloved". But also in this verse we have "his blood," which seems to clarify semantically that this referee to Jesus. This is because we're never told about God the father having something like blood.
>> So I take the "in him" to mean "in Christ".


2. We have redemption. Who is we?
-- Paul along with the Ephesians Christians and those elsewhere.
-- we and us throughout...with a distinction among believers made in Ephesians 1:12,13 about "we who were first to believe" and "you also"
>>> in this section, "we" are the Ephesians 1:1 saints, who are faithful

3. Redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses. What is "redemption?"
-- This redemption must be the same as the forgiveness of our trespasses
-- This means commission of trespasses must create bondage from which we are redeemed, ransomed
-- Romans 6:18,20 -- slaves to sin is what you are before
-- Hebrews 9:15 -- a death occurred that bought the redemption
-- Matthew 20:28 -- The son of man came to pay a ransom
-- Galatians 1:4 -- Jesus gave himself to free us from this present evil age.
>>> redemption is the paying of the ransom, to buy us out of bondage to other powers


4. According to the riches of his grace. What does "according to" tell us?
-- The grace was the controlling motivation
-- the grace sought to forgive sins and redeem
-- the degree of forgiveness and redemption is as big as the riches. 
-- so the grace is as at least as effective at redeeming and at forgiving as our sins are at capturing us
-- Ephesians 3:18 -- God's love is so large even comprehending it takes God-given strength

4.1 What do we know about the riches of his grace?
-- Ephesians 2:7. The riches of his grace are on display through the way God shows love for us: making us alive with Christ, raising us with him, seating us with him in heavenly places 
-- Ephesians 3:16. The riches give us strength to have Christ dwell within, to trust God, to be rooted and grounded in love, to comprehend the enormity of the love of Christ, and to be filled with God's fullness.

4.2 what is the link between forgiveness and uniting all things to himself?
-- Ephesians 1:7-10. Grace to us in mighty magnitude poured onto us, and with it forgiveness and redemption, and it made us know God's plan to unite all things to him.

4.3 Why does God reveal the riches of his grace?
-- so we would know the purpose, and the plan, and the mediator of the plan, Jesus
-- Romans 2:4. So we would be lead to repentance.
-- Ephesians 3:8,9. Paul made apostle to Gentiles to illuminate the Riches and the plan
-- Ephesians 1:18. So we will know the hope, and have the hope; so the eyes of our hearts will be enlightened.
-- Proverbs 11:28. 1 Timothy 6:17. Worldly, corruptible Riches are something we falsely put hope in. (But God's wealth is trustworthy.)
> Riches are to help us know and trust God's goodness, and put our confidence and hope in Him.


5. This is the first of three statements about being "in him". How are they linked?
-- Ephesians 1:7 In him we Have redemption
-- Ephesians 1:11 In him we have obtained an inheritance
-- Ephesians 1:14 In him you also were sealed
>They all speak of realities not fully visible or to be more greatly completed later.


6. Is there any difference between redemption and forgiveness? 
...Colossians 1:14 seems to make them synonyms, or at least concurrent. 
-- Romans 3:24. The redemption is IN Jesus. The grace comes THROUGH the redemption. 
-- 1 Corinthians 1:30 Jesus is wisdom from God; and righteousness; and sanctification; and redemption
>> Redemption is escape and ransom from slavery. But we weren't unwilling slaves to sin and Satan; by our willing choices, we had had our ear pierced to stay in The Dominion of Darkness forever. We needed ransom AND we needed forgiveness. 


7. Do we have the full forgiveness and redemption now, or will it come later?
-- Ephesians 4:30 refers to the Holy Spirit sealing us for a day of redemption which seems to connect to Ephesians 1:13, the future day of full inheritance. So that seems like some sort of redemption is future.
-- Romans 8:23 talks about the future date of the redemption of our bodies. Is that redemption the same one discussed here?

8. Why mention blood here, and not some other way of explaining it?
-- Hebrews 9:12 Jesus' access to the heavenly Most Holy Place was due to him because he had his own blood to offer
-- Hebrews 9:14. Jesus' blood purifies our conscience so that we can serve God.
-- 1 John 1:7. Jesus' blood makes a way for us to have pure relationships.
-- 1 Pet. 1:18, 19: Jesus, the pre-existent, eternal one, who has now received glory has made us put our faith in God, and his mechanism was offering his own blood for paying the ransom of our sin
-- Rev. 5:9. Jesus' worth to conquer earth is demonstrated by making a people for himself through paying their ransom, which he did by his blood.
-- But in some other parts of the Bible, God redeems without sin sacrifice: 
---- 2 Samuel 7:23 God redeemed by mighty acts before the other nations
---- 1 Chronicles 17:21 God drove out other peoples to redeem Israel
---- Psalm 44:26 Redeem David by rescuing him from enemies
---- Psalm 130:7 Redemption by love
---- Romans 8:23 FUTURE redemption of our bodies, but clearly not by a bloody sin sacrifice (Hebrews 10:26)
>> While redemption may come by other means, clearly God has chosen to redeem and ransom us from the power of sin by Jesus' bloody death. 


9. "Redemption" and "paying ransom" have in them ideas of buying release from a power. Does the power have the right to do so? 
-- If the power held us against propriety, it's ironic that we're predestined to be sons of God, but had to be redeemed from its power.
-- Romans 6:19. We had willingly chosen to do wrong and grow in sinfulness. See #6 -- we had pierced our ear to stay slaves forever.
>>> We individuals submitted ourselves as slaves to sin, and were held in its power.

10. Do we know anything else about Jesus' blood?
-- Mark 14:24: Jesus' blood is the blood of the covenant. And it is poured out for many, (1 John 2:2 -- the whole world)
-- Hebrews 9:12. Jesus' offered blood gave him the right to enter the heavenly holy of Holies.
-- Hebrews 9:14. Jesus' blood was offered without blemish. Jesus' blood purifies our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
-- Hebrews 10:4. Jesus' blood actually does TAKE AWAY sin.
-- 1 Peter 1:18-19. Jesus' blood paid the ransom price, and to free us from futile ways of our families.
-- 1 John 1:7. Jesus' blood cleanses us from all sin.
> Jesus' blood cleanses from sin, removes the sin, sets us free, gives Jesus access to the Holiest place, confirms the new covenant, and is given for EVERYBODY! 



Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Praising Grace, but why? Interrogating Ephesians 1:6


Ephesians 1:6
to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

1. What can we learn about all the good in Ephesians 1:4-5 by the statement that it is done "to the praise of his glorious grace"?

-- If predestination, or adoption, or his will is interpreted to put God in a bad light, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG
-- for example: if in explaining predestination you turn God into an unloving monster who makes children to die and burn in hell for eternity, and kind but ignorant, unevangelized pygmies who long for God but burn for never knowing the name Jesus, then YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG
>>> APPLICATION -- is the way and contexts that I talk about predestination, election, etc., TO THE PRAISE OF GOD's GRACE? Or is it argument? Divisive -- the insiders vs the unlearned? The pro-missions against the complacent?

2. "With which he has blessed" We have been blessed with Grace. Or is it "blessed by grace?" Or is it "blessed using grace?" What does that mean? Is it called glorious grace because of greatness of the blessing?
-- Ephesians 1:7 and 2:7 discuss "riches of his grace"

3. What does it mean to be blessed IN the beloved? 
-- It parallels being adopted as sons THROUGH Jesus
-- I suspect that there's a shade of difference in THROUGH Jesus vs IN Jesus. 
---- THROUGH Jesus might mean Jesus is a conduit to us
---- IN Jesus might mean our only existence is our union with Jesus
-- The difference is one of emphasis on our 
(a) blessings that come to us by way of Jesus, contrasted with 
(b) facts true of Jesus that become true of us when we are reconciled to Christ, and believe in him, and come to be IN Him.
>>Adoption as sons IN Jesus would make sense mostly of Jesus were adopted. But Adoption THROUGH Jesus can happen even though Jesus was begotten. 


4. Who is the beloved? Is it Jesus?
>> Yes; see eph 1:8

5. What was intended to receive the praise discussed here?
>> His glorious grace

6. What events or actions were leading to the praise discussed here? (Options from Eph 1:5)
... maybe: purpose of his will
... maybe: adoption as sons through Jesus Christ
... maybe: he predestined us
... maybe: In love he acted
-- In any case, the action (I.e., the one that brought the praise to his glorious Grace) caused blessings IN the Beloved, Christ. 
-- Isaiah 43:21: God blesses and cares for the people he formed for himself SO THAT they will bring Him praise.
-- Isaiah 61:1-3,11: God grants freedom and deliverance and comfort and gladness SO THAT he will be glorified.
-- Jesus died to purchase righteousness and life! This is the reason The Father loves the son.


7. Is "blessed (χαριτόω charitoō) in the beloved" is a reference back to "adoption as sons through Jesus Christ."?
... I.e., what was the blessing?
-- Romans 5:15-17. The free (charisma, and dorea) gift is righteousness that comes through an abundance of grace. 
-- Ephesians 1:13. The Holy Spirit is another gift, the guarantee of their inheritance.
-- Colossians 1:13. The Father has transferred us from  the DOMAIN OF DARKNESS to the kingdom of his agape beloved Son!
-- 1 Timothy 1:13-14. Grace overflows bringing faith and love.
-- 1 Peter 2:9-10. We were not a people in the dark, and had received no mercy; but now we ARE a people, and not only a nation but a priesthood. And that is so we can proclaim the wonders of Him who brings us marvelous light!
-- Ephesians 1:7. Redemption through his blood. Forgiveness of trespasses. 
>>> The blessings of being adopted and made IN Christ are numerous: forgiveness, righteousness, citizenship, a job, marvelous light, mercy, faith and love, TRANSFER from darkness, escape from the enemy kingdom, redemption from slavery, the right to proclaim God's goodness.

8. Is the purpose of saying "to the praise of his glorious grace with which he has blessed..." is intended to establish that the glorious grace was integral in either the adoption, or to the predestining?
-- my best guess: the grace was integral in the adoption as sons
-- my best guess: the praise is triggered by his purpose, and his will, and his love, and his action of predestining us for adoption.
>>> therefore whatever it means to be "predestined as sons for adoption" it must also bring "praise to his glorious grace".

9. Are we blessed WITH praise, or blessed WITH grace? And if grace, what does it mean to be blessed WITH grace (charis)?
-- Philippians 3:9. We have a righteousness, and a share in His sufferings. 
-- 1 Peter 2:5. We are like living stones building a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood to offer acceptable-to-God spiritual sacrifices. 
-- Romans 3:22,26. We are justified to have righteousness of God, and that comes through faith in Jesus.
-- Romans 8:1. There is no condemnation to those IN Christ.
-- Could it be the praise we're blessed with? Although God's people will be attractive (Philippians 2:15 shine like stars, Daniel 12:3; Matthew 13:43 righteous will shine like the sun) that's probably not the main point here.
>> It seems most likely that the WITH refers to grace that brings pardon.

10. Why is the grace itself praiseworthy, and not God himself?
-- 2 Corinthians 4:15. As grace extends to more and more people, that increases thanksgiving, and that brings glory to God. 
-- 1 Timothy 1:13-14. Grace overflows with faith and love.
-- Grace is like a beautiful river flowing from a mountain; we are blessed by drinking it and irrigating with it, and our hearts are drawn back to the source of the stream. The river flows with faith, and love, and it floods our land; and we know the mountain is even more beautiful. 

11. Whatever is the the praise of his Glorious Grace here:
...in Ephesians 1:12, the first to hope would be to the praise of his Glory
...in Ephesians 1:14, your hearing and believing and sealing with the Holy Spirit is to the praise of his Glory
...so is there something essentially in common about the three praiseworthy things?
> hearing and believing and hoping and sealing and adopting and predestining are all part of the same package


12. What is the difference between "blessed IN The Beloved" here and "adoption as sons THROUGH Jesus Christ"?
-- blessedness isn't as powerful as adoption. 
>> see 3. 

13. What's the significance of calling Jesus the beloved (ἀγαπάω agapaō)? Why not the title Christ again, or the pronoun "him"?
-- it helps answer the question of the object of love in Ephesians 1:4
-- it connects to Jesus' baptism, where he was called the beloved son, in whom God was well pleased. Matthew 3:17.
-- it becomes a name of Jesus.
-- John 3:35. God's love of the Son is linked with Jesus' authority and ownership of all things.
-- John 10:17. The reason that God loves the Son: because the son willingly lays down his life.


14. When and how did God begin planning for his praise?
-- before the age began
-- before foundation of the world
-- God is strategic!
>> God had general objectives, specific plans, specific actions, to accomplish this end: praise of his glorious grace.

15. Do I learn something about my need to plan and be strategic for God's glory?
>>> APPLICATION. God has planned, had general desires, specific stated goals, specific actions for His plan. It was the way he worked from BEFORE THE DAWN OF TIME. I only have a few years to live on earth: how is my planning going? What are my stated, explicit goals? What are my concrete actions? What steps am I taking to ensure my efforts auger to the PRAISE OF HIS GLORIOUS GRACE and not some other prestige for myself?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Predestined for adoption because of a Purpose. Interrogating Ephesians 1:5

Ephesians 1:5 (ESV)
5 [in love] he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,

>>> The key thrust of this section is on the implications of being IN JESUS, and good THROUGH JESUS.

1. "In love": was it 
(A) in love of his Son (see beloved, verse eph 1:6), or 
(B) love of us, 
(C) in his nature which is love
that led God to do this?
-- Ephesians 5:1-2 -- Jesus's example of giving himself up for us as a fragrant aroma and sacrifice is our standard for walking in love.
-- 1 John 4:16-22. God is love; God loved us first; thus we are compelled to love others.
>> Ephesians 1:6 Identifies the Beloved (ἀγαπάω agapao), Yeshua Messiah


1.1 What would love of the Father for Jesus have to do with predestining us for adoption?
-- John 17:24. *Because* God loved Jesus before the foundation of the world, Jesus asks for those given to Jesus to be with Jesus where Jesus is.
>> Adoption through Jesus is the way God answers Jesus's prayer.


1.2 Does this verse provide any information about those who do not believe currently, or about those who do seem to believe but don't endure in belief (Philippians 2:16, Romans 8:17, Hebrews 10:35-36, Philippians 3:11, Luke 8:13)?
... Does John 12:32 "I will draw all men to myself" mean that those who reject the Gospel are acting against God's "purpose of His will"?


2. From the perspective of double election: Was it like, "Son, Jesus, you know I love you, and that's why I have to punish you [by condemning some to die by blinding some from belief]?" 
-- 2 Corinthians 4:4 Gods of this age have done the blinding
-- Luke 10:21 God is delighted to have revealed his message to children, and hidden from the wise and understanding
-- How does it delight God to make some vessels for dishonor? Romans 9:21
-- How can it be God's pleasure to hide it from anybody? 
????


2.1 Is this predestination for adoption (a) something that applies to a class of all who believe ("us") and not applied easily to individuals, or (b) something applied to individuals at some time in history, prior to their lives?
-- all of the nearby descriptions of the elect are of a group: "chose us", "that we should live", "predestined us for adoption"
-- Ephesians 1:4 refers to this happening before the earth began
-- 2 Timothy 1:9 refers to these things happened before the ages began
>>> This happened before or outside of what we call "history" or "time"


2.2 What does "predestine" (προορίζω proorizō) mean?
-- The common definition is to limit or define in advance
-- The component word "pro" can mean "from above" as well as "in advance", so I don't know why it's always taken to have a temporal idea rather than a spatial or authority idea. But it certainly is taken that way.
-- Titus 1:2 and 2 Timothy 1:9 refer to things that happened before the ages began; before time
-- If προορίζω meant "determine from above" or "determined from a place of priority," it might subtly shift views on election.
>>> It probably has the conventionally-applied definition.


2.3 How does adoption change things -- e.g., affect our relationship with God?
-- Romans 8:15-17: we are children for our heavenly Abba; confirmed in our spirit by suffering with Jesus
-- fatherhood is an unending, faithful promise that expects faithfulness from both. Jeremiah 3:4,19
-- being a child of God is the opposite of not even being a nation, a people. Hosea 1:10
-- being a child of God is not a right granted to all, but is granted to those who believe Jesus and receive him, and comes about by God's will. John 1:12-13.
-- being a child is being led by God's spirit, and having an affectionate, non-fearing  relationship with God the Father. Romans 8:14 and Galatians 4:6-7
-- being a child of God makes us heirs with Christ, Romans 8:17 and Galatians 4:7
-- and makes us able to suffer with Christ. Romans 8:17
-- being a child of God means we have a glory now and awaiting us as our full adoption is completed. Romans 8:21-23
-- being a child of God means we are expected to live in holiness. 2 Corinthians 6:17-18
-- God trains, tutors, educates, corrects us as sons to be holy, and the training isn't pleasant in the short term. Hebrews 12:5-11
-- being a child of God is to be loved with an unimaginable love, and we cannot even see all its implications yet. 1 John 3:1-2. 
-- being a child means thirsting for God, and conquering. Revelation 21:6-7.
>>> Being God's child means I am amazingly loved with my brothers and sisters, have free-flowing conversation with a Father I trust and adore, have responsibilities he has given me, and that I should expect difficulty.


3. "Adoption as sons through Jesus Christ" What does it mean we were adopted THROUGH Jesus?
...Jesus wasn't adopted himself. Jesus was begotten.
>> All of the New Testament teaches that being IN Christ is trusting and believing in him, and living by him and through him. 


4. "According to the purpose of his will": why not just "according to his will" or "according to his purpose"? The phrase "purpose of his will" seems long and complex, almost evasive.  What does it mean?
-- see also Ephesians 1:12 &n where a different word for  "purpose"  (πρόθεσις) and the same word translated "will" (θέλημα) are discussed
-- here, "purpose" is rendering of εὐδοκία eudokia, also used elsewhere as "good will", "delight" or "desire" or "pleasure"
---- eudokia aligns with agape ἀγάπη:  (A) love, affection was the basis, of the predestination, while (B) the predestining worked to accomplish good pleasure, delight, and happy purpose.
---- It is God's gracious will (eudokia)  to reveal things to little children hidden from the wise. Luke 10:22
---- It Pleased God (eudokio)through the folly of preaching to save those who believe. 1 Corinthians 1:21
---- God wills and works his good pleasure (eudokia) in us. Philippians 2:13.
-- here, "will" is rendering of θέλημα thelema, general objective and desires.
---- in Matthew 26:42, Jesus chose to follow God's will rather than avoid the pain of the cross
---- see Romans 12:2 -- God's will is (a) not obvious to everybody, and in alignment with it we do what (b) is good, (c) is acceptable and (d) is perfect.
>>> God's great plan had a delightful manifestation: predestining us for adoption through Christ. The predestination isn't the great plan, but a happy part of it.



5. Does the sense of delight in "purpose (eudokia) of his will" refer to the way God does not delight in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:23), but at the same time this verse refers to adoption as sons?
... God does not delight in (חָפֵץ, ḥâp̱êṣ) anyone's death, while this predestining was his delight (εὐδοκία eudokia)


6. Does this verse tell us whether anybody on earth was not predestined for adoption? I.e., is there a way to reject God's predestination or adoptions?
>>> Surely the "us" includes believers in Christ; and some do not believe.


6.1 Does this verse tell us whether any named person on earth, yet to be born, was predestined for adoption? I.e., could someone potentially opt in to this role, not through the their own merit (Ephesians 2:8-9)?
>>> 2 Corinthians 5:20 Be reconciled to God! That's how you opt in.



7. The whole idea of "predestination for adoption" is not obvious. Is it anything like a couple who decides they will adopt, and buys a house and a baby bed and clothes, but only actually adopts several years later?

Chosen to be Holy, Blameless. Interrogating Ephesians 1:4

Ephesians 1:4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. ["In love" is discussed with Ephesians 1:5]

1 . "Even as he chose us in him." Does this refer to the events happening at the same time? I.e., blessed-in-Christ concurrent to chosen-in-him? ...or is it cause and effect: chosen-in-Christ and therefore blessed-in-Christ? How does our chosenness relate to the blessings in the heaven?
-- I don't know if a temporal relation is clear
-- Surely when we were chosen-in-Christ certain blessings were bestowed. However, we weren't there yet except as Christ was there. 
-- Jesus said he GOES to prepare a place for us; so he was in ~33 AD planning work on something for us in heaven that wasn't at the time of his earthly life prepared already. (And it may have been that his presence in heaven, by sitting down next to the father, was the only thing missing.)
-- Greek word starting verse 4: καθώς "according to..." or "to the degree that...". I get the idea that the choosing is what enabled and governs the blessing of spiritual blessings.
-- It's not clear to me that we were given any temporal ordering information here. Which came first -- choosing or blessing? Did they overlap at all? Yeshua the Messiah is pre-existent God; but do we know when the plan was assembled for US to be chosen?
>> God choosing us is the basis for our spiritual blessings in Christ.

1.2 What are all the stated effects of us being chosen in him?
-- choseUsInHim that we should be => holy, I.e., specially set apart
-- choseUsInHim that we should be => blameless, guiltless before God the Father
-- choseUsInHim (determining the degree that) => blessed us with every spiritual blessing
-- choseUsInHim (determining the degree that) => we are in the heavenly places
-- choseUsInHim (determining the degree that) => we are currently with Christ NOW
...there's more to this than I can put my finger on.

2. Which is it saying? Of these two...
(a) we were chosen personally (named souls chosen from a lineup) or 
(b) was 
   (b1) Christ chosen before foundations of the earth, and 
   (b2) a class of people were predestined for adoption ("positions were created") and 
   (b3) that class was given the right to become the sons of God (John 1:12), and 
   (b4) then we were individually adopted into those positions of sonship through the God-ordained mechanism of belief through hearing?
-- psalm 135:4 Lord Has chosen Jacob as his own. The choosing of Israel was national.
-- Isa 41:8 Jacob I have chosen, Abraham friend of God. Both individual and personal choosing, with the immediate  the context being God choosing a nation.
-- Isa 65:10 the people who seek the Lord will be comforted. Selection of people identified by their behavior.
-- 2th 2:13-14 You were chosen to be saved through belief in the truth
-- 1 Peter 2:9 You are a chosen people and holy nation...you who were once not a people. Once you had not received mercy, but now you have
>> Both seem to be true: God knows us individually with names and has created a group.


2.5 who is the "us" here?
-- it is the "us" that should be holy and blameless before him
-- James 2:5: worldly poor were chosen to receive a heavenly inheritance, contrasting with poverty.
>> 1 Peter 1:19 It is the ones who, through Jesus, are believers in God


3. What were we chosen to exactly? Just being in Christ? 
-- the emphasis seems to be on our security: if we are in the Messiah, then we are in someone chosen before the world was formed.
-- 1 Peter 1:20 Jesus was chosen before the foundation of the world
-- Matt 25:34 -- An inheritance that predates the earth for us, as if by name, individually (as opposed to exclusively to the Messiah.)
-- Eph 2:10 -- we are here to do good works prepared for us before world
-- 2 Timothy 2:9 -- to live a holy life because of grace given to-us-in-Jesus before the beginning of time
-- related: John 17:24 The Father was loving Jesus before the foundation of world 
-- related: 2 Timothy 2:19 One sentence that combines a life of repentance with God knowing his own
-- See 1.2


4. What is the foundation of the world?
-- Apparently a time before the earth, or at least the world of mankind.
-- It's related to when the ages began (see #6)

 5. Did the choosing function as a mechanism to make us holy and blameless? I.e., Were we chosen and that causes us to be holy and blameless before him? Or were we chosen to be the group who would be defined as those holy and blameless?
-- see also #9
-- Eph 2:10 we were created to DO good works prepared by God
-- John 15:16 We were chosen to bear fruit that abides, so our Father will answer our prayer
-- By abiding, we bear fruit. The holiness and blamelessness is a result.

6. Why is it important to be chosen before the foundation of the world? Why not chosen before Adam's creation? I.e. What's the connection to the planet earth?
-- Messiah was chosen before creation of the world (1 peter 1:20) because his blood is precious and he is eternal (1 pet 2:23)
-- 2 Tim 1:9 we were given a holy calling before the ages began
-- mat 25:34 the kingdom was prepared for inheritance from the foundation of the world.
-- God the father was loving Jesus before the foundation of the world Jn 17:23
-- Names are written in the book of life from the foundation of the earth rev 17:8
-- A new name will be given to each human who believes, is sanctified, and is saved Rev 2:17
-- God will give an everlasting name to those who worship him. Isa 56:3-6
-- The need for punishment and sacrifice began at the foundation of the world Heb 9:26
-- Heb 1:10 Jesus himself was divine, Messiah and he himself laid the foundation of the earth; thus he was there BEFORE the foundation of the earth.
>> Somehow it is intrinsic to Jesus's choosing, and our link to him that it occurred before our world began.

7. What's the difference between holiness and blamelessness?
-- Holiness is related to the sainthood from Eph 1:1. It's about being chosen and set apart. 
-- Blamelessness is about having no guilt or reason for blame. 
-- This pair echoes the pair just a few verses back in Eph 1:1 -- "saints who are faithful"
-- Gal 2:20 Christ lives in me -- blameless!
-- Gal 5:25 we live by the spirit -- blameless!
-- Rom 8:1 there is no condemnation for those IN Christ Jesus -- blameless!
>> One was done to us; the other we experience by living and the Holy Spirit living through us.


8. "Before him": Is it possible to be holy and blameless but not before God?
-- This is the only holiness and blamelessness that really matters. It's the extreme form of guiltlessness. 
-- 2pe 3:14 we want to be found "by him" [God] to be without spot or wrinkle 
-- Phi 2:15 we are in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, "among whom you shine as lights in the world."
-- Eph 3:10 we are on exhibit to the heavenly powers and authorities
>> It is God who sees and judges, but others see as well

9. Does this appearance before him refer to judgment or evaluation NOW, or judgment at the end times?
-- Our being seated with Christ in heaven ALREADY (Eph 1:20, Eph 2:6) is surely in mind. 
-- but most of the Bible focuses on living a godly life today: 
---- Titus 2:11-12 live...godly lives in the present age
---- 1th 4:6-11 God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness
---- Luke 1:74-78 Zechariah prophecies that we will serve God in holiness, without fear, all our days
---- 2pe 3:14 
-- Phi 2:14-16 both blemish-less and innocent right now and in the "day of Christ" in the future
-- rev 20:11-15 Both deeds and the book of life are in sync. Holy (name in the book, Rev 17:8) and blameless (deeds were examined.)
>> holy and blameless NOW! And at the end.


Compare with eph 3:18 the extremes of dimension in this sentence...
Eph 1:3 Blessings in the heavenly places (very high)
Eph 1:4 Chosen before the foundations of the world (very long ago)
Eph 1:4 Holy and Blameless before God (extreme of guiltlessness)
Eph 1:7-8 Richness of grace lavished on us (very valuable, rich)
Eph 1:10 Fullness of time (the extreme end of time)
Eph 1:10 Unite all things to himself (Very full, comprehensive, enormous)

Monday, January 05, 2015

Blessing God who Blessed us In Christ. Interrogating Ephesians 1:3


Ephesians 1:3 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... (ESV)


1. How can we be said to have EVERY spiritual blessing?

...aren't there some blessings we're waiting for, like a redeemed body?
-- perhaps this refers to the way we're collectively one body, members one of another and made into a unified working body (eph 4:16, rom 12:5, 1 Cor 12:12)


2. What good does it do us to have a spiritual blessing "in Christ?" 

-- our life depends on us being in Christ. John 15:2,5
-- our belonging in Christ is essential to the world believing God has sent Jesus (and thus praising Jesus!). John 17:21

2.5 what good is it to have a spiritual blessing in the "heavenly places"?

-- 1 Peter 1:3-5 says to praise God because of the inheritance KEPT IN HEAVEN
-- Jesus explained it was good for him to go away John 20:16-19; possibly because our blessings are in Him, and He needed to be on the seat next to God the Father, and in display against the powers and principalities.
-- God made heaven and earth and deserves praise just for that. (psalm 134:3). But beyond just making them he blesses us!
-- Ephesians is full of references to the heavenly places:
---- eph 1:20 God seated Jesus in the Heavenly places
---- eph 2:6 God seated us with Jesus in the heavenly places
---- eph 3:10 The church is God's appointed way to inform heavenly rulers of the wisdom of God
---- Eph 6:12 we wrestle against spiritual powers of darkness in heavenly places
-- So if that's where all the action is, we want our blessings there!

2.7 blessed US in Christ. In Ephesians 1:13 "you also" seems to mean Gentiles. How does this relate to the blessing of Abraham (Gen 12:2-3) and blessing of all nations IN Abraham?

-- The first-person-plural here is all believers in Jesus; the concept changes to "we who were the first to believe" in eph1:12 and doesn't extend back to here. So this "us" includes the Jewish writer and the Ephesian gentile believers.
-- AND it's an example of fulfillment of the promise to Abraham to bless Abraham's line and to bless all nations.

3. "Blessed us IN Christ": Could we have a spiritual blessing not in Christ, or apart from Christ?

-- John 15 says no; apart from Christ we're fruitless and ready to be burned.

4. Couldn't we have a spiritual blessing here, and now -- I.e., not stored away in heavenly places?

-- apparently some spiritual blessings do come here; e.g., the Ephesians experience with prophecy and tongues when they accepted the gospel (acts 19:2)
-- and Paul doesn't exclude the presence of spiritual blessings here and now, though it's not the focus of his discourse.

5. Are we blessed in the heavenly places because that's where Jesus is? (Ephesians 1:20)

-- probably yes; see #2.5

6. Ephesians  1:2 says grace and peace come FROM The Lord Jesus Christ. Now what does it mean that God the Father has blessed us with every spiritual blessing IN Christ?

?????

7. Isn't grace and peace (from Ephesians 1:2) a spiritual blessing?

-- yes; these would be two of the spiritual blessings we have here and now. See #4

8. What is the provocation for blessing God? What's especially praiseworthy?

...in 2 Cor 1:3 we praise God because his work brings us comfort
...in 1 Peter 1:3 we praise God because of the confidence of salvation that we have
--Perhaps here it's praise for our blessings, and our link to the heavenly places

Both Sainted and Faithful: Interrogating Ephesians 1:1,2

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. (Ephesians 1:1, 2, ESV)


Paul combines his apostle status "by the will of God," with the Ephesians believers' history of exercising faith: those who are saints AND are faithful.

Why two clauses to define his audience? Who could be a saint and not faithful,
Or not a saint, but faithful?
-- "saint" has the idea of being consecrated
-- faithfulness includes being consistent in the responsibilities and duties.
-- So Paul is writing to folks who were both consecrated to God through Jesus, and also consistently following God's doctrine.

Is there some special purpose in that opening?

-- Col 1:2 has a similar idea. 
-- Faithfulness, like of Abraham, is a really key attribute God wants in his people
-- A single experience of dedication isn't qualification to be a follower of God. It takes a life of faithfulness.

See also ephesians 2:10 -- faithfulness = created to do good works prepared for us

Ephesians 1:2 

Grace
Why wish grace to his readers?
Didn't they already have a large measure of grace? (Eph 6:1)
-- this was a favorite greeting of Paul
-- A standard Greek greeting would use a different word that meant only "greetings"
-- Paul seems to be emphasizing that grace comes before peace.


Peace 
-- especially cessation of war or civil conflict.
-- why wish peace to his readers?
-- Ephesus was the home of Artemis, goddess of war
-- Matthew 10:34, Jesus said: I did not come to bring peace to the earth, but a sword
-- greeting to other books also brings peace: Romans, Corinthians, Colossians, Timothys, etc.

Grace comes first; and it makes peace.

In later letters, grace and peace are wished along with Mercy, but not here. Why not?

From God the Father and Jesus -- but why not grace and peace from the Holy Spirit also?
-- perhaps the Spirit only does as directed by the son, so that the Spirit is implicated in any wish or will of the son?