The opening blessing (Eph.1:3) extols the Father who blessed us "with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies," referring to our portion "in Christ." Verses 4-5 express God’s eschatological purpose in taking us for His own, "that we should be holy and unblemished before Him. In love predestining us to adoption as sons to Himself." Like so many teachings in the Bible, God’s plans for us and gifts to us are not mutually exclusive (“I am His [Christ’s] and He is mine”). While continuing to speak of God’s grace to us in Christ in verses 6-10, Paul not only specifies some of our benefits (one of which is making known to us the mystery of His will), but stresses God’s attitude (good pleasure) and motive (purpose) for so doing.
11-14, Paul intimates by the use of “we” and “you” that believing Jews and
Gentiles are both to receive God’s gifts and be incorporated in His plans, as
he elaborates in chapter 2. In verse 11
the verb for "inherit" [to assign a
portion] is passive. It either conveys the idea that we had a
portion assigned to us, as commonly translated "obtained an inheritance," or that we were the designated portion,
meant to be “to the praise of His glory.”(v.12) The
language of the latter is consistent with God’s words to
Lord has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of
‘…For they are Your people and Your heritage, whom You brought out by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm.’ Dt.9:29, Moses recounting how he prayed when the people rebelled
‘…But the Lord’s portion is His people, Jacob His allotted heritage.’ Dt.32:9, the song Moses spoke to close His review of their history
Jesus referred to His heritage when He spoke of the people given to Him by the Father.
...32Jesus then said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave [in the past] you [your forefathers in the wilderness] the bread from heaven [that was physical food to sustain their bodies], but my Father gives [in the present] you [not your forefathers] the true bread from heaven. 33For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." 34They said to him, "Sir, give us this bread always [like those in the desert were given manna for 40 years]." 35Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe [you are not My heritage]. 37All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out [they are My heritage]…Jn.6:
The idea of the Gentiles being God’s allotment is also consistent with their [Gentiles] being sealed “with the Holy Spirit of promise who is a down payment of our [Jews as well] inheritance.” It reminds us of Joel’s prophecy that Peter quoted in Acts 2 about the last days in which God would pour out His Spirit on all people and that everyone who called on the name of the Lord would be saved. Remember the great difficulty the believing Jews had in accepting the Gentile converts into their company (Acts 10-11). Hence the careful treatment of this subject in Eph.2 & 3 is appropriate.
Prior to this study, I had accepted the popular translation that the Spirit is a deposit guaranteeing that we will eventually take possession of our inheritance (Eph.1:14). Now it seems likely that the Spirit is keeping us until God takes possession of us, His heritage [lit. “until redemption of the possession,” see 4:30]. Verse 18 speaks to this, “that you should know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.”
The series of purpose statements reveal God’s intent to display the glory of His grace by exhibition1 of His glorified people.2 We who were in such bad shape [see paragraph 3 Approaching the Bible with Prejudice http://pop.eradman.com], will be to the glory of His name.
God’s stewardship of the fullness of the times is to head up all things, in the heavens and on earth, in Christ. 1:10
God…raised us and seated us in the heavenlies with Christ in order that He might show forth in the coming ages the excelling riches of His grace. 2:4-7
To bring to light what is the stewardship of the mystery hidden for ages in God…in order that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known through the church to the rulers and authorities in the heavenlies. 3:9-10
Christ loved the church and gave Himself up on behalf of it in order that He might sanctify it…that He might present to Himself the church glorious, not having spot or wrinkle or any such things, but rather that it might be holy and unblemished. 5:25-27
1. God put forth Job in a similar way.
2. Paul reflects God’s attitude in his desire to present believers that he has helped to Christ. “Therefore my brothers whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.” (Phil.4:1) “For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before the Lord Jesus at His coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.” (1 Thes.2:19-20)
What does the phrase "a kingdom
of priests" mean? Being an astute student of the Bible, you will no doubt be
reminded of 1 Pt.2. Peter opened that letter
speaking of "the sanctification of
the Spirit" (1:2). He then addresses God's use of trials to
refine and purify the believer's faith (1:6-7). He continues with an exhortation to holiness
stressing that we have eternal life because God's word lives and abides in us
in contrast to all natural life under the curse. We are compared to "living stones…built
up as a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices…you are a chosen race, a royal
priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of
Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light…you are God's people"
(2:5, 9-10). [Here the temptation is to say, "The Greek word for 'people'
is the one used by the Septuagint referring to
The passage is really the fulfillment
of a number of Old Testament promises. For example, in Ex.19:5-6,
the promise is "you shall be My treasured possession among all peoples…and
you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." Moses was given this promise on
In Ex. the promise was conditional - "if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant" (19:5). We are children of God by covenant which Christ established forever (permanently, "once for all") by His obedience and applied to us "for sprinkling with His blood" (1 Pt.1:2).
It was at Sinai that that God established a priesthood from among the Levites who were substitutes for the nation. God took the Levites as His own by right of His ransoming the firstborn males of Israel at the last plague upon Egypt (Passover) which finally released them from slavery/captivity (Num.3:11-13). They were set apart to minister to the Lord with respect to the shadows (Heb.) of spiritual realities. The sons of Aaron were the only ones who could approach God through sacrifices and administer atonement for the people. [Their appointment (Lev.8) differs from that of the rest of the Levites (Num.8:5-26): Priests were made holy, Levites - clean; priests were anointed and washed, Levites - sprinkled; priests were given new garments, Levites - washed theirs; blood was applied to the priests, it was waived over the Levites]
Rev.1:5b-6 is a doxology to Jesus, "To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father." Rev.5:9-10 is a doxology to the Lamb, "Worthy are You to take the scroll [contains God's plan and destiny of the world] and open its seals [opening it represents the conclusion and accomplishment of all things], For You were slain and by Your blood You ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and You have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth." Rev.20:6 is a conclusion, "Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with Him…"
There are so many associations that can be made from these passages and others (ie., Zech.3), I'll leave it to your meditation to explore them.