Ephesians

Ephesians 1:13-14

7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him

11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation–having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
Ephesians 1:7-14

Observations

  • Look at this: “we who were the first” is contrasted with “you also.” The first would be the apostles or the very first people who walked with Jesus. The initial Jewish believers in Jerusalem. The Ephesian believers were not among the first to hope in Christ.
  • We are not second class citizens. “In Him, you also…”
  • Notice our inclusion in the coveted circles of being a praise to God’s glory happens through the agency of: listening to a message, and also believing.
  • Notice it says, In Him, you also, after a lifetime of successful sanctification and proven behavioral holiness, were sealed…” Not.
  • Notice it says the conditions for acceptance into the coveted circle are listening and belief.
  • The message of truth is: the gospel of your salvation! The good announcement or proclamation of your rescue!
  • “You were sealed.” Notice that the same people who were later warned about their propensity and habit to lie, to be bitterly and loudly angry with shouting, to steal, to be lazy, to disrespect and even hate their spouse, are the same people who are said to be sealed with the Holy Spirit.
  • As a consequence of hearing the message
  • “You” and “Your” refer to the Ephesians. They are a plural pronoun.
  • The Holy Spirit doesn’t bring the seal. He is the seal.
  • The Holy Spirit is given. He is a gift to us.
  • The Holy Spirit is given as a pledge, kind of a foretaste of the inheritance before the inheritance is bequeathed.
  • “with a view” seems to indicate an expectation or vision of something in the future, which has not yet come to fruition.
  • God’s own possession is what is in view. This means, God foresees possessing completely, but it is still an inheritance which he only sees but has not possessed. It is in view, but not in hand.
  • So, in this sense, His glory is not fully praised. There is a future time when it will be.

Questions

Gospel?
euaggelion | yoo-ang-ghel’-ee-on |
from the same as ‘euaggelizo’ (STRONG_G2097); a good message, i.e. the gospel:–gospel.
What does it mean to be sealed for a promise, in that culture?
A seal, in biblical times as today, is used to guarantee security or indicate ownership. Ancient seals were often made of wax, embedded with the personalized imprint of their guarantor. The Roman authorities used such a seal to secure Jesus’ tomb ( Matt 27:66 ). A signet ring was also called a seal. It was valued among Israel’s booty ( Num 31:50 ).

The significance of the act of sealing is dependent on the importance of the one doing the sealing. This is why Jezebel falsely authenticated letters she wrote in Ahab’s name by affixing them with his seal ( 1 Kings 21:8 ). Ahasuerus’s solemn decree to annihilate the Jews ( Es 3:12 ) and then to bless them (8:8, 10) was sealed with his signet ring.
http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/bakers-evangelical-dictionary/seal.html

So, it appears to be an official mark of ownership, which cannot be easily counterfeited. It is a very unique design set to close up the contents, and designated as officially the possession of the owner of the thing.

Reflection

People often think that the message that I and my friends preach, the message of scandalous grace, received my merely hearing the proclamation of radical forgiveness and believing it, is much too simple and easy and rather mythical. They are the better expositors, because they know how to make this difficult and conditional and exclusive. They know how to inject a rare elite condition into the mix. However, the condition for inclusion into the inner circle of being a praise to God’s glory is hearing a message, and simply believing it. The message of redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, the gospel of our salvation, is the message which is true. Questions of success in sanctification do not enter in here. By believing, it doesn’t mean anything else than “not saying no” to it. How do I know that’s what it means?

It says that the message is the “gospel” of our “salvation”. Suppose I am a prisoner trapped in a death camp. If it is the way many Christian-flavored unbelievers would have it, my “rescue” would be that my helpers fly overhead and drop fliers on how great freedom is, with a few tips on how to survive in a death camp. Maybe even some tips for digging tunnels and possible escape routes. That is not rescue, it is advice on how to escape. But the word “gospel” means “joyous proclamation.” The rescuers are dropping fliers that say they are less than a mile away and have destroyed the ability of my captors to continue to hold me. I don’t need to do anything because they are doing for me what I couldn’t do myself. This is inherent in the very idea of “salvation,” which is another word that people keep using in a way that is contrary to its obvious meaning. Here is the nature of rescue: you cannot free yourself or help yourself or save yourself – you have become helpless. Someone else is coming for you to help you. This is the gospel: not advice for self-rescue, but a proclamation of a salvation that is bigger and stronger and more overwhelming than you could engineer yourself.

So the message is a proclamation of our rescue – “the gospel of your salvation.” It means that you simply wait until it comes to you. The message is not “rescue yourself.” It is “here is your rescue!” And that means, you can’t dress up belief as something more than hearing and saying “that’s right!” If you do, it isn’t hearing a message and believing it. It isn’t a proclamation of good news. It isn’t rescue. It isn’t a “gospel” of “salvation” any more. It is advice on how to escape, and that isn’t what the Christian message is. There’s a good reason that it isn’t called “the gospel of your clever escape” because that’s not the message at all.

Also, this is not about me twisting and cherry-picking scripture to make my point. This is clearly Paul’s general and overall life message, and it is entirely consistent with the whole tenor of this passage. This is exactly the point he means to make. It isn’t my message, and it isn’t even Paul’s message. It is God’s message, and Paul is merely the herald.

The Holy Spirit is given as a pledge, a ready sign of the reality of the promise we have of our inheritance. It means, yes, you really are adopted sons, and you really are in line for the inheritance of this great wealth. To prove this isn’t all just blowing smoke, here is a couple of million dollars, just to prove to you now that your inheritance is really going to happen. I think that’s the sense of it. So, contrary to some other ideas, Paul is determined to have us understand that we are “sealed”, we are “adopted”, we are saved and rescued. We have a seal of promise which is supposed to indicate the truth and longevity and enduring strength of the gift of redemption through His blood.

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One Comment

  1. I just read that article and some comments that you linked to. On one comment someone pointed out that Johnathan Edwards and George Whitfield owned slaves (sorry if you already knew that). That doesn’t exactly relate to this article but it is a testament to God’s mercy and grace in saving these men.

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