“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.” - Ephesians 1:3-4
I can be a total nerd when it comes to the Bible. Here I set out to write this devotion as a reminder of all of our blessings, basically outlining Ephesians chapter one. And the above verses were going to be my opening proclamation: Praise God for the incredible and innumerable ways he has blessed us! Then I would use the rest of chapter one to remind us all of what blessings God has indeed given us (which I might still do) just like Paul did. But I decided to crack open one of my favorite online resources, Blue Letter Bible, which has all the Greek and Hebrew word meanings for every verse of the Bible as well as definitions from several Bible dictionaries; and I realized I had just jumped into the deep end. So come on in, the water’s fine!
“Bless” is used three times in verse three, so I looked it up to see what it meant and how the three uses were different. The overall definition is pretty simple, “bless, praise.” Some extra digging produced this etymology of the word, from εΰ, meaning “to fare well, prosper,” and λόγος, meaning “a word, uttered by a living voice, embodies a conception or an idea” and also “a saying, statement, or declaration.” So the above verse could be loosely translated like this: “[A declaration of prosperity by my living voice to] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has [declared with His living voice prosperity to] us in Christ with every spiritual [statement of prosperity] in the heavenly places.”
Now that’s a pretty cool translation, if you ask me, because it brings out a few things. Firstly, that only a living voice can bless something or someone; that God is a living God, who speaks blessings to us with His voice, even the same one that formed us from the dust into living beings.
Secondly, that blessing to God is equivalent to praise; that our statements about His goodness and desiring His glory are forms of praising him. He blesses us, and so we return praise to Him, thanking him by declaring his goodness back to him. Picture a child who is asked what they love about their mother. Their responses are things like “She loves me,” “She takes me to school,” “She makes me mac and cheese,” “She sings me songs.” These are all statements, and for a mother they are high praise! We, as God’s children, bless and praise Him in the same way.
Thirdly, that God has declared every statement of spiritual prosperity that exists in the heavenly places over us! Can you even imagine how many blessings that must be?
But wait, there’s more (as the commercials say)! Here are some unique differences of the three forms of ‘bless’ used in this verse, which I gleaned from the various dictionary definitions. “Blessed be” is a unique form of the word bless, which is applied ONLY to God, and is used only 8 times in the New Testament (this being the Greek word used in Ephesians, though there are probably some for the Hebrew equivalent in the OT). Those eight verses are: Mar 14:61, Luk 1:68, Rom 1:25, Rom 9:5, 2Cor 1:3, 2Cor 11:31, Eph 1:3, and 1Pet 1:3, a selection of which I copied below.
“But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” - Mark 14:61
“because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” - Romans 1:25
“The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying.” - 2 Corinthians 11:31
I think it’s interesting that though we as saints are blessed by God ‘with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,’ He is the only one referred to as “blessed forever,” or “the Blessed,” the high priest even using it as His name in the verse from Mark.
Which leads us to He “blessed us,” which means “to cause to prosper, to make happy, to bestow blessings upon.” These definitions remind me that my happiness truly comes from God and not from whatever trifle I say makes me happy, like chocolate. Also any prosperity I experience in my finances, in my plans and dreams, in my relationships, in my spiritual growth, comes from God as a result of his blessing. He bestows these blessings on us. When I bless people with something it is usually a person that I delight in, or one that has a need I can meet. Isn’t it incredible to think that God delights in us? That it makes Him feel warm and happy inside to bless us, whether just as a sign of affection or as a fulfillment of a deep need? What a great way He shows His love for us! And how perfect is His love, since we receive His blessings because of Christ’s merit and not our own; He blesses us even when we are contrary, self-absorbed, or too busy to spend time with Him.
The ‘blessing’ in “every spiritual blessing” is defined as “an invocation of blessing, a benediction, a consecration, a concrete blessing or benefit,” and implies bounty. We have concrete benefits as a result of God’s blessing, and they are bountiful! Paul highlights a selection of these in Ephesians 1: “he chose us in him before the foundation of the world” verse 4, “he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ” verse 5, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses” verse 7, “In him we have obtained an inheritance” verse 11, “In him you also were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit” verse 13, “the hope to which he has called you,” “the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,” and “the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe” verse 18 & 19. These are just some of the bountiful blessings of God that he bestows upon us as believers.
So what does this mean for you? Your living God is declaring into your life and your day all of his great blessings, bountifully pouring out of His heavenly storehouse the fulfillment of all your needs; whether they be financial, relational, spiritual, or emotional. Take some time to list 5 things He has given you this month that you needed; things that you can’t see or touch as well as what you can. He is giving you more that just what you need, because he also delights in you and is blessing you with extras! Take some time to make a list of 5 things God has given you that you don’t really need; things you delight in. Most importantly, even if you find yourself in a season of need and you are still waiting on God to provide in the way that He has planned, know that God has provided for your soul, for your heart, for your eternity, and for the battle you must wage in the meantime. Take some time to thank God for the blessings Paul mentioned in Ephesians 1, and let his words comfort and encourage you!
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever, Amen.” - Ephesians 3:20-21