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Ephesians 1:3

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Blessed be the God - See the note on 2 Corinthians 1:3, where the same form is used.

With all spiritual blessings - With the pure doctrines of the Gospel, and the abundant gifts and graces of the Holy Ghost, justifying, sanctifying, and building us up on our most holy faith.

In heavenly places - Εν τοις επουρανιοις· In heavenly things, such as those mentioned above; they were not yet in heavenly places, but they had abundance of heavenly things to prepare them for heavenly places. Some think the word should be understood as signifying blessings of the most exalted or excellent kind, such as are spiritual in opposition to those that are earthly, such as are eternal in opposition to those that are temporal; and all these in, through and by Christ. We have already seen, on Galatians 4:26, that the heavenly Jerusalem, or Jerusalem which is from above, is used by the Jews to signify the days of the Messiah, and that state of grace and glory which should follow the Levitical worship and ceremonies; and it is possible that St. Paul may use the word επουρανια, heavenly things, in this sense: God hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly things, or in this heavenly state, in which life and immortality are brought to light by the Gospel. This is apparently the preferable sense.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ - This commences a sentence which continues to the close of Ephesians 1:12. The length of the periods in the writings of Paul, is one cause of the obscurity of his style, and renders an explanation often difficult. The meaning of this phrase is, that God has laid a foundation for gratitude for what he has done. The ground or reason of the praise here referred to, is that which is stated in the following verses. The leading thing on which the apostle dwells is God‘s eternal purpose - his everlasting counsel in regard to the salvation of man. Paul breaks out into the exclamation that God is worthy of praise for such a plan, and that his eternal purposes, now manifest to people, give exalted views of the character and glory of God. Most persons suppose the contrary. They feel that the plans of God are dark, and stern, and forbidding, and such as to render his character anything but amiable.

They speak of him, when he is referred to as a sovereign, as if he were tyrannical and unjust, and they never connect the idea of that which is amiable and lovely with the doctrine of eternal purposes. There is no doctrine that is usually so unpopular; none that is so much reproached; none that is so much abused. There is none that people desire so much to disbelieve or avoid; none that they are so unwilling to have preached; and none that they are so reluctant to find in the Scriptures. Even many Christians turn away from it with dread; or if they “tolerate” it, they yet feel that there is something about it that is especially dark and forbidding. Not so felt Paul. He felt that it laid the foundation for eternal praise; that it presented glorious views of God; that it was the ground of confidence and hope; and that it was desirable that Christians should dwell upon it and praise God for it. Let us feel, therefore, as we enter upon the exposition of this chapter, that God is to be praised for all his plans, and that it is “possible” for Christians to have such views of the doctrine of “eternal predestination” as to give them most elevated conceptions of the glory of the divine character. And let us also be “willing” to know the truth. Let us approach word after word, and phrase after phrase, and verse after verse, in this chapter, willing to know all that God teaches; to believe all that he has revealed; and ready to say, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ for all that he has done.”

Who hath blessed us - Who does Paul mean here by “us?” Does he mean all the world? This cannot be, for all the world are not thus blessed with “all” spiritual blessings. Does he mean “nations?” For the same reason this cannot be. Does he mean the Gentiles in contradistinction from the Jews? Why then does he use the word “us,” including himself, who was a Jew? Does he mean to say that they were blessed with external privileges, and that this was the only object of the eternal purposes of God? This cannot be, for he speaks of “spiritual blessings;” he speaks of the persons referred to as having “redemption” and “the forgiveness of sins;” as having “obtained an inheritance,” and as being sealed with the “Holy Spirit of promise.” These appertain not to nations, or to external privileges, or the mere offers of the gospel, but to true Christians; to persons who have been redeemed. The persons referred to by the word “us,” are those who are mentioned in Ephesians 1:1, as “saints,” - ἅγίοις hagiois- “holy;” and “faithful” - πιστοῖς pistois- “believing,” or “believers.”

This observation is important, because it shows that the plan or decree of God had reference to individuals, and not merely to nations. Many have supposed (see Whitby, Dr. A. Clarke, Bloomfield, and others) that the apostle here refers to the “Gentiles,” and that his object is to show that they were now admitted to the same privileges as the ancient Jews, and that the whole doctrine of predestination here referred to, has relation to that fact. But, I would ask, were there no Jews in the church at Ephesus? See Acts 18:20, Acts 18:24; Acts 19:1-8. The matter of fact seems to have been, that Paul was uncommonly successful there among his own countrymen, and that his chief difficulty there arose, not from the Jews, but from the influence of the heathen; Acts 19:24. Besides what evidence is there that the apostle speaks in this chapter especially of the Gentiles, or that he was writing to that portion of the church at Ephesus which was of Gentile origin? And if he was, why did he name himself among them as one on whom this blessing had been bestowed? The fact is, that this is a mere supposition, resorted to without evidence, and in the face of every fair principle of interpretation, to avoid an unpleasant doctrine. Nothing can be clearer than that Paul meant to write to “Christians as such;” to speak of privileges which they enjoyed as special to themselves; and that he had no particular reference to “nations,” and did not design merely to refer to external privileges.

With all spiritual blessings - Pardon, peace, redemption, adoption, the earnest of the Spirit, etc., referred to in the following verses - blessings which “individual Christians” enjoy, and not external privileges conferred on nations.

In heavenly places in Christ - The word “places” is here understood, and is not in the original. It may mean heavenly “places,” or heavenly “things.” The word “places” does not express the best sense. The idea seems to be, that God has blessed us in Christ in regard to heavenly subjects or matters. In Ephesians 1:20, the word “places” seems to be inserted with more propriety. The same phrase occurs again in Ephesians 2:6; Ephesians 3:10; and it is remarkable that it should occur in the same elliptical form four times in this one epistle, and, I believe, in no other part of the writings of Paul. Our translators have in each instance supplied the word “places,” as denoting the rank or station of Christians, of the angels, and of the Saviour, to each of whom it is applied. The phrase probably means, in things pertaining to heaven; suited to prepare us for heaven; and tending toward heaven. It probably refers here to every thing that was heavenly in its nature, or that had relation to heaven, whether gifts or graces. As the apostle is speaking, however, of the mass of Christians on whom these things had been bestowed, I rather suppose that he refers to what are called Christian graces, than to the extraordinary endowments bestowed on the few. The sense is, that in Christ, i. e. through Christ, or by means of him, God had bestowed all spiritual blessings that were suited to prepare for heaven - such as pardon, adoption, the illumination of the Spirit, etc.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Spiritual and heavenly blessings are the best blessings; with which we cannot be miserable, and without which we cannot but be so. This was from the choice of them in Christ, before the foundation of the world, that they should be made holy by separation from sin, being set apart to God, and sanctified by the Holy Spirit, in consequence of their election in Christ. All who are chosen to happiness as the end, are chosen to holiness as the means. In love they were predestinated, or fore-ordained, to be adopted as children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, and to be openly admitted to the privileges of that high relation to himself. The reconciled and adopted believer, the pardoned sinner, gives all the praise of his salvation to his gracious Father. His love appointed this method of redemption, spared not his own Son, and brought believers to hear and embrace this salvation. It was rich grace to provide such a surety as his own Son, and freely to deliver him up. This method of grace gives no encouragement to evil, but shows sin in all its hatefulness, and how it deserves vengeance. The believer's actions, as well as his words, declare the praises of Divine mercy.
Ellen G. White
The Publishing Ministry, 89.2

Promise to Those Who Do Their Best—Christ is reviewing your work in every line. He desires you to stand free from the power of Satan, that everyone may recognize the purity of your work. The Lord can commend only that which is worthy of commendation. To those who are striving to do His will, He says with a voice of heavenly sweetness, “Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” PM 89.2

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Ellen G. White
In Heavenly Places, 7.5

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” ... “who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). What is there left for us to ask, that is not included in this merciful, abundant provision? Through the merits of Christ we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. It is our privilege to draw nigh to God, to breathe in the atmosphere of His presence.... Nothing short of abiding in the presence of Christ will bring peace, freedom, courage, and power. HP 7.5

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Ellen G. White
In Heavenly Places, 12.5

The plan of redemption was arranged in the counsels between the Father and the Son. Then Christ pledged Himself to render an account for man if he proved disloyal. He pledged Himself to make an atonement which would unite every believing soul to God. He who lays his sins upon the substitute and surety ... can unite with the apostle in saying: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places.” “That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 2:7). HP 12.5

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Ellen G. White
In Heavenly Places, 71.4

Every promise in the Word of God is for us. In your prayers, present the pledged word of Jehovah and by faith claim His promises. His word is the assurance that if you ask in faith, you will receive all spiritual blessings. Continue to ask, and you will receive exceeding abundantly above all that you ask or think. Educate yourself to have unlimited confidence in God. Cast all your care upon Him. Wait patiently for Him, and He will bring it to pass. HP 71.4

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Ellen G. White
Lift Him Up, 278.1

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. Ephesians 1:3. LHU 278.1

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7 (EGW), 943

(Ephesians 2:1-6; see EGW on Genesis 2:7; Exodus 20:1-17; Matthew 4:1-11; Hebrews 2:14-18; 4:15.) Partakers of the Divine Nature—We must learn of Christ. We must know what He is to those He has ransomed. We must realize that through belief in Him it is our privilege to be partakers of the divine nature, and so escape the corruption that is in the world through lust. Then we are cleansed from all sin, all defects of character. We need not retain one sinful propensity.... [Ephesians 2:1-6 quoted.] ... 7BC 943.1

As we partake of the divine nature, hereditary and cultivated tendencies to wrong are cut away from the character, and we are made a living power for good. Ever learning of the divine Teacher, daily partaking of His nature, we cooperate with God in overcoming Satan's temptations. God works, and man works, that man may be one with Christ as Christ is one with God. Then we sit together with Christ in heavenly places. The mind rests with peace and assurance in Jesus (The Review and Herald, April 24, 1900). 7BC 943.2

The Enabling Grace of God—In His Word God reveals what He can do for human beings. He molds and fashions after the divine similitude the characters of those who will wear His yoke. Through His grace they are made partakers of the divine nature, and are thus enabled to overcome the corruption that is in the world through lust. It is God who gives us power to overcome. Those who hear His voice and obey His commandments are enabled to form righteous characters. Those who disregard His expressed commands will form characters like the propensities that they indulge (Letter 44, 1903). 7BC 943.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 518

Peace comes with dependence on divine power. As fast as the soul resolves to act in accordance with the light given, the Holy Spirit gives more light and strength. The grace of the Spirit is supplied to cooperate with the soul's resolve, but it is not a substitute for the individual exercise of faith. Success in the Christian life depends upon the appropriation of the light that God has given. It is not an abundance of light and evidence that makes the soul free in Christ; it is the rising of the powers and the will and the energies of the soul to cry out sincerely, “Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief.” TM 518.1

I rejoice in the bright prospects of the future, and so may you. Be cheerful, and praise the Lord for His loving-kindness. That which you cannot understand, commit to Him. He loves you and pities your every weakness. He “hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” It would not satisfy the heart of the Infinite One to give those who love His Son a lesser blessing than He gives His Son. TM 518.2

Satan seeks to draw our minds away from the mighty Helper, to lead us to ponder over our degeneration of soul. But though Jesus sees the guilt of the past, He speaks pardon; and we should not dishonor Him by doubting His love. The feeling of guiltiness must be laid at the foot of the cross, or it will poison the springs of life. When Satan thrusts his threatenings upon you, turn from them, and comfort your soul with the promises of God. The cloud may be dark in itself, but when filled with the light of heaven, it turns to the brightness of gold; for the glory of God rests upon it. TM 518.3

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Ellen G. White
The Faith I Live By, 76.1

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love. Ephesians 1:3, 4. FLB 76.1

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Ellen G. White
Fundamentals of Christian Education, 403

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.” Before the foundations of the earth were laid, the covenant was made that all who were obedient, all who should through the abundant grace provided, become holy in character, and without blame before God, by appropriating that grace, should be children of God. This covenant, made from eternity, was given to Abraham hundreds of years before Christ came. With what interest and what intensity did Christ in humanity study the human race to see if they would avail themselves of the provision offered. FE 403.1

“This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.” These words are an eye opener to all who will see. The knowledge of God is a knowledge which will not need to be left behind when our probation closes, a knowledge which is of the most lasting benefit to the world and to us individually. Why, then, should we put the word of God in the background when it is wisdom unto salvation. “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation.” We are neglecting our salvation if we give authors who have but a confused idea of what religion means, the most conspicuous place and devoted respect, and make the Bible secondary. Those who have been enlightened in reference to the truth for these last days will not find instruction in the books generally studied today, in regard to the things which are coming upon our world; but the Bible is full of the knowledge of God, and is competent to educate the student for usefulness in this life and for the eternal life. FE 403.2

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6 (EGW), 1113-6

(Isaiah 45:21, 22; Matthew 16:24; John 1:29.) Look and Live—Hanging upon the cross Christ was the gospel. Now we have a message, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world.” Will not our church members keep their eyes fixed on a crucified and risen Saviour, in whom their hopes of eternal life are centered? This is our message, our argument, our doctrine, our warning to the impenitent, our encouragement for the sorrowing, the hope for every believer. If we can awaken an interest in men's minds that will cause them to fix their eyes on Christ, we may step aside, and ask them only to continue to fix their eyes upon the Lamb of God. They thus receive their lesson. Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. He whose eyes are fixed on Jesus will leave all. He will die to selfishness. He will believe in all the Word of God, which is so gloriously and wonderfully exalted in Christ. 6BC 1113.1

As the sinner sees Jesus as He is, an all compassionate Saviour, hope and assurance take possession of his soul. The helpless soul is cast without any reservation upon Jesus. None can bear away from the vision of Christ Jesus crucified a lingering doubt. Unbelief is gone (Manuscript 49, 1898). 6BC 1113.2

(Psalm 85:10; see EGW on James 2:13.) The Cross of Christ Moves the World—The cross of Calvary challenges, and will finally vanquish every earthly and hellish power. In the cross all influence centers, and from it all influence goes forth. It is the great center of attraction; for on it Christ gave up His life for the human race. This sacrifice was offered for the purpose of restoring man to his original perfection. Yea, more, it was offered to give him an entire transformation of character, making him more than a conqueror. 6BC 1113.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 729-30

God cannot glorify His name through His people while they are leaning upon man and making flesh their arm. Their present state of weakness will continue until Christ alone shall be exalted; until, with John the Baptist, they shall say from a humble and reverent heart: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Words have been given me to speak to the people of God: “Lift Him up, the Man of Calvary. Let humanity stand back, that all may behold Him in whom their hopes of eternal life are centered. Says the prophet Isaiah: ‘Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.’ Let the church and the world look upon their Redeemer. Let every voice proclaim with John: ‘Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.’” 5T 729.1

It is to the thirsting soul that the fountain of living waters is open. God declares: “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground.” To souls that are earnestly seeking for light and that accept with gladness every ray of divine illumination from His holy word, to such alone light will be given. It is through these souls that God will reveal that light and power which will lighten the whole earth with His glory. 5T 729.2

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