Thankâ€™s for the reminder, Lord.
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.
This verse introduces one of the most remarkable sections in any of Paul’s letters.
While English translations break this section into anywhere from 6 to 15 sentences, Paul actually wrote this in one sentence in the Greek. These verses may be grammatically challenging but they are theologically rich! Paul is lost in wonder and awe and expresses this in verse 3 by blessing the Blessed God who blesses us with every blessing.
You may have noticed that my paraphrase takes the liberty of adding a fourth ‘blessing’ to Paul’s three. I do so for good reason.
The word ‘blessed’ is from the Greek word eulogee from which we get the English word eulogy. A eulogy is a speech written in praise of a person, in this case God. A eulogy in Scripture is a literary way of blessing God (cf. Luke 1:68-79). The verb “to be” is actually omitted from verse 3, as was common in eulogies. Consequently, the verb supplied should be “is,” not “be.” A better translation is probably, “Blessed is God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Blessing God is never expressed as a wish (“may He be blessed…”) but always as a declaration (“He is blessed…”). He is blessed whether we wish that for Him or not. He is blessed whether we bless – praise – Him or not. That said, Paul is blessing the Blessed God who has blessed him in Christ.
“Blessed,” the first Word of verse 3, is never used of people but only of God the Father and Christ. That word is the word ‘eulogeetos’. It is used eight times in the NT (Mark 14:61; Luke 1:68; Romans 1:25; 9:5; 2 Corinthians 1:3; 11:31; Ephesians 1:3; 1 Peter 1:3). The ending of that word, “tos”, makes the word mean, “inherently worthy to be praised.” He is worthy of praise because of who He is.
For far too many of us, blessing or praising God is dependent upon things going well. After an amazing few weeks of ministry, God challenged this attitude in me this week reminding me that He is always worthy of blessing because He is a Blessed God! Even in bad times I am to bless Him.
This week I read of a so-called Mr. Jones who called his pastor from the hospital one day and frantically said, “Oh, pastor come quickly, my son, John was just bitten by a rattle snake and is at the point of death.” Of course the pastor hurried to the side of the worried father. “Pastor, pray for my son!”, cried the father, ” I have promised the Lord that if my son recovers, I will come back to church and bring my family and will again start living for the Lord.”
Of course the pastor prayed. Here’s what he said: “Dear Lord, we come to you now on behalf of Mr. Jones’ son. We pray that he might recover from this snake bite. We want to praise your name for sending this rattle snake to bite John! This one rattle snake has done what I or the church has been unable to do in the life of Mr. Jones now for over 5 years. During all this time, he has not been interested in his spiritual well-being or the spiritual well-being of his family and this one rattle snake has turned his mind back to you. Lord, could it be, what we may need in the lives of many of our other church members are bigger and better rattle snakes?”
I think God sometimes allows rattle snakes to bite us in order to draw our attention back to Him. It is easy to overlook His Blessed status. A person who recognizes this requires neither a rattlesnake nor a treasure chest to praise God. Whether bitten or blessed beyond measure, we bless God the same because He is inherently worthy of it.
I needed that reminder this week. As previously mentioned, I hadn’t been bitten but blessed.
Last week Kelly Green, our missions pastor, and I were in the Philippines where we witnessed 490 school teachers respond to the Gospel. This week in Tampa a student ministry we anchored has seen 102 students respond to the Gospel. Two weeks ago we saw another 25 respond through our student ministry. In under three weeks I’ve witnessed over 600 people come to Christ. That not only thrills me, it blows my mind.
Honestly, I find it easier to bless God when I’m blessed than when I’m bitten. My foray into Ephesians 1:3 this week challenged me to bless God no matter what. Yes, I thank Him for intervening in others lives so fully through Christ, the source of all God’s blessings to us. But even if He had not, I’m challenged to bless Him anyway. I can’t, won’t and must never make my blessing the Blessed God dependent upon anything other than who He is…
Thank’s for the reminder, Lord.