In order to help us in our study of the first part of chapter 1, I will divide it into five parts.
I. (Vs. l, 2.) The salutation or greeting. The writer is "Paul". His office is "an apostle of Jesus Christ". His call to that office is "by the will of God". The people to whom he writes are "the saints at Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus". His prayer for them is for "grace and peace from the Father and the Lord Jesus".
II. (Vs. 3.) The ground and cause of the salvation of sinners is the free grace of God in Christ. God is the God of Christ, as Christ is man and Mediator, and God is the Father of Christ, as Christ is God by an eternal and unspeakable generation (Ps. 2:7). "Blessed be God, that is, we congratulate his greatness and goodness; we ascribe glory and honour to him and give thanks for all "spiritual blessings". These spiritual blessings are more than common or temporal blessings. They are "special" blessings. They are mercy and grace through the eternal covenant, all things pertaining to justification, peace, pardon, adoption, sanctification and eternal life! "In Christ" God has purposed, decreed and given every spiritual blessing which heaven can bestow, which heaven can require and which is needed to enter and enjoy heaven's realm. Praise God for all that I am, have and ever shall be! It is his gift through my Head and Representative, the Lord Jesus Christ.
III. (Vs.4-6.) Paul deals with the means of salvation as they were purposed, decreed and prepared by the Father in his eternal counsel.
1. The Father chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world, not because we were holy, but that we should be holy. God, in eternity past, determined to have a holy people to populate a new heaven and a new earth; therefore, he chose them in Christ out of Adam's fallen race (John 15:16; 2 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 1:9; 1 Cor. 1:26-29).
2. The Father predestinated us to be adopted as his own children through Jesus Christ (Acts 13:48; Rom. 8:29,30). God foreordained the persons, the means and the end, or goal, of redemption according to the good pleasure of his own will.
3. The Father accepted us in Christ, which is understood of our persons as righteous, redeemed and sanctified in Christ. He looks upon us in Christ and is well pleased. We are already seated with Christ in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6). All of this God the Father has done for the eternal praise of his glorious grace (Eph. 2:7).
IV. (Vs. 7-12.) Paul deals with the means of salvation, as they were purchased and accomplished by Christ in the work of redemption.
1. Christ redeemed us by his blood. We were in bondage to sin, the law and justice (Gal. 3:10). The law of God is honoured by his obedience and the justice of God is satisfied by his death, and we have full and complete forgiveness (Rom. 3:19-26).
2. Christ enlightened us as to the mystery of his gospel of redemption. The gospel is a hidden mystery to the natural man, Jew and Gentile (Col. 1:26; Rom. 16:25,26; 1 Cor. 2:7-10). In Christ we see both the wisdom and the power of God in redemption. This he reveals when he pleases and to whom he pleases, that in his own time elect angels and elect men will be brought together under one Head (Col. 1:16-18).
3. Christ enriched us. In Christ we were made God's children and we obtained that glorious inheritance of all things (Rom. 8:16,17).
4. All of this Christ, our Redeemer, has done for the eternal praise of his glorious grace (1 Cor. 1:30,31).
(Vs. 13, 14.) Paul deals in these verses with the means of salvation as they are applied to the elect by the Holy Spirit.
1. We heard the gospel. This is hearing with the heart, the understanding and faith (Matt. 13:16,17; 1 Thess. 1:4,5). All men hear words, but the Holy Spirit quickens, regenerates and gives spiritual life to God's elect. They hear not just words, but truth the good news of salvation.
2. We believed the gospel (Rom. 10:9,10, 13-15; Eph. 2:8,9). Faith is the gift and work of God in the soul.
3. We were sealed with the Holy Spirit. The seal or stamp of the eternal covenant is not circumcision, baptism, nor even our outward graces, but the Spirit of God (Rom. 8:9, 14-16; I John 3:24; 4:13).
4. The Holy Spirit is the guarantee of our inheritance. He is the first-fruits, the pledge and foretaste, the down payment on our inheritance. We have the indwelling Holy Spirit in anticipation of the full possession of our inheritance in God's good time. And all this he does to the praise of his gory.