2. God's Plan of Redemption (Ephesians 1:7-14)

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Audio (18:30)

Ephesians 1:7-14

Thomas Eakins, The Crucifixion (1880)
Thomas Eakins (American painter, 1844-1916), "The Crucifixion" (1880), Oil on canvas, 96 x 54 inches, Philadelphia Museum of Art. Larger image.

"7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace 8that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment -- to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

11In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession -- to the praise of his glory." (Ephesians 1:7-14)


In the first part of Paul's introductory section we considered some of God's blessings. He has blessed us in viewing us as holy and blameless. He has blessed us with adoption and the full inheritance of his own sons. He has blessed us by predestining us to live for his glory. And now another "spiritual blessing in heavenly places" -- redemption.

Redemption through His Blood (1:7-8)

"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding." (1:7-8)

Our culture doesn't think of redemption, since we haven't had legal slavery for nearly 150 years. But in Paul's day slavery was very much the norm among the poor in the cities of the Mediterranean. Many of the early Christians were slaves (6:5-8). To them, redemption meant freedom. "Redemption" (apolutrōsis) originally referred to "buying back" a slave or captive, that is "making free" by payment of a ransom. Here it means release from a captive condition, "release, redemption," figuratively of the release from sin that comes though Christ.1

The payment price to buy us back from our slavery to sin was "his blood." Some Christians seem offended by this, that Christ's blood should be the ransom price. Blood sacrifice harkens back to some primitive religion, they mutter. Some hymnals, in fact, have expurgated nearly every hymn that mentions the blood of Christ as being the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

However, this figure is based squarely on the Old Testament sacrificial system of a lamb or other animal being slain for the sins of the people. Animal sacrifice for atonement of sin was God's way of teaching principles of holiness and sin, forgiveness and grace to the early Israelites. In the New Testament, the concept is mentioned numerous times. (See Matthew 20:28; 26:28 || Mark 14:24; Acts 20:28b; Hebrews 9:14, 22; 1 Peter 1:18-19; 1 John 2:2; Revelation 5:9. For more on this see my study Behold, the Lamb of God, www.jesuswalk.com/books/lamb.htm)

If you remove Christ's blood from Christianity, his death becomes a mere symbol, sin becomes only human frailty, the results of sin an earthly tragedy, and love and grace are present without any righteousness or justice.

I believe we must take Paul quite seriously when he says rather plainly, "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins" (1:7). A price has been paid to set us free from the bondage of sin,2 and that price is Christ's death on the cross. Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" (Newmarket Films, 2004) has been criticized for its gratuitous violence. But he got the important parts right. The issue that was tearing Jesus apart in the Garden of Gethsemane as the film begins is the horror of bearing in his human flesh the sins of all mankind. "You're not strong enough," says Satan, in the film. But on the cross, Jesus calls out in triumph, "It is accomplished!" His death bought our freedom.

Q1. (Ephesians 1:7) In what sense have you been "redeemed" from slavery? What do you think your life up to now would have been like, if you hadn't been redeemed? What would your future be like without redemption, do you think?
http://www.joyfulheart.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=497

 

 

 

Grace Lavished on Us (1:8)

The great prize was won, however, at a staggering cost. What an immense act of grace and courage and mercy! Paul completes his sentence with a paean of praise:

"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding." (1:7-8)

What does it mean "in accordance with the riches of God's grace"? "Grace" is the noun charis, "a beneficent disposition toward someone, favor, grace, gracious care or help, goodwill."3 Grace, simply, is favor towards someone. Not an earned response from a superior, but favor bestowed simply because it pleases the Giver.

Paul is saying that our redemption and forgiveness are "in accordance with" (kata4), or "to the extent of" the wealth, riches, or abundance (ploutos5) of God's favor. In other words, our redemption is not barely enough, but plenteous. Our forgiveness is not scarcely, but abundantly given.

God has not just gone through the motions, just enough to get by, but his grace has been "lavished upon us." "Lavished" (NIV, NRSV) and "abounded" (KJV) is the verb perisseuō, "to be in abundance, abound."6 The picture we are given is of overflowing love, surpassing grace, a cherishing by God that is much more than enough for us -- and certainly undeserved! Meditate on that! That, dear friends, is what Paul is saying to us in this verse.

Uniting All Things in Christ (1:9-10)

Note carefully the next verses which serve as a theme for the entire book of Ephesians:

"And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment -- to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ." (1:9-10)

Paul speaks of a "mystery" (Greek mustērion), used in the sense of a "revelation of what was previously hidden but has now been disclosed by God."7 What is this mystery? In both Ephesians and Colossians the mystery refers to the ultimate fulfillment in the end times8 of God's plan of salvation in Christ. Sometimes one aspect of this is the focus: Gentiles along with Jews are being saved. But here the mystery is universal in scope.

The key idea contained in the Greek word anakephalaioō is "to sum up," variously translated "to bring ... together under one head" (NIV), "gather together in one" (KJV), and "to gather up all things" (NRSV). It is a rare word, compounded from ana- "again" + kephalaioomai "bring to a head" (from kephalē, "head"). It carries the ideas of "to gather up, to sum up, recapitulate," and is found in the New Testament elsewhere only at Romans 13:9.9

The point is that in Christ -- not in the church nor in Judaism -- will everything be summed up. Not only the believers of God's people but "all things in heaven and on earth." Christ is to be the all and in all, the sum of the parts.

Q2. (Ephesians 1:9-10) What is the significance that all things will be brought under one head -- Christ himself? How does this relate to the Creator? What does it say about unity? Extra Credit: How does this verse relate to 1 Corinthians 15:24-28?
http://www.joyfulheart.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=499

 

 

 

 

Predestined for Praise (1:11-12)

"In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory." (1:11-12)

In chapter one of this study we considered the words "predestined," "plan," "purpose," and "will." Here notice the purpose of this predestination: "that we might be for the praise of his glory." Our purpose is praise. "Praise" is the noun epainos, "the act of expressing admiration or approval, praise, approval, recognition."10

Have you ever wondered why you are here? Why you were spared in some dangerous accident? Why you are still living, even though you might have been an invalid? We don't know everything God is doing, but we do know this: He has destined us to live for his praise. When people look at you, Jesus intends that they see God. "In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16)

God has placed you as a light. God has made you a mirror -- to reflect his glory and help people see a glimmer of his greatness living in human flesh. You have an important purpose on this earth, no matter how unimportant you may feel. You have been placed here to bring praise to God! 

Q3. (Ephesians 1:11-12) According to verses 11 and 12, what is God's purpose for our lives? What do we need to do to fulfill this purpose? How does this purpose relate to Matthew 5:13-16?
http://www.joyfulheart.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=500

 

 

 

Sealed by the Spirit as a Guarantee (1:13-14)

Do you feel like Paul is talking about someone else? He is not. He is speaking of you.

"And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession -- to the praise of his glory." (1:13-14)

So that you might be sure that you are included, he has put his mark on you -- the Holy Spirit. The phrase "marked with a seal" (NIV, NRSV) or "sealed" (KJV) is the verb sphragizō, "to mark with a seal as a means of identification, mark, seal."11 You've probably played with sealing wax and a bronze seal or a seal on a ring, so you understand the idea. We see the word again later in the letter: "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption" (4:30). The seal is a mark of identification and of protection against tampering, until the day it is intended to be opened, "the day of redemption,"12 the day of Christ's return and the rapture of the church.

Paul has a two-fold analogy for the Holy Spirit: (1) a seal and (2) a deposit. The phrase "deposit guaranteeing" (NIV), "earnest" (KJV), and "pledge" (NRSV) is the noun arrabōn, a legal and commercial technical term meaning payment of a part of a purchase price in advance, "first installment, deposit, down payment, pledge," which secures a legal claim to the article in question, or makes a contract valid.13

The Holy Spirit has a way of bringing a bit of heaven into our lives here on earth. Through the Holy Spirit, God can speak to us and we to God. In the Holy Spirit the incredible power of the Kingdom of God can work in and through us. The Holy Spirit was obviously someone whom the Ephesian Christians were aware of in their lives. Paul says to them: This Holy Spirit that now lets you glimpse God and heaven is like a deposit on the full amount, literally "a foretaste of glory divine."14

You as God's Possession (1:14)

Look at these verses again in terms of being God's possession:

"Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession -- to the praise of his glory." (1:13-14)

Here is another reminder, Christian friend, that you are "God's possession" (NIV), "purchased possession" (KJV), and "God's own people" (NRSV). The Greek noun is peripoiēsis, "that which is acquired, "possessing, possession, property."15 "You are not your own, you were bought at a price" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). This is another reference to the redemption of slaves.

Q4. (1:13-14) These verses contain two analogies: (1) seal and (2) downpayment, with the balance to be paid in a lump sum at the end of the term. When does the "end of the term" occur? How do these analogies help explain how the Holy Spirit functions in our lives?
http://www.joyfulheart.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=501

 

 

 

Full Citizens

Disciple Lessons from Ephesians, by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
All the lessons are now available as an e-book or printed book for your convenience.

Some people think that Ephesians was written to help Gentile Christians get over their inferiority complex and understand that they are every bit as much God's people as the Jewish people -- and I think I agree. As individuals, too, we can have an inferiority complex -- a feeling that we aren't good enough. That if only God knew what we were really like he wouldn't love us. Our passage is designed to help you get over your inferiority complex.

Let the words of this passage remind you that this is no illusion, but a glorious fact -- called, chosen, forgiven, redeemed, adopted, sealed with the Holy Spirit. God's great blessings are for us who do not deserve them. That is what grace is about. That is what the Gospel is about. And that is why this grace and gospel are so amazing and wonderful. Three centuries ago a former slave trader, John Newton, penned these beloved words:

"Amazing grace,
How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I'm found.
Was blind, but now I see."

Prayer

Lord, thank you for your amazing grace and love. Thank you for including us in your purpose and plan. Help me to bring praise and glory to you. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

Key Verses

"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding." (Ephesians 1:7-8)

"Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession -- to the praise of his glory." (Ephesians 1:13-14)

References

  1. Apolutrōsis, BDAG 117.
  2. "Forgiveness" is the noun aphesis, "the act of freeing and liberating from something that confines, release from captivity." Here it refers to "the act of freeing from an obligation, guilt, or punishment, pardon, cancellation" (BDAG 155).
  3. Charis, BDAG 1079-1081.
  4. Kata here is a "marker of norm of similarity or homogeneity, according to, in accordance with, in conformity with, according to" (BDAG 511-513).
  5. Ploutos, BDAG 832.
  6. Here perisseuō has the causative idea, "to cause something to exist in abundance, cause to abound" (BDAG 805).
  7. O'Brien 109.
  8. "Fulfillment" (NIV) and "fullness" (KJV, NRSV) is the noun plērōma, "fullness," here refers to "the state of being full, fullness of time" (also in Galatians 4:4) (BDAG 829-830). "Times" is the noun kairos, "a period of time" (BDAG 497-498).
  9. O'Brien 112-113; Bruce 261 fn. 71; Heinrich Schlier, "kephalē," TDNT 3:673-682; BDAG 55-56.
  10. Epainos, BDAG 357. Purpose here is expressed by the preposition eis, 4. "a marker of goals involving affective/abstract/suitability aspects, into, to" (BDAG 288-291).
  11. Sphragizō, BDAG 980.
  12. "Redemption" is apolutrōsis, as in 1:7 above.
  13. Arrabōn, BDAG 134.
  14. The phrase is from the hymn "Blessed Assurance" (1873) by Fanny Crosby.
  15. Peripoiēsis, BDAG 804.

Copyright © 1985-2017, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

Sign up now!To be notified about future articles, stories, and Bible studies,why don't you subscribe to our free newsletter,The Joyful Heart, by placing your e-mail address in the box below. We respect your privacy and never sell, rent, or loan our lists. Please don't subscribe your friends; let them decide for themselves.
FirstLast
E-mail
Country(2-letter abbreviation, such as US)
Preferred FormatHTML (recommended) Plain text