Ephesians 1:3
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) It may be noted, as bearing on the question of the general or special character of this Epistle, that (with the single exception of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, which may be looked upon as virtually a continuation of the First Epistle) all St. Paul’s Epistles addressed to particular churches pass at once from the salutation to refer to the particular circumstances, gifts, and needs of the Church, generally in the form of thanksgiving and prayer, sometimes (as in Galatians 1:6) in rebuke. In St. Peter’s First Epistle, on the other hand, addressed to those “scattered” through many churches, we have an opening exactly similar to the opening of this Epistle. There is, indeed, here a thanksgiving below (Ephesians 1:15-22), but it is entirely general, belonging to the whole Church.

The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.—On this phrase (used in Romans 15:6; 2Corinthians 1:3; 2Corinthians 11:31; 1Peter 1:3) see Note on Romans 15:6. It is, however, to be noted here, that in the Vatican MS. the words “and Father” are omitted, and that the phrase “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ” occurs below in Ephesians 1:17.

Blessed be . . . who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings.—The frequent phrase “Blessed be God” (Luke 1:68; Romans 1:25; Romans 9:5; 2Corinthians 1:3; 2Corinthians 11:31; 1Peter 1:3) is here used with an unique antithesis. We can “bless” God only in thanksgiving of heart and voice, with which He deigns to be pleased, as He “rejoices over the works of His hands.” God blesses us in real and life-giving “spiritual blessing,” i.e., blessing of the gift of the Spirit, for which we can return nothing except thanksgiving. So in Psalm 116:12-13, the natural question of the thoughtful soul—“What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits towards me?”—is answered simply by the words, “I will receive the cup of salvation, and call on the name of the Lord.”

Who hath blessed us . . . in heavenly-places.—It should be, who blessed us (once for all), in the election and predestination spoken of in the next verse. If this be noted, the sense of the phrase “in heavenly places” becomes far clearer. It has been doubted whether we ought to supply the word “places” or “things” (as in John 3:12) in rendering this phrase, which is peculiar to this Epistle, and used in it no less than five times. In three out of the other four places (Ephesians 1:20; Ephesians 2:6; Ephesians 3:10) the local sense is manifest; in the fourth (Ephesians 6:12) and in this it might be doubtful. But (1) it is altogether unlikely that so unique a phrase would be used in two different senses; (2) the original word for “heavenly” has most properly and most usually a local meaning; (3) the transference of the thoughts to heaven above suits especially the whole tone of this Epistle and the parallel Epistle to the Colossians; and (4) the local sense agrees best with the context here, for the Apostle is speaking of the election “before the foundation of the world” as made by the foreknowledge of God in heaven, where Christ is “in the beginning with God.”

It has been noticed here that we have one of those implicit references to the Holy Trinity—the blessing from God the Father, in Christ, and by the Spirit—with which St. Paul’s Epistles abound.

In Christi.e., in the unity with Christ, which is “the life eternal,” ordained for us in the foreknowledge of God, and viewed as already existing. (See the whole of John 17, especially Ephesians 1:21-23.)

(3) In Ephesians 1:15-23, this introductory chapter ends in a prayer for the enlightenment of the readers of this Epistle, that they may understand all the fulness of the blessings of the gospel. In accordance with the heavenward direction of the thought of the whole Epistle, these blessings are viewed in their future completeness of glory and power, of which the present exaltation of the risen Lord to the right hand of God, as the Lord of all creatures, and the Head of the Church His body, is the earnest and assurance.

Ephesians

‘ALL SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS’

Ephesians 1:3It is very characteristic of Paul’s impetuous fervour and exuberant faith that he begins this letter with a doxology, and plunges at once into the very heart of his theme. Colder natures reach such heights by slow degrees. He gains them at a bound, or rather, he dwells there always. Put a pen into his hand, and it is like tapping a blast furnace; and out rushes a fiery stream at white heat. But there is a great deal more than fervour in the words. In the rush of his thoughts there is depth and method. We come slowly after, and try by analysing and meditation to recover some of the fervour and the fire of such utterances as this.

Notice that buoyant, joyous, emphatic reiteration: ‘Blessed,’ ‘blest,’ ‘blessings.’ That is more than the fascination exercised over a man’s mind by a word; it covers very deep thoughts and goes very far into the centre of the Christian life. God blesses us by gifts; we bless Him by words. The aim of His act of blessing is to evoke in our hearts the love that praises. We receive first, and then, moved by His mercies, we give. Our highest response to His most precious gifts is that we shall ‘take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord,’ and in the depth of thankful and recipient hearts shall say, ‘Blessed be God who hath blessed us.’

Now I think that I shall best bring out the deep meaning of these words if I simply follow them as they lie before us. I do not wish to say anything about our echo in blessing God. I wish to speak about the original sweet sound, His blessing to us.

I. And I note, first of all, the character and the extent of these blessings which are the constituents of the Christian life.

‘All spiritual blessings,’ says the Apostle. Now, I am not going to weary you with mere exegetical remarks, but I do want to lay stress upon this, that, when the Apostle speaks about ‘spiritual blessings,’ he does not merely use that word ‘spiritual’ as defining the region in us in which the blessings are given, though that is also implied; but rather as pointing to the medium by which they are conferred. That is to say, he calls them ‘spiritual,’ not because they are, unlike material and outward blessings, gifts for the inner man, the true self, but because they are imparted to the waiting spirit by that Divine Spirit who communicates to men all the most precious things of God. They are ‘spiritual’ because the Holy Spirit is the medium of communication by which they reach men’s spirits.

And I may just pause for one moment-and it shall only be for a moment-to point out to you how in-woven into the very texture of the writer’s thoughts, and all the more emphatic because quite incidental, and needing to be looked for to be found, is here the evidence of his believing that the name of God was God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. For it is the Father who is the Giver, the Son who is the Reservoir, the Spirit who is the Communicator, of these spiritual gifts. And I do not think that any man could have written these words of my text, the main purpose of which is altogether different to setting forth the mystery of the divine nature, unless he had believed in God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

But, apart altogether from that, let me remind you in one sentence of how the gifts which thus come to men by that Divine Spirit derive their characteristic quality from their very medium of communication. There are many other blessings for which we have to say, ‘Blessed be God’; for all the gifts that come from ‘the Father of Lights’ are light, and everything that the Fountain of sweetness bestows upon mankind is sweet, but earthly blessings are but the shadow of blessing. They remain without us, and they pass. And if they were all for which we had to praise God, our praises had need to be often checked by sobs and tears, and often very doubtful and questioning. If there were none other but such, and if this poor life were all, then I do not think it would be true that it is

‘better to have loved and lost,

Than never to have loved at all.’


It is but a quavering voice of praise, with many a sob between, that goes up to bless God for anything but spiritual blessings. Though it is true that all which comes from the Father of Lights is light, the sorrows and troubles that He sends have the light terribly muffled in darkness, and it needs strong faith and insight to pierce through the cloud to see the gleam of anything bright beneath. But when we turn to this other region, and think of what comes to every poor, tremulous, human heart, that likes to take it through that Divine Spirit-the forgiveness of sins, the rectification of errors, the purification of lusts and passions, the gleams of hope on the future, and the access with confidence into the standing and place of children; oh, then surely we can say, ‘Blessed be God for spiritual blessings.’

But if the word which defines may thus seem to limit, the other word which accompanies it sweeps away every limit; for it calls upon us to bless God for all spiritual blessings. That is to say, there is no gap in His gift. It is rounded and complete and perfect. Whatever a man’s needs may require, whatever his hopes can dream, whatever his wishes can stretch out towards, it is all here, compacted and complete. The spiritual gifts are encyclopaediacal and all-sufficient. They are not segments, but completed circles. When God gives He gives amply.

II. So much, then, for the first point; now, in the second place, note the one divine act by which all these blessings have been bestowed.

‘Blessed be God who has given’; or, still more definitely, pointing to some one specific moment and deed in which the benefaction was completed, ‘Blessed be God who gave.’

When? Well, ideally in the depths of His own eternal mind the gift was complete or ever the recipients were created to receive it, and historically the gift was complete in the act of redemption when He spared not His Own Son, but gave Him up unto the death for us all. A man may destine an estate for the benefit of some community which for generations long may continue to enjoy its benefits, but the gift is complete when he signs the deed that makes it over. Humphrey Chetham gave the boys in his school to-day their education when, centuries ago, he assigned his property to that beneficent purpose. So, away back in the mists of Eternity the gift was completed, and the signature was put to the deed when Jesus Christ was born, and the seal was added when Jesus Christ died. ‘Blessed be God who hath given.’

So, then, we may not only draw the conclusion which the Apostle drew, ‘how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?’ but we can draw an even grander one, ‘Has He not with Him also freely given us all things?’ And we possess them all to-day if our hearts are resting on Jesus Christ. The limit of the gift is only in ourselves. All has been given, but the question remains how much has been taken.

Oh, Christian men and women, there is nothing that we require more than to have what we have, to possess what is ours, to make our own what has been bestowed. You sometimes hear of some beggar, or private soldier, or farm labourer, who has come all at once into an estate that was his, years before he knew anything about it. There is such a boundless wealth belonging by right, and by the Giver’s gift, to every Christian soul; and yet, here are we, many of us, like the paupers who sometimes turn up in workhouses, all in rags, and with deposit-receipts for L200 or L300 stitched into the rags, that they get no good out of. Here are we, with all that wealth, paupers still. Be sure that you have what you have. Do you remember the exhortation to a valiant effort in one of the stories in the Old Testament-’Know ye that Ramoth-gilead is ours, and we take it not?’ And that is exactly what is true about hosts of professing Christians who have not, in any real sense, the possession of what God has given them. It is well to ask, for our desires are the measures of our capacities. It is well to ask, but we very often ask when what is wanted is not that we should get more, but that we should utilise what we have. And we make mistakes therein, as if God needed to be besought to give, when all the while it is we who need to be stirred up to grasp and keep the things that are freely given to us of God.



III. In the next place, notice the one place where all these blessings are kept.


‘Blessed be God who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places.’ ‘In heavenly places.’ Now that does not merely define the region of origin, the locality where they originated or whence they come. It does do that, but it does a great deal more. It does not merely tell us, as we often are disposed to think that it does, that ‘every good and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down’-though that is perfectly true, but it means much rather that in order to get the gift we must go up. They are in the heavenly places, and they cannot live anywhere else. They have been sticking shrubs in tubs outside our public buildings this last week. How long will they keep their leaves and their freshness? How soon will they need to be shifted and taken back again to the sweeter air, where they can flourish? God’s spiritual gifts cannot grow in smoke and dirt and a polluted atmosphere. And if a professing Christian man lives his life on the low levels he will have very few of the heavenly gifts coming down to him there. And that is the reason-the reason above all others-why, with such a large provision made for all possible necessities and longings of all sorts, people who call themselves Christians go up and down the world feeble and poor, and with little enjoyment of their religion, and having verified scarcely anything of the great promises which God has given them.

Brother, according to the old word with which the Mass used to begin, ‘Sursum corda’-up with your hearts! The blessings are in the heavens, and if we want them we must go where they are. It is not enough to drink sparing draughts from the stream as it flows through the plain. Travel up to the headwaters, where the great pure fountain is, that gushes out abundant and inexhaustible. The gifts are heavenly, and there they abide, and thither we must mount if we would possess them.

Now that this understanding of the words is correct I think is clearly shown by a verse in the next chapter, where we find the very same phrase employed. In this connection the Apostle says that ‘God hath raised us up together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.’ That is to say, the true ideal of the Christian life is that, even here and now, it is a life of such intimate union and incorporation with Jesus Christ as that where He is we are, and that even whilst we tabernacle upon earth and move about amongst its illusions and changing scenes, in the depth of our true being we may be fixed, and sit at rest with Christ where He is.

Do not dismiss that as mere pulpit rhetoric. Do not say that it is mystical and incomprehensible, and cannot be reduced into practice amidst the distractions of daily life. Brethren, it is not so! Jesus Christ Himself said about Himself that He came down from heaven, and that though He did, even whilst He wore the likeness of the flesh, and was one of us, He was ‘the Son of Man which is in Heaven,’ when He lay in the manger, when He worked at the carpenter’s bench in Nazareth, when He walked with weary feet those blessed acres, when He hung, for our advantage, on the bitter Cross. And that was no incommunicable property of His mysterious nature, but it was the typical example of what it is possible for manhood to be. And you and I, if we are to possess in any measure corresponding with the gift of Christ the spiritual blessing which God bestows, must have our lives ‘hid with Christ in God,’ and sit together with Him in the heavenly places.

IV. Lastly, note the one Person in whom all spiritual blessings are enshrined.

‘In the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.’ You cannot separate between Him and His gifts, neither in the way of getting Him without them, nor in the way of getting them without Him. They are Himself, and in the deepest analysis all spiritual blessings are reducible to one-viz. that the Spirit of Jesus Christ Himself shall dwell with us.

Now, that union by which it is possible for poor, empty, sinful creatures to be filled with His fulness, animated with His life, strengthened with His omnipotence, and sanctified by His indwelling-that union is the very kernel of this Epistle to the Ephesians.

I dare say I have often drawn your attention to the singular emphasis and repetition with which that phrase ‘in Christ’ occurs throughout the letter. Just take the two or three instances of it that I gather as I speak. In this first chapter we read, ‘the faithful in Jesus Christ.’ Then comes our text, ‘blessings in heavenly places in Christ.’ Then, in the very next verse, we read, ‘chosen us in Him.’ Then, a verse or two after, we have ‘accepted in the Beloved,’ which is immediately followed by, ‘in whom we have redemption through His blood.’ Then, again, ‘that He might gather together in one all things in Christ, in whom also we have obtained the inheritance.’ I need not make other quotations, but throughout the letter every blessing that can gladden or sanctify the human spirit is regarded by the Apostle as being stored and shrined in Jesus Christ: inseparable from Him, and therefore to be found by us only in union with Him.

And that is the point of all which I want to say-viz. that, inasmuch as all spiritual blessings that a soul can need are hived in Him in whom is all sweetness, the way, and the only way, to get them is that we, too, should pass into Him and dwell in Jesus Christ. It is His own teaching: ‘I am the Vine, ye are the branches. Abide in Me. Separate from Me ye can do nothing,’ and get nothing, and are nothing.

Oh, brethren! it is well that all our treasures should be in one place. It is better that they should all be in One Person. And if only we will lay our poor emptiness by the side of His fulness there will pass over from that infinite abundance and sufficiency everything that we can require.

We abide in Him by faith, by meditation, by love, by submission, by practical obedience, and, if we are wise, the effort of our lives will be to keep close to that Lord. As long as we keep touch with Him we have all and abound. Break the connection by wandering away, in thought and desire, by indulgence in sin, by letting earthly passions surge in and separate us from Him-break the connection by rebellion, by making ourselves our own ends and lords, and it is like switching off the electricity. Everything falls dead. You cannot have Christ’s blessing unless you take Christ.

And so, dear brethren, ‘abide in Me and I in you.’ There is nothing else that will make us blessed; there is nothing else that will meet all the circumference of our necessities; there is nothing else that will quiet our hearts, will sanctify our understandings. Christ is yours if ‘ye are Christ’s.’ ‘Of His fulness have all we received,’ for it all became ours when we became His, and Christian growth on earth and heaven is but the unfolding of the folded graces that are contained in Him. We possess the whole Christ, but eternity is needed to disclose all the unsearchable riches of our inheritance in Him.Ephesians 1:3-6. Blessed be God, who hath blessed us — God’s blessing us is his bestowing spiritual and heavenly blessings upon us. Our blessing God is the paying him our solemn and grateful acknowledgments, both on account of his own essential blessedness, and of the blessings which he bestows on us; with all spiritual blessings — The spiritual blessings here spoken of are such as are necessary to the perfection and happiness of our spirits; namely, the light of the gospel, the influences of the Spirit of God, the pardon of sin, adoption into God’s family, the sanctification of our nature, and eternal life. These blessings are here opposed to the earthly blessings which were promised to the natural descendants of Abraham, the ancient church of God, which consisted in the possession of Canaan, in victory over their enemies, fruitful seasons, &c, as described Deuteronomy 28. To these, and such like blessings, Abraham’s seed, by faith, were entitled by the promise, In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. In heavenly places — Or rather, In heavenly things, as εν τοις επουρανιοις, it seems, ought to be here translated. Certainly, we must enjoy spiritual blessings in heavenly things, before we can enjoy them in heavenly places; namely, blessings which are heavenly in their nature, original, and tendency, and shall be completed in heaven; far different from the external privileges of the Jews, and the earthly blessings they expected from the Messiah. According as he hath chosen us in him — Both Jews and Gentiles, whom he foreknew as believing in Christ, 1 Peter 1:2. That he speaks of such, and of such only, is evident from Ephesians 1:12-14, where see the notes. Indeed, none but true believers in Christ, none but those whose faith in him works by love, are ever termed, in the New Testament, God’s chosen, or elect. For the election spoken of in the New Testament is not the election of individuals, out of the mass of mankind, to repent, believe, and obey, passing by the rest; but it is the election of such as are already possessed of faith, love, and a new nature, to be the people and children of God; which election it behooves them to make sure, by aspiring after a larger measure of these, and of all other graces and virtues, and by enduring to the end, 2 Peter 1:10. Before the foundation of the world — Or, before the world began. This, as Macknight observes, “being said of the Ephesian brethren in general, it cannot be an election of the whole of them as individuals” [unconditionally] “to eternal life;” but must be that election, which, before the foundation of the world, God made of true believers, of all nations, to be his children and people, and to enjoy the blessings promised to such. That we should be holy — Dedicated to God, employed for him, and transformed into his image; and without blame — As to our whole spirit and conduct; before him — Or in his sight, who searches the heart, and observes all our ways. As the election here spoken of is an election of believers to be holy, all such ought continually to keep in mind this end of their election, that they may press on toward it more and more. In love — To God, his people, and all mankind, the source of all true holiness; Having predestinated, or fore-appointed, us — Who do now, or shall hereafter, believe in him with our heart unto righteousness; unto the adoption of children — For those who receive Christ, namely, in all his offices and characters, or who believe aright in him, enjoy the dignity of being his children and heirs, and joint heirs with Christ. See on John 1:12; Galatians 3:26. According to the good pleasure of his will — According to his free, fixed, and unalterable purpose to confer these blessings on all those who believe in Christ, and those only. Of the word προοριζω, here, and frequently elsewhere, rendered to predestinate, see the notes on Romans 8:29-30. To the praise of the glory of his grace — His glorious, unmerited, and free love, without any desert on our part; wherein he hath made us accepted — Greek, εχαριτωσεν, he hath taken us into favour, namely, his peculiar favour; in the Beloved — In Christ, his beloved Son, through whom, though in ourselves we are so unworthy of them, we receive these inestimable blessings.1:3-8 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.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.

3. The doxologies in almost all the Epistles imply the real sense of grace experienced by the writers and their readers (1Pe 1:3). Eph 1:3-14 sets forth summarily the Gospel of the grace of God: the Father's work of love, Eph 1:3 (choosing us to holiness, Eph 1:4; to sonship, Eph 1:5; to acceptance, Eph 1:6): the Son's, Eph 1:7 (redemption, Eph 1:7; knowledge of the mystery of His will, Eph 1:9; an inheritance, Eph 1:11); the Holy Spirit's, Eph 1:13 (sealing, Eph 1:13; giving an earnest of the inheritance, Eph 1:14).

the God and Father of … Christ—and so the God and Father of us who are in Him (Joh 20:17). God is "the God" of the man Jesus, and "the Father" of the Divine Word. The Greek is, "Blessed us," not "hath blessed us"; referring to the past original counsel of God. As in creation (Ge 1:22) so in redemption (Ge 12:3; Mt 5:3-11; 25:34) God "blesses" His children; and that not in mere words, but in acts.

us—all Christians.

blessings—Greek, "blessing." "All," that is, "every possible blessing for time and eternity, which the Spirit has to bestow" (so "spiritual" means; not "spiritual," as the term is now used, as opposed to bodily).

in heavenly places—a phrase five times found in this Epistle, and not elsewhere (Eph 1:20; Eph 2:6; 3:10; 6:12); Greek, "in the heavenly places." Christ's ascension is the means of introducing us into the heavenly places, which by our sin were barred against us. Compare the change made by Christ (Col 1:20; Eph 1:20). While Christ in the flesh was in the form of a servant, God's people could not realize fully their heavenly privileges as sons. Now "our citizenship (Greek) is in heaven" (Php 3:20), where our High Priest is ever "blessing" us. Our "treasures" are there (Mt 6:20, 21); our aims and affections (Col 3:1, 2); our hope (Col 1:5; Tit 2:13); our inheritance (1Pe 1:4). The gift of the Spirit itself, the source of the "spiritual blessing," is by virtue of Jesus having ascended thither (Eph 4:8).

in Christ—the center and source of all blessing to us.

See Poole on "Ephesians 1:2" Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,.... God, the first person in the Trinity, is the God of Christ, as Christ is man and Mediator; he chose and appointed him to be the Mediator, and made a covenant with him as such; he formed and prepared an human nature for him, and anointed it with the Holy Ghost above measure, and supported it under all his trials and sufferings, and at last glorified it: and Christ, as man, prayed to him as his God, believed, hoped, and trusted in him as such, and loved him as in such a relation to him, and cheerfully obeyed his commands. And the same is the Father of Christ, as Christ is God; as such he is the Son of God; not by creation, as angels and Adam, nor by adoption, as saints, but by natural generation; he being the only begotten of the Father, his own proper Son, of the same nature and perfections with him, and equal to him. Now to "bless" God is neither to invoke nor confer a blessing on him; for there is none greater than he to be called upon; nor does he need anything, nor can he receive anything from his creature; but it is either to congratulate his greatness and goodness, to ascribe blessing, glory, and honour to him, or to give thanks unto him, both for temporal and spiritual mercies. And the reasons why he is blessed, or praised by the saints as the God and Father of Christ, are; because these are his New Testament titles, under which he is more clearly made known, and in which he delights; and because he is their God and Father in Christ; nor can they come to him in any other way, but through him; and because it is through him that all their blessings come to them, and therefore all their praises must go this way, as follows:

who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: God is the author and giver of all blessings; and he blesses his people with them, as he is the God and Father of Christ, and as he is their covenant God and Father in Christ; and he only can bless; if he blesses not, none can; and if he blesses, they are blessed indeed: the "us" that are blessed, are such who deserve, according to the tenor of the law, to be cursed; and are not all men, but some distinct from others; and who are before described as saints, and faithful in Christ Jesus; and include both Jews and Gentiles, who belong to the election of grace. And the blessings such are blessed with are spiritual, so called to distinguish them from temporal blessings. The Jews have the like distinction of , "temporal blessings", and , "spiritual blessings" (d); which latter are solid, substantial, and lasting blessings; and which concern the good of the soul or spirit of man; and are agreeable to, and desired by a spiritual man; and are applied by the Holy Spirit of God; and so the Ethiopic version renders it, "with every blessing of the Holy Spirit": and which are very comprehensive, and take in all the fulness of grace in Christ; all the blessings and sure mercies of the everlasting covenant; all things pertaining to life and godliness, such as justification, peace, pardon, adoption, sanctification, and eternal life: and with these the saints are blessed "in heavenly" places; God that blesses them is in heaven, and so is Christ, in whom they are blessed; and the completion of their blessedness will be in heaven, where their hope is laid up, and their inheritance is reserved: and this phrase may denote the safety of them, being out of the reach of any enemy, sin, Satan, or the world, to deprive them of them, as well as the nature of them; for it may be read, "in heavenly things", and so distinguishes these blessings from such as are of an earthly kind; and points at the original of them, being such as descend from above, come down from heaven; and also the tendency of them, which is to heaven; and being what give a right unto, and a meetness for the kingdom of heaven: and these they are blessed with "in Christ"; as he is their head and representative, and as they are members in him, and partakers of him; through whom, and for whose sake, they are conveyed unto them, and who himself is the sum and substance of them. Agreeably to this way of speaking, the Targumist, Jonathan ben Uzziel, on Numbers 6:27 paraphrases the last clause thus, "I will bless them", "in my word". The date of these blessings, "hath blessed us", may respect either first conversion, when the discovery and application of the blessings of grace are made to God's people; or the making of the covenant with Christ, their head, to whom all grace was then given, and to them in him, and their election was in Christ, as follows.

(d) Tzeror Hammor, fol. 79. 2.

{2} Blessed be the God {3} and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, {4} who hath blessed us with {b} all spiritual blessings in {c} heavenly places in {5} Christ:

(2) The first part of the epistle, in which he handles all the parts of our salvation, setting forth the example of the Ephesians. And he uses various exhortations, and begins after his manner with thanksgiving.

(3) The efficient cause of our salvation is God, not considered generally, but as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(4) The next final cause, and in respect of us, is our salvation, all things being bestowed upon us which are necessary to our salvation, which type of blessings is heavenly and proper to the elect.

(b) With every type of gracious and bountiful goodness which is heavenly indeed, and from God alone.

(c) Which God our Father gave us from his high throne from above: or because the saints have those gifts bestowed on them, which belong properly to the citizens of heaven.

(5) The matter of our salvation is Christ, in whom alone we are endued with spiritual blessing and that to salvation.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Ephesians 1:3. Εὐλογητός] praised (בָּרוּךְ), sc. εἴη. Comp. Romans 9:5; 2 Corinthians 1:3; Luke 1:68; 1 Peter 1:3; 1 Kings 15:29. It is prefixed here, since, as in most doxologies (see on Romans 11:5), in keeping with the emotion of the heart which breaks forth in songs of praise, the emphasis lies on it. Where the stress in conformity with the context rests upon the person, this is prefixed, as at 1 Kings 10:9; 2 Chronicles 9:8; Job 1:21; Psalm 68:20; Psalm 112:1-2; Romans 9:5. The second Epistle to the Corinthians begins also with an ascription of praise to God, and the general character of that now before us cannot, in view of the general contents of the Epistle (comp. 1 Peter 1:3 ff.) appear un-Pauline (in opposition to de Wette), especially as the thanksgiving which has reference to the readers comes in afterwards in Ephesians 1:15 f.

ὁ Θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ τοῦ κυρίου κ.τ.λ.] God, who at the same time is the Father of Jesus Christ. See on Romans 15:6; 1 Corinthians 15:24; 2 Corinthians 11:31; Theodore of Mopsuestia in Cramer’s Catena. Jerome, Theodoret, Theophylact, and others, including Michaelis, Koppe, Rückert, Olshausen, Schenkel, Bleek, have incorrectly attached τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν also to ὁ Θεός. It is true, indeed, that there is no objection to the idea “the God of Christ” in itself, and τέ before καί would not be at all necessary, as Harless thinks (see Ephesians 4:6; 1 Peter 2:25, al.); but against it stands the fact that ὁ Θεὸς καὶ πατήρ, even without a genitive, was a stated Christian designation of God (comp. on Romans 15:6), in which case πατήρ only, and not Θεός, requires a complementary genitive (v. 20; 1 Corinthians 15:24; Jam 1:27; Jam 3:9). Moreover, the expression the God of Christ stands so isolated in the N.T. (see on Ephesians 1:17), that we may not attribute to it any such currency, as it must have had, if it were contained in the formula ὁ Θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ τοῦ κυρίου κ.τ.λ.

ὁ εὐλογήσας ἡμᾶς] Aorist: by the work of redemption. Observe the ingenious correlation of the passive εὐλογητός and the active εὐλογήσας, as well as the dilogia, by which the former denotes the blessing in word, and the latter the blessing in deed (comp. Romans 15:29; 2 Corinthians 9:5 f.; Galatians 3:8-9; Galatians 3:14; Acts 3:26). ἡμᾶς applies to the Christians generally, not to Paul (Koppe), against which view the unsuitableness of such a thanksgiving of the apostle for himself at the head of the Epistle, as well as the actual plurality of persons in the whole context (Ephesians 1:4; Ephesians 1:11-12), and κἀγώ, Ephesians 1:15, are decisive.

ἐν πάσῃ εὐλογίᾳ πνευματικῇ] instrumental: by His imparting to us every spiritual blessing (comp. Test. XII. Patr. p. 722: εὐλογ. ἐν ἀγαθοῖς); none has He withheld from us. This, however, is not to be explained as blessing, which concerns our spirit (Erasmus, Michaelis, Morus, Rosenmüller; Koppe and Rückert are undecided), but: proceeding from the Holy Spirit, because the distinctively Christian benefits are meant, and these are χαρίσματα. Comp. Romans 1:11; Romans 15:29; 1 Corinthians 12:1 ff. This blessing is wrought by God from heaven through the communication of the Spirit (Ephesians 1:13; Galatians 3:5; 1 Corinthians 12:6, and elsewhere), hence God is praised for it. We may add that a contrast to the earthly benefits promised to the Jews in the Old Testament (Grotius and others, including recently Holzhausen), or to the typical blessings of the Jews and the empty possessions of the Gentiles (Schöttgen), is foreign to the context. Paul denotes the matter in a purely positive form as it is, according to its characteristic nature; hence there is not in πάσῃ any contrast to merely sporadic blessings in the O. T. The εὐλογία consists in the most varied expressions, as in grace, truth, peace, joy, love, hope, consolation, patience, and all Christian virtues as the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22; Romans 5:1 ff.). Compare πᾶν ἀγαθὸν τὸ ἐν ἡμῖν, Philemon 1:6.

ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις] local: in the heavenly regions, in heaven. Comp. Ephesians 1:20; Ephesians 2:6; Ephesians 3:10Ephesians 1:3-8. DOXOLOGY, OR ASCRIPTION OF PRAISE TO GOD FOR THE BLESSINGS OF HIS LOVE AND GRACE. This extends over six verses, in one magnificent sentence intricately yet skilfully constructed, throbbing in each clause with the adoring sense of the majesty of that Divine Counsel and the riches of that Divine Grace which had made it possible to write in such terms to Gentiles in a distant province of the heathen Roman Empire. It is Paul’s way to begin with a doxology or a burst of thanksgiving. The latter, expressed by εὐχαριστῶ, εὐχαριστοῦμεν, etc., is the more usual, and is found in one form or another in Romans, 1 Corinthians, Philippians, Philemon, Colossians , 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy (Ephesians 1:12), 2 Timothy. The former is seen in 2 Corinthians and (in a different form) in Galatians as well as here. The only Epistle that lacks both is that to Titus.3–14. Ascription of Praise, in view of the Election and Redemption of the Saints

3. Blessed be the God, &c.] The same Benediction occurs (verbatim in the Greek, nearly so in A. V.), 2 Corinthians 1:3; 1 Peter 1:3. Observe the different motive of the same phrase in each case.—The word rendered “Blessed” occurs eight times in the N. T., and always of a Divine Person. In Mark 14:61 “The Blessed” appears without an explicit Name, as often by the Rabbis.

For the sacred Formula “the God and Father of, &c.” cp. further Romans 15:6 (where the Greek, though not the A. V., is the same); and see John 20:17; Hebrews 1:8-9; and note below, on Ephesians 1:17.

who hath blessed us] Better, Who blessed us. The reference is to the heavenly world and the eternal purpose of God towards the saints. See just below, on “before the foundation, &c.” This Benediction on the New Creation may be illustrated by that on the Old; Genesis 1:22; Genesis 1:28; Genesis 9:1. It is the utterance (in whatever way) of a fixed Divine purpose of good. “When we bless God, we speak well of Him; when He blesses us, He powerfully confers blessings on us” (Scott). “Us”:—the members of the New Race; “the saints and faithful;” those who “are Christ’s.”

with all spiritual blessings] Better, with (lit. in) all spiritual blessing.—“Spiritual:”—the Benediction supremely affected the “spirit” of its objects, not merely their externals. It bore upon their spiritual Birth (John 3:6); Life (Romans 8:9-10); and Consummation (Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 15:44).

in heavenly places] Lit., “in the heavenlies”; an adjective without a noun. So below, Ephesians 1:20, and Ephesians 2:6, Ephesians 3:10, Ephesians 6:12. The noun is rightly supplied in A. V. The region of utterance of the Blessing was heaven; the eternal abode of the Covenant-Head of the blessed ones is heaven; and the final issue of the blessing will be their own abode there “in glory.” See Hebrews 11:16. The form of the adjective suggests not only a heavenly origin, or nature, but a heavenly locality.

in Christ] as the Covenant-Head, Root and Source of Life, and Representative, of the saints. Cp. 2 Timothy 1:9.Ephesians 1:3. Εὐλογητὸςεὐλογήσαςεὐλογίᾳ, Blessed—who has blessed—with blessing) An Antanaclasis.[4] God has blessed us in one sense, we bless Him in another. The doxologies at the beginning of the apostolic epistles are quite in consonance with the sense of the grace which characterizes the New Testament. It is almost in this way that the first Epistle of Peter commences, which was also sent into Asia, and therefore to Ephesus. Paul writes with an affection that had been greatly elevated [sublimed] by adversity; and this epistle furnishes a remarkable specimen of the evangelical mode of discussion on the thesis [proposition, i.e. the broad general truth of the Gospel]; and, from the third to the fourteenth ver. of this ch., it presents an abridgment of the Gospel [respecting the grace of God.—V. g.]; [and that, too, in such a way, that the blessed work of Christ, Ephesians 1:7, and of the Holy Spirit, Ephesians 1:13, is inserted each in its proper order.—V. g.] Hence he refutes no error, and rebukes no fault in particular, but proceeds in a general way. And how great soever may be the light which may be obtained from ecclesiastical history, with respect to the Epistle to the Colossians, in other respects parallel, it is less needed in this epistle. He writes with great propriety to the Ephesians, too, regarding the recent union of the Jews and Gentiles; for the temple at Ephesus had been the stronghold of Paganism, as on the contrary the temple at Jerusalem had been the stronghold of Judaism.

[4] See App. It is the same word occurring in a different sense.

Here follows a summary of the Epistle:—

  I.  The Inscription, Ephesians 1:1-2.

  II.  The Doctrine pathetically set forth.

I.  Blessing God for the whole range of heavenly blessing bestowed by Him, Ephesians 1:3-14; and then thanksgiving and prayers for the saints, Ephesians 1:15 to Ephesians 2:10.

II.  A more special admonition concerning their formerly miserable, but now blessed condition, Ephesians 1:11-22; and then the apostle’s supplication, that they might be strengthened, Ephesians 3:1-2; Ephesians 3:14-15; with the doxology, Ephesians 3:20-21.

  III.  The exhortation.

I.  General—that they should walk worthily, as

1.  The unity of the Spirit and diversity of gifts, Ephesians 4:1-2; Ephesians 4:7-8.

2.  As the difference of their heathen and Christian state require, Ephesians 4:17-24.

II.  Special—

1)  So that they should avoid

1.  Lying, Ephesians 4:25.

2.  Anger, Ephesians 4:26-27.

3.  Theft, Ephesians 4:28.

4.  Corrupt conversation, Ephesians 4:29-30.

5.  Bitterness, Ephesians 4:31 to Ephesians 5:2.

6.  Impurity, Ephesians 5:3-14.

7.  Drunkenness, Ephesians 5:15-20; the virtues being everywhere commended to which those vices are opposed, with the addition of submission, Ephesians 5:21.

2)  That they should do their duty,

1.  As wives and husbands, Ephesians 5:22-23; Ephesians 5:25-26.

2.  As children and fathers, Ephesians 6:1-2; Ephesians 6:4.

3.  As servants and masters, Ephesians 6:5-6; Ephesians 6:9.

3)  And, lastly, an exhortation to the spiritual warfare, Ephesians 6:10-11; Ephesians 6:19-20.

  IV.  Conclusion, Ephesians 6:21-24.

There is a great resemblance between this epistle and that to the Colossians, which has been already noticed; wherefore the two writings may be advantageously compared together.—ἐν πάσῃ, with all) Paul describes the source and the archetype of this blessing, He has chosen us, having predestinated, Ephesians 1:4-5; also its nature, He hath embraced us in His grace, Ephesians 1:6; also its parts, remission, etc., Ephesians 1:7-8.—εὐλογίᾳ, with blessing) The very term denotes abundance.—πνευματικῇ, spiritual) a thing peculiar to the New Testament.—ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις, in heavenly places) The term spiritual is hereby explained. Often in this epistle he mentions the heavenlies: Ephesians 1:20, ch. Ephesians 2:6, Ephesians 3:10, Ephesians 6:12. The glorious abode of the heavenly inhabitants.—ἐν Χριστῷ, in Christ) To this is to be referred the following verse, according as—in Him. Here now he somewhat slightly touches upon the three persons of the Godhead, who are concerned in our salvation. The Heavenlies belong to the Father [the First Person]: he expressly names Christ Himself [the Second Person]: the Holy Spirit [the Third Person] produces spiritual blessings. Paul treats of all in succession subsequently. [Certainly the apostle had before his eyes, in this passage, the whole career of Christ, from His birth to His ascension. He contemplates His birth in this verse, then His circumcision, wherefore at Ephesians 1:5, and not till then, the name, Jesus, given to Him at His circumcision, is expressed; at Ephesians 1:6,[5] the baptism of the beloved Song of Solomon is pointed to by implication; which, at Ephesians 1:7, the bloody suffering of death follows, and finally His resurrection and ascension, at Verses 3-14. - THANKSGIVING FOR THEIR DIVINE ORDINATION TO THE BLESSINGS OF GRACE. In this glorious anthem, in which the apostle, tracing all to the Divine Fountain, enumerates the glorious privileges of the Church, and blesses God for them, he first (ver. 3) states summarily the ground of thanksgiving, expanding it with glowing fullness in vers. 4-14. Verse 3. - Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every blessing of the Spirit, in heavenly places in Christ. Here we have

(1) the Author of our blessings;

(2) their nature and sphere;

(3) the Medium through whom we have them.

1. The Author is "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Jesus called God his God and his Father (John 20:17) in virtue of the state of subjection to him in which, as the Son of man, he had voluntarily placed himself. In this aspect and relation to Christ, God is here thanked because he hath blessed us in him.

2. Αν πασῄ εὐλογὶᾳ πνευματικῇ: not merely spiritual as opposed to material, but as applied by the Holy Spirit, the office of the Third Person being to bring Divine things into actual contact with human souls - to apply to us the blessings purchased by Christ; which blessings are ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις ( ιν heavenly places. They belong to the heavenly kingdom; they are therefore the highest we can attain to. The expression occurs three times, and with the same meaning.

3. Αν Ξριστᾷ. The Medium or Mediator through whom they come is Christ; they are not fruits of the mere natural bounty of God, but of his redeeming bounty - fruits of the mediatorial work of Jesus Christ. Thus, in this summary, we recognize what is eminently characteristic of this Epistle - the doctrine of the Trinity, and the function of each Person in the work of redemption. No other writing of the New Testament is so pervaded with the doctrine of the Trinity. The three great topics of the Epistle will be found to be considered in relation to the three Persons of the Trinity. Thus:

1. Origin and foundation of the Church, referred to the eternal counsel and good pleasure of the Father.

2. The actual birth or existence of the Church with all its privileges, to the atoning grace and merit of the Son.

3. The transformation of the Church, the realization of its end or purpose, in its final holiness and glory, to the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit. This throws light on the expression, "every blessing;" it includes

(1) all that the Father can bestow;

(2) all that the Son can provide;

(3) all that the Spirit can apply.

The resources of all the three Persons thus conspire to bless the Church. In the verses that follow, the First Person is prominent in vers. 4-6; the second is introduced in vers. 6-12; and the third in vers. 13, 14. But all through the First Person is the great directing Power. Blessed (εὐλογητὸς)

Placed first in the clause for emphasis, as always in the corresponding Hebrew in the Old Testament. The verb is commonly omitted - blessed the God. In the New Testament used of God only. The perfect participle of the verb, εὐλογημένος blessed, is used of men. See on 1 Peter 1:3. The word differs from that used in the Beatitudes, μακάριος. which denotes character, while this word denotes repute. Lit., well-spoken of.

God and Father of our Lord, etc.

Some object to this rendering on the ground that the phrase God of Christ is unusual, occurring nowhere in Paul, except Ephesians 1:17 of this chapter. Such render, God who is also the Father, etc. But Christ of God is found Matthew 27:46; and my God, John 20:17; Revelation 3:12. Compare, also, 1 Corinthians 3:23; and the phrase is undoubted in Ephesians 1:17.

Hath blessed (εὐλογήσας)

Kindred with εὐλογητὸς blessed.

Spiritual (πνευματικῇ)

Another leading word. Spirit and spiritual occur thirteen times. Paul emphasizes in this epistle the work of the divine Spirit upon the human spirit. Not spiritual as distinguished from bodily, but proceeding from the Holy Spirit. Note the collocation of the words, blessed, blessed, blessing.

In the heavenly places (ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις)

Another keyword; one of the dominant thoughts of the epistle being the work of the ascended Christ. Places is supplied, the Greek meaning in the heavenlies. Some prefer to supply things, as more definitely characterizing spiritual blessing. But in the four other passages where the phrase occurs, Ephesians 1:20; Ephesians 2:6; Ephesians 3:10; Ephesians 6:12, the sense is local, and ἐπουράνιος heavenly, is local throughout Paul's epistles. The meaning is that the spiritual blessings of God are found in heaven and are brought thence to us. Compare Philippians 3:20.

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