Paul's Prayer Of Gratitude
Rev. Arthur W. Pink
"Blessed be the God and Father." That those words signify an act of prayer is clear from many passages. "I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth" (Ps. 34:1). "Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name" (Ps. 63:4; cf. 1 Tim. 2:8). "Sing unto the LORD, bless his name" (Ps. 96:2). "Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the LORD" (Ps. 134:2). To bless God is to adore Him, to acknowledge His excellency, to express the highest veneration and gratitude. To bless God is to render Him the homage of our hearts as the Giver of every good and perfect gift. The three principal branches of prayer are humiliation, supplication, and adoration. Included in the first is confession of sin; in the second, making known our requests and interceding on behalf of others; in the third, thanksgiving and praise. Paul's action here is a summons to all believers to unite with him in magnifying the Source of all our spiritual blessings: "Adored be God the Father."
By way of infinite eminency God is the "blessed" One (Mark 14:61)-a title which is peculiar and solely proper to Himself. Nevertheless, He is graciously pleased to hear His saints attest to His blessedness. This was intimated by Paul when, after declaring Him to be "God blessed for ever" he at once added his "Amen" to the statement (Rom. 1:25). This amen, "so be it," was added not to a blessing of invocation but to a joyful acclamation that expressed Paul's own satisfaction and joy. "All thy works shall praise thee" (Ps. 145:10). His works alone bless Him, for they alone bear Him goodwill. They bless Him not only for what He is to them and for what He has done for them but for what He is in Himself.
The nature of this prayer, then, is not a petitionary one like those which come later in Ephesians, but it is an ascription of praise, evoked by an apprehension of the spiritual blessings with which God the Father has blessed His people. The principal blessings are described in the verses which immediately follow Ephesians 1:3. The prayer was an adoring of God for such an amazing portion, such inestimable treasure, such a glorious inheritance. The apostle was filled with overwhelming gratitude for such infinite love and grace, and like new wine bursting out of the old bottle into which it was poured, fervent thanksgiving flowed forth from him. Someone has beautifully said, "The first notes of the everlasting song of the heavenly world are sounded here below, and are produced and drawn forth by a sense of God's goodness and mercy as revealed to the soul, and especially when the love of God is shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Spirit." It was this which made David exclaim, "Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name" (Ps. 103:1). He blessed God for having so richly blessed him.
When the Deity is said to be "the God" of any person, He is his covenant God. Thus, after the first covenant described in Genesis, we find Noah speaking of "the LORD God of Shem" (Gen. 9:26), for through that son God's covenant with Noah was to be accomplished. Later, He became known as "the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" (Ex. 3:6). These patriarchs' names conveyed the covenant blessings and consequently redounded to praise and blessing to God. Thus Noah exclaimed, "Blessed be the LORD God of Shem." Later, as in a parallel case, the Prophet Jeremiah declared, "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be said, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt. Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel" (Jer. 16:14; 31:31). So we may say that, under the fuller revelation of the gospel, God has said, "I will no longer be known as the God of Abraham, but as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; and I will be owned and adored as such."
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." This unspeakably precious title views God as He is related to us in Christ, that is, to Christ as the covenant Head and to His elect in Him; He was, is, and ever will be the God and Father of the Lord Jesus. We question whether there is here any direct reference to the miraculous begetting of our Lord. Rather do we consider that He is contemplated in His mediatorial character, that is, as the eternal Son invested with our nature. In view of our Lord's own utterances it is abundantly clear that He owned the Father as His God. "I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly" (Ps. 22:10). "I delight to do thy will, O my God" (Ps. 40:8). On the cross Christ owned the Father as His God (Matthew 27:46). After His resurrection He spoke of the Father as "my God" (John 20:17). Enthroned in heaven, Jesus Christ still declares the Father to be His God four times over in a single verse (Rev. 3:12). Though God the Son, coequal and co-eternal with the Father, Christ assumed the form of a servant.
The Father is the God of Christ in the following respects: (1) In regard to His human nature. Being a creature ("a body hast thou prepared me," Hebrews 10:5), Christ was subject to God. (2) In regard to His human nature being predestinated to union with His divine person. Goodwin said, "Christ as man was â€˜predestinated' (1 Pet. 1:20) as well as we, and so hath God to be His God by predestination, and so by free grace, as well as He is our God in that respect." (3) In regard to His well-being. Goodwin again said, "God is the Author and immediately the matter of Christ's blessedness (as He is man) and therefore blessed be God as the God of Christ, who hath "blessed Him forever' as appears in what follows: "God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows' (Ps. 45:2, 7)." (4) In regard to the covenant between the Father and the Son. "Thus saith God the LORD,... I the LORD have called thee..., and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles" (Isa. 42:5-6). (5) In regard to His relation to the Church as the Head and Representative of His people. "For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one" (Heb. 2:11).
God must be the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ in order to be the God and Father of His people whom He chose in Christ. The relation which the Church sustains to God is determined by Christ's own relation to God, for she is Christ's and Christ is God's (1 Cor. 3:23). The general principle of this is established by those words, "God sent forth his Son,... that we might receive the adoption of sons" (Gal. 4:4-5). Still more explicitly it is found in Christ's own words, "I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God" (John 20:17). Not "our," be it carefully noted, but "my"; first His and then ours-His originally, and ours by participation.
In view of all that follows in Ephesians 1 it is clear that Paul's design here in Ephesians 1:3 was to show us that those "spiritual blessings" issue from God the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus in Ephesians 1:5 God the Father "predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself." It should also be pointed out that "our Lord Jesus Christ" pertains only to His people. In a special way He is Lord of the saints, as He is called "King of the nations" (Jer. 10:7); and certainly He is the Savior of those alone who acknowledge Him as their Savior.
Likewise God blesses us under the relation of "our Father." This was purposely foretold of old, for the first human beings who pronounced blessing upon others were those who bore the relation of fathers. Having love and goodwill to their children, it was natural to wish them well. Therefore the fathers sought God to perform their desire as that which was not in their own power to do. Thus we find the patriarchs blessing their children and posterity (Gen. 27:1-36; 48:9). So too we recall that utterance of our Lord's, "If ye then, being evil [filled with self-love, yet moved by natural affection], know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things?" (Matthew 7:11). To this very end He was pleased to become a Father to us. Being the Blessed One He is in Himself an ocean of all blessings, which seeks an outlet for itself to communicate to those whom He has loved and chosen. He has become our Father for the very purpose of lavishing His love and grace upon His dear children.
Let us notice carefully the tense of the verb in Ephesians 1:3. It is not "who will bless us," nor "who is blessing us" but "who hath blessed us." The time when God bestowed all spiritual blessings upon His people in Christ was when He chose them in Him, even before heaven and earth were called into existence. Super creation blessings are here in view. In His eternal decree God the Father gave to His people both being and well-being in Christ. In the order of His counsels, that was prior to His foreview of their fall in Adam. This is evident from what follows: "According as he hath chosen us in him [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him" (Eph. 1:4). Note the "having predestinated" in verse 5 and the "hath made us" in verse 6 and contrast with "in whom we have redemption" in verse 7, which harmonizes with 2 Timothy 1:9: which "according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." The purpose in that verse is all one with the blessing of Ephesians 1:3.
"Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings." Each word is selected with divine precision and propriety. It is not all spiritual "gifts" or "enrichments" but "blessings," because the word blessing accords with God's new-covenant title here and emphasizes that these are covenant bestowments. As Goodwin reminds us, this is "that original word under which the promise of the covenant of grace was at the first given to Abraham the father of the faithful, as that which contained all particular good things-as his loins did [contain] that "seed' to whom that promise was made."
"In blessing I will bless thee" (Gen. 22:17). Though the New Testament uses higher terms than the Old to express spiritual things, it did not alter this expression, for no better was to be found. In His first public sermon Christ repeatedly declared, "Blessed are . . ." When He ascended, His last act was to bless (Luke 24:50), and at the last day-when heaven's doors are opened to all the righteous-their eternal happiness is expressed by, "Come, ye blessed of my Father" (Matthew 25:34).
* From Rev. Pinks book Gleanings From
Paul (Chapter 10)