0

Ephesians 1:3-4 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, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love

I am trying to understand how "even as" functions here and what deductions can be made from the verses above.

My variant understandings are as below. Please select the right one or correct, clarify, modify or comment as seem fit.

  1. Every Spiritual blessing in the heavenly places needed for us to be holy & blameless is already ours in Christ. We just need to believe it and there is no further need to choose to obtain it and work for it to make it ours. They were given to us just the way God chose us in Him before we even existed. That is, "they were given to us without our choosing or working to obtain it". Just like we were already chosen, they are already ours.

  2. Every Spiritual blessing in the heavenly is already given to us in Christ in some form. It is ours only in theory ( or legally, or it is our position but not actual). So now we should obtain them using what ever means legitimate ( such as exercise of faith, renewing our mind, or faith plus some works ) and make them actual ( not just theory but practical ) in order to get the required stuff to live holy lives. We can do it because it is legally ours but we should do it because something is left to do from out part to make it actual in our lives.

Please help me understand the verses by explaining the function of even as.

3

Of the two options you gave, I think your #1 comes closest. What makes this very hard is this is one of the longest sentences in the Bible, starting in verse 3 and going all the way to the end of verse 14. That is why Harold Hoehner makes the point that our blessings are on the basis of the entire clause that comes in verses 4-14.

The phrase "even as" that you highlighted is the Greek conjunction καθὼς in the Greek text here in Eph. 1:3-4.

Since it is a conjunction it would have a wide range of syntactical uses that all depend on the context to determine the proper usage.

BDAG (A Lexicon) offers the following choices:

  1. as a word that introduces a comparison -- just as or likewise the comparison adds an additional fact to the ideas.
  2. also in a comparison, when the second phrase explains the extent or degree to which the first phrase is carried out.
  3. As introducing the cause or reason. The second phrase gives the cause or reason for the first phrase. (BAGD puts Eph. 1:4 in this category)
  4. as explaining when something happens
  5. when it follows a verb of saying it introduces an indirect discourse

Lidell and Scoot (another Lexicon):

  1. to the degree that
  2. a marker of cause or reason -- inasmuch as
  3. introducing a comparison just as
  4. when, at the time of
  5. How, in what manner.

This leaves the expositor with a choice of four almost equally valid choices:(1) He has blessed us because He has chosen us--BAGD favors this one; (2) He has blessed us on the basis or ground, in accordance with the fact that He chosen us--KJV favors this one; (3) He has blessed us when He chose us; (4) He Blessed us just as or even as He had also Chosen us--a number a translations seem to favor this one.

One commentator, Wuest seemed to combine some of the functions together when stating the role of the conjunction here in this passage. Wuest explains the conjunction and the phrase that follows in the following way (bold added):

We come now to the words, “according as He hath chosen us.” The words “according as” are kathōs (καθως) “even as, in conformity with the fact.” Vincent says: “Explaining blessed us, in v. 3. His blessing is in conformity with the fact that He chose.” Expositors comments: “Here kathōs (καθως) designates the ground of the ‘blessing’ and so is also the note of its grandeur. The ‘blessing’ proceeded on the divine election, and took effect in accordance with that. It has its foundation, therefore, in eternity, and is neither an incidental thing nor an afterthought of God.”

Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English Reader, vol. 4 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), 29.

Working backwards, starting with the fact of His choosing us before the foundation of the earth, it seems that His blessing us is also something He did in the past because of the link created by the conjunction. The aorist in verse three indicates that He has already blessed us in heavenly places in Christ. For me, this then is a difficult one to choose of the four choices listed above, which would explain why there are a ranges of decisions in favor of one over another across the spectrum of Lexicons, commentaries, and translations.

I have a wonderful tool in my Logos software, you can buy the print versions too, called Exegetical Summaries. Exegetical Summaries give a summarization of the answer to key exegetical questions within various Lexicons, commentaries, and translations. Here is what the Exegetical summary has for the function of the conjunction:

QUESTION—What relationship is indicated by καθώς ‘as/because’?

  1. This indicates that the spiritual blessings are in conformity with God’s decree that preceded them [Ba, Can, ICC, Lns, Lt, Rob, We; KJV, NASB, NRSV]. The spiritual blessings are dependent upon our relation to Christ [Can, Lns]: it was in Christ that he blessed us, just as it was in Christ that he chose us. Just as he chose us in eternity past, so he has also blessed us in Christ in time [Lns, NTC, We]. The blessings we have received through Christ conforms to the fact that God has chosen Christ to be both the foundation and goal of our salvation [TD].

  2. This indicates the reason God blessed us (1:3) [BAGD, Cal, ECWB, El, Ho, LJ, NCBC, NTC, WBC; NIV]: he blessed us because he chose us. The writer is saying that God has blessed believers both because and to the extent that he elected them [WBC]. Καθώς ‘as/because’ is joined to the whole of the statement from 1:4 through 1:14. It introduces the whole statement [LJ, Rob]. The blessing in 1:3 is a general reference to all of God’s blessings, and this is the reason for blessing us [Ho]. Some keep the wording of ‘in conformity with the fact’, but speak of it functioning as the reason [EGT, My].

  3. This specifies what the blessings are [Alf, TH; perhaps NJB]: he blessed us, in that he chose us. Although translating this connection as ‘thus’, the note in NJB identifies this choice of us as the first blessing, the second being predestination, 1:5.

Glenn Graham, An Exegetical Summary of Ephesians, 2nd ed. (Dallas, TX: SIL International, 2008), 21.

If the sentence ended right after the phrase that comes right after the conjunction I think I would favor the idea that it introduces the cause of our blessing. Yet it goes on, all the way to verse 14 and that seems to point to the idea that verses 4-14 introduce the basis of our blessings in Christ. That is why I would favor option #1 in Graham's list instead of option #2.

The key take away, no matter what is the fact that our Blessings are an already accomplished fact and that Blessings are in heaven and they are based on our position in Christ.

| improve this answer | |
  • Fantastic Answer and Ruminator elaborates the missing part – Siju George Apr 4 '19 at 2:54
1

Ken's excellent answer as all that needs to be said about the function of "even as" in the sentence. I do want to go a little deeper into the context of the paragraph and in fact Paul's whole Christology.

Paul explains that Christ revealed several mysteries, mostly concerning the inclusion of the gentiles and the obviation of the Torah. For example:

[Rom 11:25 KJV] (25) For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

[Rom 16:25 KJV] (25) Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,

This one is very parallel to the one we are looking at in Ephesians:

[Col 1:27 KJV] (27) To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

Paul's whole summary of the mysteries that Christ revealed to him, which is Christian faith is nicely put here:

[1Ti 3:16 NLT] (16) Without question, this is the great mystery of our faith: Christ was revealed in a human body and vindicated by the Spirit. He was seen by angels and announced to the nations. He was believed in throughout the world and taken to heaven in glory.

That is, the experiences of Christ become the experience of those who are part of his body. In Ephesians as in Colossians he is tasked with communicating to the gentiles the "universal Christ program" of the end times. That is, whereas in the past YHVH was only in covenant with a single family-nation, now, right before the end, the gentiles are summoned because the Jews refused their Messiah.

He is tasked with communicating to them that they are not being summoned to become Jews but rather to be part of a Christ and that being a part of Christ is to be part of the one set at God's right hand. IE: There is no conceivable greater good than to be a part of the loving family, above every other name, such as Moses, Peter, Paul, Michael the Archangel, Caesar, etc.

However, a blessing may take time to experience.

  • divine blessings in Christ are only revealed supernaturally.

Paul says that he, as an apostle summoned and sent to the gentiles as Christ's "envoy" received the revelation of the treasures by divine revelation:

[1Co 2:9-10 NET] (9) But just as it is written, "Things that no eye has seen, or ear heard, or mind imagined, are the things God has prepared for those who love him." (10) God has revealed these to us [IE: "to us apostles"] by the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.

To learn of the secrets of God one has to have access to his inner mind, not just to the words:

[1Co 2:11-12 NET] (11) For who among men knows the things of a man except the man's spirit within him? So too, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. (12) Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things that are freely given to us by God.

The apostles have the same breath/spirit and thus inner mind of God so when they speak of the inheritance, the spirit within them resonates and they rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

(13) And we speak about these things, not with words taught us by human wisdom, but with those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. (14) The unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. (15) The one who is spiritual discerns all things, yet he himself is understood by no one. (16) For who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to advise him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Hence his opening prayer when addressing the Ephesians:

[Eph 1:15-20 KJV] (15) Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, (16) Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; (17) That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: (18) The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, (19) And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, (20) Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,

  • Paul expects that faith in the apostles' teaching will be transformative:

[Col 1:1-29 NLT] (1) This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy. (2) We are writing to God's holy people in the city of Colosse, who are faithful brothers and sisters in Christ. May God our Father give you grace and peace. (3) We always pray for you, and we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (4) For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God's people, (5) which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News. (6) This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God's wonderful grace. (7) You learned about the Good News from Epaphras, our beloved co-worker. He is Christ's faithful servant, and he is helping us on your behalf. (8) He has told us about the love for others that the Holy Spirit has given you. (9) So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. (10) Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. (11) We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, (12) always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. (13) For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, (14) who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins. (15) Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, (16) for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can't see--such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. (17) He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. (18) Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. (19) For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, (20) and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ's blood on the cross. (21) This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. (22) Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. (23) But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don't drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God's servant to proclaim it. (24) I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church. (25) God has given me the responsibility of serving his church by proclaiming his entire message to you. (26) This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God's people. (27) For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory. (28) So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. (29) That's why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ's mighty power that works within me.

  • Paul wants these gentile believers to move their focus off of their problems, persecutions, etc. onto the revelation that God has given through that apostles of the glory that awaits them at the revelation of Jesus Christ. If they do, they will be full of faith, motivation, thankfulness, joy, courage, praise etc.:

[Col 2:2-3, 6-19 NLT] (2) I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God's mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. (3) In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. ... (6) And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. (7) Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. (8) Don't let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. (9) For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. (10) So **you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. (11) When you came to Christ, you were "circumcised," but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision--the cutting away of your sinful nature. (12) For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. (13) You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. (14) He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. (15) In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross. (16) So don't let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. (17) For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality. (18) Don't let anyone condemn you by insisting on pious self-denial or the worship of angels, saying they have had visions about these things. Their sinful minds have made them proud, (19) and they are not connected to Christ, the head of the body. For he holds the whole body together with its joints and ligaments, and it grows as God nourishes it.

Paul also goes into the same subject in Romans 8:

[Rom 8:15-19 NLT] (15) So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God's Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, "Abba, Father." (16) For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God's children. (17) And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God's glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. (18) Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. (19) For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are.

So Christ sent and empowered Paul to supernaturally reveal to them the unspeakably glorious things that await them in union with Christ. Since he is God's heir (so to speak) so are those in union with him. And all God's blessings have their amen in Christ:

[1Pe 1:3-9 NLT] (3) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, (4) and we have a priceless inheritance--an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. (5) And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. (6) So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. (7) These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold--though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. (8) You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. (9) The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

The apostles and all of the new covenant, born again saints were driven by a divinely powerful eschatological hope that was due to arrive shortly, within their own generation. You can feel the imminence of the eschaton in chapter after chapter of the NT. "Don't lose your reward! I'm coming soon! Stay faithful and you'll be glad you did! Turn back and you'll be sorry!"

Paul knew that saints who were aware of their inheritance and position in Christ were unstoppable, indefeatable conquerors:

[Rom 8:28-39 CSB] (28) We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (29) For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. (30) And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified. (31) What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? (32) He did not even spare his own Son but offered him up for us all. How will he not also with him grant us everything? (33) Who can bring an accusation against God's elect? God is the one who justifies. (34) Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the one who died, but even more, has been raised; he also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. (35) Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? (36) As it is written: Because of you we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered. (37) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (38) For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, (39) nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This site has some good resources for "the exchanged life" ("I've been crucified with Christ nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ lives within me").

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    Fantastic answer! Why does blessing take time to accomplish? Is it because our Faith has to be made perfect by Jesus or because we have not worked enough on sanctification? – Siju George Apr 4 '19 at 2:59
  • Thank you Siju, it is encouraging to hear. I'll add an update to my answer. – Ruminator Apr 4 '19 at 11:24

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.