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In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, (Ephesians 1:7, ESV)

I have always read this part of Ephesians as referring to Christ’s blood causing the redemption of believers. However, the primary agent in the longer passage is the Father.

If a priest slaughters a lamb and then sprinkles its blood on items to purify them, the blood had belonged to the lamb, but now the lamb is dead. The blood is now the property of the priest, who then makes use of it. So the Father would seem to be the one applying Christ’s blood to believers to make them holy. That makes it now the Father’s blood, which Christ offered to him by consenting to be sacrificed.

Of course this becomes confusing because Jesus is both the sacrificial lamb and the “High Priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek”. That would have Jesus both offering his blood in sacrifice and also being the one to sprinkle it as priest.

This all leaves me confused. Is the “his blood” a reference to Christ (whose blood it was) or to the Father (whose blood it has become)?

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  • This High Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek is the tabernacle of God the Father, as he was the tabernacle of the Divine Logos, which is the essence of God: " As a servant of the holy things and of the true Tent, which was put up by God, not by man." Hebrews 8:2; Acts 7:46 and Revelation 13;6; 15:5 and 21:3.
    – Betho's
    Feb 26, 2023 at 17:44
  • I would say that Acts 20:28 answers your question. "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which HE PURCHASED WITH HIS OWN BLOOD."
    – Mr. Bond
    Feb 28, 2023 at 15:05

5 Answers 5

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V6 ends with the words "grace which he freely bestowed upon us in the Beloved" (RSV). That is, in his beloved Son, the previously mentioned Jesus Christ ("through Jesus Christ", v5). I would have thought that the "in him" in v7 is following on from this reference to the Beloved and expanding it. The verse is explaining exactly how grace was bestowed upon us "in him".

In short, grammar seems to confirm the your original understanding that Paul refers to the blood of Christ.

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    Thank you. There are so many pronouns at play that it is hard to be sure who is being identified. Feb 26, 2023 at 20:40
  • Many thanks, - Good simple answer. +1.
    – Dottard
    Feb 26, 2023 at 21:04
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Please read this as an addendum to the excellent answer of Stephen Disraeli (which I have already upvoted.)

Eph 1:5-7 reads (with antecedents inserted)

He [the Father] predestined us for adoption as His [the Father's] sons through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of His [the Father's] will, to the praise of His [the Father's] glorious grace, which He [the Father] has freely given us in the Beloved [Jesus]. In Him [the Beloved, Jesus] we have redemption through His [the Beloved's, Jesus'] blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His [the Father's] grace.

Note that in V7, the immediate antecedent is "the Beloved", namely Jesus Christ.

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As another addendum to the answers of Stephen Disraeli and Dottard:

The ESV (like most English versions) breaks up Ephesians 1:3-14 into multiple sentences, but it appears to be one long sentence in Greek.1 In particular, verses 6-7 read as follows:

... 6 εἰς ἔπαινον δόξης τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ ἧς ἐχαρίτωσεν ἡμᾶς ἐν τῷ ἠγαπημένῳ, 7 ἐν ᾧ ἔχομεν τὴν ἀπολύτρωσιν διὰ τοῦ αἵματος αὐτοῦ, τὴν ἄφεσιν τῶν παραπτωμάτων, κατὰ τὸ πλοῦτος τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ...

(SBLGNT)

which could be rendered (using the ESV translation as a base but tweaking the grammar to more literally match the Greek):

... to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved, in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of trespasses, according to the riches of his grace...

It would be natural to assume that ἐν ᾧ, "in whom," refers back to the immediately preceding τῷ ἠγαπημένῳ, "the Beloved." We can't necessarily rely on that assumption, since it is possible for a relative pronoun to refer to an antecedent farther back in the sentence.2 However, throughout this passage, there is a recurring pattern of ἐν + dative referring to Christ:3

  • Verse 3: ὁ εὐλογήσας ἡμᾶς ... ἐν Χριστῷ "who has blessed us ... in Christ"
  • Verse 4: ἐξελέξατο ἡμᾶς ἐν αὐτῷ "he chose us in him"
  • Verse 6: ἐχαρίτωσεν ἡμᾶς ἐν τῷ ἠγαπημένῳ "he has blessed us in the Beloved"
  • Verse 7: ἐν ᾧ ἔχομεν τὴν ἀπολύτρωσιν "in whom we have redemption"
  • Verse 9: κατὰ τὴν εὐδοκίαν αὐτοῦ ἣν προέθετο ἐν αὐτῷ "according to his purpose which he set forth in him"
  • Verse 10: ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι τὰ πάντα ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ "to unite all things in Christ" (there's even an extra ἐν αὐτῷ at the end of the verse which the ESV seems to leave out as redundant)
  • Verse 11: ἐν ᾧ καὶ ἐκληρώθημεν "in whom also we have obtained an inheritance"
  • Verse 12: ἡμᾶς ... τοὺς προηλπικότας ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ "we ... who were the first to hope in Christ"
  • Verse 13: ἐν ᾧ καὶ ὑμεῖς ἀκούσαντες ... ἐν ᾧ καὶ πιστεύσαντες "in whom also you, when you heard ... in whom also, when you believed"

Thus, the rhetorical structure of the passage makes clear that in verse 7, Christ is the one in whom we have redemption. The following prepositional phrase διὰ τοῦ αἵματος αὐτοῦ, "through his blood," serves to make more specific the way in which we have redemption in him: through Christ's blood, shed on the cross (compare Colossians 1:20).


1 Based on the grammatical judgment of the editors who added punctuation to modern editions of the Greek New Testament. There are a couple places where one could perhaps make an argument for putting a sentence break, but the spot in question isn't one of them.
2 For example, later in verse 13, we have ἐν ᾧ καὶ ὑμεῖς ἀκούσαντες τὸν λόγον τῆς ἀληθείας, τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς σωτηρίας ὑμῶν, ἐν ᾧ καὶ πιστεύσαντες ἐσφραγίσθητε τῷ πνεύματι τῆς ἐπαγγελίας τῷ ἁγίῳ. Here, the second instance of ἐν ᾧ could grammatically refer to τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς σωτηρίας ὑμῶν just before it ("the gospel of your salvation, in which [i.e. the gospel] you believed"). However, the parallel ἐν ᾧ καὶ + aorist participle construction signals that both pronouns are tied to the same antecedent (i.e. "Christ," end of verse 12).
3 William J. Larkin, Ephesians: A Handbook on the Greek Text, p 4.

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It seems to me for all that the redemption of sins comes forth through the blood of Christ, and that (to my knowledge) no where in the Bible is there a reference to the Father's blood for anything, it can only be referring to the blood of Christ.

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    – Lesley
    Mar 16, 2023 at 16:57
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Acts 20:28 sheds some light on this. Notice the "His own" surely refers to "God".

Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. (New American Standard 1977)

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