Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
In the previous verses, Paul identifies himself and then prays for a blessing for the saints in Ephesus, namely that they would receive peace and grace from God. Here, instead of praying for a blessing, He declares "blessed be God". He isn't praying a blessing over God, He is saying that God is blessed. The word for "blessed" here is "eulogetos" which can also be translated "praised". He is saying that God is praised and blessed. This is a mini declaration of worship from Paul who is honoring God with his words.
Its interesting where the definite article comes in that sentence. (Definite article = "the"). It doesn't say "Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Instead, it says "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." With this sentence construction, it implies that the Person we are talking about here is not only the Father of Jesus Christ but also the God of Jesus Christ. There is plenty of biblical support for the Trinity and we know that Jesus is the second member of the Trinity and therefore He is very God. But what we see here is that even though Jesus is equal in power, authority, eternality, glory, creativity, knowledge, and every way with the Father, He submits to the Father. This is a really big truth tucked away in this little positioning of the word "the." This fact that an equal can submit to an equal will come up later in Ephesians in regards to marriage, work, and family.
When you speak of God, do you bless and praise Him? Do you make sure to say something wonderful about Him or just toss His name out carelessly?
The Father has blessed. When Paul begins praising God as he did above, he naturally flows into speaking greatly of the things God has done for us. Praising God should be our natural response when we receive blessings in our life.
The word blessing is kind of a vague word. The word "bless" and its variations occur over 350 times throughout the whole Bible. That's an average of 6 uses in each book of the Bible. Sometimes it is used to describe prosperity. Other times it is used to describe a future promise of God for a person. And even other times it is used to describe a joyful state of heart and mind.
How has God blessed me lately? What blessings have I not even recognized as blessings? Have I praised God for them?
In the heavenly realms
There are two possible interpretations of this little phrase. What is in the heavenly realms?
The first interpretation is that God who has blessed us is in the heavenly realms. If this is the case, then this phrase would remind us that God is majestic and holy and dwells in a whole separate realm from us.
The second interpretation is that the blessings are in the heavenly realms. This would serve to tell us that many of the blessings God has for us await us when we cross over into eternity. This gives us hope that there is something glorious and wonderful awaiting us when we have finished running this race of life.
I'm going to have to go with the second one because after the phrase "who has blessed us" come three phrases "in...", "with...", "in...". That's in the NIV at least. In the Greek, all of them start with "in". The other two are clearly referencing the blessing and I'll discuss them next, so I think that shows that this phrase is describing the blessing as well.
So, some of the blessings God has for you and I are awaiting us in heaven. That gets me excited for the day we get to go home! This life may get difficult, but our time here is short and will be just a drop in the bucket compared to eternity. Fix your hope on the next life when troubles come and it will help you to have a smile in difficult circumstances knowing that one day you are going home to great reward.
With every spiritual blessing
They are spiritual blessings. Blessing is a vague term, but this helps us narrow it done. We are not talking about every blessing imaginable like winning the lotto and getting to live in Hawaii. Paul is talking about spiritual blessings. This is not talking about the temporary earthly things we would like to have. Rather than cars, money, health, nice homes, and all of that stuff, we are talking about things like eternal life, faith, joy, peace, reconciliation, forgiveness, and more! These are the things that really matter anyway. I would rather be poor and have joy than be rich and unhappy.
Every! This is how many spiritual blessings God has blessed us with. He has not held back a single spiritual blessing from us! Our God is generous with good things and He is not being stingy with any one of us. All of these blessings are there for us.
So what does it mean that these blessings are "in the heavenly places"? I don't think it means we don't have access to them now. I think that it means two things. The source of the blessings is in heaven and we will know them to the fullest in heaven. Take the spiritual blessing of joy as an example. True joy comes when we fix our eyes on God and His goodness and faithfulness to us. The source of joy is in heaven. We can experience it now by turning our eyes to God in heaven. But, we will know joy to the fullest when we finally see Him face to face and dwell with Him for eternity.
Have you ever felt like God was holding back good things from you? What was it specifically? God never promised to give us material things in this life, He promises so much greater. He will give the blessings that really count. Would you rather have physical blessings or spiritual? Has God ever withheld spiritual blessings from you when you turned to Him and asked?
All of the spiritual blessings we have are bound up in Jesus. They are given to us by the Father through the Son. Forgiveness and reconciliation? We have them because of the work of Jesus on the cross on our behalf. Eternal life? We have it because Jesus conquered Satan, sin, and death by rising from the grave. All of our blessings flow from the Father through Christ to us.
In Christ is an interesting term used in the New Testament. A person can be "in Christ". You are considered to be "in Christ" if you are saved by His death and resurrection which requires you putting your faith in Jesus and repenting from your sins. The Bible paints this picture of us literally standing in Christ when God looks at His Son. When God looks at Jesus and is happy with His sinless life, if you are "in Christ" He is looking at you and happy with your sinless life. But wait, I didn't live a sinless life! Christ's sinless life has been imputed to you because you are standing in Him. When the Father lavishes love on the Son, you receive that amazing love if you are "in Christ". Just as Christ died to sin, you have died to sin. Just as Christ has risen to eternal life, you will rise to eternal life. It's an interesting concept and very much ties into the fact that God the Father has not withheld a single spiritual blessing from us. Why hasn't he held back? Because we are in Christ and He is holding nothing back from His beloved Son and we got all of those blessings for being "in Christ".
I'll try to point this out more as it comes up... and if memory serves, it will.
So, are you in Christ? Have you turned to God by repenting of your sins and trusting in Jesus' death and resurrection to save you and give you eternal life? You can do it right now by simply asking God in your own words to forgive you of your sins and wash you clean through Jesus sacrifice. Ask Him to help you obey Him and find a good church that will help you grow.
Have you recognized the amazing privilege it is to be "in Christ"? Spend some time thanking God for everything that means.
Sorry for typos, not going to proof read this til later.