In our former writing on Ephesians 1:6-10 we took notice of the implications of two very important elements in verse 7. These two are: 1. What we must understand by “the redemption in His blood” and “the forgiveness of transgressions”. 2. How these two elements are mutually related in the text and in Scripture in general.
We must now proceed in our discussion. We will still be studying verse 7. There are still two elements here that call for further study. The first element is, that the benefit of redemption is ours in the Beloved. And; the second is, that this is ours in the beloved according to the riches of God’s grace.
It can scarcely be gainsaid, that there is an inherent relationship between these two elements. Hardly is the truth of the matter thus, that we have redemption in the Beloved—and that it is also according to God’s grace. The latter surely is included in the former. This, we trust, will become evident in the course of this essay.
However, let us first try to see the implication of these elements separately.
To begin with the former, we might ask: who is the Beloved? The phrase “in the Beloved” occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. Taken by itself it might be taken to mean: the one who is loved by the people of God. Thus we read in I Peter 1:8: “Whom having not seen ye love”, where “whom” refers to Christ. But this is hardly the case here. In the first place all of Scripture emphasizes that our redemption has nothing to do with our love for God. Thus. “Herein is the love of God manifested amongst us, that God sent His Only Begotten Son into the world, in order that we might be saved through Him. In this is the love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son a propitiation for our sins.” It is therefore quite clear that God’s love is always first. It is basic and it always precedes redemption. It is a rather common expression, but nonetheless fundamental heresy, that God was reconciled to us in Christ. That is never true in Scripture, and, what is more important in this connection, we do not read in that God was reconciled to us. What do we read? This: God was in Christ reconciling the world (kosmos) unto Himself. The Cosmos was reconciled to God, and not God to the Cosmos. The latter is the Pelagian, heathenish conception of God. Nay, God manifested and demonstrated His great love to us when we were yet sinners. HE REDEEMED US. He paid the ransom price!
The term “the Beloved” cannot, therefore, be merely a name given Christ because of our love for Him. To be sure, this latter is not excluded. We love God and His Christ. We love God because He loves us in the “Beloved”. And surely not our love for God is here on the foreground in the aforenamed sense, but God’s great love for us. Is it here not joined with the redemption that is ours, the forgiveness of transgressions, and “the riches of His grace”?
But what clinches it all is what we read in the parallel passage in, which reads: “Who hath delivered us out of the authority of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have the redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” The “Beloved” is the Son of God’s love. This is very clear from this quotation.
Of this “Beloved” this passage inhas quite a good deal to say. We will quote it in full. “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature. For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him and for Him; For He is before all things, and by Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence. For it hath pleased (the Father) that in Him all the fullness should dwell. And having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself, by Him, I say, whether they be things in heaven or things on earth. And you being in times alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled.”
To give a complete exposition of the quoted passage would lead us too far from our contemplated course of thought. We will, therefore, call attention to the elements, which it contains, in as far as it is relevant to our discussion.
Apart from the fact that we learn that “the Beloved” the “Son of God’s love” we also learn some of the implications of this love of God for His Son. It is the love of God for His Son which wills Him to be the preeminent one in all things. In creation, in the resurrection from the dead, in His Headship of the Church and over all things. From this we see that in the work of our redemption Christ is not merely the means to an end, nor is He the means merely of restoring what Satan has spoiled. He is most clearly and emphatically the chief consideration of all God’s thoughts both in creation and recreation; and then so, that the latter determines the former. And in each part the Son, the Son in the flesh is the “Beloved”, so that God would have the fullness to dwell in Him. He is the Head! Head as the Beloved!
Viewed in this light “the Beloved” becomes for us richer in meaning, fully worthy of our sanctified consideration. Once more we look at the text and ask: what does it mean, that we have redemption and forgiveness of transgressions in Him, in the Beloved. Certainly this “in” implies more than mere “in connection with Christ”, somehow related to Him. It suggests the figures of speech which Scripture employs. Inff. our relation to Christ is pictured under the figure of the “vine and the branches”. Says Christ: Without me ye can do nothing. The branch must remain in the Vine to be fruitful and to live. Here in this epistle the apostle employs the figure of the Head and the body. Compare verses 22, 23 where we read: “And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the Head over all things to the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.”
From the above quotation we would draw two conclusions, with regard to “in the Beloved”.
The first is that we are clearly taught here that the “we” and “us” and “our” in these verses 3-14 are not to be limited to a few Christians in Ephesus of Asia Minor with Paul included, but must refer to the entire elect church of God as chosen by Him before the foundation of the world, having been foreordained unto the adoption of sons through Jesus Christ. The apostle is speaking of the entire church of God organically united with Christ her Head by faith, and legally represented by Him. This church is complete, a fullness. The fullness of Him that filleth all in all. The church both of the Old and of the New dispensation. This latter is clear from such passages aswhere the apostle includes the prophetic “far” and “near”, Jew and Gentile respectively, as also from chapter 3:6 where mention is made of the Gentiles becoming fellow heirs of the same promises with the Jews. The church that is gathered during the entire history of the world, is here viewed as one Body! And this body is the “we” that have the redemption in the Beloved.
Secondly, that this Church, “this “we” (the apostle is still singing) have this redemption in the Beloved means: only in the Beloved. Not for one minute apart from Him, not now nor in the ages to come. In Him, but only in Him, is the church Christ’s fullness, have we “every spiritual blessing in heavenly places”.
That in this particular passage amongst all these spiritual blessing just these blessings, to wit, “the redemption in His blood” and “forgiveness of transgressions” are mentioned, and thus the legal aspect is placed on the foreground is, however, very significant. And being significant worthy of being read and understood.
But just what is the great significance of Paul’s having placed this legal aspect on the foreground. We believe that this legal aspect is closely related with the “riches of God’s grace” and, that in the “Beloved”. This “Beloved” is the Son of God’s love, who according to the divine good-pleasure should be in all things the preeminent one. But this Preeminence is exactly His preeminence in God’s work in recreation. In this work the “Beloved One” is indeed the Last Adam, the life-giving Spirit. His greatness is exactly, that He comes into this world under sin and death, and that out of many offences, transgressions, He brings unto justification and life. Now death is first of all a legal question. It is the wages of sin; the fulfillment of the penalty announced to Adam in advance, “the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”. And this legal element is first; it touches the righteousness, the justice of God. And for the guilty sinner, dead m trespasses and sins, death is the curse, the maintenance of all God’s virtues.
The elect are indeed elected to be holy and without blemish. But it is a great heresy to say, that God, without reconciliation thorough the payment of the “ransom price” could bring the elect to this holiness in love. Thus it is not even in His council of foreordination. We are to be sons of adoption, (vs. 5) but then exactly such adopted sons through Jesus Christ”, that is, “through the coming of the beloved Son of God in the flesh. Thus God loved the world and the redeemed children in His counsel, and, thus it is worked out, realized in Him in time.
Viewing the matter thus, and the text requires this interpretation, we see that what we received in the coming of the beloved Son of God in the flesh is a redemptive work; He came to seek and to save the lost, to save His people from their sins. All that the Father gave Him should come to Him.
Thus in the “beloved” history is redemptive in character. That we have this redemption in His blood means that we are not a just people, but a justified people; not a holy people, but a sanctified people; not a glorious people, but a glorified people. Sons, yes; but sons by adoption. Rich we are but because we have been made rich with heavenly grace in the Beloved.
This is placed emphatically on the foreground. And this riches of redemption we have in the Beloved. Therefore according to the RICHES of His grace. God sent His Own Son; Him He did not spare. Of this fact the believing church often sings in joyful confession. However, merely singing of it does not get give us a conception of its implication.
Just a few remarks, therefore, about the phrase “according to the riches of His grace”. It should be observed that “grace” in the very nature of its being “rich” is made the standard, the measuring rod of our redemption. Our redemption in the Beloved must exactly demonstrate the riches of grace. Of this phrase A. T. Robertson in his “Word Pictures In The New Testament” makes the following comment. “A thoroughly Pauline phrase, riches of kindness () riches of glory (; ), riches of fullness of understanding () riches of Christ () and in the surpassing riches of grace.”
Human language is not able to convey all that is contained in this riches. For this grace is at once “surpassing all knowledge”. Yet, we would call attention to the following in the phrase under consideration.
I repeat: words cannot adequately convey this riches. But I know that God’s people know what I’ve attempted to explain, for out of His fullness have we all received, yea, grace for grace!