Paul has followed the traditional letter writing style of his day by naming himself as the author of this letter, by naming the Ephesian believers as the recipients, and by giving a typical greeting. This is not the time and place to discuss or determine if this letter was intended solely for the Ephesians, if it was addressed originally to the Laodiceans, or if it was a cyclical letter for all the churches in the Lycus Valley.
Normally after a greeting, Paul would give a message of thanksgiving for the recipients of his letters. In this letter he waits until verses 15-23 to do so. In verses 3-14 Paul writes a "hymn" of praise for what God has done for those who are truly believers.
Verses 3-14 is actually one long sentence in the Greek language. This long sentence contains 202 words. Edward Norden summarized this sentence as "the most monstrous sentence conglomeration (cannot even correctly call it a sentence) that I have ever found in the Greek language." Some scholars think that this was an early church hymn that Paul copied into his letter. It is thought that it might be a baptismal or even initiation hymn. I don't think so. I think Paul was caught up in the moment and offered Spirit inspired praise to God from his heart. Hoehner said, "The abundance of words does not denote verbosity, but instead it is an attempt to use a multiplicity of words to praise God for his supernatural plan and acts that are almost beyond description."
Paul begins this lengthy sentence of praise by proclaiming that God is "blessed." The Greek Word ευλογητος ( yoo-log-ay-tos’) is a verbal adjective. It is used 87 times in the Septuigant (Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament) and is translated as "blessed." The idea behind this word "blessed" is that someone is deserving appreciation, honor, and/or praise. Throughout the Old Testament God is blessed or praised because of His benefits to mankind. Those benefits range from provision of man's needs, His response to prayer, or his specific care of his creatures. In the Old Testament, the "blessing or praising" of God is sometimes used for His character alone, it mostly is tied to something that God has done for his children.
The idea of blessing or praising God is not that some wish is being expressed but an act of declaration is taking place. It is not I hope God is or will be blessed by such and such, but "blessed or praised" be God! "Praise" to God was a vital staple in the life of the Jews particularly in their prayer life.
In the New Testament, ευλογητος (yoo-log-ay-tos’) is used 8 times. It is never used of people and only of God. This word comes from a root word which means to speak well of and this leads us to the idea of "praise." Yes, we also get our word "eulogy" from this word. It is our custom at memorials or funerals to speak a "eulogy" or to speak well of the deceased.
God is praiseworthy. God is the one who deserves praise. Why? Because God continually benefits His people. God is certainly worthy to be praised of and for His glorious character alone, but as in the Old Testament, we praise God because He is a good God to His children.
(These are not rhetorical questions - go ahead list some things that God is worthy and deserving of being praised for)
What three character traits of God can you praise Him for?
What three benefits to you from God can you praise Him for?
Tuesday: "Priceless Pearls" - Stories of Christian Truths
- Daily Devotions for Disciples
Follow along on Tuesdays as we offer filling and fruitful devotional commentary on various Scriptures.