I am limiting myself in this post to the major trinitarian emphases in Ephesians 1. In Ephesians 1:3, we note how references to God, when Jesus is also referenced, point to God the Father. Verse 1 introduced a distinction between God and Jesus; it is God who willed Paul to be an apostle and is Christ Jesus who empowers the faithful lives of the saints. Verse 3 clarifies these persons by identifying God as “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Verse 4 grounds our salvation in the fact that the Father chose us in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world. Verse 5 identifies one of the means of our salvation, “he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ.”
Christians have rights as sons before the heavenly Father because we are joined by faith to the Son of the heavenly Father. This is according to the purpose of the Father’s will (v 5). Here we see the glorious distinction of persons in the Godhead and the glorious unity of the Godhead in saving us according to God’s nature. Created beings (us) relate to God on the basis of the Trinity’s roles in creation. We have rights as sons. The classic categories of the ontological Trinity and the economic Trinity are quite helpful. In this post we are considering how God relates to creation (economic Trinity), not who God is prior to and separate from creation (ontological Trinity).
The Father willed our redemption by accomplishing that redemption through his Son (v 7). The Father has blessed us with glorious grace by uniting us to his Beloved (v 6). The Father has brought us into his family through adoption; giving us the rights of his Son (v 5). The Father’s plan is for us to be holy; that we look like his Son (v 4). The Father blesses us with everything we enjoy as Christians because of our union with the Son (v 3).
The center and goal of the Father’s will is to bring everything back to a state of unity with and under the Son (v 10). How do we know we will be a part of this in blessing and joy instead of in cursing and shame? We have been given the Holy Spirit as the guarantee of our inheritance (v 14).
The Father is working his plan to redeem and unite all of his creation. That plan centers on the Son who redeems those who are joined to him in faith and justly punishes those who reject the true knowledge of God. The redeemed are currently marked by the presence of the Holy Spirit who seals and empowers them for holy living. Our status is one of sons due to our union with God the Son by faith. Our state is one of power and surety because we have been sealed with God the Spirit according to the Father’s will, predestination, and adoption. The Father, Son, and Spirit are three persons joined in mysterious unity. They, who are one God, are working to the praise of God’s glorious grace. Oh the depth!