Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 1:3)

English has a bit of a problem with the word “blessed.” It was used in the Bible to translate two thoughts – (a) to speak a good word about someone and (b) to be happy. In the Hebrew of the Old Testament and in the Greek of the New two different words were used to describe these two separate thoughts. But in English we still mainly stick to the one word “blessed” to describe both, and it leads to some confusion in our thinking.

In the text above is a case in point, and if we do not understand what type of “blessing” is being described we can miss a powerful statement from God’s word about our salvation. The words translated “blessed” and “blessing” in the text above are actually three related words all conveying this idea of speaking a good word about someone. The words in Greek are related to eulogia (noun) and eulogeo (verb) and eulogetos (adjective). They combine the prefix eu, meaning “good,” and the root logia or logeo which means to speak.

What would this scripture mean if we translate it literally, and avoided using the word “blessed”? It would be something like this: “The renowned God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, He has spoken a good word about us in Christ with every spiritually good promise in the heavenly realms.” Paul was making a very clear point, as the Spirit inspired him, about the security of our salvation. The blessings that God directs toward us in Christ Jesus – forgiveness of sin, adoption in his family, becoming new creations in Christ – were first announced in the heavenly realms.

This thought colours the rest of the epistle, as he goes on to explain our redemption, God’s grace, the sealing reality of the Spirit, the filling of the Spirit, and even our spiritual battle. The image it paints is that God, before the word was created, spoke a good word about us in heaven. He testified before the angelic hosts that He would redeem us and save us and cleanse us and adopt us.

What a powerful thought! Do you have doubts of God’s good intentions toward you? Take this verse to heart, that before the world was created God announced not only His love for you but His good intentions toward you. As a believer in Christ you are in a privileged position. God has been bragging about what He will do in your life since before the world began. “Faithful is he who called you, and he will do it” (1 Thes. 5:25).

By the way, the other words in Greek and in Hebrew are found in the Beatitudes and in Psalm 1. Makarios is the Greek word and it means “to be happy” and this used in Matthew 5, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” meaning that these eight attitudes that Christ described result in happiness in the heart of those who do them gladly. Esher  is the Hebrew word used in Psalm 1 and means the same thing. In Psalm 1:1 we read “Blessed is the man who…” and that word is esher, meaning the man who does the will of God will be a happy man.

And the Hebrew word for “to speak a good word about” is barak, (as in Barak Obama) and this is the idea behind the phrase “bless the Lord, O my soul” (Psalm 103:1), or “Say a good word about the Lord, O my soul!” And with both of these concepts being translated by the English word “bless” it can get a bit confusing. Which is why more modern translation are choosing different words, such as “happy” and “praise” but neither seems to be able to completely convey in all situations the idea of the original. So I suppose we are stuck with this reality in English for a few more hundred years, if the Lord delays His return.

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