See Part I here...

Paul, a commissioned messenger [apostle] of Christ Jesus, by the will of God to the consecrated [at Ephesus], those faithful in Christ Jesus.
     May grace and peace be coming to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. - Ephesians 1:1-2/transliteration by Bruce C Wearne

And that might then prompt us to ask further about what we are reading in Paul’s letters. Does it not include his own contribution to early Christian liturgy? The account of Acts 13:13-43 seems to be a record with an intimate knowledge of how Christian people understood their public worship. And so, what we have here is a paean intended for repeated celebratory song, and then later in this letter there is pastoral advice, admonitions concerning how the life of Christian people should be formed in that particular time and place.

At the same time the letter’s recipients are being taught that they are one with the peoiple of God in all times and at all places. It is important to understand that discipleship involves how marriages and families are formed and households are organised. The letters contain homilies, and parables about living the Christian life that can be learned by congregations as they together commit these passages to memory (Ephesians 6:10-17).

Here then is a rendition of the passage of the letter (from “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ...” unto "...this too is fully to the praise of His glory”] in the form of a liturgical paean: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the One having blessed us with every spiritual blessing from out of His heavenly store in Christ, since He has chosen us in Him even before the cosmos was founded, so that we would be whole and without imperfection before Him, having especially selected us in love for adoption to Himself as His own children [along] with Jesus Christ, because this was [always] His good intention of what He was desiring to do." (1:3-5)

Book of Ephesians

Opening words. PICTURE: Izabelle Acheson/Unsplash

The phrase “whole and without imperfection” is the same phrase used later in the letter when Paul describes a husband's duty to his wife (5:27). The metaphoric dimension thus moves from marriage to family with adoption into the household with full sibling rights. These have been ascribed by the Lord God to those He has redeemed by their association with His Son, His Chosen One. They are now the full members of His family as He has always intended.

“Before the cosmos was founded” - the word KATABOLEN is the same used of Sarah's faithful receipt of Abraham's seed (Hebrews 11:11), which then returns us to the metaphor of marriage.

This passage confirms that our praise of the Lord - and logical service (Romans 12:1-2) - is brought to life by the revelation of God that tells us that we are not only His image-bearers, but that, we are caught up as His children within His Fatherly embrace of His church, as the Bride of Christ, together with all of His people, fully members of His household. 

The stupendous message is this: because of our redemption, God in Christ has now restored His full creational purposes. This is what is now to come to expression in those who believe, who trust and obey.

Abram was stopped in his tracks by a blessing from the priestly King of Salem, Melchizedek, which had the effect of diverting him from a way of life that would have made the ownership of other image-bearers of the Lord God a central pillar of the resulting way of life (Genesis 14:17-24). Abram was turned away from such a consequence of having been on the victorious side in a battle. His oath, made before Heaven, was maintained. Later Aaron would formulate the Lord’s blessing with distinct priestly echoes of Melchizedek (Numbers 6:22-26). Then later, King David would, for his own time, update this Melchizedekian and Aaronic blessings for all of God’s people (Psalm 67). And more recently, from Paul’s standpoint, John the Baptist in the Jordan wilderness and Peter, James and John on the mountain, heard such a blessing in a word from Heaven as they got to know Jesus of Nazareth. This was God’s own son, His belovéd, the Person in Whom He is well pleased. 

And now, Paul, the recipient of this same blessing – and it was certainly not what he was expecting – has become the commissioned messenger of Christ Jesus. He presumes to add his formulation to this cumulative chorus. We would not limit this blessing to a liturgical context but it certainly does no violence to the text if we now read this as a song, a hymn, a Psalm, to be repeated regularly in Christian worship. 

Let us celebrate the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
And do so most heartily,
For He has so lavishly celebrated us with His spiritual blessings
From His store in Christ in the Heaven...
Since His choice of us in Him was made before the cosmos was founded, 
His goal that we would be whole and without imperfection before Him, 
A specially selected adoption in love to Himself 
As His own children along with Jesus Christ, 
Because this was always His good intention, what He was desiring to do,
Leaving us speechless praising His grace, 
Wherein we have been so favoured as His belovéd, 
Through whom we are freed from bondage, 
Through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, 
According to the abundance of His bequest freely given to us, 
Which He lavished upon us with all wisdom with clear-headed perspective,
In which, what was formerly the mystery of His purpose, 
Kept hidden according to His own good pleasure, 
Now made known to us,
His own intention to maintain His housekeeping for the fulness of time,
That He might completely gather together all things in Christ,
Things that come from heaven and things that come from earth. 
For it was also in Him that we were chosen to be His inheritance 
Set apart beforehand, from the outset,
According to the same intervention of the One working all things
According to the counsel of His own purposes,
That we, having now put our hope in Christ, 
Might thereby become the praise of His glory. 
In whom you, having heard the truthful word, 
The good news of your salvation, 
Were, in your believing, sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,
The invoiced guarantee of our inheritance 
Until the full emancipation of His possession, 
This too is also fully to the praise of His glory.