Ephesians Series: Ephesians 1:7a-The Reason Why the Church Age Believer is Experiencing Redemption
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Ephesians 1:3 The God, namely the Father of the Lord ruling over us, who is Jesus Christ, is worthy of praise. Namely, because He is the one who has blessed each and every one of us by means of each and every kind of Spirit appropriated blessing in the heavenlies in Christ. 4 For He chose each and every one of us for His own purpose because of Him alone before creation in order that each and every one of us would be holy as well as uncensurable in His judgment. 5 He did this by predestinating each and every one of us for the purpose of adoption as sons because of His love through Jesus Christ for Himself according to the pleasure of His will. 6 This was for the purpose of praising His glorious grace, which He freely bestowed on each and every one of us because of the one who is divinely loved. 7 Because of whom, each one of us are experiencing that which is the redemption through His blood, namely the forgiveness of our transgressions according to His infinite grace. (Lecturer’s translation)
Now, we come to Ephesians 1:7, which is a declarative statement which asserts that because of the Son, Paul and each one of the recipients of the Ephesian epistle were experiencing that which is the redemption through the blood of the Son.
This redemption is defined as the forgiveness of their sins according to the Father’s infinite grace.
This verse marks a transition in the preface of letter, which appears in Ephesians 1:3-14 and is a doxology.
Specifically, this verse marks a transition from Ephesians 1:3-6 to Ephesians 1:7-12.
The former discusses the work of the Father in eternity past on behalf of the church age believer in electing and predestinating them and presents reasons why the Father is worthy of praise from the church age believer.
The latter discusses the work of the Son in time at the cross on behalf of the church age believer and presents reasons why He is worthy of praise.
The relative pronoun hos (ὅς), “whom” refers of course to the Lord Jesus Christ and it functions as the object of the preposition en (ἐν).
Now, some have interpreted this preposition enas a marker of personal agency.
However, when this preposition plus the dative expresses the idea of means the instrument is used by an agent.
When agency is indicated, the agent so named is not used by another but rather is the one who uses an instrument.
Therefore, this preposition plus the dative to express means can be used of persons, though they are conceived of as impersonal or in other words, used as an instrument by someone else.
If the preposition en is used to express agency, the noun in the dative must not only be personal but also must be the agent who performs the action.
Thus the dative of agency can only be said of enplus the dative to express agent and is very rare in the New Testament.
Some also interpret the preposition en as a marker of location indicating that the church age believer possesses redemption and the forgiveness of sins, which is “located in” the person of Jesus Christ.
However, Jesus Christ is of course a person and not a place.
I believe that the preposition en functions as a marker of cause.
This would mean that the word’s object, i.e. the relative pronoun hos, “whom” indicates the cause or the basis of the action of the verb echō (ἒχω), “we have” whose direct object is the articular accusative feminine singular form of the noun apolutrōsis (ἀπολύτρωσις), “redemption.”
This prepositional phrase en hō (ἐν ᾧ) contains the figure of metonymy which means that the Son is put for the church age believer’s faith in Him at their justification as well as their resultant union and identification with Him in His crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection and session at the Father’s right hand.
Therefore, this would indicate that “because of” the church age believer’s faith in the Son at their justification as well as their resultant union and identification with Him, they are experiencing redemption through the blood of Christ, namely, the forgiveness of their trespasses according to the Father’s infinite grace.
Therefore, this interpretation would mean that the church age believer’s faith in the Son at their justification as well as their resultant union and identification with Him is the reason why they are experiencing the forgiveness of their trespasses.
Interestingly the statement en hō echomen tēn apolytrōsin (ἐν ᾧ ἔχομεν τὴν ἀπολύτρωσιν), “in whom we have redemption” which appears in Ephesians 1:7, also appears in Colossians 1:14.
Colossians 1:14 In union with whom, we, as an eternal spiritual truth, are experiencing the redemption, specifically the forgiveness of our sins. (Lecturer’s translation)
However, Ephesians 1:7 has the prepositional phrase dia tou haimatos autou (διὰ τοῦ αἵματος αὐτοῦ), “through His blood” following it whereas in Colossians 1:14, this does not occur.
The noun apolutrōsis, “redemption” appears ten times in the Greek New Testament where its usage can be divided into three categories: (1) Soteriological: The study of salvation. (2) Eschatological: The study of future things. (3) Release of a prisoner.
The soteriological usage of the word appears in Romans 3:24, 1 Corinthians 1:30, Ephesians 1:7, Colossians 1:14, and Hebrews 9:15.
In each instance, the word refers to the Lord Jesus Christ “purchasing” the entire human race out of the slave market of sin by means of His voluntary, substitutionary spiritual and physical deaths on the cross.
Romans 3:24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. (NASB95)
1 Corinthians 1:30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption. (NASB95)
Colossians 1:14 In union with whom, we, as an eternal spiritual truth, are experiencing the redemption, specifically the forgiveness of our sins. (Author’s translation)
Ephesians 1:13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. (NASB95)
Hebrews 9:13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. (NASB95)
A comparison of the soteriological and eschatological use of the noun apolutrōsis reveals that redemption of the soul in salvation leads to redemption of the body in resurrection (Eph. 1:14).
Redemption of the body is the ultimate status of the royal family of God forever (Rom. 8:23; Eph. 4:30).
So here in Ephesians 1:7, we have the soteriological use of the noun apolutrōsis(ἀπολύτρωσις) referring to the Christian experiencing having been purchased out of the slave market of sin by the Lord Jesus Christ’s spiritual and physical deaths on the cross as their substitute.
Experiencing this redemption was the result of being declared justified by the Father through faith in His one and only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ and their resultant union and identification with Him.
Redemption is one of the three major doctrines of soteriology with the other two being reconciliation and the other being propitiation.
The former is manward and the latter is Godward.
Redemption refers to that aspect of Christ’s finished work on the Cross-that “purchased” all of humanity out of the slave market of sin.
It is appropriated through the non-meritorious decision to believe in Jesus Christ for salvation.
The doctrine of redemption refers to the fact that Jesus Christ’s spiritual and physical deaths on the cross were a substitutionary ransom for the benefit of each and every member of the human race.
These unique substitutionary deaths redeemed the entire human race out from the slave market of sin in which each and every member of the human race was born physically alive but spiritually dead.
The sinner appropriates this redemption by making the non-meritorious decision to trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior.