January 3, 2011 by Dwight Bernier
In my previous post, I said that this week, I am going to use Ephesians 1 as an example of how to read the Bible using four main questions –
- ‘Who is God in this passage?’
- ‘What has God done or will do?’
- ‘Who am I as a result of what God has done?’
- ‘What am I called to do in light of this?’.
I also gave two follow-up/reflection questions which then turn the emphasis back to Jesus and away from us again (because it’s so easy to try to make the Bible all about us!):
- Who am I without God in this passage?
- Could I do what this passage is calling me to do without Jesus?
So – answering these questions in light of the text of Ephesians 1 is what we’ll be doing for the rest of this week. I hope it you gives more direction as you spend time in the Word.
The first question I ask as I read Scripture is ‘Who does God say He is in this passage’? Since Scripture is the God-breathed Word, we know that God wants to convey to us who He is. Now, there could be a problem with this question if there is no explicit mention of God within the text. But that will be a discussion for later. And no, there is not a problem… you’ll have to wait for that one.
In asking this question first, we allow for God to tell us who He is before we pull a jacked-up eisegesis (reading into the text what we want) of the passage. It is so important to not have a 2-dimensional, cardboard cut-out view of God. We want to see all the dimensions and attributes of who God is directly from Him!
Before we look at Ephesians 1, I should mention that as we answer this question of who God is, there is not always a direct saying such as ‘God is love’. But there might be a saying ‘Loved by God’. In that instance, I note that God is “able to love” rather than placing a direct “to be” verb. In the case of love, we know from First John 4 that God is in fact love. But for the purpose we are aiming for, we only need to note the “able to be love” piece of it if it does not directly say that God is something.
I also want to mention that in order to answer these questions, one should read slowly through a passage. There is no need to rush through Scripture. Yes, there is a purpose in reading the Bible to get the larger context (such as reading through the Scriptures in a year), but there is also great worth found in mining through the Scriptures slowly and with the purpose of answering such questions as we are delving into.
So, in Ephesians 1, we see that God is (quite a long list):
- Father (vv. 2, 3, 17)
- Jesus Christ (vv. 2, 3, 15, 17)
- Blessed (v. 3)
- Able to bless (vv. 3, 6)
- Able to choose (vv. 4)
- Existent before the foundation of the world (v. 4)
- Over all time (v. 10)
- Holy (v. 4)
- Blameless (v. 4)
- Loving (v. 4)
- Able to make us love (v. 15)
- Able to predestine (vv. 5, 11)
- Desiring to adopt (vv. 5)
- Has a will (vv. 5, 11)
- Able to make known His will (v. 9)
- Gracious (vv. 6, 7)
- Able to redeem (v. 7)
- Able to forgive sin (v. 7)
- Able to give salvation (v. 13)
- All-wise (v. 8 )
- Able to give wisdom (v. 17)
- All-insightful (v. 8 )
- Has a plan (v. 10)
- Purposeful (v. 5, 9, 11)
- Able to give an inheritance (v. 11)
- Able to guarantee an inheritance (v. 14)
- Able to make known our inheritance (v. 18)
- In control (v. 11)
- Glorious (vv. 12, 14)
- Truth (v. 13)
- Keeper of promises (v. 13)
- Able to believe in (v. 13)
- The object of faith (v. 15)
- Able to give us faith (v. 15)
- Holy Spirit (vv. 13, 17)
- Able to keep & seal His people (v. 13)
- Able to give desire to pray for others (v. 16)
- Able to reveal Himself (vv. 17, 18)
- Able to give hope (v. 18)
- Immeasurable great in power (v. 19)
- Mighty (v. 19)
- Able to raise from the dead (v. 20)
- Above everything & every power (vv. 20-22)
- (Christ) is head over all things (v. 22)
- (Christ) is head of church (v. 22)
As you make this list of who God says He is in the passage, make sure you keep it nearby as you head through the passage again to see what God has done or will do (the second question). That will be the next post.
I chose a passage that was full of goodness to be able to illustrate the point clearly. Looking at this list should give you great hope of who God is – and should get you excited about seeing what this God has done, who we are because of Him, and what we’re called to do.
Next post: Answering the question ‘What God has done in the passage’.
Question: What else did you see in Ephesians 1?