Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. (Ephesians 1:3-6)
To answer this question, I’d like to examine its context by reviewing the entire passage, piece by piece.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
This is first usage of the word blessed or some form of it in this verse. It appears three times. In this instance, blessed means to give praise. God the Father of Jesus Christ is the subject of our praise. Furthermore, God’s worthiness of our praise is predicated by the reasons given by Paul in the remaining passage.
Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ
The first blessed here refers to gifts or favor given by God the Father. We learn who receives God’s favor later in the text. As for now, we see the recipients are awarded spiritual blessings which include all spiritual gifts–or gifts of the Spirit. For instance, Galatians 5:22-23 gives us a list of various fruits of the Spirit.
The fact that these are blessings in heavenly places at least implies this gift includes heaven itself (i.e. eternal life). We also find these blessings are in Christ whom now sits at the right hand of God in heavenly places (Ephesians 1:20).
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world
We now get a clearer picture of those individuals who receive these spiritual blessings. They are the very ones chosen by God before the world itself was even created. Before creation and before man sinned, God had chosen a people to grant eternal life.
That we should be holy and without blame before him in love
This is God’s purpose for those he elected. The word should here is not synonymous with the phrase “ought to” as if to say God merely hopes we’ll be holy and without blame. We were not holy and we were full of blame which is why Christ came to save. The word should means “will” just as it’s used in John 9:3. We will be holy and without blame.
Having predestinated us
The plan of redemption–making us holy and without blame–began with God’s election. Next, we learn God also predestinated us which is simply understood to mean he has predetermined our final destiny or destination (i.e. heavenly places).
Unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself
According to Romans 5:12, we are sinners because our granddaddy Adam was a sinner. His sin and the consequence of that sin is passed from generation to generation. By choosing and predestinating a people, God has adopted them out of the fallen family of Adam into his own blessed family. Of course, it was Christ who satisfied the legal requirements of this adoption (Romans 5:15).
According to the good pleasure of his will
This is the most contested and debated part of this passage. Here we are told the basis of God’s election. The entire plan of redemption comes down to nothing more or less than the good pleasure of God’s will. He did not choose based on foreknowledge of our works or even our will–which might include anything from desire to belief (Romans 9:11-16). It was by his sovereign will.
To the praise of the glory of his grace
Paul brings the lesson full circle as he again shows us the doctrines of election, predestination, adoption, justification, and God’s sovereignty are all significant motivators for us to give God the praise. His grace is worthy of it.
Wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved
This last part summarizes all that was written before it. Thanks to God and his loving grace, we have been made accepted in his heaven-bound family. For every believer, it is a comfort to know we remain secure in the Father’s hand (John 10:27-29).
Thanks for the Bible question. Keep them coming!