13 After listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, having also believed, you were sealed in (Christ) with the Holy Spirit of the promise, 14 who is a first instalment of our inheritance with respect to the redemption of the acquired possession, to the praise of His glory (Eph1:13-14)
Peter had affirmed in his first epistle that the Church is “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession” (1Pet2:9)”. Paul is saying much the same here: God is in the process of establishing a people for Himself. These are those who having had the opportunity to hear the gospel, believe and act upon it and are accordingly sealed with the Holy Spirit (v13). Yet mysteriously the language that follows (v14) pertains more to a business agreement than a theological statement! The Holy Spirit is described as a “deposit” or first instalment “with respect to the redemption (or full ransom payment) for the acquired possession”. As to what the final instalment might be, Paul referred to it earlier when he wrote about human suffering, at the same time strongly hinting that God’s benign providential purposes are far broader: “The creation itself is to be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. All creation is currently suffering the pains of childbirth; and not only they but we who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we groan within ourselves waiting eagerly for our adoption as God’s children, being. the redemption of our body (Rom8:21-23). As I have been outlining, the source of man’s problem with sin is not the God-given soul but the temporary procreated intellectual vessel it inhabits (cf. Rom7:24). Only when that has been replaced by a heavenly body shall our salvation have achieved its apotheosis.
The mysterious transactional nature of Paul’s language in Ephesians and elsewhere pertains to the Fall and Satan’s role in it. A related mystery is the fact that Satan was seemingly rewarded for his treachery by being given authority over the kingdoms of the earth (Lk4:6). And just as Christ gained a people for Himself (Jn17:6), Satan was granted facility to harvest human souls, a mystery we have been considering in recent posts (cf. Mt15:13; 1Jn3:12; cf. Gen3:15). It should be obvious such arrangements could only be at God’s behest (cf. Rom8:20-21). They relate to the fact that the purpose of gospel salvation and God’s plans for broader humanity is not to restore humanity to Edenic innocence but to raise it to divinity. Indeed, Christians, being those whom James describes as the first fruits of God’s creation (1:18) already partake of the divine nature and are to be adopted into the bosom of God’s family as corporate Bride to His Son. This in turn relates to the fact that Satan’s treacherous behaviour and impious rule resulted in the need for God’s Word to be incarnated, suffer, die and be resurrected. Both players (Christ and Satan) have a vital part in this extraordinary plan which was motivated by God’s love and gracious intentions towards humanity. For human beings had been created “a little lower than the angels” but following the Word’s incarnation as a Man, that shall no longer be the case.
Evidence for this hierarchical re-ordering is provided in Heb2:7-9 whilst a clue to the rationale behind it is the succeeding verse (10): “It was appropriate for Him for Whom are all things and through Whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory to perfect the Originator of their salvation through sufferings”. Those who can grasp the implications of what the writer to the Hebrews is intimating here regarding suffering in the context of the Fall and Gospel are close to apprehending the final mystery of God, the ultimate theodicy (cf. Rev10vv4&7). Thanks to a personal revelation from the Holy Spirit, further insights have been provided in “The Little Book of Providence”. It is a seven-part biblical synopsis that, as should be evident from this series of posts, involves a radical reworking of much traditional Western theology. If you have followed through the (Enoch) links in the previous post, you will see why I believe such an interpretive amelioration to be itself a fulfilment of prophecy.
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