The Apostle Paul sometimes gets a bad rap for his grammar skillz, especially when he gets excited about something. Ephesians 1 happens to be one of those places.
Many remark on the fact that Ephesians 1:3-14 is a single run-on sentence in the original Greek. And the finest English translations do little to make the passage any easier for us. Paul piles on clause after clause after clause, traipsing his way through a maze of ideas, tying history and eternity up in knots, modifying, subordinating, and prepositioning his way to glory. “My high school English teacher would never let me get away with a sentence like that,” says one preacher. And eyewitnesses of Paul’s rhetoric have long been known to suggest that his letters have “some things in them that are hard to understand” (2 Pet 3:16).
But please let’s be fair. Sure, Paul is excited. Of course he goes too long between one inhale and the next. But he couldn’t have been any more clear about his sentence’s main idea.
Blessed be (the) God.
If we take a deep breath and condense the run-on sentence down to its essential components—subject and verb—we’ll have no trouble seeing what we should get out of it. Blessed be God.
The main verb of the entire sentence is the verb “be.” The subject of the verb is “God.” And since “be” is a verb of being (not a verb of action), it functions like an equals sign. It does no good without the other side of the equation. God = blessed. God is blessed. Or with more artistry, “Blessed be God.”
Paul’s main idea here is not what God does but who God is. God is a blessed God. Not like Artemis of the Ephesians, whose “greatness” drove her fan boys to bellow insanely for hours on end (Acts 19:34). The truly blessed God is not just any god; he is “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph 1:3). Blessed be this God.
Of course, this God is blessed because of what he does. The loping clauses that follow unravel the deep mysteries of this blessed God who lavishly blesses. Blessed be the God who has blessed us in Christ.
But please don’t lose focus. Paul’s main idea is not how blessed we are for knowing God. His driving point is not that we are so well off (though, of course, we are—if we believe). Paul’s main idea is that this God who blesses is himself blessed. He is worth knowing. He is worthy of adoration. He deserves to be spoken of highly. Blessed be God.
Paul’s syntax may be more convoluted than that found in a Supreme Court ruling, but the Apostle keeps our focus on his main idea with periodic reminders: “to the praise of his glorious grace…to the praise of his glory…to the praise of his glory.” Blessed be God.
If your Bible study starts sinking in a swamp of words, grab this rope and don’t let go: Observe the grammar. Blessed be God.