The opening sentence of Ephesians has been analyzed systematically by many. This work is profitable, good, and necessary for the church and fulfills the duties of the office of the minister. But, Paul did not deliver the topic of union to us in Ephesians 1:3-14 is a systematic fashion.
As is commonly noted in this opening section of Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians, 1:3-14 is a single unbroken sentence in Greek. Given the complexity of this Greek sentence and the aversion to such highly wrought structure, most English translations smooth this out into several shorter sentences. While this is an aid to comprehension for English readers, this expedient can bury the main point of the apostle. This happens through dividing the sentence into several smaller parts. What inevitably happens in this process is the loss of unity within the original sentence as written by Paul. The unity of a sentence attaches to the main point of the sentence. Paul’s main point in this opening sentence of Ephesians 1:3-14 is union with Christ.
But, he does not treat union with Christ in a systematic fashion. The work of systematic theology is to digest the truths of Scripture into a coherent whole. The systematic theologian takes the doctrines of the faith and breaks them down into their essential elements so as to better understand them and to logically connect them with other doctrines. This is not an imposition upon the Scriptures, but an exploration of the underlying logical and systematic unity that the Scriptures already possess. God is One, and His Word is single.
The opening sentence of Ephesians has been analyzed systematically by many. This work is profitable, good, and necessary for the church and fulfills the duties of the office of the minister. But, Paul did not deliver the topic of union to us in Ephesians 1:3-14 is a systematic fashion. He writes this opening sentence, with the main theme of union with Christ, in an experiential fashion.
Experiential is an older term that refers to the personal experience of the power of truth in the soul. If saving faith is made up of three parts, knowledge, assent, and trust; experiential theology corresponds to the third, trust. It is by the action of saving trust in the truth of the Gospel that has been made known to us that we experience the power of union with Christ.
Paul presents the topic of union with Christ in this manner as indicated by the relative clause in verse 3, “…who has blessed us.” This phrase indicates that Paul is treating the topic of union from the perspective of the blessing that it is to “us.”