In Him also, having heard the Word that is Truth, the good news of y’all’s salvation, and having believed in Him, y’all were sealed for redemption through which you become God’s property for praise of His glory by the Holy Spirit of promise Who is the down payment of our inheritance.
Ephesians 1:13-14, BKT*
So, my Greek class recently studied some verses from Ephesians 1. We had to translate them and annotate them, basically back up why we translated stuff the way we did. And in doing this some beautiful ideas in this passage really jumped out at me. Sometimes, knowing the Greek doesn’t exactly rock my world, but there are a lot of things in studying Greek that can make passages so much more rich. There are three things from this passage that I want to talk about.
1. Y’all were sealed for redemption. Redemption is a very powerful word, and I think a lot of times our eyes and hearts jump to it and feel it deeply, but when I was looking at the Greek, the word for sealed is the one that added another layer to the verse. The word is σφραγίζω (sphragizo), meaning “to mark with a seal as a means of identification.” I think this word adds a lot of depth to the verse. The definition says that we are marked, that something differentiates us as the ones who are to be redeemed. We are identified by this mark. I think this word smacks of predestination. Of course, I wouldn’t take this tiny nuance in itself to prove the whole of this idea, but in the context of the rest of the Bible, and especially in the context of the rest of Ephesians 1, I think it’s a valid thing to pick up on. We are marked, chosen, identified, as those who are to be redeemed. How comforting is this idea?
2 Redemption through which you become God’s property. This phrase is exactly how the Greek smarties who compiled a giant lexicon called the BDAG translated these words. I think this phrase is such an interesting and telling one. A lot of times we think of being redeemed as receiving freedom or being brought from slavery to sin into liberty. But this verse says that we are being redeemed in order to be owned. This brought my mind to the Exodus. In Exodus 7:16 (and about 15 other times in the book), God says, “Let my people go that they may serve me in the wilderness.” As I was reading through Exodus recently, I underlined this sentence just about every time I saw it. Free my people so they can serve Me, God is saying. This gets to the heart of the Exodus. So many people interpret the event as God’s hatred of unjust social practices or of His passion for liberty, all of which are things I believe God values highly, but what I believe God values more highly is His own glory. Because, first, God’s passion throughout the Bible is for His own name, and second, as I’ve said again and again before, He wants the best for us, and the best for us is to be a part of glorifying Him.
This idea is probably really unattractive to some people. They want freedom, liberation; they do not want to be owned, but Scripture chants to us: Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty! Thinking about this “owned-ness” that we are redeemed to, I also recalled another passage we translated in Greek class, some verses from John1. This verse says, “He came to His own things, and His own people did not receive Him.” BKT.* That “His own” is the Greek word ἰδοὺ, meaning “one’s own.” I think these two verses taken together paint such a beautiful picture of redemption. We were God’s own, but we rejected our owned-ness. We chose to depart from being owned into our own interpretations of liberty. But in response to our rejection, Christ died to redeem us to be owned again. We’ve been sealed, marked, and identified to be redeemed for refusing to be God’s own. We are redeemed into owned-ness!
3. The Holy Spirit Who is the down payment of our inheritance. The word down payment comes from the Greek word ἀρραβὼν which literally means, “payment of part of a purchase price in advance.” In one word, that’s a down payment. So let’s look closely at this phrase. The Holy Spirit is the down payment of our inheritance. The Holy Spirit is the down payment of our inheritance. Seriously? The Holy Spirit, the expression of God given to believers is just the down payment of our inheritance? I mean, down payments are just a part of a larger sum, and usually a really small part at that. But to think that the Holy Spirit is just a small percentage of the inheritance that we await blows my mind. Because that’s just a really good first taste.
If the Holy Spirit is just a small part of what I am to receive, I am so looking forward to the rest of that package. I think, too, that this echoes an idea that we see throughout Scripture and especially in Hebrews. Our inheritance is not something. It is not crowns in heaven, or a nice mansion next to Peter’s. Our inheritance is God Himself! If the down payment of our inheritance is the constant presence of God, then the entirety of our inheritance must be the fullness of Him! And that is excellent news. What we have to look forward to is both to know YHWH more fully as we walk with His Spirit here on earth, AND to know Him completely in heaven! We will no longer see dimly in a mirror, the veil shall be gone; we shall know our bridegroom in full! How wonderful and terrifying it will to be to receive the rest of our inheritance!