Commentary on Ephesians, 1:7

Ephesians 1:7

in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace,”  LEB

Redemption means to be set free from sin and its penalty by the payment of a ransom (deliverance for a specified price), which is the blood that Christ shed for us on the cross. Through His death and resurrection, through the blood that He shed for us, we have forgiveness of our sins and eternal life.

This forgiveness is according to the “riches of his grace.” In verse 6 we have the “glory of his grace,” and here we have the “riches of his grace.” God’s grace is glorious and of great wealth. Our redemption, the forgiveness of our sins, is something that God does for us. There is nothing that we as sinners can do of ourselves to obtain our own freedom. We are prisoners of sin, locked away in an inescapable cell. The blood of Christ is the only key that fits that door.  The blood of Christ is the only key that provides our freedom.

However, this freedom is not automatic. While the blood of Christ unlocks the door of our prison cell, sinners have to agree to have that door opened for them. They have to accept that freedom. They must choose to walk out that door, and be willing to live in the Kingdom of Christ where He rules with supreme authority. We go from the prison of sin and death, and into the Kingdom of life and righteousness.

We go from the worst and darkest of prisons, to the most glorious Kingdom where we live in total freedom and spiritual blessing. We go from the harshest of prison wardens, to the most loving and protective of all Kings. Jesus is both Savior and King.

The Blood of Christ

I want to go into a little detail about the blood of Christ, and why it’s so important in our salvation. The following is my understanding of it:

It was necessary that the blood of Christ be shed, because:

“apart from the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”  LEB  (He 9:22)

The Old Testament blood sacrifices were a picture of the sacrifice that Jesus would make for us. Those animal sacrifices looked ahead to the time when Jesus, “The Lamb of God” (Jn 1:29), would shed His own blood on our behalf. In the Old Testament, those sacrifices had to be offered continually for the sins of the people, but not so with Jesus. He offered Himself once to bear the sins of the whole world. And now through the blood that He shed for us, we have forgiveness of our sins:

who does not {need every day} like the former high priests to offer up sacrifices for his own sins [and] then for the [sins] of the people, because he did this once for all [when he] offered up himself.”  LEB  (He 7:27)

how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to serve [the] living God?”  LEB  (He 9:14)

[because you] know that you were redeemed from your futile way of life inherited from your ancestors not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like [that of] an unblemished and spotless lamb.”  LEB  (1 Pet 1:18,19)

Why is the shedding of blood necessary?

The Bible tells us that the flesh’s life [is] in the blood.”  LEB  (Lev 17:11)

Without blood, our bodies cannot live. Blood carries oxygen and other nutrients to the body’s organs and tissues. Therefore, blood is symbolic of life. Under Old Testament Law, the life of an unblemished animal was required as a substitute for the people’s sins, for death is the penalty for sin. The shed blood represented the death of the animal sacrifice. It demonstrated that one life had been substituted for another. It symbolized the death of the substitute, but life for the sinner.

These Old Testament sacrifices were symbolic of the sacrifice Jesus made for us as the “Lamb of God.” As with the unblemished animal (a symbol of sinlessness), Jesus, who was without sin (“without blemish”), shed His blood for us. His shed blood demonstrated that His life had been substituted for the people of the world. It symbolized the death of the Substitute, but life for the sinner.

Blood also cleanses our bodies by removing waste product. Likewise, the blood of Christ has the power to cleanse us from all sin:

“and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”  LEB  (1 Jn 1:7)

Unlimited Atonement

Those Old Testament sacrifices clearly portray unlimited atonement. The children of Israel were Israelites by birth. That is, they were of that Nation by birth. They were all children of Jacob (Israel). Each of them belonged to one of the twelve tribes.

However, just being a part of ethnic Israel didn’t ensure their salvation. Only those who were of the faith of Abraham were provided forgiveness of their sins and eternal life (Gal 3:7). Same as it is today.

The Old Testament animal sacrifices were for the atonement of all the people. For sure, it had to be done in faith by all those who participated (He 3:15-19; He 4:1-3), as it is today. But the point is, those bloody animal sacrifices for atonement was to be practiced by all. The remedy and the offer of forgiveness was available to everyone (Read Lev 4-9, and 16).

Old Testament Israel is a picture of the world, and a picture of unlimited atonement. Not all Israelites were true children of Abraham, but only those who were of the faith of Abraham. However, the provision of atonement, and the offer of forgiveness was available to everyone.

Note 1: The animal sacrifices could not take away sins themselves, but only as it looked forward to, and has its fulfillment in Christ (He 10:4-14).

Note 2:  The Old Testament sacrifices is a complicated subject, and it’s not the purpose of this post to go into any lengthy discussion about it, especially as it relates to intentional vs. unintentional sins, what was atoned for and what was not. The point I’m making here is that the children of Israel were all in the same boat. All were subject to the same things, and had the same opportunities. Whatever limits there were under the sacrificial system, all were subject to it. Whatever atonement was available for one, was available for all.