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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3)

Paul talks about God blessing us in the "heavenly realms". What does that mean and why are we being blessed there instead of where we are?

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There are many translations that do not use the term "blessed us in the the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing on Christ. I am no scholar of Greek or Hebrew, but clearly experts disagree on the translation. So I wouldn't dwell too long on what "heavenly realms" means. Here are some versions:

  • Ephesians 1:3 (ASV) Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly [places] in Christ:

  • Ephesians 1:3 (BBE) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has given us every blessing of the Spirit in the heavens in Christ:

  • Ephesians 1:3 (CEB) Bless the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! He has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing that comes from heaven.

  • Ephesians 1:3 (ESV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,

  • Ephesians 1:3 (GNT) Let us give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! For in our union with Christ he has blessed us by giving us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly world.

  • Ephesians 1:3 (GW) Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Through Christ, God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing that heaven has to offer.

  • Ephesians 1:3 (KJV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

  • Ephesians 1:3 (TYN) Blessed be God the father of oure lorde Iesus Christ which hath blessed vs with all maner of spirituall blessinges in hevely thynges by Chryst

  • Ephesians 1:3 (MSG) How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He's the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him.

I hope some of these are more accessible to your understanding.

I will also offer that Jesus was quoted as saying that the kingdom of heaven is within [us], so a "heavenly place" might not necessarily be "in heaven".

Source: http://www.biblestudytools.com/compare-translations/passage/?q=eph+1:3

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Sometimes, understanding the writings of Paul are hard, because unlike the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John; Paul was only privileged to see Jesus in his Spiritual form and not his physical form.

It is also unlikely that Luke met Jesus in his physical form, but Luke wrote his Gospel and Acts after spending much time with those who had, and especially the mother of Christ herself.

Paul on the other hand was only acquainted with the Holy Spirit, which Jesus promised:

John 14:26 NKJV But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

Paul's writings are similar to our writings today in that we concentrate on the Spiritual aspects and are unencumbered by the Physical aspects of a living material Jesus.

Therefore; we must accept that Paul would only be able to see Jesus and all aspects of Christianity from a Spiritual point of view.

The Heavenly realm as he saw it was purely Spiritual, and all things were to him: as they are to most Christians I know regardless of Denomination: based on future rewards, and the only thing the present has to do with it, lies in the fact that Salvation is a now thing. All else is future reward, and so to Paul (and so is my concept of Heaven) totally Spiritual and begins at salvation, and continues without end; even though all things material will end.

Revelation 21:1 NKJV Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.

This my Southern Baptist point of view, and my understanding of things as seen through that concept. Others may agree or disagree.

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The word translated as "heavenly realms" in the NIV is a single word in the Greek - an adjectival noun ἐπουράνιος (epouranios). A more literal translation of the passage might be:

Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the [One] Who blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ.

The Lord told Nicodemus that that which is born of flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit (John 3:5). This relates to the meaning of this passage. The Byzantine (Greek) commentator Theophylact explains:

As if to explain how our blessing is spiritual, he adds the words "in heavenly places" [ἐπουρανίοις]. For the blessing of the Jews pertained to the earth and was, therefore, material: You shall eat the good (things) of the land (Isaiah 1:19), and a land flowing with milk and honey (Deuteronomy 27:3), and He will bless ... the fruit of thy land (Deuteronomy 7:13). Here, in the grace of the Gospel and in the blessing of Christians, there is nothing earthly - everything is heavenly. Therefore our blessing is a spiritual one. For the kingdom of heaven has been given to the poor, and a great reward in heaven awaits those who have been persecuted.

The Explanation of the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Ephesians

The other-worldliness of Christians that Paul alludes to seems to have become a bit diluted in the modern age, but there are testimonies to it in early Church writings. The writer of the 1st (or 2nd) century Epistle to Diognetus notes, for example:

For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity. The course of conduct which they follow has not been devised by any speculation or deliberation of inquisitive men; nor do they, like some, proclaim themselves the advocates of any merely human doctrines. But, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking18 method of life. They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life. They are poor, yet make many rich;24 they are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; they are dishonoured, and yet in their very dishonour are glorified.

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