By Charles H. Welch
The character of a dispensation may be gathered by considering its sphere, whether earth, heaven, or far above all, the company blessed, whether a nation, a kingdom or a church, and the character of a dispensation can also be estimated by the kind of blessings that belong to it. We can assess fairly accurately the calling of Israel as we read Deuteronomy 28.
There is not the slightest warrant today that a Christian farmer can claim these blessings. It would be impossible and undispensational to attempt to gauge the spiritual stature of a Christian farmer or business man to-day by the number of his cattle, or by the stock he carries in his store. Indeed the reverse might well be the true gauge, that as a man’s spiritual life developed, so there would be every possibility that his bank balance would decrease. The word translated blessing in the New Testament is the Greek eulogia, a word that means primarily ‘to eulogize or to speak well’ of anyone. Although the number of occurrences exceeds our limit (ten) by but one, we will provide a concordance to all these references.
Eulogia occurs in all, eighteen times, translated blessing, bounty, bountifully and fair speeches. The concordance given is limited to the translation ‘blessing’.
The two references that stand out from this list, and reveal themselves as markers of dispensational import are Galatians 3:14 and Ephesians 1:3. Under Galatians 3:14 it is clear that the gospel blessings enjoyed during the Acts, were not associated with any mystery that had never before been revealed, but were traceable back to the promise of God made to Abraham. This is true of the great foundation doctrine of justification by faith. When we turn however to Ephesians 1:3, we are presented with an entirely different and new state of things. While we would not suggest that the word ‘blessing’ should not be used by us to-day when speaking of the glorious doctrine of salvation, or the wondrous providence of God, it is nevertheless true to say that the word is used with some restriction in the New Testament. Twice of the gospel, once in connection with the Lord’s supper, and once to describe the blessings that belong to the high calling of the Mystery.
All spiritual blessings. As the passage stands in the A.V. the word blessing is in the plural, but in the original it is in the singular. ‘In (or with) every blessing (that is) spiritual’. The word translated ‘all’ is pas, and when it is used of one it means ‘the whole’, ‘entire’ or ‘all the ...’ but if pas be used to cover several items, it means ‘every’. Thus pasa polis means ‘every city’, pasa he polis or he pasa polis ‘the whole city’, while he polis pasa would have a slightly different meaning, either ‘the city, all of it’ or ‘the city, every part’. The Church of the Mystery is ‘blessed with every blessing that is spiritual’. If the total number of the blessings with which the Church is blessed were say four or forty - they could still be defined as ‘all spiritual’ whereas the mind reels in its endeavour to grasp the fact that there is no blessing that is spiritual, that is omitted from this gift of grace. We shall never in this life appreciate or realize a tithe of what is here so freely bestowed. The word ‘spiritual’ is the Greek word pneumatikos derived from pneuma ‘spirit’, which in its turn derives from the root which means ‘breath’, and so is allied with the Hebrew conception as expressed in the word ruach. Pneumatikos occurs three times in Ephesians.
Without the balance that these occurrences provide, we might be tempted to equate the word ‘spiritual’ with all that is good, but this is rendered impossible by Ephesians 6:12. We cannot speak of ‘good wickednesses’. We look therefore in the context for the antonym, and find it in the words ‘flesh and blood’. It is evident therefore in this passage at least, that the term ‘spiritual’ is used in opposition to the term ‘corporeal’, and this is what we find elsewhere. ‘For we know that the law is spiritual (pneumatikos): but I am carnal (sarkinos)’ (Rom. 7:14). ‘For if the.65 Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things’ (Rom. 15:27). ‘The natural man (psuchikos) ... but he that is spiritual (pneumatikos)’ (1 Cor. 2:14,15). ‘It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body’ (1 Cor. 15:44). It is evident from this usage that ‘spiritual blessings’ are supernatural blessings, far above such things as ‘basket and store’. Blessings for our pilgrimage are comparable with the guarantee to Israel while journeying to Canaan, that the manna should not fail them nor should their shoes wax old, but these pilgrim mercies are not included in ‘every blessing that is spiritual’, that is to confound the manna of the wilderness, with the old corn of the land (Josh. 5:11,12).
A confirmation of this peculiar nature of ‘every spiritual blessing’ is found in the added clause ‘in heavenly places’. This is the sphere in which they are bestowed and to be enjoyed. In an orderly exposition we should now proceed to expound what these words mean, and should also be obliged to go on and consider the bearing of Ephesians 1:4, ‘before the foundation of the world’ has upon that unique character. These considerations, however, in this Analysis must be deferred and dealt with in their place, and the reader will find them dealt with under the heading HEAVENLY PLACES and FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD. Suffice it for the moment to conclude that the blessings of Ephesians 1:3 are unique both in their character, spiritual, their sphere, in heavenly places, and their inception, before the foundation of the world.