You are reading along in Ephesians chapter one and are being very uplifted by what you have been given in Christ: "all spiritual blessings...", "he chose us"..., "holy and without blame (I sure need that!)"..., "adoption of children (hey! I'm God's child and no one can take it away!). And then you come to verse six, "to the praise of the glory of his grace". Wow! What's that? It definitely is grace that you have all these things, but what does this mean: "to the praise of the glory"? In this paper, I would like to share with you from both the Greek and Aramaic about the three times in chapter one it says, "to the praise of his glory." The reason I want to share from both languages is that each language contributes to the overall understanding. And the context then supplies the emphasis of each phrase.
There are three key words in Greek in verse six in the phrase "to the praise of the glory of his grace". These are epainos, doxa, and charis. Epainos is commendation or praise and it is only used of man to God. The idea is that the one being praised is worthy of special recognition. God the Father (verse 3) blessed us with all spiritual blessings...He gave all these wonderful things to us. That is worthy of special recognition by us back up to Him. He chose us so that we could be holy and without spot or blame. That blessing deserves recognition. What does it recognize? It is praise or recognition for the "glory of his grace". Glory is doxa, which is the reflective representation of something, showing power, splendor, or honor. Grace is charis, an unmerited gift or divine favor. Both of these words are full of weight and significance. But the most important thing to note is the emphasis of the phrase. It is a figure of speech where the genitive of possession (grace's) is put as a prepositional phrase (of his grace). What that emphasizes is the word grace. It could be translated his glorious grace, but saying it with this figure makes it mean, glory of his GRACE. Thus, what is being commended or praised is God's grace. His divine favor is totally worthy of recognition of the highest amount of praise.
Now I want to tell you a little about Greek culture. When a man who owned slaves died and in his will, gave the slaves their freedom, they would put on a cap of liberty to show that they were now free. At the funeral and afterward, they would parade in the town and streets telling all that their master was so great - he had set them free. That custom is described as being "to the praise of his glory". In other words, they were showing the greatness and splendor of the master because he had set them free. In the first eight verses of Ephesians one there are no less than ten things that God has done for us. He certainly has set us free, so we can be to the praise of his glory. We are recognizing the greatness and splendor of our God, because of what He has given us in Christ!
In Aramaic, there are three different phrases using separate words for the three uses of "to the praise of his glory" in Ephesians one. Let us look at them one at a time. Usually in the comparison of the two languages, there are matching words with some variation, but one can say this Aramaic word lines up with epainos, this one with doxa, etc. In this case, the Aramaic has very specific words in specific order. So this is a puzzle to know why they are different. That is what we will see and it will add to our current understanding.
Ephesians 1:6 (Aramaic translation):
that the glory of his grace might be glorified, which he has poured forth upon us by the hand of his beloved [one],
As you can see, "made us accepted" in the KJV is not there, but instead there is a beautiful picture of grace being poured out upon us. "The glory of his grace may be glorified" is another figure of speech, polyptoton, where there is the same root used in different forms, in this case, first the noun and then the verb. You could also say, "the magnitude of his grace may be magnified" or "greatness of his grace may be aggrandized". This Aramaic word for glory is the simple word and lines up most of the time with doxa. This confirms what we have seen before, that the emphasis of the first eight verses is all GRACE. That is what we glorify because he poured it out upon us in Christ!
The next use of the phrase "to the praise of his glory" is in verse 11, but we need to read verses 9 through 12 to understand the context.
Ephesians 1:9-12 (Aramaic translation):
And he has made known to us the mystery of his will, which he had determined beforehand in him to accomplish
in the administration of the fullness of times, that everything which is in heaven and on earth should be made new again in Christ.
And we were chosen in him, even as he marked us out beforehand and he willed (he who performs everything according to the purpose of his will)
that we (those who first trusted in Christ) should exist for the esteem of his magnificence.
The translation of "to the praise of his glory" in verse 12 is "for the esteem of his magnificence." Esteem is hedra, and can mean excellency. It is from an Aramaic root, "to be adorned". Magnificence is an intensified word for glory, not the simple word, thus the translation. It could be absolute glory or splendor. What is so magnificent about this section?
Verse 9 says "having made known to us the mystery of his will." The mystery was a secret hidden since the world began (Romans 16:25) that the Gentiles would be fellow heirs together with the Judeans and partakers of his promise (Ephesians 3:6) and that it would be Christ in you (Colossians 1:27). It was known in the Old Testament that the Gentiles would be blessed because of Abraham and Israel, but never that they would be equal! In the epistles, God reveals a whole new plan: one body, all equal, each having the full measure of the spirit. This was a wonderful secret, but now "according to the good pleasure which he purposed in himself," it is revealed!
We can now see what "esteem of his magnificence" is. It was God's will; He hid the secret (none of the angels even knew); He determined and purposed this according to the counsel of His will.
1 Corinthians 2:7-8:
Howbeit we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
If Satan had known that the same power Jesus Christ has would be in every believer, he never would have crucified Jesus Christ. We are to the praise of his glory, to the esteem of his magnificence because we show in the mystery of Christ the glorious will and wisdom of God!
The last time the phrase is used is in verse 14.
Ephesians 1:13-14 (Aramaic translation):
In him also, you heard the word of truth, which is the gospel of your salvation, and in him, you believed and you were sealed with the spirit of holiness (which was promised,
which is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of those who have life) and unto the glory of his honor.
The Aramaic translation is to the "glory of his honor". Glory is the basic word for splendor again, but here it is used instead of praise. The word honor comes from a verb root that means "to be heavy, or have weight". If something or someone has honor, he is heavy, he has value or weight. What is the honor or value that we are recognizing in this section?
We are sealed with the promised holy spirit and this is the guarantee or down payment of our inheritance. All the power of that spirit is ours to manifest and use including all nine manifestations, some of which are: receiving revelation, gifts of healings, discerning of spirits, as well as the fruit of the spirit, which is love joy, peace, etc. But here is how it works: God is holy (Leviticus 20:26) and God is spirit (John 4:24). Then on the day of Pentecost he gave the gift which is holy and which is spirit. He gave what He is! So every time we use that gift and show it forth we show the value or honor of God.
Now you see why I was excited about what both languages contribute to our understanding. We literally recognize and commend up to God his splendor and glory and our whole lives tell of the glory of the master, that he set us free. The glory of his grace is glorified, because he placed us as sons and gave us all spiritual blessings. The esteem of his magnificence is shown in the body of Christ, how it was His will. And lastly, we show the glory of his honor, because God who is holy and who is spirit sealed us with his gift, holy spirit. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings!