Ephesians 1:3 (ESV) Paul writes “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…” The apostle then continues to mention the spiritual blessings Christ has purchased for the believer: adoption (v. 5), redemption (v.6), forgiveness (v.7) and an inheritance in verses 11-14.
What does the term “blessed” mean? Most would say that it means “happy”. So we would reread this verse to be “Happy be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has made us happy in Christ with every spiritual happiness in the heavenly places…”
I suppose that is possible but then again, it seems a little weak. A little trite and it raises the question, “did Christ come to make me happy?”
If we turn to another passage in Galatians we read Paul saying, “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed (happy?).” So then, those who are of faith are blessed (happy?) along with Abraham, the man of faith…so that in Christ Jesus the blessing (happiness?) of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.” (Gal. 3:8,9,14). The term “bless” here is the opposite of “curse” in this context.
What about Psalm 1? “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked…” Surely he would be happy if he avoided wicked counsel!
Perhaps mere word studies are dangerous, perhaps there is a wide range of meanings for this one word. Yet it seems that there is something deeper, covenantal, relational, lifegiving to the word “bless” than just merely “happy”. When Esau begged his father Isaac to be blessed, was he merely asking for happiness?
When we read the beatitudes in Matthew 5 or 1 Peter 1:3 we need to pause and consider this word, what does “bless” mean? What does it mean that God Himself is blessed and what does it mean that I as a believer have been blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places?