The phrase "in heavenly places" in the Authorized Version is consistently given as "in the heavenlies" in the original text. In the heavenlies we are placed in a position of blessing and also of battle. It would seem that these heavenlies are a sphere apart from earth, but may influence us while on earth; or, perhaps better, we, in the power of these blessings, should be witnessing on earth.
Five times over these words appear in the Ephesian epistle; five being the number of grace, human weakness, human responsibility, and battle. Five frequently divides into four and one: for example the body a head, two arms, and two legs. The heavenlies we are considering have four good aspects and one evil.
1. Spiritual blessings - "That we should be..." (Eph 1.4; 1.12)
The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is the One who gives to us every spiritual blessing which we receive. The words "all" and "every" have the thought of totality about them. No spiritual blessing is by any means left out. This the Father does as He works all things after the counsel of His own will, for it also is to be to the praise of His glory.
Those who are the receivers of the spiritual blessings were known to God as those who would receive Christ, and they were chosen of God before the foundation of the world, and so have come into these blessings. The reason for this is that God might predestinate us (position us beforehand) to be sons of God through Jesus Christ according to the good pleasure of His will.
The nature of the blessings is replete with all that is needed to make a child of Adam a child of God instead. Redemption and the forgiveness of sins is the gateway to the rest. God has provided us an inheritance, and, after our salvation through the precious blood of Jesus Christ, we have been given the Holy Spirit who has sealed us until all the work that the Lord has done, principally for God His Father, is brought to fruition. This overflows to us also, as all is for the purpose of fulfilling the working out of the counsel of His will and the pledge of the inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession - ourselves in Christ.
The scope of the blessing and its abundance is spiritual in its character and has nothing of material things about it. He has blessed us in every spiritual blessing, so that it is all for the benefit of us as children of God, and not of Adam. These blessings are being given to us not as earthly blessings (of which there is also an abundance), but they come from the heavenlies. In other words they relate to our lives lived in Christ who has provided them.
Whilst we become the privileged possessors of these magnificent blessings they are not by any means to be considered alone for our own benefit. Far from it. The true and only object of these blessings is to magnify the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Note that all that we have has been received for His glory in vv.3,5,10, and 12 where the Lord is named as the object of these blessings as they all come from Him.
2. His great power - "That ye may know " (Eph 1.18-19)
The three items we are to know are: that we have an inheritance (v.11); our inheritance (v.14); His inheritance (v.18). His power is the exceeding, or excessive, greatness of His power to us-ward who believe. To show us this power the Father raised Christ from the dead, doing so by His mighty power (the energy of the strength of His might), and placing Him at His own right hand in the heavenlies. He, the Lord Jesus Christ has been placed far above all (every) principality (rule, government); power (authority - one entitled to rule); might (the activity of rule); dominion (lordship); and, conversely, every name (personally named as one elected to rule).
The effect of this exceeding power given to the Lord Jesus Christ is for now and the future, and never to be rescinded. He is the final Despot who has all things under His feet, and is Head over all things to the Church - His Body. So then we may know the hope of His calling, the riches of His glory, and the exceeding greatness of His power.
3. Saving grace "That he might shew " (Eph 2.7)
Having seen the energy of the strength of His might in raising Christ from the dead, we are now turned to see how He will raise us from the sinful life we were living. Death is a positive state, in which and from which it is impossible for us to help ourselves. When we were dead to these sins God gave us life together in Christ, and in so doing raised us up with Christ. All this shows us again nothing of ourselves, but all of the mercy, grace, and wondrous power of our God. It is by His grace that He saved us through the God-given faith we needed for it. Nothing connected with works on our part can have any contribution to our salvation. It is all of the grace of our God who has raised us up and given the new life associated with it. Not only are we raised up together away from the evil life we had lived, but having raised us up God has caused us to sit together with Christ in the heavenlies. This is so that God Himself might show in future times the exceeding riches of His grace given to us through Christ Jesus. Had not God first raised up the Christ from the dead there would have been no possibility of any of us being raised. The first was imperative to the second.
Having seen what God has done to us through Christ Jesus we are to learn that this is to show His workmanship which He wrought when He created us in Christ Jesus that from henceforth we should be employed constantly doing the good works which He had earlier prepared that they should be the things we constantly walk in.
4. Manifold wisdom "That he might make known " (Eph 3.10)
Wisdom here is not just a single word. It has the thought of variegated wisdom; much variegated wisdom; many coloured wisdom; and much diversified wisdom. We see a progression. "Blessed us in Christ", "raised us with Christ", and "made us sit together with Christ" who has made Jew and Gentile one in Himself from their former enmity, and in so doing has brought into being the Church, which is the habitation of God.
The mystery is that which God kept secret to Himself, but now that the Church is formed it is His manifold wisdom to show to principalities and powers that mystery through the Church. Nothing of evil is seen here (1 Tim 3.16; 1 Pet 1.12). Through this all the purposes of Satan are thwarted. If questions are asked of Satan, such as, "Can any bring a clean thing out of an unclean", or if the antipathy between Jew and Gentile is questioned, there is one answer for all - the wisdom of God is shown in the Church.
5. Heavenly hostility - "That ye may be able to stand" (Eph 6.11)
From the former references to the heavenlies, with all the wealth of riches, glory, grace, wisdom, and power displayed in them, we turn now to the last and opposite one. God is not now so prominently in view, but rather the saints as they are encouraged to withstand the fiery darts of the wicked one, and to stand against his wiles. The battle here mentioned is in the heavenlies, not in the sphere of blood and flesh. It is against the wicked principalities and powers, not against persons, that the battle is engaged.
And if not against persons, how can personal strength, wisdom, grace, riches, or glory be of any avail. Surely it is the "whole armour" of God which is needed. This consists of the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Prayer is to be made for all saints, and our feet are to be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace for the help of sinners.