In Favored, Blessed, Pierced: A Fresh Look at Mary of Nazareth, we discover that Mary was blessed—makarios—which means “to be well off.” But another Greek word also translated “blessed” describes Mary too: eulogeo.
In a loud voice she [Elizabeth] exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!”Luke 1:42 NIV
Simeon took him [Jesus] in his arms and blessed God, saying…Luke 2:28 NET
Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child…Luke 2:34 NIV
Fighting back tears, I stood in front of my dear friend Lori’s family and friends attempting to express what she had meant to me: “Because of Lori, my life is richer today. She showed me how to simply be more pleasant, more friendly, more positive and non-demanding, to love others and greet them cheerfully, to rejoice in suffering. Lori taught me what a friend should be like because she was one to me.”
Besides Lori’s, I have written and delivered several eulogies both in person and on my blog. I shared their strengths, contributions, achievements and why they meant so much to me. I praised and honored them. And according to Scripture, I blessed them because I spoke well of them.
Elizabeth and Simeon blessed Mary and her child. Simeon blessed God. From the root words eu (to be well off) and logeo (speech), eulogeo means “to express a good attitude or to speak well of something or someone” (Bill Klein, Greek Thoughts). This is where we get our English word eulogy.
A few interesting things about eulogeo bear noting. First, only people and God are blessed, not inanimate objects. Second, only God is called “the Blessed” or the “Blessed One” in the New Testament (Luke 1:68). And thirdly, when Scripture says that God blesses us, it means we have “received a favorable expression from him” (Bill Klein).
The meaning of eulogeo is best conveyed in Ephesians chapter 1.
Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in Christ.Ephesians 1:3 NET
Paul means that we speak well of God because every favorable expression found in the spiritual realm has been given to us. Bill Klein says:
In summary, Paul is teaching that the blessings of the true Christian are not to be evaluated by things in the physical realm, specifically by our material possessions or social positions. He is saying that God has already blessed us “in every spiritual blessing” which is found “in the spirit realm,” specifically “in Christ.” The perception of this reality is what enabled Paul to speak well of God in every situation.Bill Klein, Greek Thoughts
When Elizabeth and Simeon called Mary blessed or blessed her, they were speaking well of her, praising her, and testifying that she had received a favorable expression from God. Of course, the primary expression was the distinction of giving birth to God’s Son. But from Ephesians 1, we see that Mary also, like you and me, was blessed with all the spiritual inheritance of any believer in Christ.
God chose Mary—and every believer—before the foundation of the world. He made us holy and blameless (1:4). He adopted us (1:5). He lavished us with grace (1:6, 8), redemption and forgiveness of sins (1:7). And he sealed us with the Holy Spirit (1:13). For all this, we bless—we speak well of—God!
Likewise, when we eulogeo someone else, we are not asking God to make their life easy or give them material blessings. Rather, we praise them and speak well of them as we are also commanded to do of our enemies, and those who curse us (Luke 6:28). Next time you say “God bless you,” substitute in your mind, “I speak well of you,” and then add on some sincere words as you would in their eulogy.
REFLECTION AND DISCUSSION
How can you bless [speak well of] God today?
What would it look like, according to this definition, to bless someone else?
Father God, I am challenged today in that I don’t always speak well of you. I say I bless you, but really I doubt or I question you. So now I want to bless you for giving Mary and me such favorable expressions—my inheritance is truly rich. Teach me to speak well of others, especially those who do harm to me. That can only be done with the aid of your Spirit.
1 Corinthians 14:16 (eulogeo is translated as “praising”)
Mathew 14:19 (eulogeo is translated as “prayed or gave thanks”)