A Summer Study Of Ephesian’s

July 29, 2009 · Print This Article

During this time of year, it is good to remember that we should always be alert for the attacks of the enemy (Satan) against us and our families. 

A Study Of Ephesians

1:1-11

 

 

(Eph. 1:1) Paul was a Jew from the tribe of Benjamin. He was raised as a strict Pharisee (Philippians 3:5), grew up in Tarsus, and was educated under a well-known teacher, Gamaliel (Acts 22:3). However, he was also a Roman citizen, a fact that he used to great advantage at times (Acts 22:27-29). Out of this diverse background, God formed and called a valuable servant, using every aspect of Paul’s upbringing to further the gospel. He was not one of the original twelve disciples (later called apostles), but the risen Christ Jesus confronted him on the road to Damascus and called him to be an apostle (Acts 9:3-19). The apostles’ mission was to be God’s representatives: They were envoys, messengers, delegates, directly under the authority of Christ Jesus. They had authority to set up and supervise churches and to discipline them if necessary, which Paul did on all three of his missionary journeys and after his release from this first imprisonment in Rome. God chose Paul for special work, saying that Paul would be his “chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel” (Acts 9:15). Paul did not seek this apostleship; instead, God had chosen him. Paul wrote this letter to the Ephesian believers—God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful followers of Christ Jesus. The words “in Ephesus” are not present in the three earliest manuscripts. Therefore, this was very likely a circular letter, meaning the name of each local church would be filled in as the letter circulated from church to church. Ephesus, the leading church in the region of Asia Minor, was probably the first destination for this epistle. Paul mentioned no particular problems or local situations, and he offered no personal greetings as he might have done if this letter were intended for the Ephesian church alone. Clearly, Paul had a deep love for the church in Ephesus. His last words to the Ephesian elders focused on two items: (1) warning them about false teachers (Acts 20:29-31), and (2) exhorting them to show love and care toward one another (Acts 20:35).

 

(Eph 1:2) Grace means God’s undeserved favor. It is through God’s kindness alone that anyone can become acceptable to God. Peace refers to the peace that Christ established between believers and God through his death on the cross. True peace is available only in Christ (John 14:27). Paul used “grace and peace” as a standard greeting in all of his letters. He wanted his readers to experience God’s grace and peace in their daily living. Only God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord can grant such wonderful gifts. By mentioning Jesus Christ along with God, Paul was pointing to Jesus as a full person of the Godhead. He recognized Jesus’ deity and lordship over all of creation. Both God the Father and Jesus Christ the Lord are coequal in providing the resources of grace and peace.

 

(Eph 1:3) Paul first praised God, saying that all believers praise God. God alone is worthy of praise and worship. He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because believers belong to Christ, God has blessed us. The verb “blessed” occurs hundreds of times in the Old Testament, revealing that God enjoys blessing his people. Here Paul used the past tense (“has blessed”), indicating that this prospering of believers had already occurred—even from eternity past. God has blessed us by allowing us to receive the benefits of Christ’s redemption (1:7) and resurrection (1:19-20). God blessed us through Christ’s death on the cross on our behalf. Because by faith we belong to Christ, we have every spiritual blessing—that is, every benefit of knowing God and everything we need to grow spiritually. These are spiritual blessings, not material ones. Because God has already blessed believers, we need not ask for these blessings but simply accept them and apply them to our lives. Because we have an intimate relationship with Christ, we can enjoy these blessings now and will enjoy them for eternity. The phrase heavenly realms occurs five times in this letter (1:3, 20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12) and refers to the sphere beyond the material world—the place of spiritual activity where the ultimate conflict between good and evil takes place. This conflict continues but has already been won by Christ’s death and resurrection. This is the realm in which the spiritual blessings were secured for us and then given to us. Our blessings come from heaven, where Christ now lives (1:20), and Christ’s gift of the Holy Spirit, the source of all spiritual blessings, came as a result of his ascension to heaven (4:8). Paul was making the point that these blessings are spiritual and not material; thus, they are eternal and not temporal

 

(Eph 1:4) That God chose us forms the basis of the doctrine of election—defined as God’s choice of an individual or group for a specific purpose or destiny. The doctrine of election teaches that we are saved only because of God’s grace and mercy; as believers we are not saved by our own merit. It focuses on God’s purpose or will (1:5, 9, 11), not on ours. God does not save us because we deserve it but because he graciously and freely gives salvation. We did not influence God’s decision to save us; he saved us according to his plan. Thus, we may not take credit for our salvation or take pride in our wise choice. The doctrine of election runs through the Bible, beginning with God’s choosing Abraham’s descendants as his special people. Although the Jews were chosen as special recipients and emissaries of God’s grace, their opportunity to participate in that plan arrived with the coming of Christ, their promised Messiah. But many didn’t recognize Christ and so rejected him. God’s “chosen” and elected people are now Christians, the body of Christ, the church—all who believe on, accept, and receive Jesus Christ as Messiah, Savior, and Lord. Jesus himself called his followers “the chosen ones” (see Matthew 24:22, 24, 31; Mark 13:20, 22, 27). God chose his people before he made the world. The mystery of salvation originated in the timeless mind of God (2 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 1:9). Before God created anything, his plan was in place to give eternal salvation to those who would believe on his Son. Before God created people, he knew sin would occur, he knew a penalty would have to be paid, and he knew that he himself (in his Son) would pay it. Election is in Christ because of his sacrifice on our behalf. We have blessings and election only because of what Christ has done for us. Election is done for a specific purpose—that we would be holy and without fault in his eyes. What God began in eternity past will be completed in eternity future. God’s purpose in choosing us was that we would live changed lives during our remaining time on earth. To be “holy” means to be set apart for God in order to reflect his nature. God chose us, and when we belong to him through Jesus Christ, God looks at us as though we had never sinned. Our appropriate responses are love, worship, and service—in thankfulness for his wonderful grace. We must never take our privileged status as a license for sin.

 

(Eph 1:5) In his infinite love, God chose to adopt us as his own children. People were created to have fellowship with God (Genesis 1:26), but because of their sin, they forfeited that fellowship. Through Jesus’ sacrifice, God brought us back into his family and made us heirs along with Jesus (Romans 8:17). God did not do this as an emergency measure after sin engulfed creation; instead, this has been his unchanging plan from the beginning. Under Roman law, adopted children had the same rights and privileges as biological children. Even if they had been slaves, adopted children became full heirs in their new family. Paul used this term to show the strength and permanence of believers’ relationship to God. This adoption occurs through Jesus Christ, for only his sacrifice on our behalf enables us to receive what God intended for us.

 

(Eph 1:6) God’s goal in the election of believers was that they would praise him. Therefore, the ultimate purpose of believers’ lives is to praise God because of his wonderful kindness. Without it, we would have no hope, and our lives would be nothing more than a few years on earth. Instead, we have purpose for living and hope of eternal life. His kindness was poured out on us. It was a free gift, not something we could earn or deserve. God’s favor to us is realized by our union with his dearly loved Son. We could say that God’s love for his only Son motivated him to have many more sons—each of whom would be like his Son (Romans 8:28-30) by being in his Son and by being conformed to his image.

 

(Eph 1:7) All people are enslaved to sin, but God, so rich in kindness, purchased our freedom through the blood of his Son. Jesus paid the price to redeem us, to buy our freedom from sin. The purchase price was his blood. To speak of Jesus’ blood was an important first-century way of speaking of Christ’s death. Our freedom was costly—Jesus paid the price with his life. Through his death, Jesus released us from slavery and our sins are forgiven. When we believe, an exchange takes place. We give Christ our sins, and he gives us freedom and forgiveness. Our sin was poured into Christ at his crucifixion. His righteousness was poured into us at our conversion. God’s forgiveness means that he no longer even remembers believers’ past sins. We are completely forgiven. Jesus became the final and ultimate sacrifice for sin. Instead of an unblemished lamb slain on the altar, the perfect Lamb of God was slain on the cross, a sinless sacrifice so that our sins could be forgiven once and for all.

 

(Eph 1:8) God’s kindness is showered on believers. When God gives, he gives abundantly and extravagantly. In the phrase with all wisdom and understanding, the word “wisdom” is the ability to see life from God’s perspective. Proverbs 9:10 teaches that the fear (respect and honor) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The word “understanding” could also be translated “insight,” referring to the ability to discern the right action to take in any given situation. Wisdom and understanding are given to believers for them to know God’s will.

 

(Eph 1:9)  Paul had been praising God’s wonderful kindness in 1:7-8. Thoughts of kindness led Paul to praise God for the entire plan of salvation. God had purposed to offer salvation to humanity “before he made the world” (1:4). How this would happen had not been revealed (made clear, understood) until the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. What God “revealed” was his plan to bring people (both Jews and Gentiles) back into fellowship with himself through their faith in Christ and then to keep them with him for all eternity. Paul called this the secret plan which was centered on Christ. The word “secret” has two meanings in Hellenistic Greek. One meaning referred to something known to only a select few. The word described heathen religions or “mystery religions” with their secret rites and practices. As used in the Septuagint (a Greek version of the Jewish Old Testament writings), a second meaning of the word describes what God reveals (as in Daniel 2:19). The Jews used the word to describe some secret plan that God would reveal at the end of the age. In the New Testament, the word refers to a truth formerly hidden but now made known to people—in this case, to us, meaning all believers. As with our being chosen (1:4), so the revelation of the secret plan of salvation is according to God’s good pleasure

 

(Eph 1:10)  The Greek word oikonomia (translated bring everything together) refers to the management of a household or estate. In this context, it refers to large-scale management, as in administration or economy. In God’s timing, God brings everything together under the authority of Christ. With his first coming, Christ completed part of this mystery, but there are promises yet to be fulfilled. The mystery of salvation does not end with a person’s acceptance of Jesus Christ—God promises a glorious future in a glorious Kingdom (see Revelation 21–22). This time is unknown to everyone but God. God is planning a universal reconciliation—believers and all of creation will be reinstated to its rightful owner and creator. Just as Christ administered God’s plan of redemption by carrying it out as a human on this earth, so he will ultimately be in charge of everything in heaven and on earth. All of creation (spiritual and material) will be brought back under one head. Sin holds people in bondage. That fact is clearly established throughout Paul’s letters. Sin has also caused all creation to fall from the perfect state in which God created it. The world physically decays and experiences conflict so that it cannot fulfill its intended purpose. One day God will liberate and transform all creation. Until then, it waits in eager expectation for the right time. Christ provided the means for this restoration. When the time arrives, believers and all of creation (meaning every created thing) will be as God created it to be—perfect, eternal, and fulfilling its intended function to praise God. This verse does not teach that God will eventually save everyone, although many would like to believe this. The doctrine of Universalism, as this belief is called, seems to make God a little easier to understand and a little less harsh on sinners. In the end, every knee will bow, but for some, it will be too late. Christ will bring those elected and saved, and all creation with them, to be united under him in this glorious Kingdom. Those who have refused to believe (whether Jews or Gentiles) will face the consequences of their unbelief (Matthew 25:31-46).

 

(Eph 1:11)  Up until this verse, Paul was speaking to Jews and Gentiles alike. In 2:11, Paul made a distinction between the backgrounds of the Jewish believers and Gentile believers. In verses 11-14, however, he identified the two separate groups with the pronouns he used. The wording in these verses includes both the first person (we, our) and the second person (you). The word “we” refers specifically to Jewish believers (Paul being one of them). While it is true that believing Jews and Gentiles alike will receive God’s blessings, the Jews were called first (Romans 1:16); they were chosen. Christ will be the Head of all things (1:10), including a body of believers made up of Jews (“we”) and Gentiles (“you,” 1:13). The Jews were chosen from the beginning and had received an inheritance from God that would ultimately be accomplished in Jesus Christ (born into the nation of Israel) and finalized at the end of time. God chose the Jews to be the people through whom the rest of the world could find salvation. But this did not mean that the entire Jewish nation would be saved; only those who receive Jesus Christ as their Messiah and Savior will receive God’s blessings (see Romans 9–11). When God offered salvation to the Gentiles, he did not exclude the Jews. God’s Kingdom will include all Jews and Gentiles who have accepted the offer of salvation. Both Jews and Gentiles will also make up the group that does not believe and so receives God’s punishment. The inclusion of Jewish believers in salvation was the plan of God, for all things happen just as he decided long ago. In the same way that God planned for Israel to be the elect nation, he planned for the spiritual Israelites, the believers in Christ, to be an eternal gift to himself. As a refrain carried through from 1:5 and 1:9, Paul repeated that everything is under God’s sovereign control. The words reinforce the certainty of these events. Because God controls everything, he will carry out his plan according to his purpose and will, bringing it to completion in his time.

 

Before we close, I always like to take the opportunity to see if there is someone who would like to make Christ Lord over your life.  All you need to do is approach His throne of grace with child like faith, and a repentant heart and say Christ, I know I’m a sinner, and that I can’t do this without You, I repent of my sins and ask you to come into my life, and I accept and make you my Lord and Savior.  Create in me a new heart that I may partake of your love and unmerited favor, which the Father freely offers me, through Your sacrifice for my sins, right now, In Christ Jesus Name I ask this.  Amen.

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