Join Pastor Ray Viola from Koinonia Fellowship for our introduction to the Book of Ephesians. Paul, called to be an Apostle of Jesus Christ starts this epistle with grace and will scale the heights of theological mountains and the pastures of practical daily Christian life as we proceed in this incredible book. Take comfort and courage in God’s love and care for your life before you ever knew Him.
Vs.1.1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:
- The word apostle is an official title for Paul and the 12 disciples (including Matthias, Acts 1:26), who were eyewitnesses of the resurrected Jesus and were chosen by God to lay the foundation for the church by preaching, teaching, and writing Scripture. Their ministry was accompanied by confirming signs, wonders and miracles through the power of The Holy Ghost.
- Let’s review a bit of Paul’s background, for I believe that it sets the stage for what we are about to study. Paul’s given name was Saul. He was a Jew, born into the tribe of Benjamin, whose namesake was the first king of Israel. Paul was trained as a Pharisee under the famous rabbi, Gamaliel (Acts 22:3). He was advancing in Judaism beyond many of his countrymen, being more extremely zealous for his ancestral traditions (Gal. 1:14). He heartily approved and assisted when the Jewish leaders stoned Stephen to death. After that, Paul had ravaged the church, entering homes and dragging off both men and women to put in prison and put to death (Acts 8:3; 9:1).
- As he was on his way to Damascus to bring any Christians from that city bound to Jerusalem, God sovereignly intervened in Paul’s life. A bright light from heaven suddenly blinded him. He fell to the ground and heard the Lord say (Acts 9:4), “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” When Paul responded, “Lord, who are You?” the Lord said (9:5-6), “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.”
- I believe it is safe to say that at this point in time, Paul was not dissatisfied with Judaism. He wasn’t considering various religious alternatives. Rather, he was militantly opposed to Jesus Christ and the gospel when (as he puts it in Gal. 1:15-16), “God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles….”
- In other words, Paul did not have anything to do with his dramatic conversion and his appointment as an apostle. Rather, it all happened by the sovereign will of God. Paul was fiercely op- posing God at the very moment that God literally stopped him in his tracks, blinded him physically, but opened his eyes spiritually to see the risen Savior. As an apostle, Paul was appointed and sent by God to preach the gospel especially to the Gentiles, whom he formerly despised with a passion.
- While probably none of us have had such a dramatic conversion as Paul had, the truth of the matter is that if we know Christ as Savior and Lord today, we know that it was not our doing.
- Each and every one of us born after the flesh, separated fro God and spiritually dead in our sins (Eph. 2:1). Before our conversion, we were living in futility, darkened in our understanding, excluded from the life of God because of our ignorance and hardness of heart, given over to sensuality and impurity with greediness (4:17-19). It was while we were in that lost and hopeless condition, that the glorious, transforming truth of 2:4-5 broke into our lives: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)….”
- The recipients of this letter were the saints and faithful brethren in Christ Jesus. In other words, any person who has been gripped the grace of God through Christ and made a new creature.
- Saints-The word means, “set apart ones,” “holy ones,” or “sanctified ones.” Thus, to be a saint means that we have been cleansed from all our guilt by Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf (Heb. 10:10, 14). Thus we are separated from this evil world and set apart unto God for His holy purposes.
- Faithful in Christ Jesus- Those who are walking in obedience to Christ, for to believe in Jesus is the same as being faithful to Him.
Vs. 1.2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Grace and peace. Grace is God’s unmerited, undeserved favor for sinners through Jesus Christ. The gospel or good news is that you come to God just as you are and receive everything from Him as His gift. That is the meaning of the word, grace. If you do anything to deserve it or earn it, it is not grace. God’s grace means that He justifies the ungodly, on the basis of faith alone, not works (Rom. 4:4-5).
- Peace with God is our standing before God through faith in The Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5.1).
- This grace and peace is from God The Father (not the godfather) and The Lord Jesus Christ. The conjunction “and” indicates equivalence; that is, the Lord Jesus Christ is equally divine with the Father.
Ephesians 1:3-14 comprises one long sentence in Greek, with three major sections. Each section ends with a note of praise for God (vv. 6, 12, 14), focusing on a different member of the Trinity.
After an opening summary of all the saints ‘spiritual blessings (v. 3), the first section (vv. 4- 6) offers up praise that the Father has chosen us in eternity past; the second section (vv. 7- 12) offers up praise that the Son has redeemed us in the historical past (i.e., at the cross); the third section (vv. 13- 14) offers up praise that the Holy Spirit has sealed us in our personal past, at the point of conversion.
Please keep in mind beloved that these incredible truths were not written to theologians or scholars but to common followers of Christ like you and me.
Vs.1.3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
- Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. This incredible section of Scripture begins with praise and adoration being given to God The Father. When Jesus gave us a model for prayer, we learn of The Father, Hallowed be Thy Name.
- 1 Peter 1.3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
- Who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Christ is the blessing of the gospel, and every one of God’s superabundant blessings are found in Christ and only belong to those who are in Christ.
- Jesus is the one and only mediator between the Father and us (1 Tim. 2:5). All that we receive from God, we must receive through the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. In other words, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ becomes our heavenly Father when we come to Him through His Son.