1:10 to an administration of the fullness of the times, to sum
things in Christ,
the things in the heavens, and the things on the earth, in him;
Eph 1:1-2 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
As with most of his letters Paul starts off with his credentials. It was God's will for him to do the things he was doing and to write what he wrote. His letters have the endorsement of Jesus Christ.
Note how he addresses the Ephesian Christians. He calls them saints.
Many Christians today are under the misconception that "saint"
to an elite class of Christians. It doesn't. It's merely a term meaning
"holy ones" which Christians used to refer to one another, like the
"brethren". It's used in much the same sense as we use the term
today among the brethren. But in fact the term "Christian" is only
three places in the Bible and from its usage it seems to be the term
used to refer to insiders, whereas "saint" is what insiders called
The faithful in Christ Jesus are the saints. They are not a
class of saints. For as we read in 1John 5:18a,
"We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin." Faithfulness
is characteristic of the saints because it is natural to them, having
born of God. For "this is love for God: to obey
commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God
overcomes the world." 1John 5:3,4
Eph 1:3-14 As is evident from the structure and emphasis of this section as revealed in its phrasing above, this is a doxology giving praise to God in the person of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each section focuses on the role of each member of the godhead and ends essentially with "to the praise of his glory". The key phrase in this whole section is found in verse 3 "Blessed be" or "Praise be", which is also the only command found in this section. It's very similar to the psalms in which there is first a call to worship followed by a listing of God's works and attributes. In studying this section, pay particular attention to the verbs. For they reveal God's action - what God did, which is the main subject here.
Eph 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
God has not blessed the believers in a worldly way, much as the
considers blessing through getting rich, powerful, popular, or
It is not in the earthly realm that we see the apostles and Jesus
They lived difficult lives full of suffering. But God has blessed us in
the heavenly realms. He has given us spiritual rather than material
in Christ. Practically speaking, some of these are - the forgiveness of
sins and the inevitable removal of our innate sinfulness, having
us as children, establishing an intimate relationship with us.
Eph 1:4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love
Whom did He chose? Who is the "us" Paul is referring to? It is not
some unknown mysterious category of people. God has chosen those who
believe in Christ. Before the creation of the world God predetermined
that this would be the category of people whom he would chose to be
holy and blameless in
sight. Those who have come to genuine faith in Christ - namely the
the faithful in Christ Jesus - are the chosen. If you are a saint, then
you are chosen to become holy and blameless in his sight. That is your
Salvation incorporates not only salvation from the wrath of God, but
also salvation from our sinfulness. In
we are not only justified (forgiven of sin), but also our sinfulness
be removed (sanctification) and thus we will be guilt free and sinless
in his presence. And so we declare the praises due him. For "you
are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people
to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of
into his wonderful light." 1Peter 2:9
Eph 1:5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—
Whom did he predestine to be adopted as sons? Those who have come to
believe in Jesus - namely Christians. For "You
are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus" Gal
3:26 (We realize of course that the Bible teaches us that people
are not born children of God. Rather they must become children of God)
a person comes to faith, upon which he enters the category of
being "chosen" or "elect". Then they are given the right to
children of God. For "to all who received him, to
those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of
God." John 1:12
God could have simply saved us from our sinfulness and called it a day. But to further demonstrate his graciousness, which is the primary purpose of our existence, to reveal his graciousness, he adopts us as his children. If a someone sins against you, it's one thing to forgive him and even to help him to overcome his sinful habits. But it's quite another to adopt him into your family! That's what God did. And being adopted is not simply a future event when we achieve sinless perfection, but even right now we believers are children of God.
"And we know that in all things God works for
the good of those who love him, who have been called according
to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be
conformed to the likeness of his Son" Rom 8:28,29 God
has foreordained that those who love him will be conformed to the
likeness of his Son, Jesus Christ. When a person comes to faith in
Christ, this is their destiny.
Eph 1:6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
Whenever we do something, it reveals something about ourselves. God's redemption of mankind reveals His character of graciousness. This revealing is known as glorifying or glory. The idea of "grace" is the attitude of freely giving to the undeserving. This is not to say that such giving must be unconditional or arbitrary for such giving to be consider gracious. But rather that such conditions or requirements are not viewed as payments for the gift as if one earned the gift by meeting such requirements.
For example, if a man decided to give a wheelchair to everyone one who was lame in his town, being lame would be a requirement to receive a wheelchair. If one happens to become lame, or puposely makes himself lame just to get a wheelchair, such lameness is not viewed as payment for the wheelchair. Similarly if I hand a free gift to someone with only the requiement that they reach out and take it, their reaching out and taking it is not viewed as work that they do to earn the gift, as if by reaching out they are paying for it. They cannot say, "You are not really gracious and the gift is not really free, for I had to do all that work in reaching out and taking it!" That would be foolish.
Salvation is a free gift. But you have to reach out and take it. We have to put our faith in Christ in order to receive the gift of righteousness. But such faith it not reckoned as a work, as it is written, "Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts (believes) God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness." Romans 4:4,5
Thus God's graciousness in no way is nullified by our cooperation in
receiving the gift. In fact, if we were just puppets, then God's gift
not really be view as a gift, nor would giving it be considered
For then it would not have been a matter of who is deserving or
for everyone would be simply viewed as a puppet, and giving would be
a matter of sovereignty having nothing to do with graciousness. So if
created us simply as puppets, He logically could not reveal his love,
his graciousness, or his justice through us. For He would be simply
as playing with puppets.
Eph 1:7,8 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
To be forgiven of sin is essentially what it means to be justified.
More specifically, the forgiveness of sins under the New Covenant is
forgetting of sins, as it is written: "This is
covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will
my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds." Then he
adds: "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more." Heb
10:16,17 This he does richly, for there is no purgatory to make up
for deficiencies in Christ's atoning work. The believers sins are
forgiven, past, present and future.
Eph 1:9,10 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment— to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
As for the "mystery", one aspect of this he mentions this further in Ephesians 3:6 which involves the inclusion of the Gentiles in God's plan of salvation. It may not seem like much of a mystery today, but imagine being a Jew and growing up with the idea that the Jewish people were uniquely God's people and that non-Jews (Gentiles) were outsiders and like dogs. This accounts for the racist attitude we see even in Jesus' disciples against non-Jews, which Jesus had to teach them to overcome. The idea that salvation extended to the Gentiles was very difficult for Jews to accept. For they considered themselves superior simply based on genetics.
The kingdom of God with Christ as head will also have further
in the Millenial Kingdom and the New Jerusalem on earth in which it
be said, "Now have come the salvation and the
and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ." Rev
12:10 And in which "The kingdom of the world
has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign
for ever and ever." Rev 11:15 And the spiritual realm
be cleansed of the devil and his angels.
Eph 1:11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will
There is a sense of security being in Christ, knowing God's will and
intention that all in Christ will be saved. And it seems that it is
sense of security which Paul is trying to communicate to the saints at
Ephesus. In Christ we are chosen for this destiny. That is, as
we are chosen. The Biblical idea of predestination is not the same as
for we are involved in being chosen by putting our faith in Christ. For
it was His will that we be involved in this process. However, having
chosen as such our destiny is secure. It's like stepping on an elevator
that is predestined for a certain floor. Once you're on, you don't have
to worry about whether you're going to get there or not. You just have
to worry about whether you are in fact on the elevator. (And you're not
going anywhere if you just stand in the doorway) So make sure you are
Eph 1:12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
God is glorified by the gracious manner in which he treats the
Put your faith in Christ and God will intentionally be gracious to you
to the praise of his glory. Those who first hoped in Christ - namely
apostles - set a precedent. Like Paul who said,
is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus
into the world to save sinners— of whom I am the worst. But for
very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners,
Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for
who would believe on him and receive eternal life." 1Tim
Likewise it was those who were the first to hope in Christ who became
original spokesmen for Christianity, their words being read even to
day thousands of years later. Put your hope in Christ and he will give
you a legacy as you declare his attributes.
Eph 1:13,14 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession— to the praise of his glory.
Here is the order of salvation. First you have to hear, then believe, then you receive the Holy Spirit. We saw this worked out in the Penetcost of Acts 2. Peter preached the message. Those who believed were baptized received the Holy Spirit.
The receiving of the Holy Spirit is a one time event. This is the "baptism of the Holy Spirit" that John the Baptist refers to "I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." Mark 1:8 It is also what makes one born of God. "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God." John 1:12 It takes no effort on the person's part to be born of God. Having believed in Christ, one is automatically born of God by the Holy Spirit. And that is also what it means to be born again. "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." John 3:5-8
There are many implications and aspects of being born of the Spirit, but in particular here Paul points out the aspect of being marked out in a special category for a particular destiny, which has been his emphasis throughout this chapter. Officials used official seals to indicate the authority or authenticity of a document. What is the mark of the Christian? It is the effects that the Holy Spirit has on one's behavior, as John writes in 1John 3:9,10 mentioned previously in the comment on verse 5.
So one aspect of a seal is as an identifying mark. But another aspect is in the sense of being a guarantee. Today when you buy a product, it may come with a guarantee associated with a seal. But if you don't have that seal, then neither do you have a guarantee. Since salvation is eternally secure and unloseable, the Christian only need be concerned whether he has obtained it. If a person has put salvific faith in Christ, such a person is then born of God, and the evidence of his regeneration will be revealed in his lifestyle and attiutudes. These are the effects of the Holy Spirit. If a person sees these effects in their life, they can be assured of their salvation. But if not, then they should take heed to Paul's warning to the Corinthians "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you-- unless, of course, you fail the test?"2Cor 13:5
The inheritance is in the future. It is the future hope of becoming
sinlessly perfect, like Christ and entering into God's presence
with great joy experiencing intimacy with Christ and being revealed as
a son of God, not to mention the rewards for Christian services
in this life.