Translations: Chinese GB Big5

Ephesians 1:1-1:14 (web)

The Creation of God's Family

Credentials and Intro

1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus, and the faithful in Christ Jesus:
1:2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Father

1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ;
1:4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world,
that we would be holy and without blemish before him in love;
1:5 having predestined us for adoption as children through Jesus Christ to himself,
according to the good pleasure of his desire,
1:6 to the praise of the glory of his grace,
by which he freely bestowed favor on us in the Beloved,

The Son

1:7 in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses,
according to the riches of his grace,
1:8 which he made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence,
1:9 making known to us the mystery of his will,
according to his good pleasure which he purposed in him

1:10 to an administration of the fullness of the times, to sum up all things in Christ,
the things in the heavens, and the things on the earth, in him;
 

1:11 in whom also we were assigned an inheritance, having been foreordained
according to the purpose of him who works all things after the counsel of his will;
1:12 to the end that we should be to the praise of his glory,
we who had before hoped in Christ:

The Holy Spirit

1:13 in whom you also, having heard the word of the truth, the gospel of your salvation
,--in whom, having also believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,
1:14 who is a pledge of our inheritance, to the redemption of God's own possession,
to the praise of his glory.

Discussion Questions

Observation

Interpretation

Application


Commentary

Credentials and Intro

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" refers 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 term "brethren". It's used in much the same sense as we use the term "Christian" today among the brethren. But in fact the term "Christian" is only found three places in the Bible and from its usage it seems to be the term outsiders used to refer to insiders, whereas "saint" is what insiders called insiders.

The faithful in Christ Jesus are the saints. They are not a separate 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 been born of God. For "this is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world." 1John 5:3,4



A Doxology to the Trinity

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 world considers blessing through getting rich, powerful, popular, or comfortable. It is not in the earthly realm that we see the apostles and Jesus blessed. They lived difficult lives full of suffering. But God has blessed us in the heavenly realms. He has given us spiritual rather than material blessings in Christ. Practically speaking, some of these are - the forgiveness of sins and the inevitable removal of our innate sinfulness, having adopted us as children, establishing an intimate relationship with us.



Chosen to be Blameless

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 his sight. Those who have come to genuine faith in Christ - namely the saints, 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 destiny. 

Salvation incorporates not only salvation from the wrath of God, but also salvation from our sinfulness. In Christ we are not only justified (forgiven of sin), but also our sinfulness will 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 belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." 1Peter 2:9



Predestined to be Adopted

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) First a person comes to faith, upon which he enters the category of  being "chosen" or "elect". Then they are given the right to become 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.



In Praise of His Grace

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 would not really be view as a gift, nor would giving it be considered gracious. For then it would not have been a matter of who is deserving or undeserving, for everyone would be simply viewed as a puppet, and giving would be simply a matter of sovereignty having nothing to do with graciousness. So if He created us simply as puppets, He logically could not reveal his love, nor his graciousness, or his justice through us. For He would be simply viewed as playing with puppets.



Redemption through his blood

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 the forgetting of sins, as it is written: "This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put 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 completely forgiven, past, present and future.



The Mystery of the Kingdom

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 dispensations in the Millenial Kingdom and the New Jerusalem on earth in which it will be said, "Now have come the salvation and the power 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 will be cleansed of the devil and his angels.



Predestined in Him

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 this 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 Christians we are chosen. The Biblical idea of predestination is not the same as fatalism, 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 been 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 "in Him".



We are to His Praise

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 saints. 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 the apostles - set a precedent. Like Paul who said, "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners— of whom I am the worst. But for that 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 those who would believe on him and receive eternal life." 1Tim 1:15,16 Likewise it was those who were the first to hope in Christ who became the original spokesmen for Christianity, their words being read even to this day thousands of years later. Put your hope in Christ and he will give you a legacy as you declare his attributes.



Marked with a Seal

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 blameless with great joy experiencing intimacy with Christ and being revealed as a son of God, not to mention the rewards for Christian services rendered in this life.


The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources


Nov 02,2011