THE BOOK OF EPHESIANS
J. Deering, AncientPath.net
|TEXT - Introduction, 1:1-2||TOPIC|
|an Apostle of Christ Jesus||APOSTLE OF CHRIST|
|by the will of God,||WILL OF FATHER|
|the saints||THOSE WHO ARE IN-CHRIST|
|who are at Ephesus, and|
|who are faithful in Christ Jesus:||THOSE FAITHFUL IN-CHRIST|
|02 Grace to you and peace|
|from "God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."||FROM THE FATHER AND THE SON|
COMMENTARY - "Paul's Salutations," 1:1-2
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus, and who are faithful in Christ Jesus:
Paul's Introduction to the Church at Ephesus:
During his later years of service Paul wrote to those whom he had met and established in the faith in the Roman province of Asia. It had been some time since he last visited the Ephesian Church, but letters were probably exchanged on a regular basis. It was Paul's method to keep in touch with the early church through these letters and occasional visits. It was his responsibility to see that the Gentile churches were not only started but maintained in the faith. As an Apostle it was his job to see that this new Christian faith, faith in Jesus Christ, became robust in the lives of those who believed. The Body of Christ, at Ephesus, needed to be reminded that they needed to now place their attentions upon their relationship to the Body of Christ (those who are called out), now in their maturity, as eagerly as they had placed their attentions upon their relationship to Christ in their immaturity. It was his responsibility to see that these assemblies (later to be called "churches") remained pure, educated, and evangelical (MacCorkle states, quite convincingly, that Paul was in a Roman prison arguing the case for the legality of this "church" body to operate within the world government of that day. The letter is the documentation of that case brought before Caesar (MacCorkle, Douglas B., God's Special Secret, 1993, MBM Books, Cocoa Beach, FL., p. 14)).
Paul says his authority was from Christ Jesus. Whenever you see the office and name of Jesus, please note the word order. Here the order is Christ Jesus, the emphasis on His office as the Christ. Paul stated, by use of word order, that his calling was upon the authority of "The Christ." At other times the order may be "Jesus Christ," with the emphasis upon His humanity.
Paul was hand picked, in person, by Jesus Christ to be His messenger (Acts 9:1-19). He was not just some teacher or preacher that wrote to churches. He was an Apostle of Jesus Christ, a specific and very special calling and office. Still, Paul did not fit the traditional definition of an apostle (Acts 1:21-22). He was not a follower of John the Baptist, he did not know Jesus while He was physically alive, he was not present at the resurrection, and he was not one of the chosen twelve, or even chosen by lot according to the will of God (Acts 1:26). Paul was converted to Christianity from Judaism by the immediate intervention of Jesus Christ Himself after His resurrection. All this after Paul had led a life persecuting Christians!
Now he referred to himself as a
"called Apostle." He defended
his apostleship (1 Corinthians 9:1-2;
"The authenticity of his divine calling is testified to by both the Scriptures and by the very success of his endeavors for the Lord Jesus Christ in the establishment and maturity of the early church" (Dr. D. Edmond Heibert, An Introduction to the Pauline Epistles, seventh printing, 1972, p.18).
Paul and the Will of God:
Paul responded to the will of God in a wonderful way. He gave his entire post conversion life to the service of this new "Body of Christ". He ministered, pastored, visited, and traveled. He mostly relied upon his own ability to finance himself so that he wouldn't be a burden to local churches. He acted with the authority of Jesus Christ, and the church was established and grew because of it. In the midst of this personal ministry Paul wrote letters and they have become the backbone of Christian doctrine. Most of his letters were, of course, lost. We shouldn't think for a minute that we have all the writings ever written by any inspired writer. We have only those that the Holy Spirit has preserved for incorporation into the Cannon of Scripture. Heibert says, "We have what God has directly superintended, that which is sufficient for our faith and practice" (Dr. D. Edmond Heibert, An Introduction to the Pauline Epistles, seventh printing, 1972, p.18).
The Saints in Ephesus:
There is much information in the Introduction of the book concerning the Ephesian church. Please read that material. It is included that you may have a more complete vision of the place and times of the Ephesians.
It will be helpful in your studies to picture the Ephesian Church as a local church in a city. The city of Ephesus was similar to our modern medium sized cities like Boston, Santa Fe, or Philadelphia. They were real people in a real city, experiencing real life. Paul wrote from his heart about his love for them and their love for the Lord Jesus Christ. His purpose was to enlighten the Body of Christ in Ephesus, and other Asian cities, so they might know and grow.
"At least 450 local churches were established in that Asia Minor area by A.D. 96. Humanly speaking, much of this great result came from Paul's Ephesian professorship and preaching" (Dr. D. Edmond Heibert, An Introduction to the Pauline Epistles, seventh printing, 1972, p.26).
The Ephesian letter does not contain any directed efforts to correct some wayward philosophy or doctrine. It does not try to correct some gross immorality or cultic expression. It seeks instead to educate the Ephesians in the concept of "being under authority."
The Faithful, who are at Ephesus:
High in the mind of Paul is "The Faithful." Textual scholars indicate that the words "at Ephesus," are not in all of the most ancient manuscripts. However this has never been a matter of contention. The importance and canonicity of the letter has never been questioned because of this anomaly. This letter is clearly "to the Faithful," no matter whether it was addressed locally, to the Ephesian Church, or as a cyclical letter to the churches of the Roman province of Asia, where Ephesus was the "mother" church.
The key element to remember is "The Faithful." This term was mostly used during New Testament times to denote those who had undergone the ritual of baptism, in the name of Jesus Christ. When we describe God as faithful we speak of His character being worthy of the love and confidence of men and women, and the assurance of His fulfilled promises. If we turn that description around to describe the faithfulness of men and women, then God would find faithful those who are worthy of His love and confidence based upon their simple saving faith in His beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Also involved would be the complicated elements of the perseverance of the saints and the performance of God's commandments.
God declares Himself to be faithful. With men and women it is quite a different story. God proclaims the believer as "faithful," based on the finished work of His Son, Jesus. We see faithfulness as a matter of performance because we are temporal and not infinite, earthly not heavenly. We are creatures whose definition of faithfulness seems to be caught up in action, but we need to learn balance. We need to learn that God proclaims the believer "faithful" based upon their relationship to His Son, and that the performance of the Will of God in our daily lives is our direct responsibility. The word of God teaches both so we must believe both. It is hard to understand how it can be both, but unless we find that very special balance we will veer off into some cultic expression of faith. We would become either legalistic; a salvation and life based upon works, or liberalistic; a salvation and life based on our feelings, or anything but the revealed Son of God.
God proclaims us faithful if we are in His Son Jesus. In response to this proclamation, we must walk in faith responding to His love with faithful actions.
One of Paul's major thrusts in the book concerns being "in" something. He refers to being "in Christ," "in the saints," or "in all power and wisdom." One technique that will help us to understand these concepts is to try to make language three dimensional in our minds. Take a moment and look at the diagram about prepositions on the following graphic. This diagram tries to visualize the relative placement of situations that prepositions describe.
When someone says, "Take him away from here," visualize the distance involved between "here" and "away from here." When someone says, "Stand beside me," visualize "beside me," etc. With these two examples under your belt, now try to visualize, "I was in the car." Can you picture yourself "in" a car? Now think about all the ramifications of being "in" a car (The space within, the features inside, the accessories, the controls, etc.). Now, take it a step further and think about the laws of physics that are effective on a car, that is, acceleration, friction, and gravity. Then, consider the laws of the state that are in effect, that is, speed laws, courtesy laws, safety laws, etc. Now being in a car is becoming a complicated affair, much more than just our original thought of sitting in a car. So is the biblical concept of being "in" something. Paul introduced the Ephesians to the concept of being "in Christ." This concept may seem simple, but in reality is quite elaborate and complex. Being "in Christ," entails all the rights, laws, benefits, responsibilities, and inheritances of Jesus Christ. When we are "in Him," we share in every aspect of Him.
It also should be noted that Paul took this idea of being "in Christ" to an even greater level of understanding. It was so very important to Paul that the Ephesians understand that their position was to be into Christ, and not to return to a position that was "in" the nation of Israel.
Take some time and try and visualize the prepositions on the above chart, and consider possible meanings and ramifications of these words in a relationship to Jesus Christ (i.e., "in Him," "through Him," "to Him," "before Him," etc.). This could be one of the most important concepts to know in understanding the book of Ephesians. The preposition "in" is used more than 120 times in Ephesians alone. "In" is the most used word in this book, and thus, it becomes one of the most important words to study.
(1:2) Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul's blessing upon the Ephesians:
It was one of Paul's conventions to introduce himself in his letters and then place a blessing upon the readers. Here, in the second verse, his blessing is his favorite one: "Grace and Peace." In the writings of Paul the sequences of these two words always follow the same order: grace and peace. Paul adds to this pattern when he writes very personal letters to Timothy and Titus. In these three instances (1 & 2 Timothy and Titus) he inserts the word "Mercy" between Grace and Peace. This is a lovely touch to letters written to two younger pastor friends. It takes more than grace and peace to be a pastor; it indeed takes the mercy of God as well.
Many have used the acronym God's Riches At Christ's Expense to define GRACE. I have long admired the following words by Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer, former president at Dallas Theological Seminary.
"Grace is what God may be free to do on behalf of them (the saved). When thus released from His holy demands against the sinner by the sacrificial death of Christ, and that sacrifice is accepted intelligently, the love of God will never be satisfied until He has done all He can do for such a one. The greatest thing God can do, reverently speaking, is to make someone like His son. Such then, will be the destiny of everyone who believes" (Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol. vii, eleventh printing, 1973, p. 178).
God's peace is equally difficult to define because of its complexity. First there is Peace with God. That is what you find when you believe and put your faith in Jesus Christ. Then, and only then, does the believer find peace with God. That peace is based upon your justification and that is found in the efficiency of the finished work of Christ. This "Peace with God," is not an experience, it is not a feeling, it is instead totally positional. Positional truth is truth that is proclaimed truth. Whether you feel it or experience it is never the issue. God has proclaimed this kind of peace based on the finished work of Jesus Christ, and that alone makes it true. If you are "in Christ," then it is the position God has proclaimed you to be in, that of peace with Him, based upon the finished work of Christ.
Then there is the Peace
of God. This kind of truth is experienced. It is the work
of the Holy Spirit who brings you the peace of God (see
There is also a very special peace that is coming during the Millennial Kingdom. There God will directly superintend the affairs of humanity through His Son, Jesus Christ. There the peoples of the world will know a living peace, even though temporary. True life peace will only be available in the eternal state, in the presence of the Trinity.
It should be remembered that there cannot be any true peace in this world of ours that is deeply saturated with sin, a world apart from Jesus Christ and His salvation. The Christian will always be at odds with such a world, and peace must then be an inner knowledge of position, and an inner experience with our Lord. There is no peace until you experience God's grace and peace.
From God: The Father of all who believe.
The new birth is brought about through the Holy Spirit and it results in a new relationship between God the Father and the believer. In that new special relationship God becomes "Father" to the believer and the believer becomes "Son" to Him. Each individual who is born of God becomes a son of God in the most vital and immutable meaning of sonship and has been received into the household and family of God. This position brings the believer into the position of "heir of God," and "joint-heir" of Jesus Christ. Please do not become confused by the modern trend of emasculated language. The picture of an adult "Son," fully grown, is according to the Old Testament picture of the Law. He is able, legally, to inherit all that is rightfully his based upon the proclamation of his father. The story of the prodigal son is rich in the meanings of sonship. It makes no difference if the believer is male, female or child, the image of the adult son applies to all who have believed in the Name of Jesus Christ. God the Father becomes God Our Father through the finished work of His Son, Jesus Christ.
From God: the Son, The Lord Jesus Christ.
The gifts of grace and peace are bestowed equally from the Son as well as from the Father. They are administrated through the power of the Holy Spirit. The ministry of the Son of God has bridged the gap between God and man. It was God the Son who willingly endured the cross for the sake of every believer. It was God the Son, who preexisted from eternity past, who became man in order to endure the cross - on our behalf. The gifts of Grace and Peace are here offered by the Father and the Son at the direction of the Holy Spirit to the Ephesians because of their faithfulness.
THE VISUALIZED TEXT - "Paul's Salutations," 1:1-2
THE VISUALIZED TEXT
& prepositions underlined, words not in original text in italics) (alternate
text in purple)
of Christ Jesus
through the will of God,
to the saints
who are at Ephesus, and (Some ancient mss. omit, "at Ephesus")
who are faithful
in Christ Jesus:
God our Father and
the Lord Jesus Christ.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS - "Paul's Salutations," 1:1-2
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
"Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus, and who are faithful in Christ Jesus:"
1. Who was Paul?
Paul was a Jew from Tarsus, a persecutor of Christians, converted to Christianity by the immediate intervention of the Lord and Called as an Apostle of the Gospel of Jesus Christ by the Lord Jesus Himself (Acts 9:6 ff). (The Life of "the Called Apostle" Paul)
2. What is an Apostle?
The Qualifications of an Apostle: An apostle had to have the spiritual gift of apostleship. The gift was provided by Jesus Christ after His ascension into Heaven, Eph. 4:8-11. The gift was imparted by the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, 1 Cor. 12:11; Acts 2.
The apostle received his gift and office by the sovereign decision of God the Father, 1 Cor. 1:1; 12:18; Eph. 1:1; Col. 1:1. The apostle had to have been an eyewitness of the resurrected Lord, Acts 1:22; 1 Cor. 9:1. The Credentials of an Apostle. An apostle was endowed with miraculous powers of miracles, Heb. 2:4; 2 Cor. 12:12. An apostle had success in evangelism, 1 Cor. 9:2; 2 Cor. 3:1-3; Gal. 2:7-9. An apostle had the capacity to suffer patiently, 2 Cor. 12:12.
3. What is an Apostleship?
The apostle had authority over all local churches because he was the channel of New Testament revelation. Since the time of the apostles, no one has been given authority over more than one local church. The apostle Paul was the most Grace-oriented apostle. He realized that he was the least deserving to be an apostle, 1 Cor. 15:9. He was the most productive because of Grace, 1 Cor. 15:10
4. Whose Apostle is Paul?
"An Apostle of Christ Jesus" (Eph 1:1a)
5. How did Paul become an Apostle?
"Through the will of God," and the confirmation of men - When Paul went up to Jerusalem "by revelation" and communicated to the leaders there "that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles," they recognized his unique apostleship and publicly acknowledged him as the new apostle to the Gentiles (they had originally been sent to "all nations" [Matthew 28:19]), agreeing henceforth to confine their own ministry to Israel.
6. Who was Paul an Apostle to?
Paul's Apostleship ministry was to the Gentiles.
7. Who is Jesus Christ
The Christ, Son of the Living God, Savior. The word order here puts the emphasis on Jesus, God incarnate.
8. Who is Christ Jesus?
The Christ, Son of the Living God, Savior. The word order here puts the emphasis on Christ.
9. To what does "Christ" refer?
The Office of the Christ, the Pre-incarnate Son of God now in the flesh.
10. What is the significance of the order of the words "Jesus Christ," or "Christ Jesus?"
Word order is often significant in the study of the Bible. Word order brings definition to the words being written or spoken. Typically, those things spoken of first have a primary emphasis.
11. What is "The Will of God?"
God's will is often spoken of in terms of "His immediate will," and "His permissive will." That which happens in the universe is part of His "plan" and some of that plan He accomplishes "immediately," according to his immediate purpose, and some is accomplished by His permission, those things which are not according to His Divine character but which need to be accomplished in order to complete His whole plan.
12. What is meant by "through the Will of God?"
What Paul is saying is that the regular path of Apostleship has not been followed in his case, and that God has directly intervened and "Called" Paul to the office of Apostle.
13. Who are the "Saints?"
Those who belong to the adopted household of God - Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, those who are a member of the universal Body of Christ.
14. Where is Ephesus?
Western shore of Asia Minor, in a plain at the mouth of the river Cayster, on whose southern bank was the city. 300 miles due east of Corinth, 425 miles west of Tarsus, Paul's home town. The original Ephesus is now near the city of Izmir, in modern Turkey.
15. What about Ephesus?
There were at least thirteen major churches in Anatolia, the region of the Roman Empire which contains the city of Ephesus. They were: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, Hierapolis, Colossae, Antioch of Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. They were all on a loop of ancient trade routes. The first seven of these are the Seven Churches of the book of Revelation. Letters from Paul were carried by couriers and circulated around this loop of churches.
16. Who are "The Faithful?"
Members of "The Faith." Those who had turned their lives over to Jesus Christ in belief.
17. Where are these "Faithful?"
According to the greeting of this letter, the "Faithful" were at Ephesus (not intimating that the "Faithful" were not anywhere else except Ephesus).
18. What was their outstanding characteristic, as far a Paul was concerned?
The stated outstanding characteristic of the members of the Body of Christ at Ephesus was their willingness to be "Faithful" in the things of God and to each other.
19. What does it mean to be "faithful?"
faithful –adjective 1. strict or thorough in the performance of duty: a faithful worker. 2. true to one's word, promises, vows, etc. 3. steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant: faithful friends. 4. reliable, trusted, or believed. 5. adhering or true to fact, a standard, or an original; accurate: a faithful account; a faithful copy. 6. Obsolete. full of faith; believing. –noun 7. the faithful, a. the believers, esp. members of a Christian church or adherents of Islam. b. the body of loyal members of any party or group. Origin: 1250–1300; ME Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.
20. What does it mean to be "faithful in Christ Jesus?"
The above secular definition must now be applied in terms of following the prescripts of the Lord Jesus Christ in their lives and actions in a "Faithful" manner.
21. What does it mean to be "in" something?
The scriptures speak of being In-Christ, In-God, In-the Holy Spirit. The term is very similar to the biblical concept of Baptism, the placing oneself into the position of being responsible to the one you placed into. Often referred to as the "Sphere of Authority"
22. "In Christ Jesus" refers to being "in the Sphere of Authority," what does that mean?
Willingly replacing your will and authority with that of Christ Jesus. And willingly making yourself accountable to His will and commandments.
23. What are some of the ramifications of being "in Christ?"
Please see the following study on this topic - "In Him - A Reference Study on our Inheritance"
"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
1. Explain why some refer to Godly Grace as: God's Riches At Christ's Expense.
This simple acrostic refers to the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary and the resulting grace that was shed to humanity as He "forgave the world" for its sins. Our grace cost Him the expense of His life.
2. What kind of peace would be defined as Godly Peace
Two kinds of peace come to mind. First there is the Peace With God that came about by the satisfaction of the demands of sin for a penalty that was settled at the Cross of Christ. Secondly, there is the Peace Of God that comes as a benefit of the continuing family relationship one acquires with God the Father through a believing relation ship with His Son Jesus.
3. What is the significance of the two used together?
Paul uses these two terms in every letter he writes to believers. It was his loving desire that all who know the Lord Jesus would be constantly reminded of God's Grace and Peace in their lives. The two words are always in the same order; Grace and Peace, an only in the really personal letters to Timothy is there any deviation to the pattern, and then it is only to add the word Mercy.
4. Where else are these terms used?
Grace and peace are only found as a pair in the writings of Paul, however both words are in common use throughout the bible. The first instance of Grace is Ezra 9:8 and Peace would be from the very beginning in Genesis 15:15.
5. Who is the "you" in this verse?
The Believers at the church in Ephesus (and those churches in the loop of western Asia Minor)
6. Does this apply to others, even yourself, if so who?
The application of these words belongs to the intended recipients of the message of the letter, however, by secondary application we can apply the message to all Christians who came after the letter writing, including ourselves. For what was true for the church then is true for it now.
7. Who are the recipients of this grace and peace?
The Believers at the church in Ephesus (and those churches in the loop of western Asia Minor)
8. Who are the givers of this grace and peace?
The gift of peace is given from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
9. What is their relationship to Paul and to Paul's readers?
The letter is written from the vantage point of believers, therefore the relationship would be that of family members of the family of God, as opposed to the secular world who have no such relationship to God or Jesus Christ.
10. Can you share in this relationship?
The answer is, of course, yes! God has done everything necessisary to repair the relationship with Him that was lost through our sin. What is needed is for each one of us to respond to that by repairing our relationship to Him. That is done by accepting the fact that Jesus has paid the price for the repairing of the relationships with His death on the Cross of Calvary. When we do this we come to the place of Believing in Him. When we do that you become a believer. Immediately you become a member of the Family of God.
11. Why does God reveal Himself here, and other places, as "Father?"
God has revealed Himself as having a "Family" relationship to those who willingly give themselves over to Him. It is His nature. He reveals Himself as Father because He is the "Father" figure in the relationship and we are His children.
12. Where else does this grace and peace come from?
Grace and Peace come from many sources, however the Grace of God, and the Peace of (and with) God comes only through having a personal relationship with Him.
13. What is a "Lord?"
The English word "Lord" has its roots in Old English with the meaning of "bread keeper." That would be the title of the one who provides for others and has in it a connotation of authority over those who come for that bread. The word in the Old testament that was most translated as "Lord" was the expression "Adoni."
14. Why does the Holy Spirit, through Paul, use the metaphor of a lord to describe Jesus Christ?
He is the one who cares for, the one who gives life, the one who supplies every need. In that role He is also the one who is responsible for us. When you have a relationship with the Son of God He becomes your Lord.
15. What is the significance of the word order here in "Jesus Christ?"
As noted above, word order does color the meaning of the sentence. In this case "Jesus" comes before "Christ" and puts the emphasis of the expression on the humanity of the Christ.
16. Why aren't these blessings from Paul, he's writing the letter?
Paul is very well aware that real blessings do not come from another human source, but only from the hand of God.
BIBLE REFERENCE - "Paul's Salutations," 1:1-2
"Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus, and who are faithful in Christ Jesus:"
Acts 9:13 - Paul's Character as Saul
Acts 18:19 - Paul's Visit to Ephesus
Romans 1:7 - Roman Parallel introduction
Colossians 1:4; 2:6; 4:12; Philippians 1:2 - Ephesian Parallels with the Colossians
Romans 1:1 - Paul, called to be an Apostle
Romans 11:13 - Paul, called as an Apostle to the Gentiles
1 Corinthians 1:1 - Paul, called to be an Apostle
1 Corinthians 9:1-2 - Paul has seen Jesus
1 Corinthians 15:9 - Paul sees himself as "not worthy" of apostleship
2 Corinthians 1:1 - Paul, called by the Will of God
2 Corinthians 12:12 - Apostleship evidenced by presence of "Sign Miracles"
Galatians 1:1 - Paul, called by Jesus Christ
Ephesians 1:1 - Paul, called by God's will
Philippians - no reference as an Apostle
Colossians 1:1 - Paul, called by the Will of God
1 Thessalonians - no reference as an Apostle
2 Thessalonians - no reference as an Apostle
1 Timothy 1:1 - Paul, called by commandment of God
1 Timothy 2:7 - "an Apostle, (I speak the truth and lie not)"
2 Timothy 1:1 - Paul, called by God's will
2 Timothy 1:11 - Paul, an Apostle
Titus 1:1 - an Apostle
Ephesians 2:2-21 - Our Place in His Calling
Romans 8:1 - No Condemnation to Those who are in Christ Jesus
Galatians 3:26 - The Children of God "By Faith"
"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
Grace and Peace Salutation
1 Corinthians 1:3
2 Corinthians 1:2
1 Thessalonians 1:2
2 Thessalonians 1:2
Philemon 1:3 Grace, Mercy, and Peace Salutation
1 Timothy 1:2
2 Timothy 1:1
"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE,
© Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968
1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1988.
Used by permission."
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