In our study, we will look at how God established the church and what that means for us today. The book is commonly called the church epistle and was written while Paul was in prison in Rome. It is commonly called the church epistle (letter) because it presents how the church (meaning body of believers) was established, what it should look like, and how it should operate here on earth. The letter was to be passed around from one body of believers to another not only in Ephesus but throughout the area.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:
Paul identifies himself in this opening to the letter. He says that he is an apostle and that it is because of God's will and not because of man's designation. There are many today that want to claim a title and even go so far as claiming to be an apostle but there are and were some specific requirements to being an apostle. An apostle was one that received their commission to start churches directly from the lips of the Lord Jesus. Jesus originally chose twelve and, after Judas betrayed Him, Paul was commissioned to replace him.
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul continues the introduction with a traditional greeting. "Grace" was the traditional greeting of the Gentiles at this time and "Peace" was the traditional greeting of the Jews (this is also where the common greeting of Muslims comes from although it is impossible to have peace without Jesus).
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.
Next, Paul gives God the praise because we have it all in Christ. We need nothing else to have the spiritual blessing of eternal life with God. This is a reminder that we don't contribute anything to our salvation as it is strictly through faith in the perfect sacrifice of Jesus. Later in the letter, Paul will explain that, because of our salvation, we will be different but he opens with this reminder.
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will -
Now, Paul reminds us of how the "church" was established in that God chose each of us as individuals. He chose us even before the world was made and in fact set things for us to do in our lives at that time. Sometimes, it is hard to wrap your mind around that but God really is that big and that much in control! Paul goes on to remind them and us that we are "adopted" into God's family because of His will and not because of anything we are or have done. The Father planned the "church" from the beginning of time and it is very important to understand that being adopted was significant legally. A natural born child could be removed from a will (lose their inheritance) but an adopted child could not. That describes our relationship with God in that we cannot lose our inheritance (salvation).
to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 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.
Paul continues by reminding them that Jesus paid for the "church" with his blood. Grace is being freely given something that you do not deserve and that is the way it is with our salvation. God even gave us the ability to understand what Jesus did for us as we could not understand it on our own.
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 have reached their fulfillment - to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
God has made it known that He has given Jesus the authority to rule over everything. He has declared it to be so in the resurrection of Jesus as even death was defeated by Him. You want to know what God's will is? Plain and simple this verse tells us. It also tells us what His will is for our individual lives and that is for Jesus to be in control (the head) of each of our lives here today. You can make that choice and hit the reset button on your life today.
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, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
God's purpose, as we saw in the last passage, was to put everything under the Lord's authority. Here, we see that the purpose in that is to bring praise to God. When our minds and lives are transformed to be like Jesus, we are different and people see it and praise God.
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked 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.
This passage can bring so much peace to the life of a Christian. You see, Paul is letting us know that we don't have to walk around wondering whether we are saved or not. We can know because, if we have the Holy Spirit , then we are assured that we are His. We can praise God in that He did not leave us wondering around in doubt about our eternal destiny! We are also reminded that, when we believed, we are "included in Christ" and that reminds us that we are one and belong to Him not a denomination or "church building" or anything else. Christ only has one body and, if you have that Spirit, then you are a part of it and you do not have to join anything else.
For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
Once again, we see that Paul was a man of prayer and he was constantly lifting up other believers. It is interesting to note here that he not only heard about their faith but also their love for the saints. That is how faith is demonstrated and so Paul knew that it was a real faith and he was thankful for them.
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
Paul gives us a look at a specific request that he presents to God. He is asking that they would have and understand the gift of wisdom that they have through the Holy Spirit. He knew that all wisdom and understanding comes from God because of Jesus' words (in John 14:26) where He promised believers the Counselor (Holy Spirit).
I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
Paul shares another prayer of his for the Ephesians and it is that they will know what they have in Jesus. His prayer is for them to realize that they are a part of the royal family of God and with that comes power. We should also be praying for this for many Christians today as they are walking around defeated and not realizing the power they have because of their relationship with God.
That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
Paul is not only praying for the believers but he is also explaining to them that they have the same power that raised Jesus from the dead in them. That, my friends, is real power and only comes from God. We also have that same power and strength because of our relationship with Jesus Christ. It was for the days of Paul as well as today and in the future!
And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
Paul is reminding us that Jesus is the boss and we report directly to Him. Jesus bought us and has been put in charge of everything by the Father. James 4 tells us of the effects of men trying to be in control instead of Jesus. Paul knew how dangerous that was and prayed for the Ephesians to avoid it.