Ephesians 1:1-2

I was asked to teach the men’s group the other day. They’ve just started through curriculum that is going through the book of Ephesians. It covered Ephesians 1:1-14 yesterday, in one hour. Its WAAAAAAY too little time to cover so much stuff.  So I thought I’d try to see if I couldnt unpack it a little more carefully than that, given that its supposed to be a study.

So let us use the NASB version and take a look at the text itself.

Paulan apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are at Ephesus andwho are faithful in Christ Jesus : 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

This letter has the traditional format for letters in the middle east in the first century: an introduction of who the author is, and to whom the letter was intended, a body, and a conclusion. In this case, we see the letter was written by Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus.

So what is an apostle? The Greek word, Apostolos, means “a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders.” This word has been translated as apostle, messenger, and “is sent.” This has a similar meaning to the word translated as angel, Aggelos, which means “a messenger, envoy, one who is sent, an angel, a messenger from God.” Notice that Paul was an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God. This is not something PAUL chose to do – but was chosen to be so by God.

As a God chosen messenger, Paul wrote to the saints at Ephesus, the faithful. Some versions of the Bible have the clauses which describe the saints and the faithful written in such a way as to lead one to believe these are two separate groups. But in fact, The second phrase, “the faithful in Christ Jesus”, is expanding upon the first phrase. The “saints” is another way of describing people who put their faith in Christ as their savior and Lord. The “faithful in Christ Jesus” describes those saints – they are people who maintain believe (or faith) in Christ until the end.

But what is a saint? The Greek word, Hagios, means “most holy thing”. This is something that has been set aside for God’s purpose. Anyone who has come to have faith in Christ is both made holy and called to be holy. We are set aside, or made holy, for God’s purpose. But more than that, we are called to BE holy – we are called to live lives which separate us from the profane. We are called to live lives as free from sin as possible – righteous lives. Obviously, none of us are perfect and all of us will sin. But the idea is to avoid sin. When we DO sin, we are to confess our sins to God. We are to do what we can to remain holy so we can be used for God’s purposes. Not that He can’t use people and things which are not holy, because God CAN. But believers are set aside, made holy. Believers are called to BE holy.

As I said, the second phrase used to describe Paul’s audience, “faithful in Christ Jesus,” is an expansion on the first. This tells us how we are made holy – through being faithful in Christ Jesus. Faithful is not simply having a thought. Neither is it believing and then disbelieving. Paul wrote over and over that one must continue to have faith until the end. To be faithful is stand firm in trusting in Christ Jesus – to believe that the Christ, the Messiah, was sent by God to be born, to suffer and die for our sins, and to be raised again on the third day to show His power over death, to show His deity. There are people who seem to have faith in church who for various reasons walk away from God, who no longer believe – those are not faithful – they did not remain faithful until the end. It is those who remain faithful who are addressed in this book by Paul.

Also notice something else: there are two different forms of addressing Our Savior in these two verses. One is “Christ Jesus.” The other form of addressing Him is “Lord Jesus Christ”. So why the change? What difference do the different forms of addressing Jesus make? They are describing the same person, but the difference is in emphasis. Christ means anointed, and is translated messiah. This is the saving role the Son of God played. When Paul uses “Christ,” he is emphasizing this particular aspect of the Son of God. When Paul uses “Lord Jesus Christ,” Paul is emphasizing Christ’s role in our lives as Lord, ruler, boss.

Paul then goes on to bless his audience with grace from God. What IS grace? The Greek word, Charis, means “grace, that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech, good will, loving-kindness, favour of the merciful kindness by which God.” It is receiving what we do not deserve: God’s good will. None of us deserve God’s love, yet God DOES love us – all of us. Neither do we deserve God’s forgiveness. Yet, that is exactly what we receive when we come to have faith in Christ – we repent (change), believe (have faith/trust in Christ), and have evidence of that repentance (deeds appropriate to repentance, confession, etc). God forgave us our sins because of what Christ had done for us.

This in turn gives us peace, the other part of the blessing Paul wished upon his audience. Paul wished “peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” upon his audience. This peace has multiple connotations. The Greek word, Eirene, means “peace between individuals” as well as “the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot.” The idea is that people have faith in Christ and so have peace WITH God. Without faith, the wrath of God is upon us. Without peace from God (peace between us and God as initiated BY God), we will not go to heaven. But also, without this faith, we can not truly have inner peace. Our soul will always be seeking for that which might make us happy and give a sense of tranquility. Some people try to find peace through ways the world says to, but they find it lacking.

I’ve known people to turn to drugs, alcohol, sex, power, magic, food, and all sorts of things. But they never found peace. Even people who believed in God didn’t have peace because they were trying to do things differently than God had said should be done. Women try to fill men’s roles. Men try to fill women’s roles. God wired us each differently. We each have different needs, desires, and such. When we try to do things our way, whether we believe in Christ or not, we find ourselves not filled with peace. God wants us to do things HIS way. We need to surrender to God in every area of our lives. We need to make Christ Jesus the Lord of our lives. Only by doing so can we have true peace.

Paul was chosen by God. In the same way, so to are we chosen by God. We are set aside and are to be faithful and holy for God. This is how we get God’s peace and grace – by accepting what God has done for us, sending His Son to suffer and die for our sins so that we could have eternal life. When we do so, we accept Christ’s leadership over our lives and accept God’s grace and peace with God.

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3 Responses

  1. One of the most profound Pauline scripture texts…Eph. 1: 3-14!

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