Eph 1:1-23 ESV
(1) Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: (2) Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul simply provides a familiar greeting that he uses in all of his letters/epistles. I want to point out here at he is addressing ALL the saints, both Jewish and Gentile. The reason that I want to make this point is that several of the following verses are directed to ALL the saints both Jew and Gentile. Later on he will make a brief distinction between the Jewish believers that he will refer to as us and the Gentile believers that he will refer to as you, but it will only be to show that the Jews had hoped in Christ for a much longer time than had the Gentiles. Therefore, the letter itself is to ALL Ephesian believers both Jew and Gentile.
(3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, Ephesians is an epistle full of God's sovereign decrees. Let me define a sovereign decree. It is a statement that cannot be altered by further conditions. A decree is a statement that shows who is in-charge, and what that means. So, in this first decree we see that God has ALREADY blessed them, both Jew and Gentile with EVERY spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus. Some of the sentences are so important that they must be examined clause by clause. This is certainly one of them so the first clause is as follows: "(4) even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, This stated decree explains that the choice was made before the foundation of the world. That is, the choice was made before creation. This means that God's first thought in creation was redemption. In other words, God created the world to redeem it! It was not a solution to an accidental circumstance. Redemption was the first stated purpose in creation. Think about that. Think about what that implies. God could have never been angry about the fall of man. It was God's purpose.
Why did God purpose this? that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love Now, when Paul writes that we should be holy and blameless before Him in love, he meant that we should be holy and blameless in his sight. It is stated that way in many of the translations. The reason is that the word translated *before* him, actually means in his sight. So then, the clause is not saying that we should be holy and blameless as much as it is declaring in conjunction with the former statement that God has made us holy and blameless. This is not referring to our holiness but our declared holiness by virtue of receiving the righteousness of God as a gift based on faith in Christ Jesus. (5) he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, Here you have a clear statement that is by the sovereign choice of God, and not the choice of humanity. This again is a decree. He goes on to answer why. He gives God's purpose in this" (6) to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. So now we see the motivation. God first purpose in creation was redemption, and it was to the praise of His glorious grace. God created humanity to praise Him for his grace! Grace then, is the prime factor in all that God does. It is most important of all concepts. God's grace is a direct result of His love. It is not Law. It is not wrath. It is in fact grace that proceeds from God's love. With this in mind. Grace is the driving prerequisite force in all that God ever planned! Don't you see that evangelical doctrine and dogma is so far off the mark when the focus is on law obedience?
(7) In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, (8) which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight (9) making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ Paul is still addressing ALL the Ephesian believers, both the Jew and Gentile. Again, see it is the riches of his grace that is the reason. God's mysterious will was hidden prior to the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. It was in wisdom that God did this. God knew that grace and his love would be far more transformative than simply giving a law to be followed. Grace is that which allows us to properly and truthfully love God.
(10) as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (11) In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, God planned for the fullness of time, according to Paul's argument, the fullness of time was then, Paul's time, the Ephesians time. The fullness came in the first century. They were awaiting the promised destruction of the temple and the time when God would manifest that his sons and daughters were those who believed in the gospel. We also see in this decree that God purposes all of this to the counsel of his own will. Again, we see the sovereignty of God in this decree.
Finally now Paul makes a distinction between the Jew and Gentile believer. (12) so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. Here Paul is speaking of himself as a Jew and all of the Jewish people that came before him. They indeed were the first to hope for a Messiah. (13) In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, (14) who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Now Paul is speaking of the Gentiles. It is important to see in these verses that Paul defines the phrase the "word of truth." He plainly states that the word of truth is the gospel of salvation and not the entire scripture. Paul would of-course, hold on to this meaning of the phrase through all of his writings so, when he speaks about rightly dividing and correctly handling the word of truth in 2 Tim 2:15, he obviously means rightly dividing the gospel or correctly handling the gospel. To rightly divide the word of truth is to correctly handle the gospel as it resides in scripture. Several years ago, I came up with a slogan of sorts. It was as follows: "the only way to rightly divide the word of truth is with the cross." After all, the cross event is dividing act between promising the gospel and realizing the gospel.
Notice also that after hearing and believing the word of truth, (gospel), one is sealed with the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of redemption. Redemption, eternal communion with God is the prize, and the indwelling Holy Spirit is the guarantee of that. ANYONE who sincerely believes the gospel has the Holy Spirit as a guarantee. It may not be fully realized, but that does not negate that ALL believers have the Holy Spirit as a gift of redemption. Notice further that it also is to the praise of the Glory of God, and by extension from the previous decree in verse six is to the praise of the glory of His grace. Again, the driving force, the catalyst for all that God has purposed in the fullness of time is GRACE. When God so clearly focuses on grace, why do so many focus on the law of sin and death?
Now, because of all these wonderful decrees, Paul acknowledges their faith and love and begins a prayer that calls for a blessing on all the Ephesian Believers. (15) For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, (16) I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, So look at what he prays; (17) that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, (18) having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, (19) and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might (20) that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, (21) far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. (22) And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, (23) which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. Please receive with the Ephesians, the spirit of wisdom and revelation into this glorious inheritance that by decree does not depend on you but rather on God's decree and what he has already accomplished from before the foundation of the world. It was a done deal before he created anything. This decree came from the time prior to Genesis 1:1. It came from the time of John 1:1; "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God!"
I will continue this teaching series next week. Until then be blessed and concentrate of the grace of God, the love of God and the gospel of Christ!