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The book of Ephesians is believed to have been written by Paul during his first imprisonment in Rome.
If you recall when we were studying in Rom 15 looking at Paul’s prayer request in vs 30-32.
and we considered this in conjunction with the acts account which tells us that Paul was apprehended by the Jews before the Roman soldiers intervened and took him into custody and held him for two years before the sent him to stand trial before Caesar in Rome.
And the book of acts concludes with Paul living under house arrest in his own rented house for two more years.
During this time Paul was able to have visitors come and go and was able to preach the gospel and write letters.
At which time it has been traditionally believed that he wrote Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon.
The authorship of the letter to the Ephesians has come under suspicion in last couple of hundred years.
One of the primary reasons for this was that this letter, unlike many of Paul’s other letters lacked any personal touch in that Paul doesn’t name anyone in his greetings but rather speaks in generic terms such as “the saints” or “brethern”.
This would seem odd considering how much time Paul had spent in Ephesus.
However, it is likely that this letter was written to a broader audience and so Paul took a more formal approach.
In fact it is believed by many that this letter was the letter to the Laodiceans referred to in Col 4:16
“16 Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.”
It is likely that as this more generic letter was transcribed and circulated that the name was changed.
What does all this mean for us?
As far as it’s place in the Word of God is concerned it means very little.
God has preserved this letter for us in the Bible and it is inspired by the Holy Spirit and authoritative scripture, profitable for our instruction and learning.
But as far as it’s content and application are concerned it has great benefit for us.
Because it is more generic Paul has not taken any time dealing with specific issues in the church.
Instead it covers all aspects of the Christian life, beginning with outlining our incredible standing with God in Christ Jesus and exercising of God’s sovereign Will toward us in having predestined us to adoption before the foundation of the world to the praise of His glory and grace.
And then moving into the practical application of this amazing grace which is that we must walk worthy of our calling.
Instructions are given to children and parents, husbands and wives, masters and slaves.
And great mysteries are revealed concerning Christ and the church.
So with that let’s begin our journey with this letter.
An Apostle by the Will of God
Paul includes himself among the twelve that followed Jesus in His earthly ministry.
The title of apostle holds authority.
It means that the Greek apostolos means a delegate or ambassador or one who has been commissioned.
This is one who speaks with the same authority as the one who commissioned him.
Which in this case is Jesus Christ.
So Paul introduces himself, as he always did, as one who speaks with the authority of Christ Himself.
After Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus he was blind.
And the Lord gave him a vision that a man named Ananias would come and lay hands on him and heal him.
But when the Lord told Ananias to go to Saul or Tarsus to heal him he said to the Lord we have heard of this guy and how much harm he has done to the saints in Jerusalem.
We find the Lord’s reply to Ananias in
So Paul was indeed an apostle.
Christ had chosen him to be His vessel to take the gospel to the Gentiles.
It was not an easy calling but was one of suffering.
This means that Paul writings, like the other apostle’s writings carry the authority of Jesus Christ Himself.
Not only does Paul claim this authority but He claims to have it “by the will of God”
Now we should ask ourselves here, is this God’s sovereign will or is this God’s revealed will?
And what is the difference.
God’s sovereign will is that which found in
Where God’s revealed will is that which God has revealed to us (aka will of command) that we are expected to obey.
Such as is found in
The difference it that God’s sovereign will (aka will of decree) and his revealed will is primary that God’s sovereign will always is accomplished because God is the acting agent.
God’s will of command only happens when we obey.
It’s when God has revealed His will for us but we are the active agent so we must obey.
Now that we are the active agent is not to say that we do it in our own strength because we can do nothing with our abiding in Christ.
So is Paul an apostle because God commanded it and he obey or because God decree it?
From what we read in acts the Lord said that he is a chosen vessel to bear His name among the Gentiles.
In Gal 1:15-16
So If God separated Paul and called him from his mother’s womb then that must be God will of decree.
God chose Paul before he was born to be an apostle.
Paul did not see his apostleship as a choice he saw it as God’s purpose for him.
God’s sovereign will is not something that we must find it is something that finds us.
As we go through this letter God’s sovereign will is going to come up often.
Nothing will give you a greater sense of purpose than acknowledging God’s sovereign will in your life.
Who is Paul addressing?
Saints in Ephesus, Faithful in Christ Jesus
The saints who are in Ephesus are not the elite.
When Paul uses this term he is referring to the Christians.
In fact every time we find the word saints in the Bible it is referring to those who are Christians.
But what a powerful word it is.
It means sacred, pure, blameless, holy.
It means to be set apart.
Their location, in Ephesus.
Paul then address the faithful in Christ Jesus.
Is this another group o people?
The saint in Ephesus are also the faithful in Christ.
The word faithful could mean either those who are trustworthy or those who are trustful i.e. those who have faith.
I believe in the context Paul means those who have faith are full of faith.
Then he says in Christ Jesus.
But thats not just that hey have faith in Christ Jesus although they certianty must have faith in Christ if they are saints.
But rather they are in Christ positionally.
This is a common phrase that we find Paul using over and over.
It means they are united to Christ.
As the branch abides in the vine so we are in Christ and therefore we are united with one another.
So these that Paul is writing to are both in Ephesus the worldly city which was home to the great temple of the goddess Diana.
Worldly and wicked city.
And they were in Christ set apart for holy service.
It is good for us to remember as Christians we have two homes.
We are in this world and we are in Christ.
We are saints, set apart for holy service and yet we live in a world for or wickedness.
But God has left us in this world for now so that we can be a light to those in darkness.
Grace to You and Grace be With You
In the final part of this greeting Paul give a blessing.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Interestingly Paul begins every one of his letters with som variation of “grace to you” and he ends everyone of his letters with some variation of Grace be with you.
These are blessings.
Paul is hoping for the grace of God to come to these he is writing to.
But he is not talking about the grace of justification through faith in Christ because they have already received that grace.
No his prayer is for more grace to come.
Or as John Piper refers to it his book by the same name “future grace”.
But what is interesting is that Paul always starts with “grace to you” and ends with “grace be with you” In his book John Piper gives his explanation for why that is.
Paul is hoping for grace to come to them through his letter.
So that as the letter is read to them that in that process they would receive grace from God.
But once the letter has been read he is praying for God grace to continue to abound and for them to have grace with them.
So an application of that would be that when we come to church and fellowship and hear God’s Word proclaimed may it be grace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
But as we go out from here let us not leave the grace of God behind but rather let grace to continue to abound to us from God as we go through our week.
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