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Paulís Letter To The Ephesians

 

Chapters 1 

Next Section - Chapter 2 

ch. 1:1-2   ch. 1:3-14    ch. 1:15-23

My Commentary On Ephesians

Introduction

In preparing this commentary I have used the N IV Bible, 1973 version. Each section of this commentary is based on the section titles found in this version of the NIV Bible.

Paul was executed for his faith in 64 AD. Most scholars believe that the letter to the Ephesians was written just two years prior to his death in 62 AD, while in prison.

The city of Ephesus is located on the western shores of the province of Asia . It was an important shipping port, and probably the most important city in the province. The city was most likely the fourth largest city in the world in Paulís day and age, with an estimated population of about 250,000. Some streets were paved with marble. The main street going through the city was 70 feet wide.

For its day, the city was very cultured and educated. They had a theatre that sat at minimum 24,000 people. Some suggest that it might have even sat up to 50,000 people.

The people of Ephesus worshipped Artemis, or as the Romans called her Diana, the goddess of fertility. This might give the reason for the sensual nature of the city.

Many scholars think that Ephesus is where the Apostle John lived the closing years of his life as the leader of the church in that city.

 

Opening Remarks (ch. 1:1-2)  

Paulís opening remarks are brief in this letter. He simply says who he is, that is Paul, and states that he is an apostle of Jesus, by Godís will. He gives no defense for his claim. He simply states the fact.

Also in verse 1 he states to whom he is writing, and that is to "the saints in Ephesus , the faithful in Christ Jesus". The Greek word "hagios" is translated as saints. By definition "hagios" means "the separated ones", or "those who have been set aside as being holy". These Ephesians were holy, and they were also faithful. It was their faith, their trust in Jesus that made them saints. If you know Paul, you would know that there is only one way to be a saint, and that is to rely on Jesus completely for you salvation.

In verse 2 Paul says, "grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ". Paul says these words in a number of places in his writings. That is, "grace and peace" can only come from God, who is our Father. That being said, grace and peace is not only from God, but from the Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus, who is the Lord of all there is, and the Christ, the Saviour of the world.  This is the centre of Paulís gospel and teaching. Jesus Christ being the Lord should also be the centre of all that we believe and do as Christians. Too often we promote secondary issues and forsake the essential things of salvation, meaning Jesus Himself, who is both Lord and Christ as Peter puts it in Acts 2:36.  

Spiritual Blessings In Christ (ch. 1:3-14)  

Verse 3 opens with some great words, "praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ". As I say over and over again, we as Christians do not serve any God. We serve God, who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Any other god is not God. It is this God and this God only that has "blessed us in heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing". Note the verb tense. He "has blessed us", past tense. In one moment of time through the death and resurrection of Jesus He has blessed us. What has he blessed us with? He has blessed us with "spiritual blessings". Spiritual blessings are not material blessings. Spiritual blessings are invisible, although with visible consequences. Spiritual blessings have everything to do with the Holy Spirit. These spiritual blessings include all that is a part of Godís Salvation. These blessings are ours because of the Holy Spirit who lives within us. Such blessings include our relationship with Jesus, His love and forgiveness, His Spirit and the resulting gift. The list goes on and on.

These "spiritual blessings" are found in "heavenly realms". That is the place in which God Himself dwells, meaning the spiritual world around us. Paul is saying that we have been elevated into a spiritual world that exists around us, not necessarily above us, but around us. There is a whole invisible world that exists around us that is not apparent to the natural man. Yet once one receives Godís Spirit, we find ourselves living in two dimensions, in two worlds, the material world and the spiritual world. It is in this spiritual world where we are greatly blessed, and also live.

Paul, in verse 4 tells the Ephesians, and us as well, that "we have been chosen in Him (Jesus) to be holy and blameless". For those of us who have accepted Godís choice for our lives, we are holy and blameless. God sees us as totally right and just, just as He is right and just, because we rely on what Jesus has done for us, and nothing else. Someday when Jesus returns, and we become like Him, the righteousness that God views us as will become reality in our lives.

Paul goes on to say that God has "predestined us to be sonsÖ" We do need to comment on this word "predestined", and also on the word "chose". It is my thinking that God has predestined, or has chosen all mankind to salvation. After making this choice He begins to call each man to Himself, as Paul says in Romans 8:30. We are free agents. We do have the choice to refuse His call, but nevertheless God has predestined to call the whole world. We can say no to His call, or simply not respond. Not responding is the same as saying no to God.

God has chosen us "to be holy and blameless in His sight."  Now how can that be? The only way that this can be at the present time is by faith. By this we mean that if we trust Jesus, the one who purchased our salvation, we can be counted as holy and blameless in His sight. This is the message of Romans, that is "the just will live by faith." That is to say, the just will live by relying on Jesus for salvation.

In verse 5 Paul notes that it was Godís will that we become sons, yet it was not only His will but His pleasure. He takes joy in blessing those who receive His grace as sons.

In verse 6 Paul uses the phrase "to the praise of His glorious grace". Paul certainly new more than most of us what the grace of God is all about. He had fallen to a great depth of sin in his career as a religious leader. Godís grace not only covered over Paulís sin, but it gave him the ability to stop the sin. Thus, the twofold definition of grace.   Godís grace is unmerited favour but it is also God's ability given to us to fulfill His will in our lives.  Many Christians do not understand that the word grace actually has two Biblical meanings.

In verse 6 we note that this grace has been "freely given to us through the One He loves."  His grace is free. Itís not free because itís cheap. It is free because it is too expensive for us to buy or earn. It is so expensive that no one can afford it.  Therefore it has to be given away to those who will appreciate it.

Yes Godís grace has been given to us free and without charge, but it is given "in the One He loves". This grace can only come through the One God loves, and that is Jesus. It cannot come through any other person. There is only one way to access Godís grace. There is only one door in which we can enter the place where we can stand in His grace. That may not sound right in this day of multiculturalism and tolerance, but this is what the Bible clearly teaches us.

In verse 7 Paul says that we have "redemption through his blood". The word redemption means to purchase. The blood of Jesus was the price that God paid to buy our freedom from sin, the world and the Law. It was in this process that God forgave our sins as Paul puts it in this verse. The only way in which we could become sons of God was if our sins were first forgiven. God could no longer tolerate our sin so He dealt with it in His own way. He now sees us as sinless, even though we arenĎt. This is what the word justification means. By doing this, God can give us His Spirit. It is in receiving His Spirit that we become sons.

Ni verse 8 we note that justification is in "accordance with His riches of grace that He has lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding."  Paul seemed to have understood something that we donít seem to fully grasp. Paul understood that God has "lavished His grace on us". The Greek word "perrisseuo" is translated here as "lavished". It means "in exceeding measure Ė something above the ordinary". God has more than just given His love towards us in an ordinary way. He has given it to us in "an exceeding great measure, beyond the ordinary, beyond what man is capable of giving."

Godís love is lavished towards us in His "wisdom and understanding". Love in the worldís sense is often seen as feelings and emotions, but we know that love is more than that. Love is action. Love is doing something. Godís love was not simply given to us from an emotional response to our need. Godís love comes to us from a "wise choice" on His behalf. He has given His love with "much understanding". His love is well thought out and with great wisdom attached to it. Godís love is far above manís love. It is beyond our intelligence to figure out. We are thankful that this love is free of charge.

In verse 9 Paul says that "God made known the mystery of His will Ö which He purposed in Christ". It is obvious that this mystery was made known in Christ. The mystery that was hidden to the world, yet foretold to Israel was our Salvation, that is God coming to man, living within man, both Jew and Gentile alike. Not only did God "purpose" this ahead of time, but it was "His good pleasure" to purpose, or predetermine salvation to all who would receive it. This is not something God had to do. It is something that He wanted to do.

In verse 10 Paul says, "...to put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment..." Thus another one of those Scriptures that suggests that there is a right time and a wrong time, that there is a specific time for God to do what He wants to do. The right time came for Jesus to come to earth. The right time came on Pentecost for man to receive Godís Spirit. The right time will come when Jesus will return and restore all things, and give all things back to His Father (1 Corinthians 15:28).

The goal of Godís great salvation is stated here in verse 10 and that is "to bring all things in Heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ". Obviously that has not come about as yet. Godís plan of Salvation is progressive. We have a measure of it at this present time, but there is more to come. It is also clear that all things are not yet under the headship of Christ. Someday this will not be the case. Some have used this verse as proof the God will eventually bring everyone into Salvation and no one would be lost in Hell. This is a very poor interpretation of this verse. There will be people in Hell. That is clear. They will be locked up in the Lake of Fire forever. Because they are locked up, they are under Christís control. They no longer have a free will. But until that day comes, all men have a free will and therefore are not under the headship of Christ. That will not be the case after Jesus returns and this age comes to an end. Every knee will bow. Even those who are eternally lost will bow their knee and recognize that Jesus is Lord.

In verse 11 Paul says that we have been "predestined". Without getting into too much detail, I donít believe some people are predestined for Salvation and some arenít. This would rule out all of the Scriptures that say "whosoever comes to Jesus will be saved". God has predestined or predetermined that all men should be saved. . Since He has made this choice, He proceeds to call all men to Himself. Yet men are free agents. They can say "no" to God. Look at Romans 8:30. There Paul says that those God predestined (all men - my thinking), He calls. Those who "accept" (accept is my interpretation) His call are justified, and then at a future date glorified.

Also Paul says in this verse that "God works out everything in accordance with His plan". Now this is interesting. I look at history and see the positive and the negative used by God in working out His plan. Remember Pharaoh who was hostile to Godís people. Well, God used Him to work His plan. I believe that God used Hitler as well to bring judgment on the Jews prior to Him blessing them with nationhood. God can use and will use all things, whether good or evil to work out His plan. He does work out His plan so that "we might be to His praise and glory". This is the ultimate end of all things. That is that God will have a people that live in such a way that will give praise and glory to Him.

Paul tells the Ephesians that they were included in Christ when they heard the "word of truth". Godís word is the truth. It is the central truth of the universe. I always say that I did not become a Christian because of all the benefits God offers. I came to Jesus because I realized that He and what He says is the central truth of the universe, and I had no other logical choice to make. Really when it comes right down to it, if you come to Christ for the benefits, and if you happen to go through hard times, you will leave Him because you came for the wrong reason. On the road to Damascus Paul met the Truth. Jesus said that He was the Truth. (John 14:6) Paul accepted this Truth. This is what kept Him going through the hard times, or a least part of what helped him keep going.

In verse 13 Paul says that when these people first believed "they were marked with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit". Paul makes it very clear here that when we first believe we are sealed with Godís Spirit.

The Greek word "sphragize" that is translated as "seal" in this verse means an emblem, a stamp of approval. If you go to a lawyer and ask for a notarized copy of any kind of document, he will put his seal on it, proving that the copy is a true copy of the original. Also the Jews believed that circumcision was an outward seal of Godís approval. (Rom. 4:11) The Holy Spirit is the sign, the seal, the emblem, and the proof that we belong to Christ.

We should understand that the word "seal" here does not mean a seal in the sense that tape, glue, or cement, would seal something. 

Paul goes on to say that the Spirit is a "deposit" or a down payment of our "redemption" that will one day come at Christís return. There is clearly much more to come, much more than we presently have. Our bodies will be redeemed and we will be like Christ in our heavenly bodies.

The fact that they Holy Spirit is a deposit on a better future should say something about the Prosperity Movement's teaching that states we should have it all in this life.  We don't have it all in this life.  We are to imitate how Jesus lived when He was on earth in physical form.  He was a servant. We are servants now.  We will be kings, along with Jesus, after, and only after, He returns to rule the world.     

Thanksgiving And Prayer (ch. 1:15-23)  

In verse 15 Paul says that he never stops praying for these people and thanking God for them ever since they came to faith in Christ. Remember faith simply means trust. These people trusted Jesus and Him alone for their salvation. No rule, either by God or by man can be added to what Jesus has already done for us.

Paul says "I keep asking the God of our Lord Jesus Christ to give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation".

First of all we see Paul using the phrase "God of our Lord Jesus Christ". There is only one God, and He is the God of our Lord Jesus Christ. Any other so-called god is not God. There is one God. He is not the God of Islam, or Hinduism, or anyone else.

"The Spirit of wisdom and revelation", what does this mean? Paul is asking God to give the Spirit of wisdom and revelation to these people. Is this the Holy Spirit that He is talking about here? These people already have the Holy Spirit, so how can they receive him again? Paul wants wisdom and revelation that comes from the Spirit of God to be in their lives. He wants this for only one reason and that is "so they would know Him better". Spiritual knowledge comes to us by revelation, but this revelation is in all wisdom. One problem with those who operate in the area of gifts of the Spirit is that too many times prophecies and words of knowledge are spoken without wisdom. We need the wisdom to discern that what we have to say is right and then know when to share it.

Paul, in verse 18 also prays that the eyes of the Ephesians hearts may be enlightened to the hope which they are called.  That is, the rich inheritance of Godís incomparable power. All three of these things are ours in Jesus. We have a great hope, a good future, and Godís power is for us today.

The power Paul is talking about was exerted when God raised Jesus from the dead. What Paul is saying here is that the same power that is seen in Jesusí resurrection is ours today.  That power was certainly seen in Paul's life when he met Jesus on the road to Damascus in Acts 9.

Paul says here that Christ is seated as Lord of all things. Every kind of power is beneath Him. Some relate these powers to demonic powers as well as earthly powers. Whatever the case, Jesus is far above all powers, in this age and in the age to come. This is the Jesus that we serve.

Paul closes this chapter by saying that Christ, who is the head of all things is given to the church, His body.

Paul goes on to say that Christ "fills everything in every way" Christians are not Pantheists. A pantheist believes that all things make up God. Christians believe that God can be seen in all things by virtue of creation. All things are His creation, yet separate from Him. This God who can be seen in all things has been given to the church, His body. When Paul uses the word body here, he is implying that we are the hands, feet and mouth piece of Jesus on the earth. We represent the Lord to the world. We therefore need to represent Him properly.   

 

I view the Body of Christ, the church, as Jesus' actual replacement body.  Since Jesus is no longer on earth in physical form, He has given the believers His Holy Spirit in order for us to be His replacement body.    

 

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