About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
Paulís Letter To The Ephesians
Commentary On Ephesians
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
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
The city of
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
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
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.
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.
"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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
"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
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
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
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.