Study Notes

Ephesians 1:1-3


This morning, we begin our study in a book of the Bible which is counted by many Christians as their favorite: the book of Ephesians. The book is not long - just six chapters - but I estimate that the journey will take us approximately five months.

The year is around 63 AD, and Paul continues to sit in the Roman prison from which he previously dictated the epistles to Philemon and the Colossians.

1:1 By The Will Of God

I've received numerous postcards in my lifetime which contained return address, and only an unreadable squiggle at the bottom of the page. After long minutes of trying to figure out who the the letter came from, I've given up. But in Paul's day, letters made more sense. The first thing to be written was the sender and a salutation.

Paul identifies himself as an apostle, but this is not in haughtiness and pride. He says that he is an apostle "by the will of God." In other words, he didn't have a choice, God was making him do this. When the Lord first called Paul, he was know as Saul of Tarsus. He was struck down on the road to Damascus and blinded.

Then God told Ananias, a disciple at Damascus, that he should go to a certain house on Straight Street and pray for this blinded persecutor of the church. After Ananias protested a bit,

Acts 9:15-16 ...the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name's sake."

Paul's apostleship was God's will, not Paul's. He told the Corinthians,

1Cor. 9:16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.

An Apostle Of Christ Jesus

Notice too that Paul says he is "an apostle of Christ Jesus." Jesus is to be the focus of our message. He is the truth that we proclaim. As Paul himself said,

1Cor. 2:2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

While the Jehovah's Witnesses are going door-to-door proclaiming Jehovah, I want to be one of Jesus' witnesses.

Saints And Faithful

Paul is writing "to the saints who are at Ephesus, and {who are} faithful in Christ Jesus." As we have discussed many times before, saints are not certain people who have been set apart by authorities in the church as special Christians, they are in fact all of the Christians. They are everyone who has faith in Jesus Christ. As Paul told the Galatians,

Gal. 3:26 are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

If today you can confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and you truly believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, then you are a saint, a holy and set apart child of God.

At Ephesus

This letter, while meant for all Christians, was originally sent to the church at Ephesus. Paul had a history with this city: At the end of Paul's second missionary journey, he passed through Ephesus and...

Acts 18:19-21 ...entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. And when they asked him to stay for a longer time, he did not consent, but taking leave of them and saying, "I will return to you again if God wills," he set sail from Ephesus.

He found time later to come to Ephesus again. He again entered the synagogue - that same place that they had previously asked him to stay longer.

Acts 19:8-9 And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading {them} about the kingdom of God. But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the multitude, he withdrew from them...

He stayed longer this time, but they didn't want to hear from him anymore. So Paul took the new Christians with him, rented a school, and for two years preached the gospel in Ephesus.

Tons of people were being saved, both Jews and Gentiles. God was performing miracles of healing through Paul, demons were being cast out of people (Acts 19:12), and even magicians and witches were repenting, coming to faith in Christ and burning their occultic books (Acts 19:19).

So many people were turning from their wicked beliefs that the silversmiths that made their living selling figures of Artemis as idols began to riot because they were being put out of business. This uproar forced Paul to leave Ephesus (Acts 20:1).

Paul's final farewell to the Ephesians was not even in Ephesus. He had to sail past it to Miletus, from which he called for the leadership of the Ephesian church. He met with them and exhorted them to guard the flock, to watch out for wolves in the church, to be on the alert, and to teach the Word. After praying with them, he got back on his ship and set sail.

1:2 Grace And Peace

All of Paul's epistles include this greeting: "Grace to you and peace." Some have discounted this to simply mean individual "hellos" to the Greeks and the Hebrews, but I want to emphasize to you that it means so much more.

The grace of Jesus Christ is how we are saved (Acts 15 :11). That grace comes to us through faith in Him (Eph. 2:8). The Bible says,

Rom. 5:1 Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ

So when Paul writes "grace to you and peace," he is reminding us that because we believe in Jesus Christ, we have received a totally undeserved gift: eternal life as friends of God living with God! The separation and enmity between us and Him is gone. We have peace with God, and peace in ourselves. Peace is the direct result of grace.

1:3 Every Spiritual Blessing

Verse three actually begins a Greek sentence that runs all the way through verse 14! Paul was the master at dictation without hesitation! He seems to have rarely taken a breath as he spoke of the blessings of God!

But we'll just look at verse three right now. He says that God...

Eph. 1:3 ...has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly {places} in Christ

Notice the past tense: God has already blessed us! He's already given us citizenship in heaven (Phil. 3:20), and He's causing all things to work together for good here on earth (Rom. 8:28).

Blessed Be

God has already blessed us with more than we have acknowledged. Paul says that we are to bless Him for this. Our challenge this morning is to consider whether we are blessing God for blessing us. Are we being thankful? Are we being worshipful? Are we acknowledging that

James 1:17 Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father...

I pray that we will bless God for blessing us.

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