Ephesians 1 - Body Of Believers

INTRODUCTION: Ephesus was the last city where the Apostle Paul established a body of believers before he made a return visit to churches in Macedonia and Achaia as he was on his way to Jerusalem, with his intention to go from there to Rome. His letter to the believers at Ephesus was later written from Rome where he was being held as a prisoner of Caesar, waiting to make his appeal as a Roman citizen. Key elements in chapter 1: God foreordained believers into adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace.

NOTE: Scripture passages are from the 1901 American Standard Version.


A - THE SALUTATION OF PAUL TO THE SAINTS

Ephesians 1 "1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, to the saints that are at Ephesus, and the faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly [places] in Christ: 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love:"

COMMENTS: Paul opened this letter with a greeting in his own name and identified himself as an apostle called by the will of God. This was his way to remind his readers that his calling was not by his own will or by the authority given by other men. This was a common opening of other letters of his, and by other things he wrote about the sovereignty of God, we know he expressed these things in humility to give honor and praise to the Lord. Paul addressed the believers at Ephesus as saints to denote that they were people separated from the world and unto the Lord. That separation was not to be in name only, and that is why Paul could add the comment that they were faithful in Christ Jesus. Paul encouraged the believers to think about God's merciful favor and acceptance which should give them a special sense of tranquility and security. With this in mind, Paul then gave praise to the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed the saints with every spiritual blessing in the realm of heaven as they are in Christ. We who are saints need to take note, just as the saints at Ephesus needed to do, that God chose us in Christ even before the foundation of the world, that we would be separated unto holiness and without any blemish of sin before him in love to fully receive spiritual blessings in heaven.


B - THE ADOPTION AS SONS THROUGH JESUS BY GODS OWN WILL

Ephesians 1 "5 having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 to the praise of the glory of his grace, which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved: 7 in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, 9 making known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he purposed in him"

COMMENTS: Paul continued to emphasize that it is God who appointed believer saints to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto himself in agreement with his own will and for his good pleasure. We were not able to be his children until by his own choice and authority he enacted the adoption that he had prepared in advance. This was for his praise as we acknowledge the glory of his merciful favor to us which he freely bestowed on us to be part of the beloved. Our redemption is only through Christ's blood which provided forgiveness for our violations of God's perfect law. Because of his grace that is so rich, he lavished on us in all wisdom and prudence the knowledge of his incomprehensible will, which is in agreement with his good pleasure which he purposed in Christ.


C - THE PLAN OF GOD IN THE FULLNESS OF TIME

Ephesians 1 "10 unto a dispensation of the fulness of the times, to sum up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens, and the things upon the earth; in him, [I say,] 11 in whom also we were made a heritage, having been foreordained according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his will; 12 to the end that we should be unto the praise of his glory, we who had before hoped in Christ:"

COMMENTS: In the perfect timing of God, he will sum up all things in Christ, both in heaven and in earth, for Christ is the one in whom the saints are made to be an inheritance, having been pre-established by his authority in accordance with the purpose of the LORD God who works out all things after the counsel of his own will. Paul wrote that he and the others who had gained hope in Christ were sent out to spread it among others to the end that they would bring praise to the glory of God.


D - BELIEVERS ARE SEALED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT

Ephesians 1 "13 in whom ye also, having heard the word of the truth, the gospel of your salvation, -in whom, having also believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 which is an earnest of our inheritance, unto the redemption of [God's] own possession, unto the praise of his glory."

COMMENTS: The inspired words of Paul now explain that all those who hear the word of truth, the good news of salvation, and accept it by faith, are then sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise. This was the message that Peter gave to a receptive crowd in Jerusalem. Acts 2 "38 And Peter [said] unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, [even] as many as the Lord our God shall call unto him." The Lord calls people to himself, and seals them with the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit within the believer is an absolute guarantee of the inheritance that we have in God through the redemption of his own possession for the praise of his glory. It can be very difficult at times to wait for the fulfillment of a promise, but from the following passage from Hebrews we are given encouragement. Hebrews 10 "35 Cast not away therefore your boldness, which hath great recompense of reward. 36 For ye have need of patience, that, having done the will of God, ye may receive the promise." All of this process is by the will of God and for the praise of his glory.


E - PAUL GAVE THANKS IN HIS PRAYERS FOR THE FAITHFUL AT EPHESUS

Ephesians 1 "15 For this cause I also, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which is among you, and the love which [ye show] toward all the saints, 16 cease not to give thanks for you, making mention [of you] in my prayers; 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him; 18 having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 and what the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to that working of the strength of his might 20 which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and made him to sit at his right hand in the heavenly [places], 21 far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:"

COMMENTS: Because all the foregoing is true as described by Paul, he could continually give thanks for the believers at Ephesus, mentioning them in his prayers. Paul had heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which was among them, and the love they showed to all the saints. He prayed that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, would give them a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him. That God would open the "eyes" of the heart to know the hope of his calling, and the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints. The saints need to know the exceeding greatness of his power to each of us who believe, according to that working of the strength of his might which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead. God made Christ sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come. These are great reasons for saints to pray for one another that the Lord will continue to be glorified in us as we are empowered by the Holy Spirit.


F - THE CHURCH IS THE BODY OF CHRIST

Ephesians 1 "22 and he put all things in subjection under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all."

COMMENTS: God the Father put all things in subjection under the feet of Christ Jesus, and Jesus is head over all things that pertain to his body of believers who are called the church. Through Jesus we find the fullness of him who fills all in all. Christ Jesus is forever the preeminent one deserving all honor and glory. The next passage from Paul's letter to the Colossians provides some comparative thoughts for consideration. Colossians 1 "15 who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; 16 for in him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and unto him; 17 and he is before all things, and in him all things consist. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. 19 For it was the good pleasure [of the Father] that in him should all the fulness dwell." What marvelous grace has been given to the believers to be sons of God by adoption to be part of the body of Christ for an everlasting inheritance!

--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

Lord, I am abundantly blessed with the message from Paul that so clearly tells me of the grace and peace you have given in Christ. You chose me before the foundation of the world and thereby gave me spiritual blessings in heaven where I will be holy and without any blemish before Christ in love. You have adopted me into the beloved through Jesus according to your will for me. Lord, I believe that in the fullness of time you will bring me into the foreordained inheritance with all other saints that you have chosen according to your will and good pleasure so we may be to the praise of your glory. You have sealed every saint with your Holy Spirit to guarantee our redemption as your possession for the praise of your glory. Lord, help me to remember to pray for myself and for other believers to recognize the hope of our calling to the riches of the glory in the inheritance through the strength and power wrought in Christ by his resurrection and his ascension to the right hand of the Father. I want to offer my highest praise to you, Lord, for making me part of the church, which is your body, because you are head over all things to us, and all things are filled in every way by you. Hallelujah, amen.

Published 28 March 2015