Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Paul's Letter to the Ephesians: Intro and Chapter 1

I'm going to be spending a little time reading through the Letter to the Ephesians, one of my favorite books of the Bible (as they all are)!!  But I do have a particular fondness for Ephesians as I spent a lot of time with this book while I was in seminary.  That said, I'll kick things off here with an introduction and my reflections on Chapter 1.


Opening Notes
  • Ephesians is has been called "The Crown Jewel of Pauline Theology" by RC Sproul
  • This letter is closely related to Colossians.  Both were possibly written in the late 50s AD
  • It shows a highly evolved theology and Christology: the "Cosmic Christ" that unites all.
  • While it is called a letter, it is laid out more like a liturgy, with a long opening eulogy. 
  • Its a general epistle.  Unlike Paul's other letters, Ephesians does not address a specific issue in the church
  • The phrase "to the praise of His glory", or "to the praise of His glorious grace" is only found in Ephesians among Paul's letters.
  • Key themes include: God's plan of salvation, the power of the Holy Spirit, and the purpose of the church.


Ephesians 1 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Salutation

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful[a] in Christ Jesus:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Spiritual Blessings in Christ

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ[b] before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance,[c] having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12 so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14 this[d] is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.

Paul’s Prayer

15 I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love[e] toward all the saints, and for this reason 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. 17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, 18 so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. 20 God[f] put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. 22 And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Footnotes:

  1. Ephesians 1:1 Other ancient authorities lack in Ephesus, reading saints who are also faithful
  2. Ephesians 1:4 Gk in him
  3. Ephesians 1:11 Or been made a heritage
  4. Ephesians 1:14 Other ancient authorities read who
  5. Ephesians 1:15 Other ancient authorities lack and your love
  6. Ephesians 1:20 Gk He


Thoughts and Comments


  • I have often said that if you are depressed and you read Ephesians 1 and are still depressed, something is wrong!!  What a great opening chapter.
  • From the get go, we see Paul's heart as he states that he is an apostle of Jesus "by the will of God" in v1.  Really shows Paul's gratitude and humble heart.
  • Verses 3-7 are a powerhouse!  We learn that:
    • We have been blessed in Christ with EVERY spiritual blessing in the heavenly places!!  Every blessing!!  We may not see them materially on earth, but in the heavenly places we have been blessed with every blessing!
    • The we are told that before the foundations of the world were laid, we were CHOSEN to be holy, blameless and to stand in His presence.  How awesome!  What a tremendous thing to know.  That we were thought of in Christ, not by chance, not by circumstance, but at the very beginning of creation.
    • That through Jesus we were destined to be adopted as children of God.  Brothers with the Lord, a part of His family.  How wonderful that is to know.
    • And the best part, this is bestowed freely on us by the Father, through Jesus, for His good pleasure!!  To His grace!!  That's right, God does this for us because it make Him happy, and brings Him pleasure to do so.  Its not about us, its about Him and His goodness and grace.
  • In v9 he continue on that He has made known to us the mystery of His will through Jesus.  As sons and daughters, as children in the family, the Father makes known to us His will through Jesus.
  • And one day Jesus, the "Cosmic Christ" will gather up all things in heaven and earth to Him.
  • Vv11-12 show us that we are truly children, and as children we are heirs, and as heirs we have an inheritance...and that inheritance is Jesus Christ.
  • In vv 13-14 we learn that when we heard the Good News, and accepted, and believed in Jesus we were marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit!!  The mark of Holy Spirit is our guarantee.  It is God's pledge that we are His and we cannot be lost.  A seal in the early church times in which this was written denotes ownership and protection.  We are His!!  And why, because it brings God pleasure to make us His.  How wonderful!!
  • Vv 15-23 close with a beautiful prayer, where Paul asserts Christ's authority over all power and dominion, and above every name. 
I leave it here for now.  Ephesians 1 is an outstanding chapter that is the source of hundreds of books, so this is just a very, very brief few thoughts.  Feel free to comment away and ask any questions as well. 


Stay close to Jesus- V

8 comments:

  1. "we are told that before the foundations of the world were laid,we were CHOSEN to be holy, blameless and to stand in His presence." Now that I have been saved I look back and I can see the hand of God working and protecting me my entire life . God wants us to come as we are, we cannot make ourselves "good enough" Only God can do that through the blood of Jesus. And what an amazing inheritance, he is such an awesome God he allows us to get our inheritance now too. This is how he makes living in this world tolerable, without Jesus's hand I doubt we could stand ourselves let alone others. lol

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Awesome. Amazing. Before creation we were CHOSEN, not by chance, not by circumstance. Makes me want to serve Christ and others more, rid me of my selfishness, dishonesty, anything that is hindering me from humbling myself to Christ. Fill me love and kindness for all. When we obey Jesus, the Holy Spirit is like a preview to the Eternal Life, beautiful, pure and clean! This chapter makes me feel closer to Christ therefore more God-confident, vs self confident, to share the GOSPEL with all. ***also, thanks for doing this, Vince! I've been looking for a good online read psst few days and God answered my prayer with this blog! May God's peace be with you all!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Alison! I think it will be fun, and also a great way to help engage the Bible more deeply too!

      Delete
  4. My comment removed bc in getting used to this blog thing too (Beth Rollyson!!!) It's awesome tho!

    ReplyDelete