Greetings to the Ephesians
Eph. 1: 1-2
Some of the greatest book in the Bible were written in prison. Some of the greatest literary book also were written in prison. John Bunyan wrote “Pilgrim’s Progress” in prison where he could not go out and preach, even to take care of his loved ones. Yet like Paul he persevered. The Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians according to some expositors is the “divinest composition of man”, others call it the “Rolls Royce” of the epistles. Why is it so? We will find out as we read through and study this wonderful Word of God.
I. The Author (Eph. 1:1)
A. Paul is formerly called “Saul of Tarsus”, an overzealous persecutor of the Christians (Acts 9:1-2).
B. He became the Apostle to the Gentiles (Acts 8:1-28).
C. Paul wrote Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, and probably Hebrews.
D. He was of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews (Ph. 3:5), born in Tarsus (Acts 9:11; 22:3), the chief city of Cilicia, in Asia Minor.
E. He was brought up a Pharisee, and educated at Jerusalem, at the feet of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3), a celebrated Rabbi.
F. The name Paul means small, and tradition says Paul the Apostle indeed was a small man. However, his stature or size did not hinder him to serve our Saviour Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
I. His Apostleship.
A. The Greek word translated “apostle” (apostolos) is also translated “messenger” and “minister”.
B. In the New Testament the word refers particularly to twelve men whom Jesus selected to be with him and whom he sent out to preach and to cast out demons (Mark 3:14-15).
C. Other individuals than the Twelve bore that title–for example, Paul and Barnabas (Acts 14:14). Apostles gave authoritative witness to what God had done in Christ (Acts 1:22).
D. Paul apostleship however, is his role not just his title.
E. He did not choose to be an apostle. (Gal.1:1). He was chosen directly by God. (1 Cor. 15:7-9; 2 Cor. 12:11-12; Gal. 1:1).
F. It was by the grace of God that he was chosen to be an apostle (Eph. 3:8)
G. His responsibility is to “preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. (Eph. 3:8b).
II. The Recipients
A. The saints who are in Ephesus
1. “Saint” means one who is set apart for God.
2. In the N.T. the term “saint” is applied to all true Christians, not merely to believers who are unusually pure (Acts 9:13,; Rom. 8:27; 1 Cor. 6:1-2)
3. Even the carnal Christians at Corinth were called saints (2 Cor. 1:1).
4. Christians are not saints because they are sinless; they are saints because they have a sinless Saviour and He has removed their sin from before God (Rev. 1:5-6; 1 Pet. 2:9-10).
5. Scriptural saints are living persons unlike the Catholic saints who are dead and must be beatified by the pope.
6. The word saint is simply one of the many terms used in the New Testament to describe “one who has trusted Jesus Christ as Saviour.
B. To the faithful in Christ Jesus
1. The word faithful here tells us the character of the “saints” in Ephesus
2. Paul is not addressing to another group of people.
3. The word faithful carries the meaning of “believers in Christ Jesus.” These people were not saved by living faithful lives, rather they put their faith in Christ and were saved. (Eph. 1:12-14, 19).
4. It’s a sad thing that later the “faithful” in the church of Ephesus will be rebuked for leaving their “first love” as written in Rev. 2:4-5.
III. Grace and peace
A. Grace and peace is a common greeting used by Paul in all his letters.
B. Grace is the foundational core of God’s gift of salvation to those who trust Him. (Eph. 2:8). The Greek word for grace is “charis”.There are chiefly two ways grace is used in the New Testament-saving grace and serving grace:
1. Saving grace is the free, unmerited favor of God. Biblical grace means the unmerited eternal salvation of God that comes freely to the believing sinner through the atonement of Jesus Christ. It is receiving the opposite of what we deserve. It is the free forgiveness of sin and the offer of free imputed righteousness that was purchased by Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:24-4:6; 11:6; Acts 15:11; 2 Cor. 8:9; Eph. 1:7; 2:8-9). Salvation by grace means salvation is not attained or maintained by human works; rather, it is the free gift from God through faith in Christ’s blood. This is the Gospel of the grace of Christ (Gal. 1:6). It is Christ alone, grace alone, faith alone.
2. Serving grace is the ability to serve God (Rom. 1:5; 12:3,6; 15:15; 1Cor. 3:10; 2 Cor. 1:12; 8:1-2; 9:8; 12:9; Gal. 2:9; Eph. 3:7-8; 4:7; Heb. 12:28). God gives the Christian everything he needs to live a good life and to fulfil God’s will. A person cannot receive serving grace until he receives saving grace. God offers to believers serving grace for everything in the Christian life.
3. There is grace for exercising spiritual gifts (Rom. 12:6), grace for establishing churches (1 Cor. 3:10), grace to live a holy life in this wicked world (2 Cor. 1:12), grace to give to meet the needs of God’s people and God’s work (2 Cor. 8:1-2), grace to endure trials and difficulties (2 Cor. 12:9), grace to minister the Word of God (Eph. 3:7-8), grace to help in time of need (Heb. 4:16), grace to serve God acceptably (Heb. 12:28).
Illustration: Fanny Crosby’s “Soul’s Poem”
One of Fanny Crosby’s hymns, based on a combination of the thoughts in Eccles. 12:6 and Rev. 22:4-5 was so personal that for years she never let others see it. Professor Kenneth Osbeck says its revelation to the public came about this way.
“One day at a Bible conference in Northfield, Massachusetts, Miss Crosby was asked by Dwight L. Moody to give a personal testimony concerning her faith and Christian experience.
At first she hesitated, then quietly rose and said, ‘There is one hymn I have written which has never been published. I call it my soul’s poem. Sometimes when I am troubled, I repeat it to myself, for it brings comfort to my heart.’
She then recited while many wept, ‘Someday the silver cord will break, and I no more as now shall sing; but O the joy when I shall wake within the palace of the King! And I shall see Him face to face, and tell the story—saved by grace!’
At the age of 25, Fanny Crosby’s wish that the face of Jesus would be the first she would ever see was realized.” Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations: Signs of the Times.
C. Peace is Eirene in Greek and Shalom in Hebrew. The Bible uses peace in two ways:
1. There is personal peace with God when a person accepts Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour.
2. There is also what we call the peace of God which is the comfort and encouragement and tranquillity of mind and heart which He gives obedient the saints (Col. 3:15). Jesus gives peace and comfort to His followers as they faithfully serve Him (Joh 14:27; 16:33). The believer enjoys this peace only as he casts his care upon God in prayer (Ph. 4:6-7). Peace is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22), and is enjoyed by believers who allow the Spirit of God to rule their lives (Co. l 3:15). Peace comes to a person’s heart when he meditates upon God’s love and protection (Isa. 26:12).
Illustration: Peace in the Storm
A story is told by William Gilbert of how Dante, wandering one day over the mountains of Lunigiana, eventually drew near to a lone, secluded monastery. It was at a time when his mind was wracked with internal conflict and was seeking refuge from the strife. So he loudly knocked at the monastery gate. It was opened by a monk, who in a single glance at the sad, pale face, read its pathetic message of misery and sorrow. “What do you seek here?” said he. With a gesture of despair, the poet replied, “Peace.” It was the same old craving followed by the same old search. But neither the solitary places, nor the anchorite’s cell ever brought true peace to the afflicted heart. Peace comes not from without but from within. We can have it in the winter of age or the spring of youth; in the lowly cottage or the stately mansion; in distressing pain or in buoyant health. The secret of it is in comradeship with Christ. You can have peace in the midst of the storm, if you have Christ. He is the shelter from the tempest, the soul’s haven of rest. If we have learned to value His friendship, we have mastered the secret of the “peace which passeth all understanding.”
Illustrations of Bible Truths.
We are just starting to see the beauty, grandeur, and the excellence of this letter. Paul couldn’t have done it without the Holy Spirit guiding him. Grace and peace are words that have profound meaning and it’s what Paul would like us to have and experience. Would you like to experience it? Then join us as we start to unveil the things written here.