The Book of the Ephesians is one of the books in the Bible that is hard to understand. Just like the rest of Paul’s writings, he greets the recipients first then goes on and tell what he wants them to know regarding God’s will, and of course what the Holy Spirit wants us all to know.
I. Paul the Apostle (Eph. 1:1)
A. The Greek name “Paul” means “little”. Paul’s Hebrew name was Saul.
B. Tradition says he is a short man. A physical description but I think he took the name Paul which means little out of humility which makes him count himself to be `less than the least of all saints, and not worthy to be called an apostle.
C. Paul was ordained by the Lord Jesus to be the Apostle to the Gentiles (Acts 8:1- 28). Paul wrote Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, and Hebrews.
D. The word Apostle refers to the twelve men who were chosen by Christ to lay the foundation of the church (Lk. 6:13-16; Eph. 2:20).
E. Other individuals than the Twelve bore that title–for example, Paul and Barnabas (Acts 14:14). Apostles were important figures in the early church (1 Cor. 12:28). They were appointed by Christ, not by men (Gal. 1:1), and they gave authoritative witness to what God had done in Christ (Acts 1:22).
F. There are no apostles today!
G. Anyone who calls himself an apostle is a deceiver and a false prophet.
Illustration 1: Death of the Apostles
Matthew suffered martyrdom by being slain with a sword at a distant city of Ethiopia. Mark expired at Alexandria, after being cruelly dragged through the streets of that city.
Luke was hanged upon an olive tree in the classic land of Greece.
John was put in a cauldron of boiling oil, but escaped death in a miraculous manner, and was afterward banished to Patmos.
Peter was crucified at Rome with his head downward.
James, the Greater, was beheaded at Jerusalem.
James, the Less, was thrown from a lofty pinnacle of the temple, and then beaten to death with a fuller’s club.
Bartholomew was flayed alive.
Andrew was bound to a cross, whence he preached to his persecutors until he died.
Thomas was run through the body with a lance at Coromandel in the East Indies.
Jude was shot to death with arrows.
Matthias was first stoned and then beheaded.
Barnabas of the Gentiles was stoned to death at Salonica.
Paul, after various tortures and persecutions, was at length beheaded at Rome by the Emperor Nero.
II. The Assurance (Eph. 1:1b)
A. Paul’s life and actions were in accordance with the will of God. (Eph. 1:1) Paul had absolute assurance that he was in God’s will. Every child of God needs to know and do the will of God. Christ is our example in being surrendered to the will of God.
Even though it meant terrible pain, suffering and separation from God He said,
Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. (Luke 22:42) The priority of Christ’s life was to obey the perfect will of God. Jesus was able to say, “for I do always those things that please him. (Jn. 8:29). What a testimony we would have if we would simply set our hearts to love and do the will of God. When we walk as Christ walked in obedience to the Word
and will of God, we please Him.
III. The Recipients (Eph. 1:1c)
A. The Saints
1. True and Biblical meaning
a. Saint” means one who is set apart for God. The words “saint,” “holy,” and “sanctify” are from the same Greek words. In the N.T. the term “saint” is applied to all true Christians, not merely to believers who are unusually pure (Acts 9:13,32,41; 26:10; Rom. 8:27; 12:13; 15:25,31; 16:2,15; 1 Cor. 6:1-2; 14:33; 16:1,15; 2 Cor. 8:4; 9:1,12; 13:13; Eph. 1:1; Php. 1:1; Co. l 1:2,4; Phm. 1:25; Heb. 6:10; 13:24). Even the carnal Christians at Corinth were called saints (2 Cor. 1:1). Christians are not saints because they are sinless; they are saints because they have a sinless Savior and He has removed their sin from before God (Rev. 1:5-6; 1 Pet. 2:9-10).
2. Unscriptural meaning
a. English dictionary defines a saint as a “person officially recognized for holiness of life.” Who makes this official recognition? Usually some religious body, and the process by which a person becomes a saint is technically known as canonization. The deceased person’s life is examined carefully to see whether he qualifies for sainthood. If the candidate’s character and conduct are found to be above reproach, if he has been responsible for working at least two miracles, then he is qualified to be made a saint. The Roman Catholic Church have so many saints, however, they are all unscriptural. Only God can make a man holy.
B. Faithful in Christ Jesus
1. What this means:
a. This describes the character of those “saints” in Ephesus
b. They are “faithful in Christ Jesus”; that is, they put their faith in Christ Jesus and were saved.
c. Having been saved, they are faithful to Him as His servants
Illustration 2: Five Names Of Christians
Scripture gives five names to Christians—
Saints—for their holiness in Christ;
Believers—for their faith;
Witnesses—for their testimony;
Disciples—for their knowledge;
Brethren—for their love for each other. Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations: Signs of the Times.
IV. Pronounced Blessings (Eph. 1:2)
A. Grace and peace are two of the sweetest words in the English language—grace and peace. Grace is simply the unmerited favor of God. G. Campbell Morgan said, “Grace is the river flowing from the heart of God.” Grace is God doing for man that which he cannot do for himself. Where would we be without grace?
B. Then there is peace. Paul knew real peace and the origin of it. Paul could wish them peace but he could not give them peace. That must come from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. It is only after one has by God’s grace been forgiven of his sins and made a new creature in Christ that he can experience true peace. Therefore
being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2) The world knows nothing of this kind of peace and joy. Where God has not worked and divine grace transformed the heart there is no real peace. There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked. (Isaiah
C. To the believer Jesus said, These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33) Paul’s peace came from an unwavering trust in the Saviour who has overcome the world. True and lasting peace is the fruit of a right relationship with God.
Illustration: Unmerited Favor
When a person works an eight-hour day and receives a fair day’s pay for his time, that is a wage. When a person competes with an opponent and receives a trophy for his performance, that is a prize. When a person receives appropriate recognition for his long service or high achievements, that is an award. But when a person is not capable of earning a wage, can win no prize, and deserves no award—yet receives such a gift anyway—that is a good picture of God’s unmerited favor. This is what we mean when we talk about the grace of God.
Clip-Art Features for Church Newsletters, G.W. Knight, p. 53
Christians are not saints because they are sinless; they are sants because they have a sinless Savior and He has removed their sin from before God. God’s grace is the unmerited favor from God, and we have true peace when are forgiven from our sins and made new creature in Christ.