Ephesians, along with Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon, were written during Paul's imprisonment in Rome. There are indications Ephesians was written for several churches in or near Ephesus. In his epistle, Paul follows the typical ancient Greek format, beginning with a few choice words about himself and a greeting. Referring to his divine calling as an apostle, he addresses his audience as “God’s holy people” while blessing them with “grace and peace.” Let's begin our study of Ephesians with a comprehensive overview by the wonder-filled folks at the Bible Project.
In Chapter One, verses 1 through 14, Paul presents God’s master plan from eternity past. Then in verses 15-23 he prays that we understand it, that we get the meaning of being in Christ, what it means to be a part of God's eternal plan, what it means to have been elected, redeemed, and granted an eternal inheritance with God. Paul intends that we Christians understand the power that we have in Christ, a power that raised Christ from the dead and exalted Him at God’s right hand. Let's read all of Chapter 1 together.
Paul begins by focusing on what God has done — through Christ — to bring us into a saving relationship with Himself. He praises God for the blessings we receive by grace, that we are holy, without fault, and now part of His family. God showed how much He loves us when He purchased our freedom from sin with the blood of His Son, that among the kindnesses God blessed us with were wisdom and understanding. Divine truths (mysteries) once hidden and obscure are revealed to believers in the gospel, and Paul carefully includes Gentiles as well as Jews in his letter.
Paul’s prayer is that the readers might grow in spiritual understanding (their knowledge of God), that they grasp the full significance of God’s gifts to them (their inheritance). He links faith in Christ to love for God’s people, that by their faith they received salvation and that salvation is best expressed through a life of love. When Paul talks about the knowledge of God, he’s talking about knowing God personally and not just intellectually. The confident hope we have is anticipation of Christ’s promised return and the blessings we share as joint heirs with Him.
The incredible greatness of God’s power is manifest by the Holy Spirit working in and through God’s people, empowered because they are joined with the risen Christ with specific reference to the coming age. I believe we’re witness to the dawn of that age, for when Paul writes about Christ filling all things everywhere, he’s describing the body of Christ, which is His church and the full expression of Christ in this world. When love replaces hate, God is expressed in this world, and by this expression also worshipped.
Food for Thought
Why should we offer praise to God?
What does Paul mean by “mystery” or "mysterious"?
What spiritual blessings have we received from God the Father?
What spiritual blessings have we received from the Son?
What spiritual blessings have we received through the Holy Spirit?