We are continuing our exploration of Ephesians, the letter written by the Apostle Paul. Did you know that in all likelihood Paul didn’t write this letter to the church in Ephesus? Instead, he intended it to be a circular letter to be shared and read in a number of adjoining congregations throughout Asia Minor.
During the time of Paul, Ephesus had become a boomtown, serving as a major port city. It was home to a number of maor public buildings, sporting arenas, and theaters. The temple of Artemis was celebrated as one of the seven wonders of th the ancient world and proved to be a significant source of local revenue. Ephesus was an commercial and economic hub, as well as a pivotal center for the Christian faith. Paul focused a great deal of his ministry efforts on the believers involved in the Ephesian church.
How do we know?
The phrase “in Ephesus/at Ephesus” does not appear in the earliest Greek manuscripts, suggesting someone added it later. Unlike other letters, like those written to the Cornithians, Paul does not address specific issues relating directly to the church in Ephesus. Last, but not least, Paul does not meniton anyone by name involved with the church in Ephesus during that time. This is significant since Paul had developed deep relationships with the spritiaul leaders serving at Ephesus.
Ephesians 1:1-23 (NIV)
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:
2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
After completing our journey through Chapter 1, we saw Paul’s emphasis on the Trinity, a foundational doctrine undergirding the entire letter. God the Father, Jesus Christ, the son, and the Holy Spirit are woven throughout the entire letter. Chapter 1 is really written from God’s perspective and sheds light on what He did and how He views our salvation. We know, from Paul’s letter, that God initated our redemption and we are reminded that the Lord is always at work around us, through us, and in us. The chapter opens with a doxology, or a eulogy of God. Paul’s words sound like they might be part of a great old hymn that we’ve all come to know and love. After celebrating all that God has done on our behalf and overwhelmed with gratitude for the spiritual blessings the Lord has bestowed on us, Paul closes chapter 1 with a prayer. Prayer is another constant and central theme throughout Ephesians.
The first three chapters really focus on what God has done for us and our relationship with the Lord as a result. The final three chapters show us how we should live in response to and in light of the blessings the Lord has showered upon us.
We know that because of our eternal hope and secure relationship with the Lord through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, we have ample cause to praise and worship God continually throughout our day.
We also know that we can evaluate the health and maturity of any local body of believers by seeing the fruit of the Spirit resonate in their lives and manifiesting in faith, hope, and love in their relationhip with God and one another.
The local church plays a vital role in the lives of local believers. Church should be a place that celebrates God, teaches biblical truth, and helps people live Christ-centered lives.
1. How do the spiritual blessings God showered you with impact how you live?
2. Do hope, faith and love play an intregal part of your walk with the Lord and your interactions with others?
3. Is worship part of your lifestyle?
Heavenly Father, thank You for the spiritual blessings You have showered upon us. We celebrate all You are and all You have done. We praise You for initiating a personal relationship with us and pursuing us. We praise You for the sacrifice of Your son, Jesus Christ and the provision of the Holy Spirit. Help us remember that because of Christ, we share an eternal hope with other believers and through the Holy Spirit we remain firmly in Your grasp. Nothing can seperate us from You. Father God, help us mainfest hope, faith, and love in our relationship with You and with others. We lift up in prayer all those who do not yet know You. May they have ears to hear, hearts to recieve, and minds to believe. In Jesus’ name, by the power of Your Spirit. Amen.
Before I close, as I write this, I am struck by the sense that someone is reading this that is struggling with recovery. Know that you are not alone and that your life CAN change. It’s not easy. It’s hard. I’m not gonna lie. It took me a number of times of trying to get clean and sober before it took. But God didn’t give up on me. And God hasn’t given up on you. Learn more about recovery here.
Remember: You ARE loved!
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