Epistle to the Ephesians
Even though not a specific book to the Ephesians, being a circular letter, the contents is valuable to all churches. In preparation for the blog I re-read Acts 19 which tells the story of how the Gospel spread in the city of Ephesus. The pagan rituals and goddess Diana dominated the city. There were magicians and soothsayers in abundance. Paul’s ministry begins with giving a “fuller revelation of the Gospel.” Paul stayed and preached and healing even with a very unorthodox means of handkerchiefs being used to heal diseases. The Ephesian letter is similar to another circular letter that was being spread through Asia, the Epistle to the Colossians. These two letters hold several like passages.
The first chapter is a remarkable filled passage of revelation of how God was working through Jesus to bring salvation to people. The high christology here is no where else as transparent in the New Testament. The focus is now that we are In Christ, what exactly does this mean? Terms such as lavished, predestined, adopted, and inheritance speak volumes to the believer. God has not only redeemed us from the impending wrath that was due us, but has elevated us to royalty. In Hebrews 1:1-4 passage is filled with the “last days” revelation of Jesus Christ. We can easily gravitate to a minimal opinion about exactly the work of God through Jesus; albeit to marginalization of how great was the Salvation work accomplished by Jesus through His death and resurrection. I find many people think the understand the significance of Christ death, yet fail to live out a faith that reflects the “Changed Person” they are to be. Another problem with marginalizing Christ, it the tenancy to believe that we have garnered something by our actions to please God and obtain for ourselves salvation.
The phrase “IN HIM” is repeated 5 times in the first chapter. The repetitive nature of the phrase should enlighten us to the fact that it is ONLY BECAUSE OF JESUS that we have the standing before God that we do. The Holy Spirit being Promised and the “active agent” in us enables us to know that we are sealed in Christ.
Paul after detailing all that Christ has done for us, he then begins to speak to our condition without Jesus. Being born dead in sin and living a life of sins, we were people with out hope. But is was God’s “good pleasure” and “kind intention” to us, that we have eternal life. If there was any doubt about the riches of God, they are dispelled by reading the first two chapters of this book. Our almost creed position of “saved by Grace” illustrates that there is nothing that we have done to earn salvation and restored relationship with the Godhead. [Eph. 2:8-10] Even the very idea of salvation as a gift and freely coming from the Father is God’s idea not ours. Now take into consideration the highly religious people who have only known the idolatrous worship practices of days gone by; and how this thought of God being personal and desiring fellowship with His creation. Quite a shock to their thought. The word “formerly” is used to draw the contrast from what was, to what is now true. Formerly walking in the flesh and sensuality of pagan worship, we are now redeemed by God to do good works through Jesus Christ. Once we [Gentiles] were excluded, but now we are included into the Salvation Plan of God.
Paul is careful to make sure that both Jews who have the Law and those without the Law have the same salvation and savior. This does counter the Jews who were trying to create a Jews salvation only – requiring all non-Jews to become like them. Paul calls this revelation “the mystery of Christ] that Gentiles are fellow heirs and partakers of the same salvation. Today this is debated from a different position – not salvation, but another salvation through other means, whether that is works or false teaching. Acts 4:12 – no other Name, but the Name of Jesus. John 14:6 – the Way, the Truth, and the Life!