See Lesson, Paul the man.
See Lesson, Paul's ecclesial letters.
See Lesson, Eph, overview.
The seven signs of a believer in Paul's letter to the
1. The unity of the Spirit -- itself seven pillars (Eph
2. The work of the ministry (Eph 4:11,12);
3. Walking in love and light (Eph 5:1,2,8);
4. Submissive wives and loving husbands (Eph
5. Obedient children and caring fathers Eph 6:1-4);
6. Faithful servants and kind masters (Eph 6:5-9); and
7. The whole armor of God -- seven-fold (Eph
The ecclesia as a temple (Eph 2:21,22), a body (Eph 1:22,23;
4:15), a bride (Eph 5:25-32). Divine indwelling, mutual cooperation, and
The ecclesia: its origin (Eph 1), its construction (Eph 2),
and its function (Eph 3).
AN APOSTLE: Gal 1:15-17.
THE SAINTS: Gr "hagios", the holy ones! (Always appears
in the plural in the NT: no individual is spoken of as a "saint", singular; but
all believers are "saints", collectively, in Christ!) As God "set apart" or
"sanctified" or "made holy" His people in Egypt (Exo 13:2; Lev 11:44), so NT
believers were "made holy" in Christ.
All believers are "saints" through their spiritual union with
Christ, a fact Paul often expressed by the phrase "in Christ Jesus" (Rom 8:1,2;
Eph 2:6,10,13; 3:6) or "in Christ" (Rom 12:5; 2Co 5:17). This use of the term
emphasizes not so much personal holiness, though the believer's conduct should
correspond increasingly to his standing (2Co 7:1; 2Th 5:23), but the objective
"set apart" status each believer possesses because of the grace conferred upon
him or her through Christ.
"The epistle to the Ephesians is an exposition of the origin
and life of the saint. It is a portrait of a people so busy ministering to the
needs of others that they have neither the time nor the desire to think of
themselves, They are a blessed people! Paul was so filled with the majesty of
this conception of the saint that he accepted his trials thankfully because his
Lord had done him so great an honour to call him to be his minister. He realized
the magnificence and the power of the call of the saints and he knew no prize of
this life could compare with the honour of the saint. So whether we be bounding
with the glow and energy of health, or helplessly chained to a bed of sickness;
whether we have the comfortable possessions of this world, or little more than
the widow's mite; whether we be young or old, brother or sister, let us rejoice
in our call as saints and strive to radiate the spirit of the Father's purpose
in us, that we may continue to work in whatever way we can in our preparation
for the coming of Jesus" (MPS 14,15).
IN EPHESUS: Not in many early mss. This letter contains
no personal salutations, which might be expected for an ecclesia so familiar to
Paul. Was this a general epistle, sent esp to Laodicea (Col 4:16), expounding
the "riches" in Christ (ct Rev 3:17)? [SB 14:129-131].
THE FAITHFUL: Those who show faith, and those who have
fidelity. Trustful and trusty (CEph 13).
WHO HAS BLESSED US... WITH EVERY SPIRITUAL BLESSING IN
CHRIST: "We may have as much of God as we will. Christ puts the key of the
treasure-chamber into our hand, and bids us take all that we want. If a man is
admitted into the bullion vault of a bank and told to help himself, and comes
out with one cent, whose fault is it that he is poor?" (MacL).
FOR HE CHOSE US IN HIM: See Mar 13:20; Joh 15:16,19;
1Co 1:27; Jam 2:5; 1Pe 2:3-9.
BEFORE THE CREATION OF THE WORLD: Demonstrating that
the choice of the Gentiles was not an adjustment or afterthought.
PREDESTINED: "Pro-orizo" = to set out in advance, as
one might see the horizon stretched out in the distance.
ADOPTED: Severing all past connections; a new creation;
a new family; cancellation of debts; right to the inheritance. Adoption: both
present (Rom 8:15; Gal 4:5) and future (Rom 8:23).
We are "sons of God" by adoption. If we belong to Christ, ie,
if we are his "offspring" (ie, Isa 53:10; Psa 22:30,31), then we likewise belong
to God, as His dear children (Rom 8:16-23). Think of it in terms of the
genealogies of Jesus: According to Mat 1, Jesus is the 42nd generation from
Abraham, and that would make each of us the 43rd generation! According to Luke
3, Jesus is the 77th generation from Adam, and that makes us, by the same kind
of reckoning, the 78th generation! And Adam was "born of God", although plainly
in a different way than was Jesus... so there's a relationship to God through
Adam too, although perhaps not so lovely! Remember, Adam was created "in the
image and likeness" of God (Gen 1:26; 5:1), but by the time he sinned, his son
was born in Adam's (fallen) image (Gen 5:3), which was something different,
sadly. But then... best of all: "But as many as received him, to them gave he
power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which
were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man,
but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his
glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth"
(Joh 1:12-14). Because Jesus was (and is) Son of God [the Word made flesh: Joh
1:14!], we are "sons (and daughters!) of God" too [because His "Word", planted
in our minds and hearts of flesh, caused us to be "born from above"]! Jesus is
-- on his father's side -- the FIRST generation from God! And we are... only...
the 2nd generation! Think of it as being heir to a vast fortune. On one side of
our family, each of us is the 43rd lineal descendant, and heir of the world
promised to Abraham (Rom 4:13). But... on the other side of the family, we are
-- each one of us -- a specially beloved grandson or granddaughter of Almighty
God. Between the two, I'd say we've got it made!
HIS PLEASURE: Isa 53: "The pleasure of the LORD shall
prosper in his hand" (AV).
THE ONE HE LOVES: The "Beloved", or David: cp Eze
HIS GLORIOUS GRACE, WHICH HE HAS FREELY GIVEN US IN THE ONE
HE LOVES: "What a state of privilege! It includes our justification before
God, but the term acceptance in the Greek means more than that. It signifies
that we are the objects of divine complacence, nay, even of divine delight. How
marvellous that we, mortals, sinners, should be the objects of divine love! But
it is only 'in the beloved.' Some Christians seem to be accepted in their own
experience, at least, that is their apprehension. When their spirit is lively,
and their hopes bright, they think God accepts them, for they feel so high, so
heavenly-minded, so drawn above the earth! But when their souls cleave to the
dust, they are the victims of the fear that they are no longer accepted. If they
could but see that all their high joys do not exalt them, and all their low
despondencies do not really depress them in their Father's sight, but that they
stand accepted in One who never alters, in One who is always the beloved of God,
always perfect, always without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, how much
happier they would be, and how much more they would honour the Saviour!... Thou
lookest within, and thou sayest, 'There is nothing acceptable here!' But look at
Christ, and see if there is not everything acceptable there. Thy sins trouble
thee; but God has cast thy sins behind His back, and thou art accepted in the
Righteous One. Thou hast to fight with corruption, and to wrestle with
temptation, but thou art already accepted in Him who has overcome the powers of
REDEMPTION THROUGH HIS BLOOD: Deliverance through faith
in shed blood of Jesus: Rom 3:25-27; Col 1:14; Rev 1:5. No remission without
blood: Heb 9:22.
REDEMPTION: "Apolutrosis" = to be bought away from. See
Despite all the analysis of "redemption" in the NT, the simple
truth of the transaction is contained in the key passages that equate redemption
with the forgiveness of sins (Eph 1:7; Col 1:14). What has been forgiven cannot
also be paid for. The sacrifice of Christ, the culmination of a life of perfect
obedience and dedication, was the price paid for our salvation. That is to say,
it was necessary that Christ give himself as a suitable basis for the declaring
of God's righteousness in offering mercy to sinners. But God's offer requires a
corresponding "payment" on the part of those who would accept it. Since they are
to be redeemed out of death, they must repudiate that which brought death, which
is the world and sin (Rom 6:1-7, for example). They must live sober and godly
lives, repudiating all iniquity, as a special people belonging exclusively to
God (Tit 2:14).
THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS: "Could there be a sweeter word
in any language than that word 'forgiveness,' when it sounds in a guilty
sinner's ear, like the silver notes of jubilee to the captive Israelite?
Blessed, for ever blessed be that dear star of pardon which shines into the
condemned cell, and gives the perishing a gleam of hope amid the midnight of
despair! Can it be possible that sin, such sin as mine, can be forgiven,
forgiven altogether, and for ever? Can the load of guilt be uplifted, the
crimson stain removed? Can the adamantine stones of my prison-house ever be
loosed from their mortices, or the doors be lifted from their hinges? Jesus
tells me that I may yet be clear. For ever blessed be the revelation of atoning
love which not only tells me that pardon is possible, but that it is secured to
all who rest in Jesus. What joy is this! What riches of grace does free
forgiveness exhibit! To forgive at all, to forgive fully, to forgive freely, to
forgive for ever! Here is a constellation of wonders; and when I think of how
great my sins were, how dear were the precious drops which cleansed me from
them, and how gracious was the method by which pardon was sealed home to me, I
am in a maze of wondering worshipping affection" (CHS).
TO BRING ALL THINGS... TOGETHER: See Psa 8; Heb
2:14,15; 1Co 15:24-28; Gen 1:28.
IN HEAVEN: The heavens = holy and most holy, position
of divine favor. Here = Jews, in ct those on earth -- ie Gentiles (cp Eph
1:3,20; 2:1-3,6,11-17; 3:6).
CHOSEN (MADE HEIRS): KJV has "have obtained an
inheritance": Jos 11:23; 13:27,28; 18:8-10; Act 13:19.
ACCORDING TO THE PLAN OF HIM WHO WORKS OUT EVERYTHING IN
CONFORMITY WITH THE PURPOSE OF HIS WILL: "Our belief in God's wisdom
supposes and necessitates that He has a settled purpose and plan in the work of
salvation. What would creation have been without His design? Is there a fish in
the sea, or a fowl in the air, which was left to chance for its formation? Nay,
in every bone, joint, and muscle, sinew, gland, and blood-vessel, you mark the
presence of a God working everything according to the design of infinite wisdom.
And shall God be present in creation, ruling over all, and not in grace? Look at
Providence! Who knoweth not that not a sparrow falleth to the ground without
your Father? Even the hairs of your head are all numbered. God weighs the
mountains of our grief in scales, and the hills of our tribulation in balances.
And shall there be a God in providence and not in grace? Shall the shell be
ordained by wisdom and the kernel be left to blind chance? No; He knows the end
from the beginning. He sees in its appointed place, not merely the cornerstone
which He has laid in fair colours, in the blood of His dear Son, but He beholds
in their ordained position each of the chosen stones taken out of the quarry of
nature, and polished by His grace; He sees the whole from corner to cornice,
from base to roof, from foundation to pinnacle. He hath in His mind a clear
knowledge of every stone which shall be laid in its prepared space, and how vast
the edifice shall be, and when the top-stone shall be brought forth with
shoutings of 'Grace! Grace! unto it.' [Zec 4:7] At the last it shall be clearly
seen that in every chosen vessel of mercy, Jehovah did as He willed with His
own; and that in every part of the work of grace He accomplished His purpose,
and glorified His own name" (CHS).
SEAL: Sealing: a mark of (1) validity and genuineness;
(2) property, and/or (3) destination (CEph 32). See Rev 7:3-8.
A DEPOSIT: "Earnest" (KJV); down payment.
UNTIL: That is, "in prospect of".
REDEMPTION: "Apolutrosis" = to be bought away from. See
GOD'S POSSESSION: That is, the saints: Exo 19:5; Deu
14:2; Psa 135:4; Mal 3:17; 1Pe 2:9.
REMEMBERING YOU IN MY PRAYERS: "We have a great and
continuing duty to our brethren and sisters, and that is the duty of fervent
prayer for them -- not meaninglessly by habit and rote as a group, but
thoughtfully and individually, one by one, entering into the joys and sorrows of
each. Paul said to several ecclesias-- 'We give thanks to God always for you
all, making mention of you in our prayers.' And his greetings show personal
remembrance and care for individuals as such. His mind was ALWAYS filled with
the things of God and of God's people. Until we have achieved the same "mind of
Christ," we are not fully on the Way of Life" (GVG).
THE GLORIOUS FATHER: Or, "Father of THE glory", ie
Father of Christ. To Israel pertained the glory (Rom 9:4; Eze 43:2-4; Joh 1:14;
2Co 4:6). Ark and cherubim, found in Tabernacle, glory to Moses. Future promise
of glory: 1Th 2:12.
"Our Father in heaven" (Mat 6:9); "Father of glory" or
"glorious Father" (Eph 1:17); "Father of compassion" (2Co 1:3); "Father of
spirits" (Heb 12:9); "Father of the heavenly lights" (Jam 1:17); "a Father to
you" (2Co 6:18); "the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom 15:6).
IN ORDER THAT YOU MAY KNOW: Many men are very "wise",
who know nothing of such things: Mat 11:25; 1Co 2:14.
THE HOPE TO WHICH HE HAS CALLED YOU: See Act 26:6;
See Eph 3:7; Col 1:29; 2Pe 1:3; 2Co 4:7.
See VL, Christ's resurrection, reality.
Terms used of worldly political rulers (Luk 12:11; Tit 3:1;
Eph 3:10; 6:12; 1Pe 3:22).
HEAD OVER... THE CHURCH: Eph 4:16; 5:23; Col 1:18;
FULNESS: Joh 1:16; Col 2:10.
FILLS EVERYTHING: "Is being fulfilled" (cp Rom 11:25).
"God all in all" (1Co 15:27,28). "We must fill our mind with God's Word, and
fill our life with His character and actions. If we are content in our low
animal way to do less than this, then we do not really care very much about Him,
and we can hardly expect Him to care very much about us. His conception of love
is totality: He is willing to give it -- and He requires it of all who would be
associated with Him" (GVG).