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Paul wrote this letter as one who was specially chosen and sent by the Lord himself ( Act_9:10-16 ). He wrote to the saints in Ephesus. A saint is one sanctified, or set apart, for God's service ( 1Co_6:11 ). Sanctification is an ongoing process God is completing in us as long as we are on this earth ( 1Th_5:23 ).
The "faithful" would be the same group of people as the saints ( Eph_1:1 ). Notice, their location is "in Christ Jesus," an expression which is used some thirty-six times in this epistle. Since the Lord adds the saved to the church ( Act_2:47 ), we conclude being in Christ is synonymous with being in the church, which seems to be supported by Eph_1:22-23 .
Grace, or some form of it, was the typical Greek greeting, while peace was the normal Hebrew greeting. The Father is the source of unmerited favor for lost mankind and that grace produces both an inner peace and a desire to live in peace with others. ( 1Pe_5:10 ; Heb_13:20 ; Php_4:6-7 ; Mat_5:43-48 .) God's grace and the peace it brings to us is extended to man through his Son, so Paul appropriately says it is from God and the Lord Jesus Christ ( Eph_1:2 ).
Spiritual Blessings Are In Christ
We owe God thanksgiving and praise because of all the spiritual blessings we have in his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. The expression "in the heavenly places" occurs four other times in this epistle ( Eph_1:20 ; Eph_2:6 ; Eph_3:10 ; Eph_6:12 ). Here, it is qualified by the words "in Christ" which suggest to us "the church, which is His body" ( Eph_1:22-23 ). Thus, we believe to be in the church is to be in Christ's body and to be in Christ is to be in heavenly places. The church is the home of the saved on earth and its Lord is in heaven, so we are in heavenly places in two senses ( Eph_1:3 ; Act_2:47 ; Act_2:32-36 ).
If I want to be one of God's chosen ones, I must be in Christ. God chose only those who would meet his requirements for being "in him." Before God laid down the foundation of the world, he planned a means of saving man if he should sin. As Hendren notes, buying band-aids and keeping them in the cabinet does not make one's child receive a scrape or cut but it does prepare us for any eventuality. God's plan provided a means of those in Christ being set apart for his service without any lack. The love here mentioned could either be God's love in choosing a means of our being holy in Christ ( Joh_3:16 ), or the love that motivates us to obedience so we might be made holy by the Father ( Eph_1:4 ; Joh_14:15 ; 1Jn_5:3 ).
God's Sons By Adoption
Under Roman law, a Roman citizen could take one not his child by birth and make him his child through a legal act properly attested to and witnessed. The child would thereby gain all the rights and privileges of a son in the family. Similarly, those who because of their sinfulness were children of the devil can become children of God through the work of Jesus Christ ( Gal_4:4-7 ; Rom_8:1-17 ). All of this was, and is, accomplished in accord with what is pleasing to God. It should be noted that an adopted child is specially chosen, never becoming a son without forethought on the part of the father ( Eph_1:5 ).
We become his adopted sons with the express purpose of praising and glorifying the Father and his great grace ( Mat_5:13-16 ). The words "has made" are in the past tense, which indicates God in a one time act made provision for our acceptance ( Heb_9:28 ). Jesus' death stands as a one time sacrifice for our sins and can make us accepted in Christ Jesus, or "the Beloved" ( Gal_3:26-27 ). This can only happen in him ( Eph_1:6 ).
A redemption price is paid to buy something back. As Lipscomb says, in this case it is to rescue from bondage to the devil. It is in Christ and through his blood particularly, that we find release from, or forgiveness of, sins ( Heb_9:22 ; 1Pe_1:18-20 ; Mat_26:28 ; Joh_19:31-34 ; Rom_6:3-4 ). Coffman notes the word here used for forgiveness means "letting go" and is only used in Rom_4:7 and Col_1:14 . This is done through the great wealth of God's unmerited favor bestowed upon sinful man ( Eph_1:7 ).
Out of the riches of His grace, God went beyond our need and provided wisdom, or the full knowledge of the divine plan of salvation. He also provided prudence, which is the understanding of that plan ( Eph_1:8 ). The plan was a mystery because it was covered or hidden. ( 2Co_3:9-18 .) The mystery was uncovered in Christ as it pleased God ( Eph_1:9 ).
God was not rushed, or delayed, in the carrying out of his purpose. Instead, when the time was ripe, full or ready, God sent Jesus. He sent him to die, shed his blood, be buried and raised. Then, all the things that had been divided by man's rebellion could be united in Christ ( Eph_1:10 ).
There are several things which might be included in the time being readied for the Lord. The Jews had seen their inability to live sinless. It was also obvious the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sin ( Rom_3:10 ; Rom_3:23 ; Rom_7:7-25 : Heb_10:14 ). The Gentiles had seen the failure of their wisdom and the downward spiral into a depraved existence that had resulted from ignoring God and exalting man's wisdom. The Greek language had become the near universal language of the common mass. Rome had brought peace to much of the world through its conquests and had opened up highways for relative ease in travel.
A Divine Inheritance
Paul went on to show the gathering together of the previous verses includes the Jews who had been God's chosen ones under Moses' law, thus he uses "we." The word "works" means God continually works. Notice, again it is those "in" Christ who will be a part of God's prearranged plan. Any Jew who did what was necessary to be in him would be a part of God's scheme ( Eph_1:11 ).
Man was created to glorify God ( Ecc_12:13 .) Such could only be accomplished through the coming of the Messiah who would set man free from sin. Faithful Jews had long hoped for the coming of the Messiah because of the prophecies God had made ( Luk_2:22-39 , especially 25 and 38). This is what Paul refers to when he speaks of those who had "first trusted (or hoped as the K.J.V. margin says) in Christ" ( Eph_1:12 ).
The Spirit's Part In Man's Redemption
If the "we" of Eph_1:11 is the Jews, then, the "you" of Ephesians:1:13 is the Gentiles. They too trusted in Christ once they heard the gospel preached and believed. In Joh_3:36 , the A.S.V. has, "He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life; but he that obeyeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him." By this very accurate translation, we are able to clearly see the word believe suggests obedience. Once that obedience is completed, God places his mark of ownership, which Paul identifies as the "Holy Spirit of promise," on those who are in Christ.
The Holy Spirit is like a down payment or guarantee that the Christian will be allowed to enter heaven. In 1:14, Paul uses "our" because this guarantee is for all in Christ, both Jew and Gentile. The redemption Christians still look forward to is that of our bodies from the tomb. When we come forth, it will of course be to the glory of God.
Reason For Thanksgiving
We have already seen that Paul worked among them and so knew of them firsthand. Perhaps he had not seen any of them since he saw the elders when he called them to Miletus ( Act_20:17 ff). However, he was thankful that he had heard of their faith which was rooted in the Lord, just as it should have been. He had also heard of their love of all the brethren, whether of high or low social standing, rich or poor, etc. ( Eph_1:15 ).
Hearing of their faith and love moved Paul to thankful prayer. Notice, he did not cease to pray in their behalf. All Christians should be constantly praying, especially for our brethren ( Eph_1:16 ; 1Th_5:17 ). Also, we should remember to be thankful in prayer ( Php_4:6-7 ).
A Prayer For Further Understanding
The prayer Paul started in the previous two verses is continued in 1:17. Lipscomb notes God is often referred to as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob ( Exo_3:6 ; Exo_4:5 ; 1Ch_29:18 ; Act_3:13 ). However, Paul now calls him "the God of our Lord Jesus Christ." He is also the Father who by his glory raised Jesus from the dead. Of that Father, Paul requests for the Ephesian brethren the ability to apply the knowledge they have received and fully understand the revelation they have been given.
Paul further prays that wisdom and revelation will touch a sensitive cord in the inner most man of each Ephesian Christian ( Act_26:16-18 ). Instead of being blind to the truth ( Mat_13:13-15 ), Paul wanted them to realize the wonderful blessings that were theirs. They had the forgiveness of sins. They enjoyed fellowship with Christ on earth. Their hope was for an eternal home in glory with the Father and the Son ( Eph_1:18 ; 1Ti_1:13-15 ; 2Ti_1:1-2 ; 1Jn_1:3 ; 1Pe_1:10-11 ).
To show God's ability to accomplish his purpose, Paul uses six different Greek words in describing his power. The word "exceeding" and "greatness" come from the original huperbalo and megethos respectively. According to Thayer, they mean "to transcend, surpass, exceed, excel" and "greatness". The word "power" comes from the Greek dunamis, which Thayer says is a power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature, or inherent power. "Working" is from energeia, describing superhuman power at work. Isxus is the Greek word for ability, strength, and might and is translated "mighty". The next "power" is from the Greek kratos and is often translated dominion because it suggests a power that rules (1:19). All of this power is directed toward the salvation of those who believe.
There are three ways Paul says God's greatness is seen. It was seen in the sending of Christ. His resurrection from the dead being the ultimate evidence during the time Christ spent on earth ( Rom_1:4 ; Act_2:23-24 ). Further, God seated Jesus on the throne of power (1:20; Act_2:24-36 ; Heb_1:3 ). He then gave Jesus authority over all other authorities both in this present world and the one to come (1:21; Mat_28:18 ; Php_2:9-11 ; Col_1:18 ).
It might be said there is a fourth way God showed his power in Christ, or at least an extension of the third. Jesus was made the ruling head of the church, with all phases of it being under his direction and authority ( 1Pe_5:4 ). That church is synonymous with Christ's body. Later in the letter, Paul states there is only one body which plainly establishes the fact that there is only one church ( Eph_4:4 ). The church makes Christ full, because it was his ultimate purpose to establish the church ( Mat_16:13-20 ). Also, in his coming and establishing the church Jesus fulfilled all God's purpose in all that he did, especially the redeeming of man (1:22-23).
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Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Ephesians 1". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13