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Bible Commentaries

Derickson's Notes on Selected Books

Ephesians 1

Verse 1

Week one: 1:1-14

We are about to be given a grand tour of theology by the apostle Paul. We will see some of the great things that God has done for us. Ray Stedman introduced these things as follows in one of his sermons. "Obviously, all of this, as we saw last week, comes to us in one great package "in Christ." If you are not a Christian, you cannot possibly claim these benefits. They are not yours; they don’t belong to you. You cannot buy them, you cannot discover them, and you cannot sign up for a course about them in a university. You can’t send away ten dollars in the mail and get a pamphlet that will lead you to them. There is no way you can appropriate them unless you are in Christ. But if you are "in Christ" there is nothing to keep you from having all of them, every moment of every day. That is why it is so important that we discover what they are."

Let’s begin our tour.

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:

Paul, the "not so nice" Saul of the early part of Acts was well known in Ephesus as well as the surrounding areas. He had been through the area as a missionary, planting churches and had spent two or three years there teaching and ministering. He undoubtedly knew many people there, and most likely was close to some of the ones he ministered with.

What a wonderful thing to get a letter from this man that had been such a part of the church s beginnings and growth. What a treat to hear more of his great teaching as well. I suspect there was a lot of excitement in the church when it was received and read.

When he tells them he is an apostle by the will of God I would guess there were a lot of amens in the congregation. They knew who he was, as well as what he was. He was an apostle, but prior to this life he had persecuted believers. His past life had to have had some impact as they viewed his overall character.

Recently I was in a church service where the preacher was downplaying the testimonies of people that have been in the dregs of sin, but washed in the blood of the lamb. He thought that they were braggarts to discuss their former life, yet it is part of their life, of their overall testimony, so why would someone with a life of sin behind him try to cover it up by not mentioning it when giving a testimony for the Lord and what He has done in the life?

The pastor mentioned that he was more excited to see a young child come to the Lord because they haven’t gone through all that sin. I am not sure why we should dismiss one person’s salvation for another s, since we are all saved by grace and we all come to the Lord with nothing but filthy rags. Indeed, I am not sure, but it runs in my mind, all are totally depraved and all are totally without excuse before God - how can we devalue one person’s experience over another s? Indeed, all come to Christ with a totally sinful nature and they are spiritually dead, be they a child or a drunk of old age - all lost are just as lost as another.

Paul knew he was what he was because of God’s will. We can also know the same in our lives if we are on communicating ground with the Lord.

I trust that you have considered what God’s will is for your life. Even children can start looking into this area of their spiritual life. Some know when they are yet very young that God wants them in the field of missions, while others know that they are to be preachers, or mothers, or firemen. Note, that God’s will does not mean the ministry, but may. Keep that "may" in your thinking as you seek God’s will for your life and future.

The fact that Paul addresses this to "the saints which are at Ephesus" rather than to First Baptist church of Ephesus is of note. He was addressing saints, not buildings. We often forget that the church is people, not a building. We often tend to think of church as where we go rather than whom we see.

Paul uses the following description of his readers, "...to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:." This terminology certainly leaves it open to the possibility of this letter needing to go to others outside of the church at Ephesus. It could also just mean that it was to any saints near Ephesus. It is unlikely that a church planted in the city would not have extended its ministry to those in surrounding areas. As people traveled into town for commerce, it would have been natural for believers to have talked to some of the Lord.

"Paul" means short or little, thus descriptive of the apostle s stature, yet God used him anyway - he can, and will use anyone of any type, of any shape, and of any stature if they are open to His leading. Don’t ever allow some limitation to hinder your openness to God to serve Him in His way. Moses in the Old Testament used his lack of eloquence to try to excuse himself from God’s calling - don’t you allow anything to stand between what God wants you to do and your doing it. Exodus 4:10 "And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I [am] not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I [am] slow of speech, and of a slow tongue."

The better example of a willing participant in God’s will is Isaiah. He was willing to answer the call. Isaiah 6:8 "Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here [am] I; send me."

The term "saint" is the normal term for holiness. Now, that speaks volumes about what we are supposed to be like. When you walk into the break room at work, do people envision you in their minds as holiness walking into the room? Does anyone call you holy? Do your friends view you as a holy one? I trust this term brings you up short in your life, as this is God’s standard.

So many people in churches across the country feel good about themselves, but are never told that God holds them to a holy standard rather than a feel good standard. Many are going to be surprised at the judgment seat of Christ.

I rather think this is one of the things that helped spawn the false teaching currently circulating that the Millennium is a time of reigning with Christ for the faithful, while being a time of purification for those that aren’t faithful. A protestant purgatory as some are calling the teaching. Some have seen the lack of holiness so have seen benefit in this false teaching to encourage people to live holy lives.

I suspect some would suggest that the holy ones and the faithful are two different groups of people. This may be true to a point. The saints at Ephesus may relate to the believers in the church, while the faithful may relate to other believers around Ephesus. This, however, is as far as I would carry the thought of two groups. He isn’t talking about the general saints as opposed to the "faithful" saints.

Darby translates it in a way which seems to equate the two terms to the same people. 1:1 "Paul, apostle of Jesus Christ by God’s will, to the saints and faithful in Christ Jesus who are at Ephesus."

A note in the Net Bible states that the Greek construction is typical of Paul, and that the two terms are speaking of the same people. It states that the two are identical.

Just a little more relating to how people view you. Not only should they see you as holy, but they should see you as faithful. How faithful are you at the break table when someone begins to demean God/Christ by their verbiage? How faithful are you to your belief system when at work? How faithful are you to your belief system when you are out with your friends?

Verses 1-14

APPLICATION:

1. We have noted that this letter may have been to Ephesus as well as to others in the area. Consider for a moment - Paul sends a letter to your church, First Bible church of Anytown, World, but he addresses it to the churches around you as well. Some observations: a. He had something to say to all the churches, but especially to First Bible church because it is the one named. Had he wanted to especially say something to First Bible church of Second town, World he would have addressed it to them. b. All the surrounding churches know two things. They have the same problem as First Bible church, but they also know that First Bible church has a bigger problem with it than they. c. Would this not focus all eyes on First Bible church to get their act together in a big hurry? In fact I think logically we might draw two more conclusions. c. He wanted First Bible church to take the lead in this problem, and he also wanted the other churches to follow that lead and maybe even support First Bible church in their struggle.

Some suggest that the letter is not to dispel problems. I would suggest that Paul may have known of some under the surface problems that he wanted to blast before they gained a foothold.

2. We have seen God’s plan mentioned as well as his purpose and will. Barnes points out that many in his day felt that this was a dark teaching, that God’s will for mankind was somehow sinister and surrounded in trouble. On the opposite end of the spectrum we see people that look under every rock in their path to seek God’s will. They act as if nothing in the Scripture is His will but that He will reveal it elsewhere.

Let me tell you clearly, there is not one word in His Word that is not related to His will for us and our lives. All of it is there for our learning of what He wants and wills for us. We don’t need to look under rocks, around corners, or in other people’s business, we have only to look into the Word. Yes, there are times when He will reveal some of His will in a special way such as a call to the mission field or a call to minister to the Lord’s people, but for the most part the Word is His will for our lives.

Since Paul makes such a big deal of it in these few verses maybe we should make it a big deal in our lives. Many believers today have never given a thought to what God might want them to do in this life. They live their life as if it were their own to live. Remember those terms redemption and purchase - seems we are His and not our own. It is not up to us to run our lives as we wish, rather we are His to lead, and we ought to live our lives for Him.

We don’t want to discount another portion of His will, that portion which pertains to the nations and time. He specifically has a plan for each nation that He raises up and each nation that He puts down. The book of Daniel is clear that He raises up and that He puts down.

In an election, such as when President Clinton ran and now when Senator Kerry is running, the only solace I have is, this teaching that God is in complete control of all that goes on within the nations. If Senator Kerry should get in, it is God’s will. If President Bush gets another four years, it is God’s will. This can be a grand comfort for those that are in countries where there are dictators and people that are subjugating the populous. It is God that deals with these governments and leaders. He will deal one day with Hitler and men like him that totally abused their power over man. He will deal with every leader in relation to how they used their power in this life.

God will also deal with those responsible for the falsehoods perpetuated upon the American public in this recent campaign. There have been lies and innuendo to the maximum this time around and some will certainly be held responsible for their treatment of the truth and of God’s will.

3. Just a bit of a side note, we know that Christ’s blood saves us and we know that His blood was offered by the Lord Himself in the Holy of Holies in heaven (Well that is what many of us have been taught, we will see what we shall see). The question to ponder is how was His blood collected at the cross to be offered in the Heavenly holy of holies? Or is it as some might suggest a picture of His offering that pictures that completed one time sacrifice on the altar in heaven?

Hebrews 9:22 ff speaks of the offering or the purification of things in the heavenly tabernacle. It is in contrast to the offerings of blood of animals in the Old Testament, so it would be assumed that there would be a physical purification of the heavenly things. Or would it? Might it not be a spiritual purification of spiritual things?

Since the heavens are for the spirit world, it would make sense that there was some spiritual offering by Christ in this spiritual tabernacle. The how and why of this offering would be of great contemplation if this be true.

There is another aspect. If Christ had to die in the physical realm then there might have to be some physical purification of the heavenly tabernacle. Just how did this offering of physical blood occur in a heavenly tabernacle - if it occurred?

It is not impossible that the spiritual and physical worlds are intermingled in some way. The angels, for example, are primarily of the spirit world, yet they are allowed to appear in the physical world at times thus a physical offering in a spiritual setting would not be impossible.

Some things that relate:

a. The fact that Christ told one of the women not to touch Him shortly after the resurrection and then later told Thomas to touch Him, would indicate that there might be a purity issue to be considered until He had ascended unto the Father. (John 20:17; John 20:27)

b. The Word tells us that Christ, after the resurrection sat down beside the father. Hebrews 10:12 "But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;"

To contemplate. Could this be speaking of Christ/God offering Jesus/man on the cross for the sins of the world? God did not die on the cross. Jesus did die on the cross. The terminology of the above text rather indicates this very thing.

c. Hebrews seven through ten is key to understanding this. Take time to read it. It relates that the sacrifices of the Old Testament were not adequate to the need for our final salvation, but that the death of Christ was that final needed sacrifice that is sufficient for all needs of man.

Make note as you read, that there is an earthly tabernacle made with hands and a heavenly tabernacle after which the earthly was patterned. This heavenly tabernacle actually seems to be the throne of God Himself - the heavenly mercy seat if you will. I say this in light of the creatures around the throne of God having the faces that were carried on the standards of the four tribes that surrounded the earthly tabernacle, and the glassy sea of the throne scene relates to the lavor of the Old Testament (I believe it is called a sea).

Hebrews 9:12 "Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption [for us]." This on the other hand seems to indicate that He entered the Holy of Holies with his literal blood. Hebrews 9:23 tells us that the heavenly tabernacle needed to be purified with better sacrifices than that of the blood of animals. However, keep a thought in mind - "but by his own blood" does not require that He took His blood into the holy place.

d. The above passage mentions that He entered into the holy of holies - does this maybe relate to the rent curtain in the earthly temple of His own time. That entering into the heavenly tabernacle (God’s throne)? I must wonder if the reason He did not want to be touched before He ascended was that He was to present his bloodied garments as proof to the Father of His Sacrifice once for all for all of mankind.

Indeed, was the actual blood necessary? He offered Himself a perfect sacrifice, and He died for us - He shed His blood for us as an atonement for our sin. Was the actual blood necessary to cleanse the heavenly tabernacle? No, for the heavenly tabernacle was not unclean, how could it be. The cleansing is of the sin of man, not the tabernacle.

Hebrews 9:23 "[It was] therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, [which are] the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:" Note, that the sacrifice was needed but the passage does not say blood. Indeed, the thought seems to be that like the Old Testament priest entered into the earthly, so Christ entered into the heavenly, both after offering sacrifices.

Let’s go to the Old Testament and see what significance the blood being sprinkled had once a year on the mercy seat in that earthly tabernacle.

Leviticus 16:1 ff speaks of the yearly atonement for all the children of Israel. This would be the equivalent to what we have been speaking of in Hebrews. This was one sacrifice for all the people. The sacrifices were for the sins of the people, but the sins were symbolically placed on a goat that was sent out into the wilderness. The sacrifice of Christ was on the cross, but the blood that He shed, if the picture is to be complete would have to have been sprinkled in the holy of holies in the heavenlies.

There is no clear reason for the sprinkling of blood on and before the mercy seat. One might assume that it was to signify the cleansing or purification of the place, though this probably wasn’t necessary for it was the dwelling place of God and already pure and holy. (Exodus 25:22 "And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which [are] upon the ark of the testimony, of all [things] which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.")

Hebrews 9:8 "The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:" seems to indicate that a similar occasion was required in the heavenly tabernacle. Hebrews 8:11 "But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; 12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption [for us]." makes it clear that this occurred, thus there must be some methodology for that blood having been offered. However, again note that the passage does not require the blood be taken in, only that it was shed and that by that act He had access to the holy of holies.

Did you catch that? He entered into the holy place by his own blood - the blood allowed Him entrance into the area, it was not to purify or anything of that sort, it was only for the purification of the person entering the holy of holies. The shedding of blood was to allow for the bearer forgiveness and allow him entrance. Christ shed His blood on the cross - plus the fact that He had no sin so had no need of His own blood for entrance into the holy place - He was pure already, thus the thought that His sitting down at the right hand of God is that entrance into the holy place which Hebrews 8:12 mentions.

There was thus no need to collect the blood nor offer it in the Holy of holies in the heavenlies - He needed no blood sacrifice for His own sin, He needed no blood to enter into the holy of holies in heaven. Had Aaron and the others been perfect, they would not have had to take the blood into the holy of holies either, but since they were men and sinners then they needed that blood of purification for themselves to enter in to minister to God.

The sprinkling of blood in the holy of holies by the priest seems to be an act to purify the area as you read Leviticus sixteen, however since all is holy and pure in the heavenlies; there is no need for the blood sprinkling in the heavenlies.

In proofing the above I struggled with whether I had been sufficiently confusing. I think I was. I have done some further thinking and come up with the following:

FACTS:

1. Heavenly tabernacle is/was pure/holy. (However Heb says 9:23 "[It was] therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, [which are] the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:") The heavenly tabernacle needed no cleansing or sprinkling of blood. Yet, the verse indicates there was need of purifying.

2. Christ was pure/holy

3. Christ’s blood was pure/holy

4. His sacrifice was much different from the Old Testament system. He was hung on the cross. In the Old Testament the offering was placed on the altar and the throat cut to allow the blood to flow.

QUESTIONS:

1. What specifically was Christ’s blood needed for?

The sacrifice of a pure and holy sacrifice was needed.

The Old Testament sacrificial system required the blood to be shed.

2. Was the blood needed/required for some purpose, or was that just the method of killing of the sacrifice in that system?

When the Word speaks of "by his blood" is it saying the blood shedding was required, or is it another way of speaking of the sacrifice that was required?

3. Since the Exodus pictures this whole process, the blood was placed on the door so that the angel would know God’s people from the Egyptians. Is this the only need of the blood in Christ’s case?

The blood that He shed was to identify those that were trusting in His sacrifice for salvation.

4. Does the methodology of question four matter?

I cannot imagine why, as long as there was the letting of blood and the death of the sacrifice.

CONCLUSIONS:

To tie this up, let me say that I am still thinking on this one, but here is where I am at this point in time.

1. The Exodus sacrificial lamb was a picture of what Christ was to do. The blood was placed on the door post to identify God’s people. The blood of Christ, in some manner identifies believers today.

2. Christ, the perfect Lamb of God was offered in a different manner than the Old Testament sacrifices, but the result was the same. A shedding of blood and death of the sacrifice.

3. Christ wanted to remain pure until He sat down beside the Father in that heavenly tabernacle.

4. That sitting down with the Father fulfilled the comments of Hebrews when speaking of a better sacrifice. He did, in that act, all that was mentioned in Hebrews.

5. The heavenly throne cannot need purifying in any manner for God is sitting there and there is no impurity in or around Him.

6. Christ/God may have offered up Jesus/man in some manner as that perfect sacrifice.

7. God planned it and got it done even if we are a little fuzzy on the details due to our limited understanding.

Just a few more thought to get your minds eye working overtime.

1. The word used of the heavenly tabernacle needing to be purified, means just that - to clean or purify. If we take this literally and I am tempted to do so because there is no evidence to do otherwise; and assume that there was need of purification in some manner.

How would it become less than pure? Since Christ’s work on the cross was related to man’s salvation, it would seem that impurity would relate to sin - most likely Adam’s sin. How, I have no idea, but this would be the logical conclusion.

If this is so, then one might wonder if God vacated his Throne area immediately upon the sin of Adam. If this is so, might the Genesis account of the cherubim guarding the gate to the garden have been that new dwelling place of God - that place where Adam and his descendants offered their sacrifices? Then one might conclude that God shifted his dwelling place to the earthly tabernacle followed by the temple many years later.

Ultimately the work of Christ purified the heavenly so that God could return there to sit with Christ.

This might also relate to the fact that in the first part of Job, the Devil had access to the throne of God. Later, there does not seem to be that access, in fact the devil is cast down to the earth. Might there be a whole lot of items that we are not given in the Word about the heavenly challenges to God’s power and character?

If you hold to my concept of where the Garden of Eden was - that it was at Jerusalem or there about, then we might wonder if the Garden was a literal Garden for man and woman that resided in the holy area of God here on earth. Since He was present in the Garden, since the tree of life was present, but isn’t viewed until the book of Revelation in the heavenly scene, might one wonder at how closely matched God’s throne and the Garden of Eden were.

Now, I want to be sure ALL KNOW THIS IS WILD SPECULATION with some logic mixed in. I would never, at this point teach it as truth, but I would certainly challenge folks to contemplate the possibilities.

With this I will stop and allow someone else to develop the more detailed doctrine, but suffice it to say that some of the teaching on this subject in the past has been shallow and very inadequate.

4. In verse ten it mentions, "he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; [even] in him:" We have discussed this before but I ran across an interesting comment by Barnes. He seems to indicate a belief in life on other planets. "The more simple and obvious interpretation is however, without doubt, the correct one, and this is to suppose that it refers to the holy inhabitants of other worlds. The object of the plan of salvation is to produce a harmony between them and the redeemed on earth, or to produce, out of all, one great and united kingdom. In doing this, it is not necessary to suppose that any change is to be produced in the inhabitants of heaven. All the change is to occur among those on earth and the object is to make, out of all, one harmonious and glorious empire."

Not that I believe this line of thought but it is certainly a possibility, though not supported by anything in Scripture that I can put my finger on.

5. When commenting on "in Christ" Constable quotes August Van Ryn "Thus our being in Christ means that the Lord Jesus surrounds and embraces the believer in His own life, and separates him at the same time from all outside and hostile influences. He protects the believer from all perils and foes, and supplies him with all that is necessary." How do you react to this statement? Do you believe it is true?

I have read and heard many similar statements. I have heard people tell new Christians that now they have a new life and Christ will take care of everything. That He will supply everything they need and protect them.

I have to wonder how a martyr of the first century that was looking eye to eye with a hungry lion would feel about such a comment. I wonder how some of those that have been killed and that have starved to death in Sudan would feel. Being saved is not a guarantee that we won’t have problems; it isn’t a surety that we will always have the money we want or need.

Being in Christ only means that we are part of His body the church and that we will enjoy that relationship to Him and other believers forever.

6. In verse two we looked at the peace that God gives. I receive many emails from people around the world that have happened onto my website. Many of those letters relate to the lack of peace, that aspect of the spiritual life that comes with teaching and knowing the Word. Often the writers lack of peace relates to poor teaching relating to the Spirit or to the security of the believer. Many have sinned and feel they have ruined their entire life and that God will have nothing to do with them from that point forward.

The believer is not destined for this sort of upheaval in their life. The believer is to be at peace with God. If there is sin, then 1 John 1:9 is there for the person to gain back the relationship that they need with God - one of fellowship not salvation. Sin breaks fellowship only; it can never break your bond of sonship with the Father.

This is the peace that Paul speaks of, not that superficial peace that comes from "feeling" good about how excited you get about God. Peace is that which the Spirit fills you with when you are walking with the Father correctly.

I mentioned letters from folks around the world. Many of them, for some reason, are charismatic. They all have one thing in common. Lack of peace. They operate in the land of feeling and when they feel down, they have no idea what is going on, they feel they have offended the Holy Spirit and may be lost forever.

That is NOT the peace that God offers. His peace is based on the surety of Scripture and His promise, not the slippery slope of feelings. I mentioned this to one of these folks recently, and there was out of hand rejection of my comments because they KNEW from their teachers (false teachers from my viewpoint) that they were on the right track when they seek the gifts and side track themselves from all their efforts for God while seeking - that which they won’t find, but they don’t know that.

I worked with a woman many years ago that was stuck on seeking the baptism of the Spirit. She sought long and hard. One day she called and wanted to tell us something. We drove down to her home and she informed us that she had been saved - she knew immediately that her seeking had been in vain, that what she had sought was the Lord - she just didn’t know that until He ushered her into the fold.

7. Jamieson, Fausset and Brown mention of verse one where Paul tells the reader that he is an apostle by the will of the Father, that this is the same will that is mentioned in verse five and verse eleven which speak to the saving of man through the will of God. It is by the same will of God that we are saved, that same will that called Paul to be an apostle, that same will that called the church, the body of Christ into existence.

Does that not give you a little more feeling of importance when you consider who and what you are in Christ? You are a part of this "WHOLE" called the church, because of God’s will - if that is the same will that called the church into business, then you must - YOU MUST - have an important role to play in that "whole" and it is your responsibility to get busy and fulfill that role as soon as possible.

If you don’t know what that role is, take some time to read the Word, pray asking for God to reveal the role to you, and maybe after doing this for awhile see your pastor and ask him if he has noticed anything in your life that might indicate what the role might be. (Pastors often see things that others do not because they are tuned into spiritual things more than others.)

8. Paul seems to be heavy on talking about grace. There is a group in evangelicalism called Sovereign Grace. They talk about grace a lot as well. Basically the two, Paul and the group, talk about grace, in my mind, because they know what grace is. They have experienced this grace in their lives and know the effects and meaning of grace to the spiritual life.

I do not agree with all that the sovereign grace folks believe (not sure Paul would either :-) but they realize where they were as a lost person and they know how far down into the depths of sin God had to reach to touch their lives and pull them up out of that sin into newness of life.

In a sloppy theological sense grace is kind of like our being lucky (not that grace has to do with luck) to have been chosen by almighty God to be brought to salvation in Christ. Do you really know how lucky you are to be saved? Out of the millions that have walked the earth as lost mankind, you were lucky enough to have been picked to be saved. Don’t misunderstand me - luck has nothing to do with it, but if you view it as the lucky person that won the twenty-three million dollar lottery - think of their excitement, their luck, their new life - like I said in a sloppy sense, even a perverted sense does this not give us an idea of how we should feel about the grace of God touching our lives. Shouldn’t we find some excitement in this grace that God gave to us? Shouldn’t we be overjoyed to have been made a part of His family?

Grace in our life should be the most exciting thing that you can imagine, it should cause you to shudder with delight over what God has handed you on the proverbial silver platter.

Be excited about God’s grace and do something about it. He didn’t shed it upon you for you to sit and glory in your own illustrious life, but He saved you to do a work that He has planned for you to do.

9. In reading through Deffenbach’s work I ran across a good distinction between election and predestination. He said that if he wanted to enrich the lives of some youth in the city he could choose ten women and ten men to go to college on his bank account. That would be election, while going to the universities and writing checks for each student and making all the arrangements would be predestination. He made a plan and then made full provision for it to come to pass.

I think this is a good picture of what God did, he chose some, then planned their lives accordingly. Now, some might want to hide behind this truth and live their lives in a poor manner and then claim that it was God’s plan that was in error. Not so. His plan would be perfect for you; it is the person that steps out of that path to go their own way. If we walk with Him we will fulfill all that He has planned or predestined us to.

In reality Predestination itself may be a little more limited than this, but in generalities this is true. His will is integrated into the above paragraph as well. The predestination is literally to the adoption that the text mentions.

You might find a good study for yourself in the following thoughts. Paul mentions election and predestination but does not explain either doctrine. Indeed, he mentions a number of doctrines here but does not define, nor explain them. He has assumed or rather knows that his readers know what he is talking about. He must have taught these doctrines while he was at the church or else there is teaching in the Old Testament that would indicate to the knowledgeable Jew the truth of these teachings.

Take some of your spare time and see if you cannot find an Old Testament basis for these doctrines. At the least there are precursors or hints at the truth of these doctrines.

10. Deffenbach’s Calvinism shows quite clearly. He goes to great length to redefine "foreknow" to mean, not to know before as the lexicon shows, but he defines it as chosen, thus completely leaving out the foreknowledge aspect of these discussions.

He mentions "If God were to have looked down the corridors of time, to see all those who were to choose Him, He would see no one." This leaves out much of what most declare of foreknowledge. He forgets to mention that God looked down the corridors of time to see all those who WOULD BE DRAWN TO HIM and would choose Him; they are many for He chose many. To disallow God foreknowledge as His word says He has is not the answer to uncomfortable theology.

When Deffenbach states, "If God were to have looked down the corridors of time, to see all those who were to choose Him, He would see no one." he speaks from within his doctrinal system not from an objective vantage point. He assumes God sees what his personal theological system requires God to see. The Scriptures do not tell us what God saw, only that in foreknowledge he did some things.

Yes, God is Sovereign, yes God can do whatever He wants to do, yes, there are none that will choose Him out of their own understanding, but if He work in their lives, and purposes to draw them to Himself as He says He does, surely they will respond to Him, not of their own ability but due to His working and moving in their life.

At least Deffenbach makes an attempt to do away with foreknowledge, many just don’t talk about it as if it were not there in the Word as plain as day. They feel if they ignore it, one day He will remove it from the word from non-use I guess.

He then goes on to list passages that prove that man won’t seek God on his own. He has set up a straw man to shoot down. Most realize that lost man is corrupt and unable to seek God on His own, but there is nothing to keep that SOVEREIGN God from working in that lost person’s life to draw them to him.

At least he makes an attempt to dispel that which he doesn’t want to deal with, but Stedman just makes a statement as if fact and goes on with his message without a line to prove what he says. "Some say, "Well, God can foresee the future, so he looks down and sees that we are going to make a choice, and on the basis of seeing what we will determine to do he then says, ’All right, I’ll elect them to be part of my process.’" That sounds very simplistic, and it is, because it is not what the Scriptures say.

You see, to be as the Calvinist believes we are - unable to do anything, unable to respond, unable to do any good works etc. - is absurd if you look at the human condition. Many people do good things, many people respond to God, many people seek God - look at most lost people in our country, they seek God. They seek the God of their own making at times, they seek the God of the false prophets at times, and they seek the God of this world, but in all, they are seeking that which almighty God can supply. Is this not what Romans one speaks to - it is built in?

The ancient heathen Egyptians sought God, sought an after life, they just sought Him in all the wrong places and ideas. All through history we see man seeking God in some manner. They may pollute all their efforts, but they do seek God.

He continues "The ultimate choice of those who will be blessed with eternal salvation is God’s choice. This does not mean that men have no choice." I suggest that I agree with this statement, but I doubt that I agree in the same way he does. He would say that man must choose if he is chosen, I would say that he will choose because he was chosen. He was chosen because God knew he would choose. The Calvinist would say that the chosen must chose because they were chosen.

I want to make one further distinction and clarification. The strong comments of the Calvinist usually require that the chosen are chosen to glorification and the rest are condemned to hell. Gill mentions "Predestination, taken in a large sense, includes both election and reprobation...."

In my thinking if we are chosen, and we later choose God, then those that are not chosen chose to reject God and choose unto themselves damnation. The choice is theirs and they make it, not God. There is also the possibility that in God’s foreknowledge He saw that they would reject Him even though he was to draw them toward Himself. No, that does not thwart the sovereignty of God, He could force all to choose Him if He so desired but He did not.

11. Gill has a quote that caught my interest. In relation to redemption he says "God’s elect by nature are in bondage to sin, Satan, and the law; through the grace of Christ, they are redeemed from all iniquity; ransomed out of the hands of him that is stronger than they; and are freed from the law, its bondage, curse, and condemnation, and from every other enemy: and this benefit Christ is the author of;" To which I would add amen. However, my thoughts went one step further - that step that few Calvinists take, that step that clears us of our sin nature. Most hold that we are still in lock step with our sin nature if we aren’t walking with God. How can this be if we are redeemed from the Devil and his powers over us? Their answer would be that it is us not the Devil and I would label that a sidestepping of the issue. If Christ redeemed us, and He did, and if Christ made all things new, which He did, then how can we still be plagued by a sin nature that is left over from our pre-redemption lives? Sounds very illogical to me.

12. Stedman makes a great point that gives a little balance to this passage. "We don’t like to be called saints because we have such a plaster idea of what a saint is. We think of them as being unreal - so beatific, so holier-than-we, so unlike ordinary human beings. But the saints of the New Testament are not that way; they are people like us. Saints are people who are beset with struggles and difficulties, which have disturbances at home, and problems at work, and troubles everywhere else. They’re normal people, in other words!"

In all the pomp and circumstance of choosing, elections, predestination and adoption, we are still only human beings that are making our way through this life. The thought of holiness requires of us a higher standard of life, and a cleaner standard of thought, but we are still in this life to navigate through the rigors of said life.

Do it as graciously and righteously as you can.

He continues his thought in a most plain, yet powerful way. "That’s what a Christian is - a person who can’t quit being a Christian. A true Christian just can’t stop! A young man called me this past week to tell me how discouraged he was, how he’d lost his confidence in prayer because he felt that no answer was coming, and how ready he was to quit. So I said to him, "Well, why don’t you just quit, then? Give up. Stop being a Christian. Try it." - because I knew that if he did, the first thing he would have discovered is that he couldn’t quit. And he knew it, too. The minute I said that, he acknowledged it: "You’re right. I can’t quit." That is because, as Paul will describe in this letter, there is imparted to us the Holy Spirit of God, and we are sealed by the Holy Spirit so that we can’t quit! That is a mark of a believer in Christ."

13. Stedman says "We all have learned that God is to be praised. We are to give thanks in all circumstances, etc. But most of us think of that as something we must make ourselves do. We have to do this because God needs it, his ego needs to be massaged every now and then by our praise, and unless we praise him he won’t operate. He gets upset and mad at us and doesn’t run things right, and we have to butter him up a little bit to get him to work. That is really the basis upon which most of us act, at least much of the time, isn’t it?"

Think about that and see if there isn’t a lot of truth in his observation.

He goes on to conclude "But that isn’t what this is talking about at all! It is saying that God has done such remarkable deeds that, if we once understand them, if it once breaks upon our dull intellects what it is that God has already done for us, what is already true of us right now, there will be nothing that we can do but stand in absolute awe and amazement, and say, "You mean that is true of me, Lord? I am overwhelmed! My God, how great thou art!" That is what God is after. That is what he wants to produce - that sense of awe and amazement which causes us to stop and give thanks to a great and glorious God who has given us every spiritual blessing."

Praising God has nothing to do with His needs, but all to do with His being and of it.

14. I have spent a good part of my life being rejected for one reason or another. Many because I was a little ahead of my time, others because they disagreed with me, and others because they viewed me as a conservative nut. In doing this study I was struck with the thought - God chose me to be a part of His family. He asked that I be included. He chose me for inclusion. He prepared the way for my inclusion. He took steps to assure my inclusion.

Wow, He wanted me in His family, even though so many of his sons didn’t want anything to do with me in this life. Makes one wonder how easy our regathering as brothers and sisters will be - how comfortable will we be when face to face in the next life with those we have ignored and rejected in this life.

Maybe this study should move us to consider how we relate to other FAMILY MEMBERS in this life. We should treat all believers as brothers or sisters in the Lord, not just those we like or can get along with.

15. Stedman suggests that the reference to the heavenlies in verse three etc. may not relate to the throne of God in Heaven but rather to the general thought of our being in this life surrounded with spiritual goings on. He refers to the time when Elisha and his man were in the city and the man was worried, but Elisha asked God to open his eyes to the Lord’s armies around the city (2 Kings 6:15-17).

It is true, much of what Paul is talking about relates in the competed end with heaven proper, but we are all these things now, in this world scene where unseen are the armies of God arrayed to do battle at His bidding.

I have been very concerned at the length of this study. It is over twice as long as most of my study files. I was wondering if I had been straining at a gnat or something, when today I saw an ad for an eight-volume study of Ephesians - guess I’m not so far off as I had thought.

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From Mr. D’s Notes on Theology

Copyright Rev. Stanley L. Derickson Ph.D. 1992

"III. CHRIST IN SONSHIP:

"Some today suggest that Christ was not the Son of God until He became man. This thought suggests that there was no "Son" relationship until Mary bore Christ.

"Logically then would there be no "Father" relationship? Proverbs 30:4, "Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? Who hath gathered the wind in his fists? Who hath bound the waters in a garment? Who hath established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?"

"MacArthur states that this reference is looking forward to when Christ would be the Son, but that the son ship did not begin until the incarnation. As was noted, Son is an incarnational title of Christ. Though His sonship was anticipated in the Old Testament (Proverbs 30:4 O), He did not become a Son until He was begotten into time. Prior to time and His incarnation He was eternal God with God. The term Son has only to do with Jesus Christ in His incarnation. It is only an analogy to say that God is Father and Jesus is Son - God’s way of helping us understand the essential relationship between the first and second Persons of the Trinity." (Taken from: "NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY: HEBREWS"; MacArthur, John; Copyright 1983, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago; Moody Press. Used by permission. p 27)

"Strong speaks of the eternal generation of the Son, "Not a commencement of existence, but an eternal relation to the Father, --there never having been a time when the Son began to be, or when the Son did not exist as God with the Father."

"Romans 8:3 Tells us, "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son, in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh,"

"John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Begotten Son...."

"1 John 3:8 "He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil."

"This seems to indicate that He was the Son before He was manifested to man. Hebrews 13:8 also indicates this fact. "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever."

"The use of the term with the Father and Holy Spirit in the baptismal formula and elsewhere would be curious if the term Son is only for the incarnation as MacArthur mentions. One might decide that the term Father was also for the incarnation only. Indeed, the Holy Spirit’s name might also be for the incarnation only.

"Indeed, to follow MacArthur’s logic we might suggest that the Holy Spirit is a name to allow us to understand the Holy Spirit. His name is actually not Holy Spirit, but God. That makes the Baptismal formula "The God and of The God and of the God."

"Technically the eternal generation of the Son deals with His eternality. It was a doctrine that was formed as a result of some of the thinking of Arius and his idea that Christ was created.

"The only, known to me, Old Testament reference to God as Father is in Isaiah 9:6 which speaks of the "COMING" Messiah. However, it seems that it would be difficult to view three persons of the trinity running around not having names for one another and then in 33 AD deciding that one would be The Father and one would be The Son and one would be The Holy Spirit. Especially when the Spirit is called the Spirit before the incarnation. Genesis 1:1-31 for example.

"Since Christ was slain from the foundation of the world in God’s mind it would be consistent to view Christ as the Son at least at that point. (Hebrews 4:3; 1 Peter 1:19-20; Ephesians 1:4) A study of the decrees in relation to this might be of interest as well.

"Walvoord mentions that the eternal Father Son relationship has been the thought of the Church Fathers since the Council of Nicaea. (Taken from: "JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD"; Walvoord, John F.; Copyright 1969, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago; Moody Press. Used by permission. p 39)

"He lists several positions:

"1. He mentions that Wardlaw placed the idea that Christ became the Son at the time of the incarnation into existence. ...sonship is inseparably linked with the incarnation and, while Christ existed from eternity past, He was not a Son until the incarnation." (P 39 of Walvoord quoting Ralph Wardlaw, Systematic Theology, II, 32-60)

"2. Some mention that the sonship came only after the Father declared Him his beloved Son at the baptism.

"3. Some have suggested that Romans 1:4, "And declared to be the Son of God with power...." shows that the relationship came at the resurrection.

"4. Some suggest that the son relation came at the exaltation. Hebrews 1:3 is given as evidence. The problem is that He is called a Son long before this in His incarnation.

"5. The eternal sonship position presents the following references:

"Galatians 4:4, "But, when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of woman, made under the law."

"John 3:16-17, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Begotten Son ... For God sent not his Son into the world...."

"Isaiah 9:6 mentions that a son will be given and it is clearly speaking of Christ.

"Psalms 2:7, "I will declare the decree: The Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee."

"This seems to tie not only the sonship, but the idea of begotten, to the decree. This would place both in eternity past.

"Walvoord states, "According to this passage, [Colossians 1:15-19] Christ is declared to be the Son of God and begotten in the day of the eternal decree. This is, in effect, a statement that Christ is eternally the Son of God as the decree itself is eternal." (Taken from: "JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD"; Walvoord, John F.; Copyright 1969, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago; Moody Press. Used by permission.)(See also, Acts 13:33; Hebrews 1:5; Hebrews 5:5)

Verse 2

Grace [be] to you, and peace, from God our Father, and [from] the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace and peace are the request of the apostle. He asks for these items to be extended from two sources - both the Father and the Son. Rather well speaks to the truth of the trinity, that the members of the trinity act independently and that they are separate, yet God. Only God can extend grace and peace.

Ought we to refer back to what people think of you? How do they see you as a believer? Do they consider you full of grace? Do they consider you at peace?

How often I’ve seen believers falling apart over minor occurrences in their life - how do the unsaved see this type of action? I rather expect they see a person that believes in a very small God - one that can’t help them through the difficulties of life - so why should they listen to you when you tell them that your God can help them through the hard times?

Since Paul asked God and Christ to shed forth grace and peace upon the believers at Ephesus, might we not have an example that we should, in our prayer meetings/times, be asking for grace and peace upon those we pray for, our missionaries, our pastors, our teachers, our children, our EVERYONE? I think this is an excellent addition to anyone s prayer list. Help those you pray for along by asking God to give them grace and peace.

Know, on the other hand, that if they don’t have grace and peace, that God may bring trials into their lives so that they can learn grace and peace. This might be something to consider as it relates to this passage - maybe Paul knew they were facing some times where they would need grace and peace and he was asking God to bring into their lives those things that would give them grace and peace.

The term peace is related to that which is opposed to war. If you have war, you have conflict and you need to work at finding peace. Peace is not a given, it is a sought after and found item that is not all that easy to gain.

Imagine also the person in Ephesus that has been going through hard times. He goes to church and hears that Paul is asking God to give you grace and peace. That had to have been a great encouragement and comfort for them. Maybe your missionary could use that encouragement from you in a letter today - after you have asked God to give it to them.

My goodness, what an encouragement we should be to our missionaries and pastors. Pray for them as often as you can. I was going to say as often as you think of them, but that may not be adequate.

Now, to the question that I am sure has come to some of those logical minds reading this. Why would Paul seek grace and peace from both members of the Trinity? Let’s observe.

a. There must be a reason for this request - it isn’t just an introduction to a letter that he uses as part of a template in his Word processor - something he says anytime he sends a letter to someone. It was something he had thought out and that he wanted to say.

b. Both members of the Trinity must be able to extend both items requested.

c. God the Father is the Father, while Christ the Son is our brother. There may be a truth in the thought that a father’s grace and peace might be different than a Brothers grace and peace. You might consider this for further study; we won’t delve into it here.

If both members of the Trinity can extend the items, then Paul must have thought the Ephesian believers needed a double dose of them. On the same plain, why not give the people every benefit that he can, relating to grace and peace.

d. Though there is subservience in the Trinity, it might be possible that the Father must authorize the extension of grace and peace, while the Son would be the source and delivery system. I doubt that this is the case.

e. Since one of the fruits of the Spirit is peace, then it would seem that all members of the Trinity can extend peace. So, why didn’t Paul include the Spirit in his introduction? Is there something different between the peace of the Spirit and the peace of the Father and of the Son? I rather doubt it. (Galatians 5:22-23 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.")

I am not sure that the doctrine of the Spirit was really developed in the mind of the church at this point in time. This doctrine wasn’t discussed till much later in the early church’s life. Paul may have just been using terms and concepts that he knew the believers could understand and grasp.

I suspect he just wanted to gain grace and peace for the believers so requested it from the Lord in a general way.

This passage also points up the thought of praying to Christ as well as to the Father. There is nothing wrong in praying to Christ, but our primary prayers should be aimed toward the Father as is in keeping with the "Lord’s Prayer," "Our Father which art in heaven...."

I might make mention of the idea of praying to Jesus. Again, nothing wrong about it but the example is "Our Father" thus should be our focus. To use the earthly name of Christ, Jesus, as your focus in life to me is rather inconsistent with the Word. The term Jesus is seldom used alone in the New Testament epistles; it is normally linked to "Lord" or "Christ" which tends to relegate the earthly name of our Lord to a subservient position. He is God first and completely, "Jesus" only relates to thirty some years of His eternal existence - seems incorrect to dwell on the minor when there is so much major to concentrate on.

By way of application, I would encourage you to consider your ways if you are one that uses this sort of introduction to your personal letters. Doing this is not wrong, nor do I demean those that do it, but I would encourage you to give serious thought each time you use such a greeting. Be sure you are being serious and thoughtful in your words, rather than just jotting down a greeting to be spiritual or to satisfy a habit.

Verse 3

Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly [places] in Christ:

"Blessed be the God and Father..." is the introduction to a sentence that ends in verse twelve. My goodness isn t you glad Paul didn’t write sentence for your English teacher to teach diagramming with! This is one long verse and I want to tell you it is one huge theological gold mine for those that care to take time to look.

Here, specifically we see a doctrine introduced that is seldom talked about any more. God is the Father of the Son. Fact, not open for discussion. I suspect this is one of those doctrines that were included in the "Ephesians is the Waterloo of commentators" line of thought, but it is a doctrine that is in the Word and I think we can understand it fairly well if we take a serious look at it.

There is a related issue, in that some wonder if the Son has always been the Son, or if there was a change in relationship, or if the Son precedes the Father in existence. NOT, the Son is eternally the Son and eternally God, never having not existed as the Father, has never not existed. Others suggest that Christ was not the Son until He was born of Mary. The common sense thinking here would say no because the Word says that Mary was with child via the Spirit, not the Father.

At any rate, I am including a portion from my theology at the end of this file concerning the Sonship of Christ.

One thing we need to discuss is that if the Father and the Son have always been, then is there a Mother? No, but that is a needed discussion. The Son is not a Son born from God, though the word does say that He is begotten.

It seems that there has always been this Father Son relation amongst the two members of the Trinity, just as there has always been a Spirit within the relationship. The relationship has always existed; it did not begin. The Trinity has always existed; it did not have a beginning.

Why is there a Father Son relationship? Probably to show the closeness of the relationship, possibly to be a model for earthly father son relationships, possibly to show and pattern the closeness of the relationship toward earthly fathers. It further is an example to man that there is always a subservience of some to others, and that this relationship is good.

In short you can also say, because it is and it will always be - it was also part of God’s eternal, overall plan for the ages.

Some might suggest, and it might be a possibility, that God in eternity past before the decrees determined to have this relationship for the purpose of the decrees. Since most suggest that the decrees are eternal they would probably reject this out of hand, however anyone with a logical mind might seize upon this as a distinct possibility, in that if God is eternal, and He is, then the decrees are something that He decided to do, thus requiring a tad of time between His eternality and His decrees. From our view the decrees are eternal, but when compared to God they might be a tad later.

Remember, time is a medium designed for man and has little meaning to God. He has submitted Himself to it for a little while for the purpose of relating to man, but this too will end and time will become irrelevant once more. "When we’ve been there ten thousand years," well it sings nice but we won’t be keeping track.

One more major doctrine here is to be found. "Hath blessed" is an aorist tense indicating that He blessed us, every one of us, at a point in time - He did it and it was done, nothing further was needed on Christ’s part.

This brings up two thoughts.

1. This is speaking of salvation and it is finished, how can it be redone - it can’t - eternal security in a nutshell. Also, it is finished; it is not a process of us getting better and better till we are saved - not a valid teaching.

2. The other thought is when did this happen. Is this the act of the cross, or is this the saving of the soul as it comes to Christ in faith and belief?

I would suggest that since He did this in heavenly places (the cleansing of the heavenly tabernacle mentioned in Hebrews) and that it is in Him, that this speaks to the work of the cross and offering of the blood in the heavenly tabernacle for the final step in providing salvation.

If this be true, and I think it is quite possible, then that all is done for our salvation at a point in the past - in the heavenly tabernacle - it is done - all that is left is the faith/belief of the individual. This points up to me the universal atonement that is offered to every man, that is only to be received. Indeed, wrapped up in this is the thought that all mankind gained eternal existence at that point in time, it is just that some reject the work so are eternally without God, and those that believe are eternally with God.

There is a lot more to this but we don’t have time to delve into it further, just think about it for a while. If you want to dig further, my theology has a lot more about salvation and man. Also the book on my website entitled Mr. D’s Notes on Regeneration might be of help as well.

I might clarify slightly - the blessing was from Christ’s work, however it seems to me that the verse is showing that this blessing was ultimately from the Father - it was His plan that was enacted, it was His plan that set Jesus on the cross. The overall salvation that we enjoy is from the Father via Christ.

We also have the doctrine of our being in heavenly places. This should be our attitude, this should be our mind set, this should be our testimony, this should be our life.

We also have the doctrine of our being in Christ. What does it mean to be "in Christ" - what truth do we have in these two words? In very brief terms, we are baptized into His body when we are saved, we are in His body, which by the way is the church, and thus we are within Him and part of His being, the church. We are an integrated part of who He is.

Does that give you the creeps to think about being part of Christ and living the way we do - we ought to be ashamed of our living, of our detractions from who Christ is before mankind.

There is also the truth that when the Devil casts his accusations about us before God, God can figuratively point to us and say they are pure, they are in my Son who died for them. There is no accusation that will stand before that answer.

We also have the doctrine of our being able to bless God. Wow, think on that for a while. Paul called God blessed, or declared his belief that God was a total blessing to us - giving him recognition for whom and what He is - giving worship if you will.

We must move on. This book is full of doctrine and it is a book to study over and over because of its depth, I trust that you will come to it often to study.

Verse 4

According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

According as he [God the Father] hath chosen us in him [God the Son, refers back to us being in Christ] before the foundation of the world [before creation], that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

Okay, here we have some more doctrine - chosen - decrees - holiness - all sorts of side studies that you can do if you really want to dig. We have already mentioned the decrees briefly and with them are a number of controversies relating to the when of, the order of and the content of, but we won’t go into them here. If you want further information my theology deals with them, as do most any systematic theology books. The information you find will vary with the theological position of the writer so beware which theology you choose.

At any rate God chose the elect before the foundation of the world, indeed, most agree that somewhere in the far eternity past, if not as far as God Himself, He chose which people would be part of His kingdom in eternity future. I am vague on the when of the decrees in that they have to precede God in that God cannot decree before He is, but then God has always been so have the decrees always been? We don’t know for positive I don’t think but we do know they are eternal.

How He chose, in my mind is based on foreknowledge, though the reform camp would bristle at the suggestion. They pretty much ignore foreknowledge and hope it will go away, however foreknowledge, in my understanding, is in the Word and must be integrated into the scheme of the whole. My view on foreknowledge and free will do no damage to God’s sovereignty, nor to any of the other attributes and doctrines that the reform feel it destroys.

This was done before time began, before creation, thus it was set and going to happen in time. The doctrine of choosing is not all that shallow but we can’t delve into it here. Let it suffice that He chose. He did not choose some for hell as many would suggest, He merely chose some to be saved. The salvation had a purpose and that was to bring them to holiness.

Now, to apply that for a moment. We can be holy. We ought to be holy. God expects us to be holy. So, how can we justify the life that we often lead - a life of unholiness? We cannot justify it; we can only answer for it when we stand before God in the end.

Holiness is the standard, not the fifth choice in a list of things we can do if and when we get time; it is top option in a list of things we are supposed to do. Remember that verse that is quoted three times in the Word, "be ye holy for I am holy?" It isn’t there three times for nothing; He must want us to be holy - especially if He chose us before the foundation of the world to be so! (Leviticus 11:44-45; Leviticus 19:2; - guess it was more than three times - 20:26; 21:8; 1 Peter 1:16 and many other places tell us to be holy.)

And, by the way being holy is in the present tense - a continuing action. Being holy in the aorist tense won’t do at all; that is being holy at one point in time. Holy is a life style, not an option for one part of the day or one part of the week.

And on top of all that He expects us to be without blame! The idea is that we are to live our lives so that no person can lay accusation against us and make it stick. It isn’t that we are so slick that the accusation slides off, but we are so holy that there is no basis for accusation. No one could dare to accuse you of doing something wrong.

The Net Bible points out that this word translated "without blame" is used of the Pascal lamb that is without blemish. One that is pure enough to be offered in sacrifice. This is God’s goal for us not only in this life, but it will be totally that way in the next.

And on top of this we are to live before Him in love. This is the deep love, the "agape" love that causes one to give of yourself for the other.

Note it isn’t that we are to be holy and blameless and then before Him in love, we are to be before him holy and blameless in love. All three should be part of the desired condition as we are before Him. This is not just in prayer; it is to be our overall condition of life.

I might make a little observation about God’s choosing. I eat half a pear for a snack every day to keep my sugar levels in balance. I do not like the juicy messy pears so I pick Anjou pears and when I go to pick them off the counter there are some characteristics that I look for. I like nice bright green ones because they aren’t juicy and messy, and I like them green because they are still hard like an apple. I also like the bigger ones - if I’m going to snack I’m going to get as much as possible.

The word used in the verse has the idea of selecting for an office or selecting for one’s own use. This wasn’t a random, you, you, and you picking, it was a selection of some out of a group.

Often I have heard that God didn’t pick us because of anything we can do or be, but I think this word indicates differently. There is nothing in me that could help me find God, there is nothing I can do to bring God to save me, but there may have been characteristics within me that He desired to use in His overall work. Much as a golfer chooses his clubs for a particular purpose (I assume that is why they carry so many different clubs :-) God looked at the multitudes of people that would populate the earth and he chose those that He wanted to use in His work of redemption through the ages.

Now, that should give your self image a boost - it should make you realize your worth is in Him not in your peers! This verse kind of makes 1 Corinthians 1:26 ff jump up and become alive doesn’t it! 26 "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, [are called]: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, [yea], and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence."

God chose YOU! Think on that awhile and not only thank Him for including you, but get on your knees and ask Him what He wants to use you for in this life, because there is a purpose! If you aren’t busy for Him you are in trouble - He picked you to use in a specific purpose. If you are not being useful, you are being useless. When you stand before Him what’s it going to be?

Verse 5

Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

Upppps, more theology, sorry all you pastors that can’t stand theology - just skip over this book would you. I trust that those that demean theology will soon rethink their lack of thought. Theology is throughout the Word of God, AND He parked a goodly amount of it right here in this short book.

In the newspaper recently people have been writing to the editor complaining that their political signs are being stolen from their front lawns. The next statement is usually that Bush is spreading fear and hate throughout the country with such tactics. They then of course suggest that voting for Bush is spreading hate and fear as well.

I have been tempted to write a letter myself, something along the line of - well I would like to use the same logic that these people use in relation to an incident in my life. Recently I found a twenty-dollar bill on the sidewalk. Bush is spreading twenty dollar bills across the nation to cause peace, joy and happiness across the country. If you want to have money and be at peace, vote for Bush. Humm, don’t think there is much thinking going on in our country this election season.

Back to the theology - predestination - adoption - a couple of big doctrines that we want to take a look at.

Predestination, a term that predominates many internet forums, while it appears in Scripture twice - it is a part of a whole, not the predominant entity that is so often made out to be. It is a simple statement of something that God did. It also appears in verse eleven, where we are told basically the same thing as we are told in verse five. It is by His will for his purpose and it is a predestination to sonship which brings with it inheritance.

Now, be sure you understand that this is the whole of the teaching on the word itself. Beware any other passage that is used in relation to it and be sure that the context supports its being used in relation to predestination.

First of all this is an aorist tense, so it is a one time action. The word itself, according to the Lexicon, is to predestinate, determine before, ordain, predetermine, decide beforehand and they mention that God decreed from eternity. It was an act that was done at a point in time; most would agree that it was part of the decrees. It is something that God did - He determined beforehand that we would be sons and enjoy an inheritance.

That is the crux and total of the specific teaching. Now, because we know that this is part of salvation we can relate it to all that is contained in salvation, the regeneration, the justification and all those other items, but specifically we are predestined to be sons in the context of Ephesians.

I might make a statement concerning the decrees. Some suggest that there was only one decree, while others say there were multiple decrees. Whether one or several, most agree on the content of whatever they hold to. The content is normally about the same, though the order is not always the same. As things relate to order, take some time to logically think through the sequence that was needed. Most systematic theologies cover this, including my own.

We are adopted, based on the good pleasure of His will. Rather simple isn’t it. He did it based on his own desire and will. Not on our good looks, not on our good works, not on our anything - nothing we are or can do is related in any way to this decision of the will of God - and it was done long before creation in eternity past. Just what God’s choice was based on, I feel there was good reason for His choice - something other than you, you and you but not you. There was a rational reason why He chose each and every one of us. This was indicated earlier in the meaning of the words used.

Romans 8:29 relates to our discussion. "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." Here we see that the term is related specifically to our being conformed to the image of Christ.

Now, specifically the usages relate to results of salvation, not salvation itself. Thus, beware how writers use the term and where they go with it.

It is of great note to me that this adoption and our conforming are pleasurable to God - that is impressive. He found pleasure in making us sons! Again, we see something more than just a cold choosing of some. There was thought and there was pleasure in what He did.

The second usage is of concern to anyone that is not walking with God. He determined before hand that we would be conformed to His Son’s image. Now, I assume that the completion of this is in the end when we are changed and are prepared for eternity, but surely there is the thought that we ought to be bringing ourselves into conformity with His image as we walk with Him. Our walk should reflect that which we will one day be.

All of this heavy doctrine is part of that phrase back in verse three where Paul tells us God " blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly [places] in Christ:" All this heavy stuff is a blessing and part and parcel with all that God wants to do for us, and all that He has done for us. And this isn’t all - it continues in the next few verses.

He didn’t just zap us into the kingdom, He provided all sorts of benefits and blessings for us - now, hate to say it, but just have to - if we don’t study theology, we can’t know all of what God has done for us.

Verse 6

To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

Paul is praising the glory of God’s grace. God acted on our behalf in grace, and that exhibits glory of its own in some manner, so Paul praises that glory. Glory can speak to the "glory" as we understand it, but it is also the thought of opinion of something. Paul is giving high regard, or commendation, or praise to our opinion or estimation of the "grace" of God in our salvation.

We know how great a salvation God has brought to our lives, and we know it is because of Him and nothing that we have done, so we really honor and respect the "grace" which He showed in our lives - it is natural to have a high opinion of God’s grace, thus we should "praise" or give high regard to all that He has done.

How can we do this aside from verbal praise? By sharing that message of grace with all that we meet. By living a life that is honoring to a God that has done so much for us. Be thankful for all that God has done for us in salvation and our everyday life.

There is a significance in the verbs "accepted" which is an aorist, or one time occurrence, and "in" which is a perfect tense, something that has continuing action to a future culmination. We were accepted at a point in time - we are in the beloved now, and will continue in the beloved until eternity when all things are culminated. It is also of note that the construction of "in the beloved" is such that we are not involved in the action - it is something that is done from without our being.

We are accepted, but due to no action of our own.

Now, there is an application that I should really not have to make but the idea of "accepted in the beloved" needs some of our attention. Just how accepted is the believer in the church today? I know some believe this relates to the beloved as in Christ, but even if that is the thought of the text, it has the overall thought of the believer being accepted. In Christ we are one - His body and we certainly should be accepted as part of the body.

Are we really accepting of other believers in our churches? We visited one church recently and as we sat down we were given a doctrinal statement by the pastor - "This is what we believe." was his comment. In our time there we were not greeted, other than by the pastor, and we felt as though we were totally outside the fellowship and further more, we felt that the exclusion was on purpose, until they could determine whether we agreed with them or not. This was in a fundamental church.

Also recently we have visited another fundamental church and our presence is kind of acknowledged with a faint hello by the pastor’s wife, and later by the pastor, as he finalizes all of his wanderings around and shuffling of papers. The people of the church made little effort to acknowledge us - of course until the greeting time, when we were actually greeted by a few of the people. As we left the church, the pastor did come over and say hello again, but I had the feeling it was more out of "I really should say something to them." than a desire to accept us as fellow believers - well since there was no opportunity for them to know this of us, why would they accept us :-(

Even in churches where we have been members for a long time there is a real lack of acceptance. We do little to promote unity among believers in this day. What are some things we might do to promote unity and acceptance between believers?

1. Set up settings where they can spend time with one another to get to know one another. In most of our churches we are total strangers, we know nothing of the others, and even if we know some, we do not share our needs and accomplishments with them.

a. How about pot lucks, how about small group dinners or deserts before or after church. Coffee times before or after Sunday school class - include foods all can eat. We have many people on special diets today and coffee and donuts won’t draw some into fellowship, they will avoid it so they don’t have to say no to something they dearly desire to eat.

b. Small groups during prayer times. This develops closeness that may foster openness.

c. Small Bible study groups also will bring closeness. Maybe even have them during Sunday school now and then, for the entire hour - maybe have a few minutes of conclusion at the end.

2. The pastor needs to set the example. If he gets to know people then others may catch the interest. I don’t mean the surface news, weather and sports - where do you work stuff, though that is a good place to start, but I mean a getting to know some of the church folks. Finding out their dreams, finding out their ministry, their spiritual gift, and maybe even their problems, and maybe praying with some of them.

We tend to not want to get to know in the church today - partly because we know we will be the pastor s illustrations in his next pastorate if we have problems and talk to him. The same goes for the congregation - few want to open up to others due to the knowledge that spreading of information is the next step in many cases.

3. Assure confidentiality when you start getting closer to someone. This will be the best key to building unity.

4. Sermons on the subject as well as studies on the how and why of unity. People can’t always build unity without some know-how.

Much unity comes automatically when we love one another. Realization of this might go far in bringing closeness to a group. I suspect this was one of the reasons Christ said what He said about loving one another. He mentioned in John 15:14 in the context of loving one another, "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you."

Now, that is a promise we ought to want to make use of - if we love one another we can know that we are "friends" of Christ. What a deal and love doesn’t even cost, nor is it fattening. Verse seventeen mentions that we are to love one another. Love brings unity and closeness.

Verse 7

In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

In whom - in Christ, we have redemption. "Redemption" is a word that relates to the paying of a ransom for release. A buying back of someone for a price. Whatever the price, Christ paid it on the cross, no other price is pending, He did all that was required, else wise we would not yet have redemption.

We were redeemed from death, we were redeemed from our old nature, and we are redeemed from all that Adam brought upon us.

In Adam we received spiritual death and a sin nature, both of which are now removed from our beings. He also incurred physical death because he was isolated from the tree of life. We still must go through physical death for the same reason, but we are fully prepared for the next life by Christ’s blood and work on the cross.

We also received forgiveness of all sins to that point in time when we responded to the Gospel. Why were we forgiven? Because of His rich grace.

This word translated "sins" is different from the normal word for sin; it is the thought of trespass or failing. This clearly would picture that our sins of action are forgiven, rather than our sin nature. Our sin nature was carried away when we were given a new nature at salvation.

It is of note that the verb "have" is a present tense, it is something that continues on - we ARE redeemed, we ARE forgiven for all past sins of action/thought, we ARE a new creature. All continue, no matter what false doctrine you might hear on the subjects.

It is also clear that all of this is THROUGH His blood. Some have suggested the blood is of no consequence, that it didn’t relate to anything, that it wasn’t really the blood itself. Now, I am not sure what they mean. If by saying this they say that the blood, the substance itself, did not have any importance, they might be correct. However, the shedding of that blood is of great significance.

I myself am not convinced the liquid itself did anything, but the fact that it was given for us is of great importance. It was the shedding of innocent blood for the guilty; it was the work of Christ for the likes of us. I suspect this is what the people are suggesting, and they have been taken just a little incorrectly. At any rate it is through this sacrifice, it is through this act, it is through this work that we enjoy the fruits of Christ’s work.

Verse 8

Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;

Now, if you want to know about wisdom, see my study on wisdom - the question here is whether the verse speaks of wisdom given us or wisdom in which He abounded to us.

Prudence can be translated understanding as well as wisdom. I think it speaks to His abounding to us in all of His wisdom and understanding. The abounding, speaks to those items mentioned previously. Our salvation and all its benefits come directly from HIS understanding and wisdom - He knows best for us. Thus, how dare we question His saving us? We ought not ever question His wisdom in saving us, we are chosen by Him for His purpose and for His good will.

Verse 9

9. Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:

This thought of "good pleasure" is something to contemplate. Just what pleasures an eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent God? He knows all there is to know so pleasure reading is out, He is everywhere so speed is out, He can do anything He wants so sports are out, what’s left? I don’t mean at all to be sacrilegious, just wonder how God can gain pleasure from anything to do with man. Man has spit in His face from the beginning and has made it rather clear that he doesn’t want anything to do with God, yet God finds pleasure in making provision for us.

The only logical conclusion I can find is that He finds pleasure in "doing" for man. Now, this "doing" is not only for the saved, but is for all mankind. John 3:16 "For God so loved the world...." thus the whole of mankind has to be in view, even though some reformed would probably scoff at the thought. The fact that He has provided a beautiful earth for us to enjoy is proof that He loves all, but especially the believer. (Acts 14:17 Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.)

I also see in the Word that He can do special, over and above things, for the Christian in that we are His sons. This "doing" of providing not only salvation, but wisdom, strength peace and all those items come from His great love of His creatures, especially those that have a Father Son relationship with Him.

I suspicion that "love" is the basis for this desire to "do for" the person - seems about the only logical deduction.

Another aspect of this love and desire to do is the concept that when we ask, we are asking things of, not an old meany in the sky, but we are asking of a God that loves us on an individual basis and a God that DESIRES TO DO for us. That puts a neat prospective to prayer for me. This also relates to those answers of "no" and "wait" that we often get. These answers are not due to His lack of caring for us, nor due to His disinterest, nor His desire to hurt or hinder us - these answers are from a God that Loves us and wants to do the very best for us.

I suspect that He derives His good pleasure from His doing, as He is not dependant on us for that pleasure, however I have to think that there is pleasure when He sees us appreciating what He has done, and I suspect He appreciates our thanks for all answered prayer - even the "no" and "wait" type answers.

So often in prayer meetings we hear request after request after request, but seldom do we hear of any answers. Thus most prayer meetings are asking meetings with a little "general" thanksgiving added on for the basics of what we know of His provision - light, air, etc.

Missionaries, pastors, people - share your prayer answers with others. It is not only a joy for others to hear of God’s work in your life, it is a joy to Him when He hears a thank you.

The "mystery of his will" is not a who dunit, but rather it is something that is hidden from view. Now, we know what that mystery is, but previous to the cross no man knew of God’s will in the way we do now. Barnes explains the word, "something into which one must be initiated before it is fully known (from muew, to initiate, to instruct;) and then anything which is concealed or hidden."

Some might wonder what was hidden and what all we know of His will now. I suspect we know very little of His will, for it includes desires for every man, woman, and child throughout all time, but we do know His will in the area of this context. And to the other part of the question, all we now know of this specific context was not known prior to the cross.

So, what is in the context that we now know that the people previous to the cross did not know? I think that the previous context is related, but specifically the following context (which some is mentioned previously). This would include the fact that all things are going to be gathered together in Christ - this being to bring praise to His name - in the end of time - at the final judgment when all is being taken care of, all will know that God is, and that He loved, and that He desired to do for us. It will also be quite evident that His desire to do was aimed at all mankind, not just the believer.

He has "purposed in Himself" shows not only that He desired to do, but He also at some point committed Himself to action on that desire.

By way of application, we often desire to do, but we not always follow through with action to fulfill our desires. Now, if we desire a new flat screen television, we will purpose in our heart to get it. We will think of ways to pay for it, we will plan on where we will put it, we will plan on what we will do with the old television and we will assure that the new television comes into our home.

However, we might desire to help someone in the church that is hurting or needing, but do we use the same strength of character to assist that person as we would to gain our beloved television set?

In God’s case, He committed Himself to "do" by making and setting in motion the plan of the ages to provide redemption for sinful man, before Adam was even created. The plan was set; the plan was complete in God’s mind long before Adam was given his first breath.

Might we take that purpose as an example for our own purpose and planning for God’s work in and through us as we live through this life?

Verse 10

That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; [even] in him:

Dispensation is a word to describe management of a household, or taking care of the affairs of a household. It would be a word descriptive of a trusted assistant or servant taking care of the business of a large house with a family and possibly servants. It would involve being a manager of all that goes on in the home. Not unlike the job of a housewife and husband that care for their own home’s business.

It would include paying bills, investments, caring for property etc. We use the term to describe the management or care that God provides over the realm of mankind. We divide God’s dealings with man into seven dispensations. During each dispensation God deals with man a little differently. This is not to say, as many nondispensationalists assert, that dispensationalists believe in multiple methods of salvation. God deals with man in different ways, though salvation is always through the work of Christ on the cross.

In this verse Paul is using the term to designate a time in which certain things are happening. I don’t know that he had any idea of how the church would use the term dispensations for he had no idea of the dispensational teaching. He however did know the difference between law and the church age. He also might have known of the differences between the ages in the Old Testament, though he would probably not have thought much about classifying them into distinct ages or dispensations.

Here, we see Paul mentioning that in the oversight of God there was the present, to him, economy in which certain things are happening. He calls it the fullness of times. He was looking for an immediate kingdom here on earth - the culmination of all the Old Testament prophetic literature.

It seems to me that this is looking toward a time when God will bring all the loose ends of creation together and finalize all of his plans. It will be a time of revealing all that is, and was, in that plan, and it is a time to bring all those things to a close.

The Net Bible translates it this way, "toward the administration of the fullness of the times, to head up all things in Christ the things in heaven and the things on earth." indicating that all things will be set to order with Christ as the head over all - that nothing will not be under His headship.

The fact that he was looking for the physical kingdom here on earth is clear from the book of Acts. It mentions that he was continually preaching the kingdom, and this was mentioned in relation to his later life. Acts 28:30-31

Paul declares that ALL things in Christ will be gathered together or unified in Him. All things, includes both the earth and the heavenlies. This would include all saints of all time, as well as the creation itself. There is a possibility that even the lost and their eternal existence will be included in this. I say this for two reasons.

1. All that is, proceeds from God, including the lost and their place of eternal dwelling. To remove this from the statement "both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, would be a bit illogical.

2. There is a passage in the Old Testament that seems to indicate that the elect will be able to view the damned in the eternal state.

Isaiah 66:22 "For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain. 23 And it shall come to pass, [that] from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD. 24 And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh."

The context clearly identifies the passage as the eternal state and it is clear that God’s people will be capable of seeing the transgressors.

All this will take place and seemingly, based on "in him," be culminated in Christ. Since we are now in Christ, as a part of His body, the church, I would guess this verse is speaking of an extension or expansion of the concept of "in Him."

Colossians speaks to this as well. Colossians 1:13 "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated [us] into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, [even] the forgiveness of sins: 15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether [they be] thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all [things] he might have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased [the Father] that in him should all fulness dwell; 20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, [I say], whether [they be] things in earth, or things in heaven."

Verse 11

In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

We obtained an inheritance (in the past) based on being predestinated (in the past) according to the purpose of him who worketh (continuing action on our behalf) due to it being a part of His will. Again, the plan of God dictated events future in each individual elect person’s life. We are enjoying the fruit of the work of Christ on the cross. Our salvation is from Him, our life is from Him, and our future is from Him. So, how come we serve ourselves so often rather than Him that has provided all that we are and have?

Verse 12

That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

This verse has a very interesting tense usage. "Who first trusted in Christ" is in the perfect tense. It is an act of our mind that is bringing about and will bring about until the completion of our act. There is not allowance in the tense and text for anything but eternal security. If we once trust Christ then we will continue on to the ultimate complete fulfillment of that trust in our eternal life with Him.

A pastor recently asked what "glory" was in relationship to God. His conclusion incorrectly was that His glory is His perfection. I would suggest that perfection is only one aspect of His glory. It is but one of His many attributes. His glory is more correctly, in my mind, all that He is. The substance and compilation of each and every one of His attributes, His entire being and character.

We, according to the verse are the praise of that glory. Our redemption brings praise to all that God is. What a thought. Think of all that God is and then consider that we, by our lives, are praising that glory. Realizing that, how have you been doing? Are you praise to Him or yourself of late?

The thought of "first" trusted might be of interest to some. Why does Paul use that term? The term can also be translated "hope before in Christ" thus indicating not the ranking of first of many, but indicating only that they had trusted before the point in time that he was writing.

The American Standard Version translates it this way. "we who had before hoped in Christ:" This specifically speaks of the apostles it would seem from the next verse where it says "In whom ye also [trusted]."

Verse 13

In whom ye also [trusted], after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

Note, "after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit." There is a sequence to this whole salvation thing. Belief or faith (the term translated belief is closely related to the word normally translated faith) comes first and then the person is sealed. Now, that time gap is like a nano second or less, if there is an actual time lapse, but there is a sequence to all the grand things that occur at our salvation.

Indeed, if you take all those wonderful doctrines that relate to salvation and really consider them and what they are and how they are accomplished and why they are accomplished, you will find that there is a definite sequence of events, all of which are about instantaneous, though the sequence does exist.

We are sealed. How? With the Holy Spirit. We are given the Spirit, the Spirit baptizes us into Christ and we are sealed by Him. He is actually our seal. God sent Him as our seal. The word seal relates to something being sealed by someone. The seal designates ownership; it designates retribution if you mess with that owner s property.

When I was teaching, we had a missionary from Europe that had joined the faculty. He had sent all of his belongings in a large shipping container. The truck arrived and the faculty had gathered to move his belongings from the container to a storage spot until the missionary arrived.

As we neared the back of the trailer upon which the container rested we noticed a metal band that enclosed the latches along with the padlock. The container had been sealed when the missionary was finished loading it and the shipping company picked it up in Europe. That seal being intact as we looked at it, guaranteed that the container had not been opened between the missionaries home and that point in time.

This spiritual seal is to guarantee that the new believer is God’s property and in essence, if anyone messes with this child, God will intervene. The seal is the Spirit Himself within us rather than a mark or a physical seal upon our person.

Verse 14

Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

Paul continues to expand the truth of the Spirit within us. He is not only our seal, but he is the earnest of our inheritance, or the guarantee to us from God that our inheritance is sure and safe. The Spirit will be with us until our redemption is complete in eternity.

This, by the way is a basis for the teaching that the Spirit is withdrawn with the Church at the rapture. He is the guarantee that the taking away of the believers will happen and that we will enter into our eternal state.

Other truth is set forth here. We see that we are purchased, and we are also HIS possession - we are not our own.

Talk about theology, Paul crammed at least a semesters worth into the first fourteen verses of this little book.

"Earnest" relates to the same thought we have in real estate today, when we promise to buy a house, we put down some earnest money. It is money that we place with the owner that is a guarantee that we will follow through with the purchase sometime yet in the future.

The Spirit is God’s earnest money to guarantee that the purchase will be complete in eternity. It cannot be stopped.

Did you notice that phrase again? "Praise of his glory" - that phrase that has appeared three times in this section. In verse six we see "To the praise of the glory of his grace" and in verse twelve and fourteen we see "praise of his glory" - do you get the feeling that praising His glory and who He is might be a very important thing to do in our worship service?

Do we see this in the hand shaking time that interrupts most services?

Do we see this in many of the specials where glory is brought upon the performer?

Do we see this in the announcements?

Do we see this in the singing?

Do we see this in the preaching?

Some considerations when you want to plan some Scriptural worship services in the future.

Verse 15

Section Two: 1:15-23

Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,

Those that suggest that this epistle was not written to the Ephesians use this verse as part of their base. Paul would have known of their faith had he meant the Ephesians because he was with them for more than two years. However, since communications were poor at best, in this day it is not hard to believe that he hadn’t heard from them in a number of years and had just gotten a recent report of the goings on in the church.

Imagine your faith, your faith so great that other Christians are talking about your faith, be it corporate or individual. What sort of faith produces talk about it in another city? It must have been a great faith. I assume this is a corporate faith of the congregation at Ephesus, and that their faith had been so great in some area that the apostle had heard about it in another city or country. It is probable that some coworker of Paul’s had reported to him of the condition of the church, but even then, the faith was great enough to deserve mention.

I would guess that this faith may have been in just in the fact that they still existed as a church in such a perverse city. We don’t have it quite so bad in this country, but there are many countries in the world where it is a great act of faith to even meet for a service. In some countries, even to meet in secret takes great faith. Not so many years ago in Romania they baptized believers blindfolded so they could not identify the person that baptized them. It was illegal to baptize in the country. Most baptisms were performed in bathtubs in the secrecy of people’s homes.

This might be a good goal for us as believers. To have a faith that will be mentioned abroad. Not that we want the attention, but that we want to serve the Lord in such a way that our faith is obvious to the observer.

This faith is not something that we can muster up to impress people; it is a part of a Godly lifestyle. Paul walked by faith when he walked across the countryside. He had no pension to live on; he had no supporters back home sending him a large portion to live on. He went from place to place looking to the Lord for his provision. At times he received assistance from the churches, other times he worked at tent making to support himself. At other times he allowed the Roman government to supply his needs by being their prisoner. You see, faith may be living on supply from God via many different sources.

Faith may be in the area of giving. The widow that cast in her mites was held as a great example of giving by faith. She gave all that she had and trusted God to provide what she needed. Faith may be in the area of serving. Giving a lot of time to the church to assist in the ministry of the church. Faith may be in the area of witnessing. Certainly to talk to a stranger about Christ takes a lot of faith - faith that the word you share will be received, faith that the Lord will nurture that word you share within the persons heart and faith that the Lord will bring forth fruit as we sow the seed.

Faith is not confined to the huge things either. We can have faith in the little things - things most people would not even pray about. Just trust God to do for you in all things not just the big things. If you can handle the little stuff, go for it, but if there is a need, God can take care of it for you.

This is not to say we just jump out into oblivion and trust Him to catch us, but as we walk with Him and as He leads us, we can be confident that all will be taken care of - He will provide.

Many are the times that we have prepared to move cross country to a new ministry/location at the Lord’s leading that we had to do so entirely on faith. When heading off to college, we had some near new appliances that we could not take with us. We advertised them and all but the refrigerator sold. As the move neared we still had the refrigerator, not only was it too big to take with us, it was a good portion of the money that would keep us going through the move and finding a new job. Each day was another day with this refrigerator looking back at us.

The day before we were to load up and leave, we received a call and before the evening was up we had the cash in hand. We had trusted all to the Lord and He provided.

That wasn’t quite the end of it, because when we headed to the next town to overnight at my wife’s folk’s place we discovered the car did not have enough power to pull the trailer that we had so tightly stuffed. We struggled to the next town in second gear and backed the trailer into the folk’s driveway where we unloaded and gave away about half the load.

It was of interest; we called our home church and asked if there were any needy families in the church that could use some stuff. Several came over and the Lord allowed us to supply some of his children with their needs out of our surplus.

Faith is an interesting thing. At times we wonder if we have any, and at others we so easily display it because that is just the natural thing to do. Faith normally doesn’t take a lot of effort. God asks us to do something and we say yes, and the faith is there to meet the need of the moment. When there is no need, then we wonder if we could ever muster enough faith to do anything for God.

Faith is not a commodity; it is a decision of the mind. It is simply a belief and trust in God and what He says. Faith in Christ is simply trusting that God is correct when His word tells us that the sacrifice on the cross is sufficient work for our sin. It is taking God at face value and living your life in accordance with that belief.

This is what the Ephesian Christians were doing. They were living a godly life in an ungodly civilization - much as we must do today. We must stand against that sinful world, but we must also operate within it and trust God to take care of us in all our needs within that ungodly mess.

It is trusting Him to care for your children in the ungodly humanistic school system (do not take that wrong, I know there are believers in the school system, but there are many ungodly corrupt teachers in the system as well). It is trusting that we will have financial provision in a very unstable economy when your job is not very secure, when corporations with no ethics are raiding their employees and customer’s accounts. It is putting our trust in God for all your life’s needs; it is looking to His overabundant ability to supply your every need in this life as well as the next.

Paul also mentions their great love for all the saints - ALL - all the saints. This is the agape, or self giving, love not the brotherly love. The Ephesian believers loved all the saints with a self sacrificing love. That is quite a statement of Paul’s. It is not even too easy to love all the saints in your church with a brotherly love, much less a love that would cause us to sacrifice for all believers in our church.

This is another strong statement of the bond believers should have among one another in our churches today. I am not sure how you foster this sort of love in a church of any great size however. We are to care for one another. A good study of this subject would change your church. Just sit down with a concordance and list all the references where the phrase "one another" is listed then read each passage and note how we are to treat others in the church.

If you don’t want to take the time to do it yourself, I have a short study on the subject on my website.

Verses 15-23

APPLICATION:

1. In verse seventeen Paul uses a strange phrase. "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, It is as though Paul thought the readers may not have known God the Father. The God of our Lord. Christ Himself spoke of God in such a manner so it may be just a way of speaking in the day and culture in which they lived.

Matthew 27:46 "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Christ spoke of the Father being His God.

John 8:46 "54 Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God:" Again the personal "my Father."

John 20:17 "Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and [to] my God, and your God." My Father and my God both are used in the same breath.

In John 20:28 Thomas uses the same terminology. "And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God."

Yet, in John 10:27-30 He not only uses the terminology, but He also identifies Himself as one with the Father. 29 "My Father, which gave [them] me, is greater than all; and no [man] is able to pluck [them] out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and [my] Father are one."

He had that same wonderful relationship that we have now, or should I say we have that same wonderful relationship that Christ had with His Father when He was here on earth.

The point I’d like to make here is that Paul may have been teaching some very important doctrine in these words. In Paul’s day the gentile converts would not have had the background that the Jewish converts had in their knowledge of God, indeed the Jews may not have been well taught in the Fatherhood of God. Paul may have been disclosing some information - this Christ that has saved you has a Father in heaven, your Father.

It is clear from church history that the early church had some real growing to do in the area of theology. They went through a long period of sorting out just who Jesus was, was He all God, was He all man, was He both in one body, was He neither without a body, just who and what was He. After they had sorted Christology out, they started on the Holy Spirit and who or what He or it was.

In a sense we are still sorting some of this information out in our own day. We have been refining things a little ever since the councils of the early church set down their thoughts on the subjects. Thus it wouldn’t be surprising that the listener was gaining information about God the Father for the first time in this letter.

I think that Paul’s every word had new information for some of the believers.

2. Later in verse seventeen it mentions "knowledge of him" - I would agree with Barnes on this phrase when he says "That is, in order that you may more fully acknowledge him, or know him more intimately and thoroughly. They had already made high attainments, (Ephesians 1:15,) but Paul felt that they might make still higher; and the idea here is, that however far Christians may have advanced in knowledge and in love, there is an unfathomed depth of knowledge which they may still explore, and which they should be exhorted still to attempt to fathom"

I don’t think any believer ever knows all there is to know about God, nor of God. There is a difference in those two. You can know all about God but not know Him. There is the mental and there is the experiential and both are needed to really know God.

We should always be learning more about God as we walk with Him and as we study His Word. The Word is so full of information about Him and we need to be gaining that knowledge so that we might better serve Him.

So often I have heard old saints tell me that they just keep learning about God, they keep learning new things from the Word.

My question to the reader is this - are you ever-learning about the God that you serve? Are you gaining knowledge about Him that you would serve? Are you in His Word daily so that you have opportunity to learn of Him? I trust you can answer yes to all of these questions.

3. Verse eighteen struck me very personally when I read it over and over for this study. "The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,"

When I was in high school, a pastor took me into his office after an evening service, yes, left the congregation to leave without greeting the congregation good-bye; anyway he shared the Gospel with me and I accepted the Lord that evening. The point? This verse was not a priority with this pastor. I left his office and there was little further contact with me over the next months until I went off to four years in the Navy.

There was no discipleship, and there was no instruction. I had no idea what being saved meant; I had been in Sunday school for years and knew all the Old Testament stories and the accounts of the Lord’s earthly ministry, but I had never been taught of Him that would save me, or of how He would save me. I was never taught of the glories of heaven nor the blessedness of that hope.

Oh, how great some of that knowledge of my salvation and my God would have been to help me through the hard times in the Navy, to help me say no to some of that sin, and to help me to know how to walk with Him. Yet, nothing of this was ever given to me. What a wasted four years because no one bothered to assist in opening my eyes of understanding to God whom I had embraced.

4. Verse twenty-three mentions "fulness of him that filleth all in all" which most believe speaks to Christ’s omnipresence. The fact that He is everywhere and that there is nowhere that He is not. This is true of God in general, not only the Son. We the church, are the fullness of an omnipresent God. We are the best He can do through and with man. We are the true representation of Christ on earth. Now, look at the church today. Are you proud of how we, the believers of the world, are representing Christ on earth today? I trust you see that we could do better - a lot better.

The church may be growing somewhat but in relation to population growth, the church is in its march toward death. We aren’t keeping up with population growth in any way. The church is becoming a smaller and smaller portion of the world’s population.

Not only are we growing smaller in numbers we are growing less effective. The church used to be a powerful force in the United States political system. Morals had meaning once here in America. Once homosexuality was viewed as wrong, but the country is starting to see it as it is advertised - a different lifestyle.

In the 2004 presidential election they said that the Christians in America were the cause of Bush’s reelection. What they didn’t say was the fact that around one third of those Christians in America voted for Kerry. The Christian standard is being lowered in this country and the truth of morals is being eroded greatly.

There was a day that this country would not have tolerated the lies, name calling, and the personal attacks related to this campaign. In our local news media the Bush administration was likened more than once to Hitler’s Germany. That would have not even been thought of fifty years ago in this country. We had a moral compass that said no to such slander.

Moral compass - something that few know exists, much less know how to operate in this country today.

5. In verse seventeen we see that God the Father is the God of all glory, or that all glory should be shown to him. As we praise God we should direct it to Him. Some might wonder at the hierarchy within the Trinity. God the Father seems pre-eminent as the planner, caller, predestinater, and now we see that He is to receive the glory. If you remember, the glory seems to shift to the Son at a point in time as all things are put under the Son’s feet.

Though there are many similarities within the Godhead there is a clear distinction between the members of the Trinity. Indeed, if one wanted to try to split things up fairly, the Spirit is totally left out of the glory thing - we are never told to give Him praise, just follow His instruction, leading and teaching.

First of all, the members of the Trinity agreed upon this system or positioning within themselves in eternity past. Secondly, they are completely comfortable with the positioning as it is. Thirdly, they will be eternally completely comfortable with the positioning that they have in that era. Indeed, we do not know for sure what positions they may or may not have in the eternal state. It may be that they return to an equal footing as I would guess the footing was pre-creation.

I suspect that the positions became a necessity to work within time and with man. All three members of the Godhead took upon themselves specific roles within the creative process and the outworking of that process to bring the elect to the place to which The Three wanted the elect to be.

It may be that in the eternal state that we will offer praise to all Three as we realize fully all that they did for us on an individual basis. I don’t think any of us really understand all that the Spirit does within our lives as we allow Him freedom to work. I don’t think any of us really understand the minute ways

God the Father is active in our lives, not to mention all that Christ did on the cross for us - if we could truly understand that I think we would lead much different lives than we do.

6. We won’t discuss wisdom at length, but I liked Constable’s definition. He says that wisdom is the accurate perception of reality. We all can perceive reality, but do we do it accurately? Do we really understand reality clearly enough to know what it is and what we ought to do with it?

Wisdom is a very interesting study in the Scriptures. The Word has a lot to say about the topic and I think few of us really take time to understand all the ramifications of wisdom and how we relate to it. After all, wisdom will run counter to the many and varied plans that we make in life. It will dictate different choices in life, in action and in all that we do. It will make us want to commit ourselves to walking with God and make us want to follow His every direction. That indeed, will be counter to most of what man in America will come up with on his own.

7. Again, in verse seventeen we noticed the idea of our knowledge of God. Now, I warn all of you that deride theology and think it is for the brainiacs of our time, you are totally incorrect. The word translated knowledge means an exact knowing, or an exact knowledge of God, not just enough to get that fuzzy warm feeling cooking so you can do a feel good hour on Sunday, but an exact knowing of Who and What He is and how all that knowledge relates to YOU!

Scarrrryy isn’t it folks? We are to study God, we are to study Christ, we are to study the Holy Spirit, and we are to study theology - did you notice that we just mentioned the three main sections to theology proper. A study of GOD so that we can know about Him and so that we can know Him.

The inference to me is that if we don’t know about Him we can’t really know Him. We might have met him in passing in salvation, but we know little about Him and must sit at the pool of theology to get to know Him in a more intimate manner.

So many times I have heard preachers dismiss theology, or demean those that like to study it only to turn around and start talking about a point of theology that they would not know about without knowing theology - or simply, knowing about God.

Constable calls this knowing as the "total apprehension of God."

8. Building on the previous point, our fellowship with God will be dependant on how well we know Him, and since our fellowship with Him is a guide to our fellowship with other believers let us think along that line for a moment.

We have been attending a new church for several months on and off. The pastor is quite cool to people that happen upon the church steps. There has never, ever been a personal eye to eye meeting of minds with us. We have had the casual good morning from the pastor most mornings when we arrive, but no further talk for the most part. We have suffered through one greeting time after another where we were warmly welcomed and greeted, only to be returned to the coldness of unresponsiveness after the service.

There has been absolutely no desire on the part of the church people to get to know us. Yes, there may be a fear from our society about strangers, but how do we get past that fear if we remain strangers? How can we know someone if we don’t spend some time with them?

I trust you will consider something further in the way of getting to know some of your church members, take some time to "know" them in an exact and complete way.

One of the hallmarks of the Mormon Church is their caring for one another. If someone has a terrible loss or need, usually within a day or two the entire church mobilizes around that need and sees to it that the need is filled, or the loss is comforted. This type of ministry to one another can only be accomplished by people knowing people, not in just a hello, how are you manner, but in a complete and accurate knowing. This takes time and contact.

I would suggest that if we know Him as we ought, then we will know how to know others if we have the desire and will to do so.

9. Deffenbach has an interesting question to introduce this section. He asks if our prayers would qualify for inclusion in Scripture, or would they only be of a quality to be included in the National Inquirer.

What do you think? How would your prayers fair? I was thinking about my own prayer life last evening and was not impressed. More like a want list rather than a time of thanksgiving, praise and request. There are a lot of needs to be brought before the Lord and we often forget the other sides of prayer.

I was thinking back to a time when I was in a Bible study/prayer time with three other men, and we often fell into the same "request trap" because we were so concerned about the many problems in the families involved in the church.

We need to balance God’s need to know and our requests. He knows all the needs - He was listening when we wrote out our prayer lists together so, not sure that we need to belabor that side of prayer. He also needs to know that we are thankful for all the previous answers to prayer as well as our desire to serve Him and praise Him.

Yep, my prayer list of late would probably well qualify for being published in a grocery list - will be working on that from now on.

In a related topic, Paul made known to the people what it was that he was praying for. I wonder how it would affect missionaries to get a letter every month or two telling them that the church was praying for boldness of speech for them, or for opportunities to witness, etc. It would definitely encourage the serious missionary to know that people were behind him, while for the less serious missionary, there might be a sharp prod to do better when reading such a letter.

What an example for churches - pray for missionaries, let them know that you are praying, and let them know what you are praying. Now on the more delicate side, how about letting your pastor know you are praying for him, and then tell him how and what you are praying for in his life. That should be an eye opener for your pastor, especially when you tell him you are praying that he will start including meat for the saints in his messages.

Yes, this concept can encourage greatly while causing some reconsideration of one’s life.

10. I have given mention that we might want to pray to all members of the Trinity, but I think this passage gives us good reason to aim most of our prayers toward the Father. He is the prime mover in all of this passage and this is the direction that Paul seems to be praying. We might remind ourselves of the Lord’s prayer when Christ taught the apostles to pray, "Our Father" is the introduction.

God has set all into action, it is He that is guiding the plan of the ages and it is God that gave His Son to accomplish these ends in His plan. It is God that has placed Christ as the head of the church to give us direction, thus we should seek our direction from Him for our lives.

11. Verse fifteen mentions that not only is Paul praying for the saints at Ephesus, but others are also. Other believers are praying for their church, that it would grow and prosper.

What an application. How many other churches are you praying for? Do you know of any that you are on good enough terms with to know how to pray for them? Usually the only churches we know anything about are the ones that we have left and don’t feel like praying for. Maybe that is a good time to start praying for them - if they are bad enough to leave they surely are bad enough to need your prayers.

I have been in fellowships of churches where they didn’t even pray for one another.

Ought we not pray for other churches in our area that want to reach the area for Christ? It isn’t competition; we can surely find converts enough for all the churches without snubbing one another in the prayer closet.

I would like for you to just read through that passage again and just bask in all that God has done for us in salvation. Take time to consider how important He has made us in His plan. Take time to contemplate what the riches of our inheritance will be. I doubt we have a hint of what is yet to come in the next life.

Verse 16

Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;

"Thanks" is the Greek word "Eucharisteo" which simply means thanks, or to give thanks, or be thankful. It is the word that eucharist comes from. The eucharist is the "body" that the Roman church offers - the actual body of Christ that it offers often in the mass, that literal actual body, in their minds, that they offer.

It is of note in my mind that Webster in his 1828 dictionary uses the term in a positive protestant way. "The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper; the solemn act or ceremony of commemorating the death of our Redeemer, in the use of bread and wine, as emblems of his flesh and blood, accompanied with appropriate prayers and hymns." He also lists the thought of giving thanks.

Giving thanks for the Lord’s sacrifice would be the thought of the term. This brings to mind a question that only history can answer. Did the church through the ages consider the Lord’s Table a table of thanksgiving? Was the purpose of the Lord’s Table thanksgiving?

Since the Lord called it a remembrance, then I would think if thanksgiving is a part of it, it is a lesser part than remembrance. In all the observances I have been to, the prayers always reflect a thanksgiving for the shed blood and broken body of the Lord, but where does that come from within the context of a remembrance observance?

The term is always, as far as I can tell, related to thanking God in the New Testament. It is used in relation to the Lord’s Table observance. Thus, it would seem that it should be an integrated part of that observance. We are to remember the sacrifice of the Lord, and this would almost automatically bring us to a point of thanksgiving for what He has done for us.

This brings another question to mind. Why was Christ giving thanks when observing the Lord’s Table with the apostles? He had no reason to thank God for his broken body and shed blood. Or did He? Since God the Father would give all the redeemed to Christ, He might have been looking forward to the completed work and the knowledge of what He had provided for all those that soon would be His.

First of all the term is not exclusively used with the Lord’s Table. It is used at the miracle of the fish and loaves in Matthew 15:36 which relates only to thanksgiving related to the food table, so to speak.

The fact that the word is used elsewhere in situations not relating to the Lord’s Table, it would seem that giving thanks for items received at the food table is the natural thing for us to do. At the Lord’s Table there is special significance and it certainly moves one to thank God for Christ’s provision. We thank Him for food at the food table, so we should thank Him for what we receive at the Lord’s Table, the juice and bread that remind us of the Lord’s sacrifice for us.

Paul knows of their faith and prays for them. He mentions his requests in the next verse, but at this point considers what it would be like to have someone like Paul praying for you. Not only is he thanking God for them, he is interceding on their behalf as well. That would be a big confidence builder to me to know he was thankful for my assembly and that he wanted to pray for it.

Years ago I stopped in at a small church for a meeting. A church that I was totally unacquainted with. After the meeting I was standing at the back door greeting people and an old couple walked up. The man opened his Bible and displayed one of our prayer cards and said, "We are still praying for you."

I was unable to talk to the couple over and above a short greeting and thank you. I often wondered about two things. First, where they had gotten our prayer card, as it was about three years old, and I don’t think that I had ever met them. Secondly, I wondered at length what it was that caught their attention with us to cause them to pray for us for three years without having any current information about us. They were not on our prayer letter list so had no real contact with us.

At any rate, I have to tell you I was so greatly encouraged with that simple comment, "We are still praying for you." What a boost to my week to know that I had that old couple on my side before the Lord. What a ministry they had to me and I did not even know it.

Verse 17

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:

Now, to the specific prayer requests. That they would be given a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God. Spirit of wisdom seems easy enough, the spirit or way of life that is wise - living wisely. As to the revelation in the knowledge of God, I would assume that they would have a knowledge of God from the revelation they have, both natural (Romans one) and written, the Old Testament. The New Testament had not been gathered at this point and the letters were recognized as only letters at that time.

There is nothing in the original language to change that assumption. The term for revelation is the normal word that would indicate information revealed to them. Some in our current society would say that God is still in the revelation business but this is not so.

I had an email recently from someone that had been told by those that had prophecies from God that God was going to appear to the young person. As time went on the young person became quite fixed on the coming revelation and overworked and under fed himself into exhaustion. This resulted in a lot of fear and confusion. Does that really sound like something God wants for His children? Not in my understanding of God.

He is not the author of confusion and that is usually what comes when people claim that He has revealed something to them. Indeed, isn’t that spirit of wisdom supposed to fit in here somewhere - if the people used the Word wisely they would not make these foolish statements to others.

Revelation is complete and in the Word for us in this day. That revelation has all He wants us to know in this life, other than His will for our lives and this information, many times comes from the Word as well. He does lead and guide via the Holy Spirit through the Word and peace.

I must wonder where the spirit of wisdom is in our day in the church. This week I saw one of the major evangelical preachers hocking a series of studies on an infomercial. How to succeed at life, for the viewer was the promise. The lost cannot understand the Word of God so why hock the Lord’s wares to the world? God is in the business of preparing His people not the Devils.

The confusion in the church today is so great I wonder if we will ever dig our selves back to a proper Biblical base. Now and then I see indication that some are finding their way out of the quagmire and back to a Biblical footing, but so many are just tumbling into the mess.

It is hard to distinguish a conservative church from a charismatic church anymore. I told a young mother that was praising the work of one of the major Charismatic evangelists that the man was a charismatic and the shock on her face was revealing enough; she had no idea that her children were involved in a charismatic organization.

Her church, a conservative church according to their name was recommending these organizations to the parents as outlets for their children. I am sure that some of the church leaders had little idea of the charismatic nature, or else they did and did not care that they were mixed up in the confusion.

Another leading charismatic was having a national prayer day push and had talked most of the major evangelical preachers into signing on - confusion is rampant - how will these evangelicals’ followers know that they shouldn’t contribute, listen to and support these charismatics? They won’t and then the evangelical leaders will wonder why there is confusion in their churches.

I have a study on wisdom on my website if you want to see what the Bible says Paul was praying God would give to the Ephesians. It was one of the most wonderful gifts that he could request for them, from the Lord. Wisdom is pictured in the word as to be desired, it is pictured as more valuable than all those things we often seek after.

Wisdom is what is needed in our churches today. Wisdom would lead us out of the confusion we call worship today, it would lead us out of the shallowness of our Bible studies, it would lead us out of the questionable doctrines that are being embraced.

Some would question my comment about the shallowness of Bible study in the church, but just go and listen carefully to most any sermon today, most any television message or most any Sunday school class. Go to any Christian book store and look for a reference or a commentary or a theology section. If there is one it will be stocked with little in the way of real information.

Scholarship used to indicate deep study and time involved in the Word, but today it indicates a surface look at a verse or two and a lot of "thoughts" from the author. Scholarship used to indicate honest study; it used to indicate proper footnoting of resources, it used to indicate honest straightforward study and footnotes. Today a proper footnote is an option to many preachers. I have seen discussions on internet boards where people feel quoting without footnoting, use of outlines, even complete studies by other men as your own is all right.

One man mentioned a guest speaker that used the church copier to copy the morning’s message he was going to deliver from a book of sermons. He preached, or rather read from the copied pages. This is terrible in case anyone out there cares! It is illegal, it is not spiritual and it is unethical. How many more ways must it be wrong to catch someone’s attention. This man was a part of the confusion that we call Christianity today. Maybe we should call it Confusianity, because there is little Christian about it any more.

Might I be so bold as to point out that the way out of the confusion is the wisdom and knowledge mentioned in this verse? The knowledge seems to be knowledge of God and that is where many today are in a mess, they know little of the God that they purport to serve.

The church today truly needs the wisdom of the God that they serve, and they need to get to know Him that they would serve. A proper knowledge of God and His Word would go a long way toward clearing the confusion of today.

Indeed, this seems to be the implication of the following verse. The wisdom and knowledge should bring light to the understanding or the mind. Wisdom from and knowledge about God, will clear the fog that is in your mind. You will be able to see more clearly.

I mentioned a woman that had been seeking the charismatic super blessing that finally was saved out of her lost condition. Her vision was suddenly twenty twenty when she got the fog out of the way. She immediately started growing in the Lord.

Only by knowing Him can we understand and serve Him.

Verse 18

The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,

Now, that they are enlightened they will know the hope of His calling. The new believer knows that they have been called out of sin to newness of life, and the saved person that is not mature, will begin to learn of the calling, the salvation that he is involved with - he will understand the hope that he has in Christ, that Christ has paid it all, that all is prepared in the next life for us and that we will one day be with Him in glory.

Not only will they begin to understand the salvation, but all that is entailed in that salvation when it comes to the next life. We will have a glorious time and life with Christ in the eternal state. This is our inheritance because we are children of God.

This is some of that knowledge that I was speaking of - if Christians really garnered in this information they would live more like Christians (residents of heaven) rather than as the lost (residents of hell).

I have never understood why people can’t grasp the concept of Christ when He said that we can’t serve two masters. Either we serve Him and things heavenly or we serve the Devil and things earthly. It isn’t hard to see where many Christians are today. You can’t tell them from the world, they live like the world, they talk like the world and they act like the world; for all practical purposes they are lost. They are serving mammon rather than God.

Wisdom from God; oh how nice it would be. James tells us that it is very hard to come by. James 1:5 "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all [men] liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." See that proves it God is an ogre; He places such high standards on us becoming wise. We have to ask Him for wisdom; how difficult can it get?

We have no excuse not to have the wisdom and knowledge mentioned, it only takes the asking for wisdom and some reading for the knowledge. Both are available to the average person, you don’t need Greek and Hebrew, you don’t need great volumes of commentary, you only have need of prayer and reading of the Word.

I heard an account of an old man many years ago that was asked a very serious question by his young pastor. The pastor was interested in knowing how to know God’s will. He mentioned that in the Old Testament there was the Urim and Thumin for determining the wishes of God. The old man thought carefully and then wisely replied, "I’ve always found that God reveals His will to me by Usin and Thumbin."

What wisdom, the wise "usin and thumbin" of the Word is our key to knowing God and what He wants for our lives.

Verse 19

And what [is] the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,

There are two words translated power in this verse. The first power is related to our word dynamite, the force or power within something; while the second term translated power relates more to the position of power or the ability to produce. It can also be translate dominion. The president of the United States by position of office has a position of power, while he also has armed forces at his command that would relate to the first word for power.

Here we see the working power of God is that which is expended for us, while the position power is the basis for all that He does. It should be of great comfort that He expends such power on the behalf of believers. Not only does He do for us, but for us exclusively. We are important enough to Him to bring about his action on our behalf.

Because of His position, that position of calling us to salvation, that position of sending His Son to die for us and that is the position that He has. Because He is busy within our lives, He is also assuring that His plans are carried out, even to the exercise of His power to assist and protect us.

A very loose application might run along the lines that those in authority over us in the church have the position of power so to speak, and they should expend their power, their energies on our behalf not upon their own desires and ambitions. So the parent should do for their children rather than for themselves or their personal desires.

God loved us, God planned for us, God provided for us, and God is expending energy for us. That makes us pretty special in my mind! He cares for us to the point of taking care of us.

Verse 20

Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set [him] at his own right hand in the heavenly [places],

The context here is speaking primarily of Christ and the Father. The text states that this same power which takes care of us was used in the resurrection of Christ. We know from other passages that all three in the Godhead were instrumental in Christ’s resurrection, but here we are viewing primarily the Father and His actions. (2 Corinthians 13:4 mentions Christ lives by God’s power. See Romans 6:4; Romans 10:9 also.)

Romans 8:11 mentions that the Spirit was involved in the resurrection. "But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." (See also Romans 1:4; 1 Peter 3:18.)

John 2:19 indicates that Christ was planning on being an integrated part of raising Himself from the grave. "Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." (See also John 2:19; John 10:17-18; Romans 1:4; 1 Peter 3:18).

In the mix of this power and resurrections 1 Corinthians 6:14 gives evidence of our own coming resurrections. "And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power." (2 Corinthians 4:14 also)

Specifically the power of verse nineteen is the same power that was involved in raising Christ from the grave. Not a plain old low octane power but a very high octane power - a power that was able to thumb its nose at death itself. That’s the power we have on our side. The use of this power in raising the Lord is most likely the specific work that God did on the behalf of the believers in verse nineteen.

We see this thought in the book of Romans where Paul says, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." Romans 1:16

The last portion of the verse pictures God setting Christ down at His right hand in the heavenlies. As we have seen, this is in the heavenly tabernacle, the throne of God. It may be significant that God said at His "own right hand" so there is no mistake as to the person on the throne. This is similar to the text we saw in our last section relating to Christ ascending into heaven where it says in Hebrews 10:12 "But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;" See also Hebrews 8:1 "Now of the things which we have spoken [this is] the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;"

Verse 21

Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:

Some early Christians tried to suggest that these were divisions of angels, showing a hierarchy of the angelic host, but there is nothing in the text to indicate that this was what Paul was getting at. The words themselves seem quite clear that this is just showing the extent of what is being spoken of in the verse.

Paul tells us a little bit about the location of this heavenly tabernacle - FAR above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion. FAR above all names in this life and the next. Guess that tells us that the high paid preachers won’t be above Christ when we get there, nor will the arrogant congregant that thought he was the Lord’s gift to man, no one. Christ will be exalted above all. God said it, and God will do it because it is in His plan for the ages.

Principality relates to beginning, or the first in a line. Paul may have had the thought of the Caesars and their lineage through history. It is translated beginning forty times while only eight times is it translated principality.

This is another Greek word translated "power" that means authority or power. Back to our illustration of the president of the United States, he has the power or office, he has the troops to command, and he has the AUTHORITY to use them. He has the right and power to command the troops.

"Might" is that word relating to dynamite that we have seen previously.

What a declaration of the exaltation of Christ that has already taken place such a short time after the cross. There are some aspects of this yet to come, but He was taken to sit with the Father in all His glory to show the powers of the world that He was Lord over all.

This is one of the passages that one would use to show that the Devil knows his time is short, that He is in big trouble, and that he must do his damage now if he is to do any at all.

One might assume, also that this is a passage which indicates that the heavenlies are above the celestial universe. This relates to the third heaven that Paul mentions. There is the sky, the universe and then the heavenlies.

Verses 22-23

And hath put all [things] under his feet, and gave him [to be] the head over all [things] to the church, 23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

And we come to that which has been mentioned, that Christ is the head of the church and we are part of His body. We also see that ALL things are placed under His feet and He is head over ALL things to the church, not just the figurehead - He is over all transactions, all plans, all conflicts, all everything in the church and He should not be left out of any of those items nor any other item related to the church.

Note that this is a past occurrence and it is finished, He is the Head, He is over all and it is not open for discussion.

The term translated "head" has an interesting explanation in the lexicon. It explains that the loss of the head stops life in the body. It is said that when they used the guillotine, the person’s mind kept functioning for a few seconds after the head was removed from the body. This illustrates the importance of a connected head. Relate that now to the church. A church without Christ as the head may be full of activities, but it is dead and no amount of rationalization or argument can change that fact. There can be no real direction, there can be no real leading, and there can be no real life.

A church run by the people with no interest in checking with Christ is dead.

The term translated church is "ekklesia" meaning a gathering of people; in this context the gathering of God’s people. Not the building, but the people. I doubt that Christ is interested in being the head of bricks and mortar, even though He is the chief cornerstone. He would definitely opt for the living church, His people.

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Copyright 2008. Used by Permission. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author, except as provided by U.S.A. copyright laws. Do feel free to make copies for friends that might be interested as long as you do not make profit from the copies. This is God's work and I don't want anyone to profit from it in a material way.
Bibliographical Information
Derickson, Stanley. "Commentary on Ephesians 1". "Derickson's Notes on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/sdn/ephesians-1.html.