The Book of Ephesians Message One
Ephesians 1:1-2 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: Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
A. The Position of Paul –
…“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God…”
1. The plan of Saul (Paul the Apostle)
This was not a position that Saul aspired to as a young man. His ambition from his youth was to excel in the Jews religion, to be known among all of his peers as the best of the best, a Pharisee of Pharisees.
Acts 26:4-5 My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews; Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.
Saul followed the path to accomplish his desire, moving to the center of Judaism, Jerusalem, joining the most prestigious school and being a student of the most respected rabbi, Gameliel –
Acts 5:34 Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space;
He made sure that he was at the forefront of the debates with those that followed Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah.
Acts 6:8-10 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.
Acts 7:58-59 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
Acts 8:1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.
Acts 26:9-11 I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.
Paul’s testimony to the churches in Galatia revealed his early ambitions-
Galatians 1:13-16 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
Paul continued to testify that God’s plan for him, from time he was in his mother’s womb, was different than Saul’s family or his own.
2. The Plan of God –
Galations 1:16a “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me….”
God had a plan for him, as he does for all mankind. Saul struggled against God’s plan, becoming frustrated and angry when convicted, fighting against God, His truth, and the grace that stood over against Paul’s beloved Law.
Finally, through the continued mercy of God and His grace, Saul surrendered –
Acts 9:3-6 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
Galations 1:16b “…that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:”
B. The People to whom the letter was directed –
1. The church in Ephesus “…the saints which are at Ephesus…”
Paul wrote this letter approximately seven years after establishment of the church. It is important to note that we see in Ephesus Paul’s pattern of ministry, as he encouraged Timothy in his second letter –
2 Timothy 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
a. Doctrine – Preaching in the Synagogue
Acts 18:19-20 And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews. When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not;
Acts 18:24-26 And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.
b. Reproof –
Acts 19:8,9 And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus.
c. Correction –
Acts 19:1-7 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve.
d. Instruction in Righteousness
Acts 19:10 And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.
Paul wrote this letter to the church in Ephesus as well as –
2. The saints of all time and in all places. “…the faithful in Christ Jesus”
John 17:17-21 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
2 Timothy 2:2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
C. The Provenance of grace and peace –
“…Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Both grace and peace originated –
1. From God the Father
2. From the Lord Jesus Christ
Paul will remind all of the blessings of how the grace and peace of God works in their lives, bringing daily praise to the Lord in all things.
Are you aware of His grace in your life today?
Are you aware of His peace in your life today?
Are you interested in knowing more about His grace and Peace?
If you are aware, if you are interested, then will you begin to read this letter carefully over these weeks as we seek to know God’s wisdom and will for our lives?