“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus, and the faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:1-2).”
The book of Ephesians was written by the Apostle Paul around 60-62 AD during his first imprisonment in Rome. He begins his letter by addressing himself as an apostle. The Greek word ἀπόστολος means a commissioner or delegate for Christ. Paul is stating that he was sent or authorized by God to speak concerning the will of God–this is important because the Lord preordained Paul to be a prophet for the living Lord of the universe.
Paul is writing to the saints and the faithful in Jesus Christ. The word saint in the Greek is ἁγίοις, and it literally means, “set apart ones.” God has set those whom He has chosen apart from the world to be holy and blameless; they are not to conform to the world but be transformed by the renewing of their mind in Christ Jesus. When an individual comes to faith in Jesus, they become distinct, separate, and attain a new spiritual nature.
“3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and without defect before him in love, 5 having predestined us for adoption as children through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his desire, 6 to the praise of the glory of his grace, by which he freely gave us favor in the Beloved, 7 in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace (Eph. 1:3-7).”
Paul encourages the church at Ephesus in this letter, reminding them that they are blessed. Their faith in Christ is worthy of praise because it honors God the Father–the creator and sustainer of this world. The apostle also clarifies a truth that most Christians need to realize; having a relationship with God accords us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.
Paul lists them in the next few verses: God’s favor, his holiness, love, grace, redemption through the sacrifice of Christ, forgiveness of our sins, and all the heavenly awards of knowing the King of kings.
Isn’t it extraordinary that the Lord chose his people before the foundation of the world? This means we didn’t choose God; instead, the Lord chose us, pursued us, and granted grace to His children when they didn’t deserve it. This notion of predestination, which comes from the Greek word προορίσας, means that God foreordained or preplanned one’s eternal inheritance and salvation in Christ.
Moreover, God’s chosen people receives redemption through Christ’s blood. Redemption comes from the Greek word ἀπολύτρωσιν, which literally is translated ransomed, or payment in full for someone who owes a debt or crime. Similarly, all of us have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We have broken God’s law and therefore stand guilty before the Lord.
But God, rich in mercy, not only ransomed us from the rightful punishment we deserve; he also imputed his goodness, love, and power into our hearts and minds. This is the glory of Christ–to be loved by Him, to know God intimately, and be transformed from a hell-bound sinner to a sanctified, glorified saint. There is nothing richer. There is nothing greater than knowing the one who owns the cosmos.
8 which he made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he purposed in him 10 to an administration of the fullness of the times, to sum up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth, in him. 11 (Eph. 1:8-11).
Paul expresses this idea of Jesus abounding his grace, forgiveness, and love towards believers in all wisdom and prudence. The Greek word ἐπερίσσευσεν is an aorist indicative active, which expresses this notion of lavishing or giving an excess of these positive attributes–providing an even greater confidence of our redemption in Christ Jesus.
Moreover, the apostle informs the church at Ephesus the mystery of God’s will. This mystery is not a special knowledge like some gnostic sects were exclaiming. Rather, God did speak plainly to the creation, He revealed himself fully in Christ, and yet at the same time, there is a deep mystery to how the infinite God took on finite flesh. This mystery is summed up in Christ, both on the earth and in heaven–I believe in heaven we will continue worshipping the Lord within the veil of this mysterious union.
“We were also assigned an inheritance in him, having been foreordained according to the purpose of him who does all things after the counsel of his will, 12 to the end that we should be to the praise of his glory, we who had before hoped in Christ. 13 In him you also, having heard the word of the truth, the Good News of your salvation—in whom, having also believed, you were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a pledge of our inheritance, to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of his glory (Eph. 1:11-14).”
Both Jews and Gentiles who put their faith in the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, will receive the full inheritance of God’s kingdom. For Jesus said to pray to the Father in this way: “Our Father, who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven.” This kingdom is our inheritance. When we live by the King’s standards, we become adopted as sons and daughters–living with the Lord forevermore. Thus, God’s desire is to see His people inherit, possess, and attain the fortunes of His everlasting Kingdom.
Furthermore, not only do the righteous inherit God’s kingdom. They are also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of his glory. This sealing, ἐσφραγίσθητε, is a stamp of preservation. Nothing can separate the Christian from God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit since they have been marked by the Lord himself. No one can snatch them from the infinite hands of the Almighty. Praise be to God for this glorious truth.
15 “For this cause I also, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which is among you, and the love which you have toward all the saints, 16 don’t cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts[a] enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of his calling, and what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints (Eph. 1:15-18).”
The Apostle Paul reassures the saints at Ephesus that they are sealed with the Holy Spirit. How does Paul know this? Because of their reputation. Paul states, “I have heard of your faith and love which you have toward all the saints.” Do you realize that Christians are known by the fruit of the spirit? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
These attributes are a natural flow of the sealing of the Holy Spirit. Thus, when we are recognized by people around us as having “great faith,” then let that be a sign that you have been sealed with the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption–giving you a steadfast assurance to keep growing in your relationship with the living God.
19 and what is the exceeding greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to that working of the strength of his might 20 which he worked in Christ, when he raised him from the dead and made him to sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule, authority, power, dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in that which is to come. 22 He put all things in subjection under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things for the assembly, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
At the end of this chapter, Paul recaptures this belief of God’s power and steadfast love. He tells the saints in Ephesus that the same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in them–for their bodies are the temples of the living God. The Greek word for power is δυνάμεως, and it is divine force, a miraculous force, that can only come from the Great Architect of this universe.
Finally, Paul builds his Christology here. He makes it clear that God’s only begotten son, Jesus Christ, sits at the right hand of the Father, and is far above all rule, authority, power, dominion, and every name that is named. God the Father has put all things in subjection under the Lord Jesus’s feet, and gave him the authority over all of creation.
Therefore, Jesus is not merely a prophet or a little higher than the angels in rank or power. Jesus is the exact image and representation of the divine–He is the Word of God who became flesh. He is the God-Man. Praise be to His mighty name.
The World English Bible (WEB) version was used in this commentary. It is a public domain modern English translation of the Holy Bible and is freely distributed like the gospel of salvation in Christ. Praise be to God!
Commentary by Chad A. Damitz (M.Div)