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Scripture reading – Ephesians 1; Ephesians 2
Continuing our chronological study of God’s Word, we come to “The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians.” This is the third in our study of Paul’s prison epistles, and would have been written during his first imprisonment in Rome, between 60-63 AD. The apostle’s confinement was what would be described today as “house arrest,” and it lasted two years (Acts 28:30). Though he was unable to visit the churches in Asia Minor, he did receive guests, and authored letters to the churches in Ephesus, Philippi, Colosse, and penned a brief letter to a believer named Philemon.
The city of Ephesus figured prominently in our recent study in the Book of Acts. It was one of the most important cities along the coastline of Asia Minor, and its natural harbor made it a commercial crossroads. Ephesus was also the center for the worship of Diana, and a great temple dedicated to that religious cult was located there. Paul invested two full years of his life preaching in the vicinity of Ephesus (Acts 19:10). Today’s devotion is taken from Ephesians 1.
Ephesians 1 – A Message of Reconciliation and Unity
Typical of his prison epistles, Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church began with a loving salutation that stated his authority and calling (“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God” (1:1). With a shepherd’s heart, he saluted the recipients of the epistle (1:1b), and bid them, “Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ” (1:2).
God’s Sovereign, Eternal Plan (1:3-12)
Paul had warned the elders (pastors and spiritual leaders) of the church in Ephesus, that after his departure “grievous wolves [would] enter in among you [the congregation], not sparing the flock” (Acts 20:29). Tragically, the believers in Ephesus did experience the ravages of false teachers in their midst (Acts 20:30), and the church suffered divisions that threatened the health and life of the church. No wonder Paul began his letter with a reminder of the unity all sincere believers have in Christ.
Paul identified several doctrinal truths that are shared by all believers (1:3-6). We are “blessed (favored) with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (1:3). We are “chosen” in Christ “that we should be holy and without blame” (1:4). We are adopted, predestinated, fore-ordained, that we might glorify God (1:5-6). We are redeemed “through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (1:7). We are given “wisdom and prudence” (understanding and discernment, 1:8). God has revealed to us the “mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself” (1:9). What is that mystery? The Gospel, and the Millennial kingdom of Christ when all things, “both which are in heaven, and which are on earth,” will be under His authority (1:10).
We have an “inheritance,” having been chosen, and predestinated according to God’s eternal, divine purpose, “who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (1:11). To what end or purpose? “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ” (1:12). In other words, we are redeemed for the purpose of reflecting God’s glory. Finally, all who have “heard the word of truth,” and believed “the gospel of… salvation” are “sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise” (1:13).
Having reminded the believers in Ephesus of their position in Christ (1:3-13), and redemption by His blood (“unto the praise of His glory,” 1:14), Paul boasted, I have “heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints” (1:15). What effect did the Ephesian believer’s testimony have on Paul? He assured them he was continually giving thanks to God, and praying for them (1:16).
Closing thoughts – Imagine how powerful your testimony and influence would be if you were known for your “faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints” (1:15). The next time you feel discouraged, take a moment and reflect on who you are in Christ! You are blessed, chosen, adopted, redeemed, made wise, and entrusted with the Gospel, the “mystery of [God’s] will” (1:3-10). Lastly, you have a heavenly, eternal inheritance that cannot be stolen. Hallelujah!
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