Ephesians 1 Personal Bible Study
Robin Aylor December 2018
Ephesians 1 (ESV)
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
At times, Paul’s letters began with similar greetings. For example:
Galatians 1:1 Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia:
Or this one:
Colossians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2 To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae:
Let’s look a little closer at his greeting in Ephesians.
“by the will of God,” - It was the will of God that Paul be an apostle of Christ Jesus. Paul had actually seen Jesus the Messiah in person and been given a specific charge by him. Paul had personal authority from Jesus to make claims that he knows the truth of God and to write down inspired words for sharing the beauty and fullness of Gods glory with others. He was given miraculous powers for verifying his apostleship and Gods Holy Spirit verified his words as he magnified Christ.
As for me; I might have began this letter with: “Dear Church of Ephesus”. However, Paul says this: “To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus”.
Notice how Paul qualifies who this letter is specifically directed toward faithful saints… But one might ask: Can any saint be truly faithful in this life? Don’t we all sin every day? How is it possible to be a faithful saint? If no Christian is perfectly faithful then it might seem this letter is written to no one.
Someone else may ask: In some context are not all saints faithful because of the faithfulness of Christ Jesus? Well, its true Christ righteousness has been imputed to us. He who knew no sin became sin for us and gave those who look to him in faith his own righteousness. However, I believe the word faithful here implies a practical faithfulness.
But didn’t we already conclude that no one is truly faithful? This is true.
I believe this is a faithfulness in progress. A working out of faithfulness among believers who are growing in Christ. Christians who are persevering to the end for Christ. Believers who are always in a state of sanctification practically. In other words they live in a circle of repentance, always returning to the Cross, pressing on and straining to see more and more of the beauty of Christ.
If there are any saints that would not fit the description of “faithful in Christ Jesus” then I can only suppose it would be those who backsliding and ignoring the prompting of the Holy Spirit in their life. It may be that they will need to experience the discipline which the Lord gives to those he loves before they can delight in the words Paul is about to share next.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
Did you get that mind blowing proclamation of blessing from the Father? Through Jesus he gives us every spiritual blessing heaven contains! Yes I said mind blowing! Why have we rushed over that so many times before.
In Ephesians 3:8 he calls it: “the unsearchable riches of Christ” and Paul will refer to it later in this chapter as:“the riches of his grace”. It seems to me that “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” is an amazing gift which should humble us and bring us to worship this one who loves us so much.
Before we leave this verse lets back up to its beginning. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, This tells us the ultimate objective of the statement that proceeds. It is that the Father is blessed over and above us who are blessed in Christ. All things are ultimately for the glory of God. We will revisit this amazing truth many times.
4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.
It was the Father who chose us. Chose us for what? We find in John 17 that the Father actually chose us as a gift that was given to his Son. Here are a few verses that mention this wonder.
John 17:6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.
John 17:11 …Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.
John 17:12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me…
John 17:24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
2nd Timothy 1;9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,
Notice he chose us to be in him before time itself. It was not because of our works.
Also note it is not dependent upon our own will.
Romans 9:16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
Philippians 2:13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
*John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide,…
So it was for his own purpose that we were graced to be a gift for the Son.
The text also tells us we were chosen to be a good gift… thats the best kind. “…that we should be holy and blameless before him”. But wait!!! No one is blameless. We are all born out of fellowship with God and we all sin. If he chose us to be holy and blameless before God why do we transgress? For starters, Jesus went to the Cross and made this dirty broken gift of a people holy and blameless. He was paid the wages of our sin which is death and positionally he gave us who believe his imputed holiness and righteousness. We now have his goodness. He also defeated death and will raise us up incorruptible and present us blameless at judgment then share in his glory forever.
He also chose us to be holy in the sense that he is practically working in us for righteousness while we are here on earth. We are taking on his character and attributes becoming more like him. In a practical sense we are a work in progress that he is doing for our holiness and his glory.
Continuing in Ephesians 1:
In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
Imagine with me a woman with child who is held in slavery in… lets say India. What if a highly respected ruler paid an enormous price to pre-adopt her unborn child when it reached a certain age? It was all guaranteed before the child was born. In a sense thats what the Father did for us. “In love he predestined us for adoption”. We were born as real slaves to sin however; little did we know then that he chose us before the foundation of the world, and when the time was right our faith would be quickened and made alive so we would come into his family. This transaction has already been sealed with the Ruler’s purchase. Verse 5 indicates the Fathers will in this was not without intention but rather had a definite purpose. But to what end?
6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
As all streams run to the sea (Ecclesiastes 1:7), ultimately everything leads to God being glorified; even his grace toward us. It is all for his glory. Romans 11:36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
As verse 5 indicated that it was in love that the Father predestined us for adoption, here in verse 6 we see that these blessings towards us comes through someone else the Father loves and refers to as the Beloved.
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,
It is clear that “the Beloved” mentioned in verse 6 is Jesus who died for our sins and was raised on the third day. Remember how the Father called Jesus his beloved Son in Matthew 3:17.
Matthew 3:17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
Our earlier illustration showed that an enormous price was paid to pre-adopt the child who was born as a slave to sin. In a similar fashion, to secure our adoption, God promised and gave his only Son Jesus who was paid the wages of our sins on the Cross with his own perfect life that we might receive forgiveness, fellowship and good standing with God.
This verse from Romans is saying the same wonderful thing we’ve been talking about.
Romans 8:32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
All things… When Pauls says “according to the riches of his grace,”. We can see how God lavishes us with unlimited, unending riches… “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” from the “unsearchable" storehouse of his grace and they all come to us through Christ and the cross.
As Paul continues, we continue to see him still expounding how these things from the Father are a part of “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,”.
8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight
I love that word “lavished”. It carries the idea that God has heaped load after load of blessings upon us. We’re covered in spiritual blessings on every side. They are real blessings eternally better than anything the world promises.
2nd Cor 1:20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.
With spiritual blessings up to our eyeballs, still unfortunately many who claim to believe give them little or no thought rather pushing them out of the way to follow worldly desires.
9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ
Gods will used to be a mystery to us. Some may have thought God made us and then left us on our own… or that he was a selfish tyrant because there is so much suffering in the world. Many may have assumed their deeds toward others should outweigh their selfish works and so the look to attain their own righteousness… Others think we are justified by keeping the Law legalistically even when our heart disagrees with our works.
However; now that we have seen Gods glory in Jesus; the mystery veiled through the ages; we know that Jesus the Messiah kept Gods law for us and has given believers a heart for him. Now, with affections of hope and delight our desire is to walk with him. He gives us a love for his word including all his promises and commands which are for our good but ultimately overshadowed by the overwhelming purpose for his own glory. All Gods promises are guaranteed by Jesus who we can trust because he loves us and gave himself for us dying in our place and then defeated death raised up in a incorruptible body. This victory over death along with all his other promises he gifts to all who hope in him .
10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
In Christ we are united with God. He is the offspring of the woman that is the only hope for mankind’s sin mentioned in Genesis 3 and then his expectation is echoed throughout the Old Testament. Not only is our guaranteed hope in Jesus the Messiah for forgiveness, right standing with God and unsearchable spiritual blessings, but we also look forward to a new body and a new earth unbroken and untainted with sin. We have been promised heaven as our homeland; our Beulah Land… Our Gilead in the presence of God.
Even all of creation which God caused to be tainted with brokenness relating to Mans sin waits for the day of his return and the uniting of all things in heaven and earth in agreement with our text in Ephesians 1:10.
Romans 8:22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.
So in Christ we are united with God as his child with an inheritance that includes so much more than we could think or imagine.
Paul reiterates how as adopted children we share in Gods glory by receiving an inheritance in Christ. The illustration we looked at earlier carries this same truth. The child would come to receive the name of their new Father along with the inheritance that is given to all his children and this would please the Father greatly.
This is an amazing gift of grace in salvation along with an unsearchable storehouse of blessings. Paul reminds us again that these things were not quickened or motivated nor did they spring forth out of our own will or purpose but the Father was the one who chose us that we might be to the praise of his glory.
A sneak preview of Ephesians 3 carries the same bottomless treasure trove of blessings in that as his children we are backed with his power and Paul restates how it is for Gods glory.
Ephesians 3:20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
God works in us according to his power. How would one qualify or measure the power of God? It is like his unsearchable riches… Gods power exceeds our asking and even our thinking… Since our Lord and our God is unbound by any willed extent or imposed degree eternally and without end beyond our minds capacity for thought or imagination, we have no reason to be people of little faith. He has given us all things and it is all for his glory for all time.
1st Corinthians 3:21 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours,
As adopted children we share in his glory by being included in his inheritance. The illustration we looked at earlier carries this same truth. The child would come to receive the name of their new Father along with the inheritance that is given to all his children and this would please the Father greatly. Even in all the amazing ways we benefit through his grace… I love repeating this: Ultimately it is all for Gods glory and his pleasure.
Ephesians 1:13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guaranteed of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
With all Gods lavishing of heavenly blessings upon believers, he also gives us the Holy Spirit which means he gives us himself. Notice the Holy Spirit is not a thing but here in verse 14 he is referred to as “who”. The Holy Spirit is a person of the Trinity; One God in three persons. Gods Son Jesus has always been; he is God and Gods Son from everlasting. God came down to man in the person of Jesus his only Son and now that Jesus has risen from the grave and ascended to heaven God has come down to abide in us through the person of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is our seal, our guarantee of inheritance. Note once again in verse 14 it is "to the praise of his glory". Apparently Paul likes repeating it as well. All things are for the glory of God.
But lets consider how the Holy Spirit is seen as our guarantee of inheritance.
Romand 8:15 …you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
It is an automatic and natural phenomena for a child to call out to their earthly Father. Even so the Holy Spirit infuses this true sense of Father and family inheritance upon our hearts so that we call out to him.
Here’s a few more of the many verses showing how believers are sealed and guaranteed by the Holy Spirit. They are packed full of riches for your studying and meditating pleasure.
Romans 8:23 …we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
2nd Corinthians 5:5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
2nd Corinthians 1:21 It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, 22 and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.
Next we will see how the Holy Spirit which guarantees our inheritance works out in the lives of Paul and the believers in Ephesus.
15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints,
The Holy Spirit working in our life overflows into delight for Gods word and works out in our affections and actions of joy with love for others. The Holy Spirit brings the light of truth to our hearts. These things are not simulated or fake affections but the Ephesian believers were real and their faith and love was real. It has been said that “word of mouth” is the best advertisement. When something is real it is accompanied by true passion and not easily dismissed. The word of their faith and love which was actually the work of the Holy Spirit had traveled hundreds of miles even reaching the cell of Paul in prison. In this context Paul could see the guarantee or seal in which the Spirit had placed upon them.
16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,
For Christians, the Holy Spirit in association with Gods word quickens us into thanksgiving to God for others in prayer to our Heavenly Father. It did this for Paul with the Ephesians and was also at work in the Ephesians toward Paul.
1st John 3:14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.
This is a guarantee of our adoption when we love those who are in the family of God with unconditional agape type love.
Here’s another great text that even proves our seal to the world:
John 13;35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Ephesians 1:17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,
And with prayers of thanksgiving, we also pray for others that they might see more of Gods glory… that they might discover more of his unsearchable riches… But notice God has to give us as well as others this insight… And so we seek and call out for this beholding… this internalizing… this Spirit of wisdom and revelation in knowledge of him.
18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
And so Paul continues unpacking the blessings associated with our adoption as sons. You see its not just that God makes us feel blessed in Christ but the riches he lavishes us with are real. As we seek to see more of who Christ is in his glory… his character and attributes… as we get to know him better and better our eyes are enlightened to the realizations found in the treasure trove of this guaranteed hope we have in Christ. Of course Paul details the unpacking of our faith and hope in Gods word throughout his letters to the churches. Here though he is giving us a general summery of the height and depth and far reaching extent of our gifted inheritance from the Creator of the Universe toward those he has quickened to believe.
19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
I love how the focus of the love and grace of God toward us has a way that always apexes back to God. And this passage is packed with the overwhelming, eternal, unstoppable, supreme sovereignty and fullness of the holiness of God. We are pointed to the immeasurable greatness of his power… the same great irrepressible might seen in Jesus resurrection from the dead and the same seen in his exaltation high above all rule and authority time without end… How it is foundational and ultimate that he be glorified and yet he continues to show us undeserved mercy and grace even to the indwelling of himself in us, as well as the sharing of his glory with us for eternity… all to his praise.
Colossians 2:9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.