Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God,
To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus:
Salvation Through Jesus Christ
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Redemption in Christ
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, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth — in Him.
At the time the Apostle Paul wrote this epistle to the Church in Ephesus, Ephesus was s great commercial city that was located at the mouth of the Cayster River, on the shore of the Aegean Sea in Asia Minor. Ephesus was about 50 miles south of Smyrna where Jesus told the Apostle John on the Isle of Patmos to write an important letter to the church (another of the 7 churches in Asia Minor) located there that bears its name concerning the spiritual status of their relationship with God. One thing Ephesus was noted for was the temple of Artemus (Diana) according to Acts 19:27. It was said to be one of the great wonders of the world in Paul’s time. As Paul writes to the Christians in the Ephesian church, he’s writing explaining the work of salvation God did in the behalf through the life and work of Jesus Christ. Paul opens the greeting in the letter with the following words: Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God to the saints and to the faithful in Jesus Christ.
Here Paul makes it a point to let this church and the Church of Corinth know that his call to be an apostle was not the result of human appointment, or authority. It came, he said in accordance with the will of God, and His command. Paul said God’s will concerning his calling to apostleship and the preaching of the Gospel was made known to him by special revelation granted to him at his conversion, in Acts 9. Paul often refers to the fact that he had received a direct commission from God, and that he responded on the authority and will of God and did not act on his own authority.
Salutation: Grace and Peace to You From God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. (Vs. 2)
After addressing the church, the next thing he did was to send a greeting that if itself was a familiar greeting and embedded blessing known among the Hebrews whenever they met one another in passing:
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Whenever the ancient people greeted one another, they would always say Grace be to you and peace from God to one another. It was the customary for the ancient people to greet one another in this way every time they met. It was similar to the favorite salutation that the Jewish people would use whenever they passed each other along the way … Now, what the Jews would actually say to each other was “Shalom”… Peace… and then they would say….peace be with you…with “heavy emphasis” on the word “Shalom”… “peace” ….In fact…Peace was their favorite term… and if you really think about it,,, it’s easy to understand why “Peace” would be the inspirational word of the day. Along their journeys from one place to another, there was always the danger of being mugged or robbed by marauders along the traveling paths. This greeting was also a prayer that God would grant them peace and give them grace to make it to their destination without suffering any type of harm.
So… it’s in this 2nd verse, the Apostle Paul piggybacks off these ancient greeting and prayer blessing and here he greets, the church by saying: “Grace be to you and peace from God the father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”
As I said a little earlier, by greeting them in this manner, Paul was conveying a “powerful message” embedded inside the greeting. So understand anytime Paul said “Grace” and “peace” to anyone in the church, what Paul was really saying was: “Be a partaker of divine favor”!
Paul constantly reminded them that God is the source where favor and every blessing comes from”. It was another way of saying to every believer: Let your eyes look to the hills where your help comes from… because all of your help… comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.
And if you do this often enough and have enough experiences in your life that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that God truly is a very present help in times of trouble, you will began to believe what is said in Philippians 3: 13-14:
‘Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the mark (goal) for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.’
After greeting them in such a powerful manner, Paul goes on to tell them just how blessed they are to be a child of God and saved because of Jesus Christ:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who hath blessed us with spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.”
It is what Paul said here that lets the believers know in Ephesus that they have an “elevated” status in Christ Jesus and because of the grace of God. It’s very important to know that as a believer in Jesus Christ, the believer will find themselves in God’s favor in the following ways because of Grace:
Being blessed of God means God has laid a foundation of gratitude for what HE has done. Paul here focuses on God's eternal purpose in regard to the plan of salvation He implemented for man before the foundation of the world. Paul joyfully expressed to the Ephesian converts that God is worthy of our praise for forming such a redemption plan and that his eternal purposes, that are now manifested to people, gives us an exalted view of both HIS character and glory.
Unfortunately, many people fail to see God the right was as described in Galatians 5:22 (Fruit of the Spirit) but see HIM in a manner contrary to the way HE really is. Many people have over the centuries and even in this modern day feel that the plans of God concerning man are unjust, stern, unfair and forbidding and being too restricting. Often times bring His character into question, and they blaspheme HIS name, especially when they fail to get what they desire for God or when God chose not to rescue them from every troubling situation they found themselves in, especially when they sinned and got themselves in that trouble.
The “us” Paul refers to in the passage are the “true Christians”; those who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb and truly have given their lives completely over to Jesus Christ and worship HIM as both Savior and Lord.
“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:”
b. “Chosen” to be Holy
Paul says here God had it in His plans all along (before the foundation of the world) even at the beginning of the formation of religion and its system to the Jews, a people HE formed from the seed of Abraham and from 12 sons of one man (Jacob, who later God changed his name to Israel) implement His plan of salvation in behalf of man because God knew that man was going to fall in the Garden and would have to be redeemed through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. He chose to
In Revelation 13:8, the Bible declares that the “Lamb” of God was slain before the foundation of the world”. Even before God said: “Let there be light, and there was light”, (Genesis 1:3) and “Let us make man in OUR image and after OUR likeness”, (Genesis 1:26) man was going to eat the fruit from the forbidden tree (Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil)
God has decreed this from the beginning of the world, and has kept this in view from the beginning of the religious system of the Jews (Judaism) to bring the Gentiles to the knowledge of this glorious state of salvation by Christ Jesus.
Paul here shows the church that God had the Gentiles (us) in mind, even though through the eyes of ever Old Testament prophets, none of them saw the church coming in their prophetic view, nor did they see that the Gentiles, once seen and called “heathens” by God in the Dispensation of Law as also receiving the plan of salvation and to experience HIS grace, mercy and goodness in like manner he had for the Jews. So the blessings of the Gospel (salvation and redemption) that’s now so freely dispensed to them, (Gentiles) were the proof that God had chosen them as well and His purpose in giving them the Gospel message was the same which he had in view by giving the law to the Jews, namely, that they might be holy and without blame before him.
God’s objective was the same in respect to them both, therefore they both should consider that, in the same manner he loved them (agape love), so they should love one another: God having provided for each the same blessings, they should therefore be holy-fully separated from earth and sin, and consecrated to God and living their lives without blame-having no spot nor imperfection, their inward holiness agreeing with their outward consecration. But as love is the fulfilling of the law, love must fill their hearts toward God and each other, and must be the only motive and end of all their words and works.
“Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,” (Vs. 4)
The Greek word for “adoption” is “proorizoo”, which is translated to mean: “to set a boundary or bounds before” and to “pre-determine”. The word conveys the essential idea of setting a boundary or a limit beforehand. It’s important that we understand that God determines all boundaries and limits beforehand. As it pertained to the salvation of Gentiles, God has this in mind beforehand before he made man. However, in the schematics of God’s overall plan for man and the world, He has an appointed time for all things to come to pass. The question that comes to the forefront is, as it pertains to “predestination, are all men predestined to be saved no matter how they may live their lives? The answer is “NO!
Having predestinated us in the truest sense means God in His infinite wisdom already knew the plight that would confront Adam in the Garden of Eden in Genesis Chapter 3.
God being omniscient knows all things and knew a plan of salvation for the redemption of man was necessary because he knew what was in the heart of Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12-14) and the evil (iniquity) that was found in him. (Ezekiel 28:15) He also knew that Adam, despite His warning not to eat the fruit from the forbidden tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil would do so and fall prey to the “Sin of Disobedience”. So in the infinite wisdom and “foreknowledge of God, the “LAMB” (Revelation 13:8) was slain before the foundation of the world as a remedy for the “SIN” that would be introduced in Eden by a fallen Lucifer, (now known as Satan) and appeared so in the form of a serpent to Adam and Eve who God made in His image and after His likeness in Genesis 1:26-27. Now, this doesn’t mean that Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God was actually put to death "from the foundation of the world." (in eternity past) It means the decision was made by God to give Jesus Christ as the atoning sacrifice whose blood would satisfy the payment of SIN needed for the redemption of man in the future after he would have fallen to disobedience in the Garden of Eden.
Predestination here means here that God never intended any man to die and go to hell. However man had to be in right standing with God in order to go to Heaven and God wanted man to follow, obey and worship Him of his own volition and not be forced to do so against his will.
Predestination means the acceptance of the Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, that is the salvation work He did in submitting to crucifixion on the cross at Calvary predestines the convert to eternal life whereas the rejection of Jesus will predestine that same person to eternal damnation. The purpose was so certain, it was so constantly represented by bloody sacrifices from the earliest ages, all typifying the future Savior, that it might be said that he was "slain from the foundation of the world.
“To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved”. (Vs. 6)
So in accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, Jesus now adopts us as “Sons” and we are adopted into HIM - the Father, (Colossians 1:20) that is, into an inward union with God in order that we should be partakers of the divine nature of God. (2 Peter 1:4) God has regard to Himself and the glory of His grace (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14) as His ultimate end. He had one only begotten Son, and He was pleased, for His own glory, to choose out of a lost world many to become His adopted sons, to the good pleasure of his will. God chose to do this of HIS own volition before the foundation of the world. God's purpose is that all believers should be adult sons in his family, in which Christ is the "firstborn" (Romans 8:29).
Any attempt on our part to base God's election and predestination upon human merit, whether foreknown or otherwise, is unscriptural and futile. The cause of God's choice of us is not to be found in us, but in him alone. It was His will to do it and He answered to no one but Himself. Therefore God gets all the glory to all things and all that he did in behalf of man by His grace that man in no way could have done for himself to reconcile the divide that SIN created in his relationship with God. God chose to do it all and didn’t need us to do anything but accept what He did through Jesus Christ.
Everything done by God’s election is designed to compel man to praise the Lord. What the Lord elected pertained to life, and pardon, and holiness, and heaven in man’s behalf, man in response owes God the highest praise. God chooses people to be holy, not sinful. He chooses us to be happy, not miserable; God wants us to be pure, not impure. God wants nobody to perish and everybody come to repentance. It’s His desire that all men be saved, not any man to be lost. For all these things God deserves to be and should be praised.
We owe the Lord praise for everything because He chose to offer us both Grace and mercy rather than death and eternal damnation. He could have left the whole sinful race in a fallen state to wander in the wilderness of this life and die. All praises due to him, especially when you realize that there will be a staggering number of people that will be saved; so many that John the Apostle in Revelation 7:9 saw a number of people that no man could number whose robes were washed white in the blood of the Lamb. So, we are accepted in the beloved of our God.
Concerning Our Redemption: It’s in Jesus Christ
“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Vs. 7)
In Jesus Christ, there are 3 main benefits in the outpouring of Redemption:
A. We have deliverance not only from sin but from the evil consequences brought on by sin. The apostle in this verse is not referring to "nations" and to "national privileges but any individual who willingly accepts God redemption method. It’s through His blood (Jesus) that the atonement is made in our behalf.
B. We obtain the forgiveness of sin through His blood, the atoning factor. Forgiveness isn’t all the benefits we get in being redeemed.
C. Salvation is the most important benefit because it reconnects our relationship with God and replaces the disconnect SIN caused that severed the original relationship Adam had with God before the fall in the Garden of Eden.
In addition, in the outpouring of God’s redeeming power in Christ, we will receive many other benefits of our redemption. Here are some of the many other benefits:
a. Obtaining the hope of heaven.
b. Being sealed by and filled with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
c. Given more grace to guide and support us in trial.
d. Even dying a peaceful death. (Ephesians 1:8; Ephesians 1:9)
“Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;” (Vs. 8)
That is, in the dispensation of mercy and goodness by Christ Jesus, the Apostles and ministers of yesteryear and the and ministers and Pastors of today have been given the most complete instructions of heavenly things under the unction of the Holy Spirit in order that we would know when and where to preach and teach the gospel with the Word of God having maximum effect upon the hearers and causing more who heard the Gospel to be saved. As called messengers of God, ministers in the faith, we must exercise both patience and prudence as we minister to the masses of people we encounter in the world so that the Holy Spirit can minister through us and to their very souls.
It’s been said: “Every wise man is not a prudent man, and every prudent man is not a wise man”. Wisdom and prudence should be expected in the apostles of Paul’s time and the many preacher/ evangelist of our time who truly has dedicates themselves to the Gospel ministry and living constantly under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Wisdom," according to Sir William Temple, "is that which makes men judge what are the best ends, and means to attain that end, as well as gives a man advantage of counsel and direction." "Prudence then is wisdom applied to practice; or that discreet, apt suiting as well of actions as words, in their due place, time, and manner." Every minister of Christ needs these still; and if he abide not under the influence of both, not only his prayers but his ministerial labors will be all hindered.
“Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself”(Vs. 9)
What was the great mystery?
The “mystery” was that the Gentiles who believed in Jesus Christ would be received into the Church of God, and have all the same privileges of the believing Jews, without being obliged to submit to circumcision, and perform the rites and ceremonies of the Jewish law. This was that mystery, that hidden thing which wasn’t revealed before; nowhere written about in any of the Old Testament by name. In fact, no Old Testament prophet or seer saw the Church in their eyes containing the things God has planned for the Jews and Gentiles in the prophetic future. Yet, this well hidden mystery had now been revealed in Paul and Peter’s time only to them and the rest of the ministers and apostles, as well as to us. It was God's will that it should be so, but that this will he kept hidden unto the present time.
He had purposed in himself, not being induced by any consideration from without. God chose to of His own volition to reveal this mystery. He did it ….“That in the dispensation of the fullness 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”: (Vs. 10)
Here the phrase “fullness of time” means in the appropriate time appointed by God when the Gospel message, and the plan by which God has provided salvation for a lost world would be finally revealed and put into action and all that are to be saved will be. God knows who they all are. When the plan is revealed, over the course of time, it would be explained as the Apostle Paul was beginning to do in the 1st chapter.
Once God gathers all believers, both Jews and Gentiles, into one church under Jesus Christ, their head and governor is revealed, and it would no longer be a mystery, but a reality and one day in the Dispensation of the “Fullness of Time” or what’s also called the “Ages of Ages”. This is when Jesus completes his salvation work and having gathered all things unto Him, then relinquishes that authority and gives all that had been gathered to HIM to God the Father (Jehovah) that God may be all and in all.
It means in the glorious plan of Jehovah God, all things would be summed up, or brought in divine harmony in heaven and earth through the Christian Age, and since evil, Satan, and the demonic kingdom will finally be eradicated and destroyed in the Lake of Fire at the end of the Millennial Kingdom reign of Jesus Christ, (Revelation 20:1-15) God will have one divine empire, under one head, with all things common, under the same divine laws. There will be unity in the kingdom of God. All HIS friends on earth and in heaven shall be united, and all shall have a common head.
Now, at the present time in modern history and this dispensation of Grace, there is a degree of alienation in the cosmos. Since SIN entered into this world and death came as a result, Sin didn’t just have a separating affect between man and God, it also had a devastating affect upon all the earth.
The earth has been separated from other worlds by rebellion. It has gone off into apostasy and sin. It refuses to acknowledge the Great Head to which other worlds are subject, and the object is to restore it to its proper place, so that there shall be one great and united kingdom. The effects of transgression are seen everywhere; and the object of the plan of redemption is to put things on their Edenic order, restoring them as they were in the beginning. As a result, everything will be put under the Lord Jesus, to be brought under his sovereign control, thus, constituting one vast harmonious empire.
All "things" are placed under Christ. (Ephesians 1:22; Matthew 28:18,)
God’s plan of restoration also includes restoration that brings harmony back in the universe. Sin has produced disorder not only in "mind," but in "matter." The world is disarranged. There is now discord and disunion. Un repentant man is separated from God, and from all holy beings. Between him and every holy being there is by nature discord and alienation. Un-regenerated man has no sympathy with the feelings and work of the angels; no love for their employment; no desire to be associated with them. Nothing can be more unlike than the customs, feelings, laws, and habits which prevail on earth, from those which prevail in heaven. But the object of the plan of salvation is to restore harmony to those alienated communities, and produce eternal concord and love.
When all principalities and powers are finally put under HIS feet and there is no more rebellion from them, there will be only one kingdom, in which there shall be no more alienation, and from that time forward, there shall be harmony and love. The things which are to be united in Christ, are those which are "in heaven and which are on earth." Nothing is said of "hell" because at this point death and hell has both been cast into the Lake of Fire. (Revelation 20:14) Of course this passage cannot and does not teach the doctrine of universal salvation, since there is one world which is not to have a part in this ultimate union.
Concerning the redeemed on earth.
The objective is to bring them into harmony with the inhabitants of heaven. This is the great object proposed by the plan of salvation. It is to found one glorious and eternal kingdom, that shall comprise of all holy beings on earth and all in heaven.
Finally, here are 5 principles of the God’s unified empire.
(1) The greatness and glory of God’s plan of salvation.
The "reconcile worlds," is no minuscule task and God, the great architect purposed to bring harmony throughout the universe out of chaos and disharmony on earth because of the “ill” effects of SIN. He did it Himself through the person of Jesus Christ.
(2) The “Angelic” interest in the plan of redemption; (1 Peter 1:10-13)
“Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven — things which angels desire to look into”.
The angels are deeply concerned about the redemption of those who, with them, are to constitute that great kingdom which is to be eternal. So much so the Bible said heaven rejoices over every soul that is added to the Kingdom of God. So having happiness for them without envy; being devoid of any feeling that the accession of others will diminish "their" felicity or glory, the angels wait to hail the coming of the redeemed and rejoice to receive even one who comes to be united to their number.
(3) This plan was worthy of the efforts of the Son of God.
Only Jesus was qualified to carry out the sacrificial part on God’s redemption plan. Blood has to be shed. He has to voluntarily subject himself to be nailed hands and feet to a cross to die for the sin of man and he did just that. To restore harmony in heaven and earth; to prevent the evils of alienation and discord; to rear one immense and glorious kingdom, was an object worthy the incarnation of the Son of God.
(4) The glory of Our Redeemer.
Jesus is to be exalted as the Head of this united and ever-glorious kingdom, and all the redeemed on earth and the angelic hosts shall acknowledge him as their common Sovereign and Head.
(5) This is (salvation and redemption) the greatest and most important enterprise on earth.
It should engage every heart, and enlist the powers of every soul. It should be the earnest desire of all to swell the numbers of those who shall constitute this united and ever-glorious kingdom, and to bring as many as possible of the human race into union with the holy inhabitants of the other world through Jesus Christ.
Dr. William Edward Boddie