Ephesians Chapter 1

Ephesians is a "general epistle", in that it does not deal with any particular problem in this church. Except for the fact that it is addressed to this church, it would be considered as simply a circular letter to all the churches. Ephesians contains the whole of the Christian doctrine, as Paul instructs them in the principal duties of the Christian religion, and exhorts them to fulfill those duties.


I. Vv. 1, 2 gives us the introduction to the whole letter. And it is much like all of Paul's introductions.

"Paul, and apostle..." He considers it a great to be employed by Christ as one of His ministers to sinners. The Spirit provided the apostles with unusual and supernatural gifts in order to publish the good news, as well as to confirm his calling and message.

"By the will of God." He continually makes it clear that he did not chose to serve the Lord Christ, but Christ chose him. Clearly, if one has not been chosen by Christ, he is none of His.

"To the saints." The Ephesians lived in the center of idolatry, so they had been called out of the depths of paganism. Yet Paul calls them "saints". "Faithful in Christ Jesus:" Sainthood is only bestowed on those who are "the faithful in Christ Jesus." Paul will make it abundantly clear in this letter that all Christians must have the character of saints in this life, or they will never be saints in the after life. It is the power of the Grace of God that keeps one faithful, and if that power is not present to form the Christian character, then sainthood is missing.

It is the mercy of the Lord that keeps one faithful "in Christ Jesus", and that honor is bestowed on ministers as well as upon all followers of Christ.

"Grace be to you..." This is the common opening of every letter, and expresses Paul's good-will and desire for their well-being.

"Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Philippians 2:12

We cannot and did not call ourselves to salvation, or sainthood, nor did any of man's doings make us a saint. We were called and saved by the Grace of God. We do not keep ourselves "faithful in Christ Jesus", but His grace keeps us there. A question that every godly minister faces is "Why does God give special grace unto faithfulness and service to some, and seem to ignore others, when both are called saints?"

"Grace and peace from God our Father". There can be no peace with God without His calling by grace to salvation.

Romans 5:1 "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God."

These blessings of grace and peace comes not from God our Creator, but from God our Father, a relationship that comes only "through our Lord Jesus Christ."

He is the Creator of all, but that does not make Him Father of all. Only in Christ, can we say, "Abba, Father". The "Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of man" is not at all Scriptural.

In the garden and in His distress, Christ cries out to the Father, "Abba Father""And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt." Mark 14:36.

Notice that being called by God to be saints in Christ Jesus, we have the same privileged access to the Heavenly Father as did the Son:

Romans 8:15 " For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father."
Galatians 4:6 "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father."

The best of saints stand in continual need of fresh supplies of the graces of the Spirit. Those who have had "sainthood" bestowed upon them by the Spirit's call will desire to improve and grow. Therefore, we must not only pray for ourselves, "Abba Father", but we must pray one for another.

Ephesians 2:3-14

As we start to consider the matter of Paul's letter, let us be reminded of its context. The historical context of the letter will make it all the more important to us.

As we saw in Acts 19, the church was started during Paul's 3 year stay in Ephesus around A.D. 54. Ephesus was a very important trade center. It was a large and very pagan city–the world-wide center of the worship of Diana. Paul's preaching of the gospel there caused a city wide riot, even demanding his death. But God established a very strong church there, and that church was praised for its great zeal in Revelation 2:1-7.

According to Acts 20, 3 years later in A.D. 60, on his way to Jerusalem for the day of Pentecost, Paul met with the elders of the church. He told them that he would not see them again, and he warned them with tears of the influx of false teachers with lying yet pleasant words who would rise up from among their religious leaders to lead them astray.

Now from his Roman prison and about 2 years later, A.D. 62, he writes back to the church at Ephesus this letter both to encourage them and strengthen them for the very difficult times that will soon be upon them.

Christian tradition holds that Paul, being a Roman citizen, was beheaded in Rome during the reign of Nero around A.D. 67 at Three Fountains Abbey.

Two points.

First, Nero, arguably the most wicked ruler to ever live, was Emperor of the Roman empire, A.D. 54-A.D. 68. He is well known for his horrendous persecution of Christians, and Paul's letters were written while Nero was at the height of his power and persecution. This Epistle, as well as the rest, would be especially precious to those Christians today living in Muslim nations, as the "lovers of peace", the Muslims, seek to eradicate Christianity from their lands.

Rome burned in 64, and the Christians were blamed, and persecuted.

Second, "Great Tribulation" would soon be upon them as promised by the Lord against the Jewish nation which had rejected God and His Only Son, Jesus Christ. He told His disciples in Matthew 24 that that period of time would be the worse time ever. Though God's judgment would be on the apostate Jewish nation, the Gentile Christians in the Roman Empire would be caught up in it.

Ephesians not only assured of God's control of history in the terrible reign of Nero, but also in the coming "Great Tribulation".

Though the real Jewish/Roman war started in about A.D. 67, there had been strong moves of rebellion against Rome even in Christ's day, as the Jews looked for a literal king to lead them in an armed revolt against Rome. We see in the gospels that they often tried to get Christ to take that leadership.

John 6:15 "When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone."

This book is Paul both strengthening the Believers who are in Nero's reign of persecution, and preparing the church for the "great tribulation" that would start in A.D. 67, just 5 short years away. But as with all the books in the Bible, it applies just as much for Christians of all ages.

II. Vv. 3-14.

Paul opens this section with thanksgivings and praises to God the Father.

V. 3, "blessed be God." That is, praise be to God. The word is only used toward God in the New Testament.

"who hath Blessed us (the "saints", v. 1) with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places". "Spiritual blessings in heavenly places" is not really what the saints want to hear. We want material or physical blessings, and are tempted to complain when we do not have physical or material blessings, blessings that fit into our idea of blessings from God.

"God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ". Here we see the mystical union between the Father and the Son, as well as our union with the "Father" through Christ.

John 20:17 "Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God."

Those who are not called to be saints can expect no blessings from God, for His blessings are bestowed only through the Son. But that certainly does not mean He does not physically and materially bless the unsaved. If the unsaved have material blessings, it is because God permitted those things. In fact, even the evil that is done in this world, is done in order to accomplish God's will:

Revelation 17:17 "For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled."

"Blessed", but the "spiritual blessings" are only for the saints through Christ Jesus. God may see fit to bless some of his saints with temporal things and good health, but we can look around and see the deep poverty of multitudes of saints who are far more committed to the faith than we, as they are even hacked to death with machetes.

Others, it seems, have been blessed by God with poor health, even serious physical defects, yet they use their particular circumstances to praise God and bring great glory to His sustaining grace in their lives.

The Geneva reads, "which hath blessed us with all spiritual blessing in heavenly things in Christ,". KJV margin:{Places: or, things}

In vv. 4-14, Paul will give us many things for which the saints should praise God, and not one of them has to do with material or physical things. Paul lists all the "spiritual blessings" which have come down from heaven to the saints who are in Christ Jesus. Note that in this list, there is not one material nor physical "blessing" mentioned.

More often than not, material blessings have proved to be a curse to the saints.

Proverbs 30:7 "Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: 8 Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: 9 Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain."

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon found riches and fame to be vanity. We see that those things became a curse to him in his later years.

Paul lists at least 13 points in his All spiritual Blessings in heavenly places. The saints' blessings are from God the Father through the only Mediator between God and man, Christ Jesus:

First, v. 4, election and predestination:"he hath chosen us in" in Christ before the foundation of the world. This is the source of all our "spiritual blessings." Our position in Christ was established before the world was established. It is in Christ that the Father chose to bless His people.

Revelation 13:8 "And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."

V. 3, the saints, "us", were chosen in the mind of God before He established the world. Therefore, there had to be a way to make the saint "holy and without blame before him" without compromising His holiness. That was accomplished in the everlasting covenant between the Father and the Son:

Hebrews 13:20 "Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant."

"The everlasting or eternal covenant" is almost a totally ignored Christian Doctrine. It is the very foundation of all Christian doctrine, but it is not as exciting as the various doctrines built upon this foundation—the doctrine of salvation, redemption, justification, eternal security, election, and other things we hold dear, which are all found in this first chapter of Ephesians.

Though"The everlasting covenant" is a simple study, it is serious, and it gets right to the very root of the Christian faith.

I WAS NOT GOING TO EVEN TOUCH ON "THE EVERLASTING COVENANT", but the entire gospel of Christ as well as all of man's relationship to the God the Father is built upon that covenant. So, here is the basic outline of that covenant, which we will look at without looking up the passages.

There is a pattern to the covenants found throughout Scripture. Basically, it is as follows—the initiating party describes Himself and what He has done, then there is a list of obligations between the two (or more) parties of the covenant. Following the list of obligations is the section dealing with rewards and punishments that govern the keeping and breaking of the covenant. The Ten Commandments fit this pattern and they are a covenant document. (Deut 29:21) The Covenant law is given in Deuteronomy 5, and it is then followed with the promised blessings and curses of the Covenant in the rest of Deuteronomy.

The people of God swore to keep the covenant law at the Mount in Exodus 19:5-8,and reaped terrible consequences when they violated the covenant. (Ps 78:10.)

At conversion, the sinner enters into the same covenant of obedience as did the people of old at conversion – when he "calls upon the Lord" and is baptized in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost.

Through a Covenant is how God first decided to deal with Mankind. We know this from studying the Eternal Covenant mentioned in Heb. 13:20, Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant. In this covenant, God the Father and the Son made an agreement with regard to the elect.

Note that the covenant between God the Father and God the Son is in regard to the elect. The subjection of the Son to the Father is in regard to redemption. Yet elsewhere, the Son is presented as totally equal with the Father.

Here is a short overview of the "everlasting covenant". Everything is based in the Tri-Une God.

Scripture teaches that within the Godhead there are three persons, the same in essence, glory, and power, objective to each other.

1. (John 3:16; 5:20, 22, 36; 10:17 - 18; 17:2, 4, 6, 9, 24; Ps. 2:7 - 8; Heb. 1:8 - 13) The Father loves the Son, and He commissions the Son, and gives to Him a people, gives the Son the right to judge, and total authority over all mankind

2. (Heb. 10:7; John 5:19; 17:5) The Son loves the Father, delights to do His will, and shares in the Father's glory forever.

3. (John 6:65, 16:14, 21:19) In this covenant, the Spirit agrees to draw to the Son all the Father gives to the Son, and to glorify the Son by working in the elect to give them the desire to please God. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit commune with each other; this is one of the meanings of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity.

4. (John 6:39; 17:9, 24) This covenant between the Father, Son and Spirit was made before the universe was created and it consisted of the Father promising to bring to the Son all whom the Father had in eternity past given Him.

5. (Col. 2:9; 1 Tim. 2:5) The everlasting covenant agreement was that the Son would submit Himself to the Father as he took on the flesh of a man,

6. (Heb. 2:7) He would become for a while lower than the angels.

7. (Gal. 4:4-5) He would be found under the Law

8. (1 John 2:2; 1 Pet. 2:24) The Son would sacrifice His body and blood for the sins of the elect.

9. (Psalm 2) The Father would raise the Son from the Dead.

The Eternal Covenant, then, leads to the Covenant of Grace.

The Eternal Covenant was made between the Father and the Son, and the Covenant of Grace is made between God and Man. This latter covenant is where God promises to Man eternal salvation based upon the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, and apart from the Covenant Law the Commandments. The manifestation of that Covenant of Grace occurs in our world in a sequence of additional covenants that God made with individuals: Adam (Gen. 2:15-17), Noah (Gen. 9:12-16), Abraham (Gen. 17), the Israelites at Mount Sinai (Exodus 34:28), believers in the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-37), etc.

The covenant between the members of the Tri-Une God is in regard to the salvation of the elect; that is, subjection of the Son to the Father and the subjection of Spirit to the Son in regard to redemption. The three members are totally equal, and their names are used interchangeably, even in the matter of redemption.

But the agreement between the three at the beginning gave to each a unique place in the work of redemption.

Galatians 3:17 And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.

"The promise" made to Abraham was not conditioned upon "the law", but upon the grace of God. But the grace that fulfills "the promise" did not replace the Covenant Law, as we see the law active in sowing and reaping.

Ephesians 1:3, the purpose of God choosing "us" is "that we should be holy and without blame..."

Note that the purpose of choosing "us" is not so we can go to heaven. It is not so the saints can flatter themselves that they are safe, and then live as they please. Sadly, this has been a serious misuse of the doctrine of predestination and election. The false doctrines Paul warned about includes such things as "God has an eternal plan, and events cannot change that plan. So let us ‘take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry' (Luke 12:19) for tomorrow we die and go to heaven." This ungodly attitude of election and predestination has brought just criticism against those who live according to Luke 12:19.

Another missus of this glorious doctrine is the failure to preach the gospel and look for conversion in our children. I have met more than a few parents who believe the children of the elect are automatically part of the eternal body of Christ, so they do not need to seek their conversion.

They go astray, and the parents are told to "Remind them of the baptism" that the parents forced upon them.

The doctrine of predestination is to bring gratitude and praise to the heart and lips of the saints. It is to motivate a holy and blameless life. It should motivate to preach the gospel to every creature, for we know that among those hearers, God has His elect.

"In love" We should give thanks that God has, "in love" predestinated us to be adopted in Christ Jesus, "according to the good pleasure of his will", as determined before the foundation of the world.

All spiritual Blessings

Second, v. 5, "adoption" It was according to "the good pleasure of his will" that He chose to make us a joint heir with His Son.

Galatians 4:1 "Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; 2 But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. 3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: {elements: or, rudiments?} 4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ."

It is a blessing that our adoption did not depend upon the pleasure of our will, or we would still be lost in our sins. Which man who is living after the pleasures of his flesh will find pleasure in turning from those pleasurable sins to Christ? Choosing, election or predestination means that man is merrily on the broad road to destruction, even in his good works which he might have done or is doing for his hope of glory.

God must turn one to the narrow road to life. God alone can make one miserable in his sins, and then turn him to the answer for his misery. He calls individuals according to "the good pleasure of his will."

Why would God make it possible to adopt a fallen sinner as His child? The only answer we have is, Because it please Him.

All spiritual Blessings

Third, v. 6, "he hath made us accepted in the beloved."

Matthew 3:17 "And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

The saints were and are the eternal objects of His special favor, so by His grace through the faith He placed in their heart, He placed them in His beloved Son. He did not make them "accepted in the beloved" because of any goodness on their part. He did this for "the praise of the glory of his grace". Paul will speak more of this in 3:10 "To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,"

The spiritual blessing here is that in God's mercy and grace, He saw fit to call fallen wicked men to Himself, make them holy and without blame "before him" through His saving grace in Christ Jesus.

1 Corinthians 6:9 "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."

Note v. 4,"before him", not sinless before men. The saints stand before the Holy Heavenly Father in the Christ's righteousness:

Isaiah 61:10 "I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels."

Now we are at the fourth blessing in the list of all spiritual blessings

Fourth, v. 7, "redemption, forgiveness". Remission of sins, and redemption through the blood of Jesus. The called saints have been delivered from the power of sin, the guilt of sin, and the evil consequences of sin. That deliverance has been purchased "through his blood" for His people. The final redemption will take place at the death of His saints.

Romans 3:25 "Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;"
Hebrews 9:22 "And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission."
Hebrews 10:22 "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water." (Also Heb. 9:9, 14, 10:2.)

All spiritual blessings

Fifth, v. 7,"according to the riches of his grace" Our blessings are found in the fact that we are redeemed, forgiven and heirs to the abundant grace of God.

All spiritual blessings

Sixth, v. 8, "all wisdom and prudence" abounds from God toward the saints.

"All wisdom" is all the wisdom needed to not only know the way of salvation, but able to know how to please God in every thought and deed. Our eyes of understanding were darkened until the Spirit opened them. (Eph 4:18, Col. 1:9, 2 Tim. 2:7, 1 Jn 5:20.)

"Prudence" is the knowledge of our rule of Christian duty, and the skill to govern ourselves according to that rule.

"by wisdom is understood that knowledge or faith whereby we receive spiritual truths revealed to us, and to be believed by us, so as to their excellency, and have our hearts affected with them; and by prudence, the knowledge of the rule of our duty, with skill to govern ourselves according to it: and so wisdom is no other than faith, and prudence the same in effect with holiness; the former relates to the things we are to believe, the latter to the things we are to do." (Matthew Poole)

Psalms 119:97-100 "MEM. O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts."

All spiritual blessings

Seventh, v. 9, "Having made known unto us the mystery of his will".

We could say that Christianity is a "mystery" religion, for one must be initiated into it before he can understand. It is only "Through faith we understand", and that faith is a gift of God. (Hebrews 11:3.) Christ and the Christian faith was a mystery to the saints of old, but reveled in due time to us by the Spirit.

Though the doctrine was known to the saints of old that God's eternal purpose was to call sinners to Himself through the Redemptive work of Christ, the details were a mystery. In due time, the mystery was supernaturally revealed to Paul and to the Apostles, and then passed on to the church.

So too was the mysterious doctrine of the incarnation of the Son, the doctrine of election and of predestination known to the saints of old. Today's saints are blessed that in God's good pleasure, He chose to make these things known to and understood by those to whom the epistles were and are written.

Colossians 1:26 "Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:" Colossians 2:2 "That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;"

The only reason the gospel mystery was made known to a particular people, the Elect, is simply for His good pleasure. That is, to please Himself, and no one else.

Luke 12:32 "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."

All spiritual blessings

Eighth, v. 10, "fullness of time... gather together".

Jews and Gentiles are now united in Christ, Who removed all distinctions. The only distinction now is whether one is saved or unsaved. All religion must center in Christ if their will be any hope of heaven.

Colossians 3:11 "Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all."

"All things are placed under Christ, {Eph 1:22 Mt 28:18} and the design of God is to restore
harmony in the universe. Sin has produced disorder not only in mind, but in matter. The world is disarranged. The effects of transgression are seen everywhere; and the object of the plan of
redemption is to put things on their pristine footing, and restore them as they were at first. Everything is therefore put under the Lord Jesus, and all things are to be brought under his control, so as to constitute one vast harmonious empire." (Barnes)

We live in that time when God is gathering "together in one all things in Christ".

All spiritual blessings

Ninth, v. 11, "we have obtained an inheritance."

James reminds us that our promised blessings is a spiritual inheritance, reserved for us until the proper time:

James 2:5 "Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?"

The saints are not promised material wealth nor physical health, but they are promised an inheritance as joint heirs with the Son Who is the King of God's kingdom on earth and in heaven.

1 Peter 1:3 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."

"Predestinated"... or "chosen". We see from vv. 4, 5 & 11, that Paul likes to talk about this doctrine, though it is beyond human comprehension. The Spirit knew how much human nature would hate this doctrine, so He spends a lot of words on it.

All spiritual blessings

Tenth, v. 11, "all things..." The saints were in the mind of God before the foundation of the world. They were and are called to Himself in their proper time in history, and everything is accomplished "according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:"

If anything is taught in the Word of God, it is that "all things" are worked and are working according to "the counsel of his own will".

The conspiracies of wicked men, including ungodly governments and financial institution, do not control history, even though Christians may believe and act like they do.

"All things"... wicked or godly authority, sickness or health, war or peace, salvation or reprobation, and the list can go on. Anything we can name, even the falling of a bird, is according to the purpose"of his own will", or He is not the Almighty God as presented in Scripture.

Because God is the one who initiated the salvation of His people in eternity past, we have this assurance:

Philippians 1:6 "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:"

He is working all things according to His will in order to bring about His will in the conclusion of our lives and in conclusion of history.

Who can change the mind of God?

All spiritual blessings

Eleventh, v. 12,"Praise of his glory..." The wisdom and greatness of Gods' power, grace, mercy, &c., is shown forth by predestination, calling, sanctifying, and the salvation of the saints, as we will see in,

Ephesians 3:10 "To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, 11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:"

"trusted in Christ." Vv. 5 and 11 say almost the same thing, that the saints are called to trust in Christ according to "the counsel of his own will." That is, God did not consult with anyone, not even the sinner, about who to call to trust in Christ.

He certainly did not say to the sinner, "Do you want salvation? Do you want to turn from your wicked ways, and be made holy and without blame (v. 4)? Do you want to commit to the Lord Jesus Christ even to the death?" Scripture is clear that it is God Who must work in the hearts of the Elect:

Philippians 2:13 "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."

God has made it clear in both Testaments that there are none with the natural desire to seek after God, no not one.

Individual saints are called according to "the counsel of his own will."

Paul is writing to a new church founded on the first 12 Jewish converts. "First trusted" is speaking to the first ones called, the Jews first.

All spiritual blessings

Twelfth, v. 13, the saints are "sealed with the holy Spirit of promise." This sealing by the Holy Spirit applies only to those "who are the called according to his purpose." (Romans 2:28.)

Acts 19:1-6, when Paul first went to Ephesus, he found certain Jewish disciples who knew nothing of the holy Spirit of promise. He taught them about the Spirit, the twelve were baptized, and when he "had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them;"

Sealed... "In Eph 1:13-14, 4:30 the Spirit is a pledge of the inheritance and hence the seal by which believers are marked and appointed for redemption. There is no specific reference to baptism, and the main idea is that of the marking of those who belong to God." (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Online Bible.)

The seal of salvation is not baptism, but the Spirit Who is given to the believer.

Ephesians 4:30 "And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." Of course, the promised sealing extends to all saints of all time. We can be assured that God will preserve those He has called to His Son, for He who started a good work in them will perform, or finish it... Philippians 1:6.

God's good work started in eternity past in the "Everlasting Covenant", and that good work will only be completed when we stand in His presence.

Sealed with that Holy Spirit of Promise

The word sealed here as given to the Ephesians has a very unique significance for them, though it certainly applies to us.

As with all passages, we need to remember the historical context of this letter. If we do not consider the problems being addressed nor the historical context, we can easily assume some wrong things.

Remember the time frame:

Writing to them in A.D. 62, the promised "sealing" was very important not only to the Ephesians, but to the new churches throughout the Roman kingdom. The saints at Ephesus were facing not only terrible persecution at the hands of the Jews, such as came from Saul of Tarsus, they were also in a fanatical pagan and idolatrous society. They also were facing the soon fulfillment of Matthew 24.

Luke 21:5-36 is Luke's account of the Lord's words that Matthew recorded in chapter 24. Both Evangelists said that Christ was clearly speaking of the soon coming judgment of the Jewish nation, A.D. 70. Christ promised it would come upon that very generation—within 40 years.

The "Great Tribulation" promised by our Lord in Matthew 24 would soon fall upon the Jewish nation starting in just 5 short years from Paul's letter to the Ephesians. The war started about A.D. 67, and lasted three years until Rome conquered Jerusalem, raised it to the ground, and carried captive the remaining Jews or sold them as slaves.

Christ's promise to His disciples in Luke 21:18 was that "there shall not an hair of your head perish."

Revelation was written before Jerusalem's destruction as a final warning and assurance to the Elect of the day. They were assured of their Diving protection, sealing:

Revelation 7:3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.

In Luke 21:28, Christ went on to say "And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh."

[Luke 21] "Ver. 28. Your redemption draweth nigh. See Barnes "Mt 24:33". This is expressed in the 31st verse thus: "the kingdom of God is nigh at hand" — that is, from that time God will signally build up his kingdom. It shall be fully established when the Jewish policy shall come to an end; when the temple shall be destroyed, and the Jews scattered abroad. Then the power of the Jews shall be at an end; they shall no longer be able to persecute you, and you shall be completely delivered from all these trials and calamities in Judea." (Barnes)

Paul is writing to this church, telling them that they are "sealed unto the day of redemption." Ephesus is the first of the seven churches mentioned in Revelation 2. And Revelation 7:3 tells of the sealing of the servants of God before the earth can be hurt, which took place in A.D. 70.

"c. The Sealed. The second angel in Re 7:2 9:4 has God's seal, and he restrains the four angels of destruction until he seals God's servants, {Re 7:3} 12,000 from each tribe. {Re 7:4ff.} This sealing marks off the people as God's possession and protects them through the terrible events of the end-time. [That is, the end of the "Jewish policy..." above.] The seal is a sign with distinctive theological significance. It serves both as a literary image and as a mode of speech among believers. The reality takes shape in the figure." (Barnes)

The "seal" was and is a mark placed upon the saints showing they belong to Christ. That "seal" was also the promise to the Ephesians of the judgement promised by Christ against the Jewish nation. For them and for us, the "seal" is the promise of His hand upon us during times of His judgement against sin, and the promise of redemption in the last judgment.

However, it meant far more to the converted Jews of Ephesus "who first trusted in Christ." It promised them protection "through the terrible events of the end-time"; that is, the terrible destruction, the great tribulation of Matthew 24, that was soon to come upon the apostate Jewish nation.

Note "the gospel of your salvation..." Paul tells us that there can be no salvation without hearing the gospel.

Romans 10:14 "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?"

Paul makes it clear that the gospel must be heard and believed for salvation to take place. Sadly, many of the "gospel" messages of our day are not the true gospel; rather, the messages are what appeals to the natural man. The very pleasant sounding wolves Paul warned the Ephesians about have now filled the New Testament church with sincere yet unsaved people, who will miss God's spiritual blessings.

All spiritual blessings

Thirteenth, v. 14. "the earnest ... until the redemption..."

Here Paul reminds them of his words from the last time he saw them.

Acts 20:28 "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood."

There is a time coming when the saints will experience full and final redemption from sin, death, hell and from Satan. The "earnest of our inheritance", or down payment on that purchase possession is the "holy Spirit of promise".

And all is "unto the praise of his glory."

V. 3 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:"

Vv. 3-14 easily listed thirteen spiritual blessings. Paul will develop them as he proceeds in this letter. I believe Paul has listed all the spiritual blessings that have been given unto His saints.

What blessing is missing?

So the all spiritual blessings and all the spiritual things those blessings involved, held a special and assuring blessing to those to whom Paul writes. Paul's words would assure and calm them as the old Jewish religious order was being destroyed.

They should also hold special assurance and calmness for the saints in our day, as God shakes those things which are built on the sand of human understanding.

As we said at v. 3, not one of those "blessings" involved any physical nor material promise. All spiritual blessings were all spiritual blessings from our God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. As we said, God the Father may see fit to bless one with health and wealth, but the promised blessings are spiritual.

To say that God has not blessed us is to falsely and foolishly charge God with being unjust or unfair.

Job 1:22 "In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly."

Vv. 12-14 are to me some of the best verses to teach the truth of the gospel. One must hear the truth of the gospel of the substitutionary death of Christ for our sins before he has anything to trust. Then he must place his trust in Christ to be his substitute and saviour. The gospel is not confusing.

But the enemy of our souls has offered his corrupted plan which offers may things in place of the simple trust in Christ to pay the penalty for our sins. But Pul assures us in the above passage that those who have been in the mind of God since before the foundations of the world will be converted, sealed and seen safely through God's terrible judgments against sin, and to the final day of redemption. The rest will be left on their way to hell, as they eat, drink, and merrily go to their own destruction.

III. Vv. 15-23.

From discussing all spiritual blessings, Paul moves on to his earnest prayer for them. Evidently, the wolves have not moved in yet.

This is the third section of this chapter. Though the letter has been split at v. 23, this section should continue to 2:9. The whole section talks of the first resurrection.


A.D. 54, the church was established during Paul's 3 year stay in Ephesus. It was started with the twelve Jews who has been baptized by John, and then great numbers of Gentiles were added to it, enough that the gospel shut down the worship of Diana. So it was basically a Gentile church.

Israel and Judah had been carried away because of their worship of the pagan gods. Since their return in Ezra and Nehemiah, they refused to worship false gods. Under the Maccabees, the Jews fought Rome for exemption from worshiping the Roman gods, so Diana was exalted by the Gentiles, and not the Jews. It seem that the converted Jews felt exalted over the Gentiles, as Paul preaches unity in Christ.

A.D. 60, on his way to Jerusalem, Paul met with the elders of the church. He told them that he would not see them again. He warned them with tears of the influx of false teachers with pleasant sounding yet lying words, who would rise up from among their religious leaders to lead them astray.

A.D. 62, from his Roman prison, he writes back to the church at Ephesus this letter both to encourage them and strengthen them for the difficult times they are facing and would face.

We understand from this letter that the wolves here were Judaizers who were infiltrating, and putting great pressure on the Gentile converts to become "Jews" through physical circumcision. Paul dwells on the point that there is no longer any Jew-Gentile distinction in Christ, "who is all in all."

Finally, Christian tradition holds that Paul, being a Roman citizen, was beheaded in Rome during the reign of Nero around A.D. 67 at Three Fountains Abbey.

Two points.

First, Nero, arguably the most wicked ruler to ever live, was the Emperor of the Roman empire, A.D. 54-A.D. 68. He is well known for his horrendous persecution of Christians. Paul's letter here was written while Nero was at the height of his power and persecution.

In A.D. 64, Rome burned for 6 days, and Nero blamed the fire on the Christians. After which he ordered Christians to be thrown to dogs, and others were crucified or burned in his gardens to serve as lights.

So, this Epistle, as well as all the Epistles, should be especially precious to those Christians today living in Muslim nations. Though the Muslims are professed "lovers of peace", they are seeking to eradicate Christianity from their lands.

Second, "Great Tribulation" would soon be upon them as promised by the Lord against the Jewish nation which had rejected God and His Only Son, Jesus Christ. Christ told His disciples in Matthew 24 that that period of time would be the worse time ever. Though God's judgment would be on the apostate Jewish nation, the Gentile Christians in the Roman Empire would be caught up in it.

Ephesians not only assured the persecuted of God's control of history in the terrible reign of Nero, but also His control in the coming "Great Tribulation".

He had spent three years among them. He had visited them again on his way to Rome. He is now in a Roman prison, where he is allowed to receive visitors. I am sure that if the information was not volunteered by his visitors, he would ask how the Ephesus Church was doing. He heard of their faith and love, which he knew was a result of the Spirit working in them. So now he thanks God for what He has done, and what He is doing in that Christian assembly.

He does not simply thank God, he prays that God would continue to work, and that work would result in increased faith and knowledge of God.

God has laid up All spiritual blessings for His saints who are in the hands of His Son, the Lord Jesus. God has ordained that those blessings be claimed by prayer, as Paul does here for the Ephesians.

Observe: We should not only claim those blessings for ourselves, but we should pray one for another, and especially for those who are weak in the spiritual blessings.

"Heard of your faith". He did not hear about how they felt about God or Christ Jesus, nor even what they said about God, Christ or the Spirit of God. He did not hear of their belief in God nor in Jesus Christ. Rather, their faith was known by their works, particularly their works of love toward all the saints, as required in 1 John.

As James said, "faith without works is dead." Paul heard of their faith and love for the saints, which were clearly manifested in their works.

Love may or may not involve a "mystical" emotion. Genuine love is exhibited by our actions according to the law of God toward one another. We see love defined in 1 Corinthians 13.

"Unto all the saints" That is, their love, as defined by their works and by 1 Corinthians 13, was equal toward all the saints: It was without preferring one before another and without prejudice. 1 Timothy 5:21. It was pure, peaceable, gentle (fair or equitable), easy to be entreated–or easy to be approached, merciful and sincere. James 3:17.

V. 16, Ephesus, having no sins mentioned, was an ideal church, yet Paul prayed for them.

No doubt he would have loved to have spent more time with them in order to give them more personal instruction, but he expected to see them no more. So he must turn them over to the Lord, praying that the Lord would continue to give them spiritual understanding of their position in Christ. He was greatly encouraged by what he heard of this church, and is thankful for all the spiritual blessings God has bestowed upon them.

1. We must not give up in prayer for others, especially when we see them prospering in all spiritual blessings.

2. Even the "best Christians" need prayer that they would grow even more in faith, knowledge and wisdom. He did not pray that they would avoid persecution nor that they would increase in material or physical blessings. His prayer was that they would increase in all spiritual blessings.

3. Satan works through passions and emotions while the Spirit of God works through the understanding.

V. 17-23 lists the object of his prayer to the most Holy Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God of Glory.

First, v. 16, he gives thanks for the work God has done and is doing in them.

He had spent a lengthy time with them, so we can imagine how thankful he was to hear of the their growth in grace and knowledge of Christ. That growth was exhibited by their increased in love for all the saints.

Second, v. 17, he prayers for "the spirit of wisdom..." Paul himself had opened the Old Testament Scriptures to them, and applied those Scriptures in the context of Christ. So the basis of his prayer for them was that they would have God's wisdom as they studied the Old Testament Scripture, which is all they had at the time.

Though Paul himself had opened the Old Testament Scriptures to them, they did not arrive to the fullness of the knowledge of Christ. So now Paul prays that the Spirit would continue to make them wise in understanding and application — wise in not only the great doctrines of the Redeemer, but wise in understanding and applying the entire word of God. Paul will continue to develop how to apply the Old Testament Scriptures in daily life in this letter.

As we have seen every time we look at an Epistles, all they do is apply what was already establish in the Scriptures of their day. Paul told Timothy that it was the Old Testament Holy Scriptures that made him wise unto salvation through faith in Christ. 2 Timothy 3:15.

It is the "spirit of wisdom" from above that must open God's word to us. He may do that through the preaching of the word, or through personal study of the word.

Third, v. 17, "give unto you the spirit ... of revelation in the knowledge of him. That is, reveal to them more and more of the character of Christ, His nature and His work, and how He works through His people. This is not a supernatural knowledge as was given to the Prophets of old, and to the Apostles of Christ. Rather, this is the Spirit overcoming our natural ignorance and shining His light to see things from His word:

V. 17, "Give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him."

Paul now gives a list of things that can not be known by the natural mind and natural understanding. What he presents can only be known and understood as revealed by the spirit of wisdom, revelation and knowledge as given by God.

I. The first thing Paul desires is "that your understanding be enlightened..." V. 18. We have wisdom and revelation and knowledge of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ in His word, but that wisdom and knowledge is no more than a head knowledge of facts. That knowledge is useless without the Spirit of God opening our eyes of understanding:

Psalms 119:18 "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law."
Luke 24:45 "Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,"

Only the Spirit of God can open man's understanding of the spiritual things from His word. Otherwise, the Word of God is only a book of historical events and nice sayings.

We must not settle for a "warm affection" for God the Father, and for Jesus Christ. The love for Him is seen in our understanding and application of His word into the world around us. We should work and study to have a clear understanding of Him and of our duties to Him.

II. The second thing Paul desired they would grow in the knowledge of, "the hope of his calling." Or "the joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation." Or "the nature and value of the hope which the calling of the believer opens before him." (Abbott)

Three times under the all spiritual blessings, Paul told them of their calling, or predestination.

Christianity is a calling. Though it is includes a calling to eternal life in Christ, Paul made it clear in v. 4, that the calling is to holiness and blameless living here and now. It is a calling to love for God and for all saints. It is a calling to good works. Paul will develop these things in his letter.

III. The third thing Paul desired they would grow in is the knowledge of "The riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints." The saints' inheritance is all spiritual blessings. The riches of the glory in His inheritance is genuine joy and happiness. Of course, heaven is the final "riches of the glory" of the inheritance He has for the Saints.

Colossians 3:2 "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth." {affection: or, mind}

Hebrews 12:2 "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."

Through reading and meditating on the word of God and prayer, we can set our mind on "the riches of the glory" that God has in store for His saints.

IV. The fourth thing Paul desires that they would grow in is "what is the exceeding greatness of his power" as seen in the resurrection of Christ. V. 19 should continue down to at least 2:3, which we will develop in chapter 2. But Paul's teaching here on the first resurrection continues to 2:9. We will get into the first resurrection in the next chapter.

V. 18,"ye may know", "the exceeding greatness of his power...." It requires a work "of his mighty power", to understand the gospel of Christ, and the spiritual blessings that are available to the saints. It requires a work of the Spirit to understand the implications of the gospel, and how those implications work out in the activities of life.

Being this close, I cannot pass up Matthew 7,

"21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."

Christ shows us where the intellectual knowledge of Christian facts will lead without God's Spirit of Wisdom opening our eyes of understanding of the gospel. One can spend 24/7 studying God's word, but without the Spirit of understanding, he is doomed.

Paul prays that the "mighty power" which raised Christ from the dead, and set Him on the right hand of the Father in the place of all power and authority would be made known to the elect.

The saints know they were raised from death in trespasses and sins, but they fail to realize the power required to bring the dead to life. Paul will deal with this point also in the next section of this letter, starting in 2:1.

Vv. 19-23. It is the same mighty power that physically raised Christ from the dead and set Him in the place of all power that is required to raise a sinner from his natural born death in trespasses and sins.

It takes prayer. If the saints could supernaturally know the power involved in their "resurrection", what would be accomplished in this world? The saints are living in fear of what Satan and his followers can do to them through evil men. Yet they have "his mighty power" at their disposal.

As the petition to remove Teets and Keplinger circulated, I have been surprised at the number of people who would have nothing to do with it out of fear of what Teets might do to them.

The gospel message of salvation is simple. But there is far more to salvation than simply eternal life. Salvation means "more than conquers through Him that loved us."

Vv. 20-23, Paul goes on to explain the unseen: The same power of God that brought Christ from death to life, and placed Him at the right hand of all power, is the same power that brings life to those who are dead in trespasses and sins.

Both worlds, the physical world and the spiritual world are totally subjected to Got, as He works all things according to His own purpose and for His glory alone.

The object of the last four verses is to describe Christ's glories. We have:

(1) His resurrection;
(2) His Exaltation to God's Right Hand;
(3) His Supreme Dominion;
(4) His Headship to the Church, His Body, which is filled with His Fulness.

The above glories all followed His submission to the shame of the cross. He knew that the result of His abasement was exaltation:

Hebrews 12:2 "For the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Peoples New Testament Notes)

V. 22, the same power that supports the Gospel Church is the power that raised Christ from the dead.

Christ has been appointed to be the head of "All things..."

The universe is under His total power, authority and direction. Everything is for the welfare of His Body, the Elect who make up the Gospel Church.

1. All the elements—the physical works of God — the winds and waves — the seas and rivers — all are under Him, and all are to be made servants to the welfare of His body, the church.

2. Earthly kings and rulers; kingdoms and nations are under His control. Christ has controlled all the wicked rulers of the earth thus far, and they have not been able to destroy the church
which He redeemed with His own blood.

3. Angels in heaven, with all their ranks and orders, are under His control for the welfare of His church.

Hebrews 1:14 "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?"

Matthew 26:53 "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?"

4. Fallen angels are under His control, and shall not be able to injure or destroy the church. The
church, therefore, is safe. All the great powers of heaven, earth and hell, are made subject to the Head and King of the church. No weapon that is formed against it shall prosper.

Matthew 16:18 "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

V. 23, the same power that supports the world supports His church. His blood proves His love and care for the church, and nothing will be allowed by her King to prosper and destroy it.

" For the love of Christ is so great towards the Church, that even though he fully satisfies all with all things, yet he considers himself but a maimed and unperfect head, unless he has the Church joined to him as his body." (Geneva)

John 13:3 "Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;"

We will deal with the first and second resurrection in the next chapter.