It’s not too late to join the Fall Bible study on Ephesians. More details can be found here.
In Lesson 2 last week, we dug a little deeper into Ephesians 1. We observed and marked every mention of the words: love, grace, and the Holy Spirit as well as the phrases: in heavenly places, according to, and those phrases that dealt with being in Christ. One of the first phrases referring to being in Christ is found in Ephesians 1:3. In this verse, Paul wrote;
“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.” Ephesians 1:3
In Christ, believers have every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Can you imagine? What are some of the blessings believers receive? Paul reminded them of several found in Ephesians 1:3-14.
First, believers are chosen by God in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before Him. (Ephesians 1:4) Second, believers are predestined in love to adoption as sons and daughters through Jesus Christ according to God’s kind intention which He purposed to the praise of the glory of His grace. (Ephesians 1:5-6) Third, believers have redemption in Christ through His blood as well as forgiveness according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. (Ephesians 1:7,8) Lastly, believers have an inheritance as those adopted by God according to His purpose. (Ephesians 1:11)
What an amazing list of blessings given by God to His children! We also discovered from marking the Holy Spirit this past week that believers are sealed in Christ with the Holy Spirit which has been given as a pledge of a believer’s inheritance. Peter wrote about this inheritance.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-kept in heaven for you,” 1 Peter 1:3-5
Paul was sent by God to bring this message of salvation to the Gentiles. These Gentile believers, the recipients of this letter, initially heard the gospel of salvation when Paul first visited them. We read this encounter in Acts 19 in the Week 1 lesson. The blessings of salvation are for all believers in Christ. In fact, we also learned in the reading that all things related to salvation are summed up in Christ. (Ephesians 1:10)
The video lecture on Lesson 3 was given by Pete DeLacy. His focal passage was Ephesians 1:15-19. Mr. DeLacy instructed that Paul’s Gentile audience would’ve been raised on Greek philosophy. They would’ve studied men like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle who valued and loved wisdom. Paul prays on behalf of these Gentiles so schooled in the Greek mindset that they will know God. He wants them to know who they are in Christ. Mr. DeLacy also posed the question to the viewer, “Who are you in Christ?” as well as this question, “How do we obtain the wisdom to know God?.” Mr. DeLacy continued by stating that the knowledge of God can only be revealed through the power of the Holy Spirit in Jesus. He also shared that the English word hope used in these passages is the Greek word elpis. Mr. DeLacy stated that we often use hope when we mean wish or an uncertainty but those renderings are not Paul’s intent in scripture. Paul chose a word that means a confident expectation in something good. He continued by speaking about fear in connection with hope and the power of God. Mr. DeLacy concluded by encouraging the viewers to examine who they are in Christ, to consider their future, and in view of God’s grace to be confident in the hope given to them.
Please begin Week 3 in the study.
This week in our study on Ephesians 1, we are marking and observing the word grace. Ephesians 1:6 states that God freely bestowed on us His grace in the Beloved. May we all be blessed with that knowledge today.
If you would like to join in the study on the letter to the Ephesians, more details can be found here.
This past week we began our study of Ephesians with an overview of Paul’s letter. We will go into each chapter more in-depth in the weeks to come but last week was primarily a chance to view the letter in its entirety; An opportunity to discover general facts and details about the letter. A few key words like walk, grace, and body as well as repeated phrases such as in Christ or in the heavenly places might have stood out to you during the reading this past week.
Our assignment for the week instructed us to mark the verses that referenced the author and the recipients of the letter. Reading, marking, and recording the observed text allows us as students to really notice what the scripture says and also helps lay the foundation to properly understand, interpret, and apply scripture to our lives. I am always amazed at what I missed during a casual reading from what I gain with a more thorough and careful reading.
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 1:1,2
The very first word of the letter to the Ephesians informs us that Paul is the author of this letter. Secondly, you might have noticed that Paul calls himself “an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.” In order to be an apostle, a person had to have been taught by Jesus Himself. What a claim to make! Acts 9 records Paul’s extraordinary conversion experience from a zealous destroyer of those who were followers of Jesus to becoming a humble servant of Jesus. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul says;
“Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, …For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, …Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.” 1 Corinthians 15:1,3-10
Paul also states several times throughout the letter that he is a prisoner, an ambassador in chains for Jesus. (Ephesians 3:1; 4:1; 6:20) Given the timeframe of this letter, Paul was likely imprisoned in Rome. Paul also states that he was given insight and made a minister to the Gentiles by God.
“…by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, …which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.” Ephesians 3:3-7
Regarding the recipients, a few details should have been observed. They are saints in Ephesus and perhaps surrounding villages as I stated in the Introductory Post. We also learned according to the letter that these faithful had formerly walked according to the course of the world (Ephesians 2:2) but they had been saved by grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:5,8) They are also according to the text uncircumcised Gentiles (Ephesians 2:11), believers in Jesus Christ, and have become fellow citizens of God’s household with the saints. (Ephesians 2:19)
In Lesson 1, we were also assigned an optional portion of Acts to read if time permitted: Acts 19:1-20:2. This passage describes Paul’s initial arrival in Ephesus. Understanding the relationship Paul had with the church in Ephesus and the cultural atmosphere helps us to better comprehend and appreciate this letter to the Ephesians.
We concluded our Week 1 assignments by taking time to consider what truths we might have learned from our study and how those truths affect our lives. And finally, we were to record our observations about the author, recipients, and chapter themes on the charts provided.
Precept Ministries offers a video lecture series as an accompaniment to this study. In the Lesson 1 video, Kay Arthur shared basic information concerning the formation and composition of the Bible. She then directed the viewer through the points of scripture on how God called His people, established a covenant with them, gave the promise of a Messiah, and the creation and giving of the Law. She continued by highlighting passages that revealed that when the Israelites were unable to follow the law and sinned that God told them of a time when He would give them a new covenant written on their hearts. Kay Arthur concluded her message by interspersing the Old Testament story with correlating passages from Ephesians showing how the letter reflects the story of the history of the Jews and their journey as God’s chosen people.
This letter was written to encourage believers to be in union with Christ and in union with one another. During the next 9 weeks, we will learn much about how to walk holy and blameless, how to stand firm, and how to be worthy of the calling we have received.
Begin Lesson 2 this week. If you’d like to join in, more information can be found here.