Ephesians 1:1-14 (Theology of redemption)
First part of Ephesians is doctrinal and the second part practical.
Thanksgiving expressed in the language of worship and prayer
The Blessings in Illness and troubles
Illness or hardship every person wishes to avoid.
What circumstances could have rendered the Word of God sweeter and the presence of God so real, the help of God so precious? – Hudson Taylor
- Awakening to us the sweetness of Scripture—Psalm 119:50
- Deepening the prayer lives of others—James 5:13–15
- Leading us to spiritual self-examination—Psalm 119:67
- Humbling our souls—2 Corinthians 12:7–10
- Developing patience & endurance in us—James 1:2–4
- Developing maturity—Romans 5:1–5;
- Enabling us to comfort others / who go through same thing—2 Cor 1:3
- Heightening our desire for heaven—Job 19:25–29
- Opportunity to witness to others—2 Corinthians 12:9–10
- Glorifying God—John 11:4; 2 Corinthians 12:7–10
Praise God for His Remarkable Plan of Redemption (1:3–14)
- Style like Psalms / Jewish hymns see Dead Sea Scrolls.
- Praise and thanksgiving given to God not ourselves.
- Reflection on plan & work of God provoked emotional response led to praise and worship.
- The term “praise” (eulogētos) often translated “blessed.”
“God of my salvation” (Ps. 18:46). cannot contain himself ultimate act of redemption in Christ.
Jesus – named in this verse alongside Father /both Lord and Messiah.
- Agent of redemption /focus of God’s eternal plan.
[He] has blessed us in the heavenly realms (1:3).
Heaven not only as a place where believers will live after they die, but also as a spiritual realm. Holy place – no sin allowed!
- Place God and resurrected Christ currently live (1:3)
Spiritual Realm – Powers of darkness continue to operate.
- Attacks by Devil and demons (ongoing battle)
- Because of Christ’s work (redemption on the cross)
- Relationship with him, (Adoption children no grandchildren)
- Believers have access to spiritual power to aid in their struggle against evil one.
ARTEMIS ADORNED WITH THE ZODIAC (Horoscope)
People living in Ephesus lived in constant dread of astral powers that controlled fate. The Stoic writer Manilius (first century a.d.) writes:
- Egyptian priests first to see future, through their art,
- Fate depends on the wandering stars.
- assigned to each period of time events connected with it:
- Day on which someone is born, kind of life he shall lead,
- Even Some Jews / Roman period concern about fate spirits associated with the sun, moon, planets, and stars.
He chose us in him before the creation of the world (1:4).
- Ultimate reality for believers in Asia.
- Their fate not bound in stars and planets, but in almighty God, who made the sun and the stars.
- God chose believers to be in Christ before he made the heavens and the earth.
To be holy and blameless in his sight (1:4).
- To be “holy” (hagios) to be set apart for God to reflect his purity.
- God’s purpose for his people / to become like him in holiness.
“I am the Lord who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy” (Lev. 11:45).
Adopted as his sons (1:5).
“In love” emphasizing loving nature of predestination. Ignoring past.
Know who you are now!
- The adoption of a child / Greco-Roman familiar custom.
- Under Roman law, adopted child acquired all legal rights of natural born child & lost all rights held in his former family.
- Promise God made David / Nathan prophet: “I will be his father, and he will be my son” (2 Sam. 7:14). Jesus fulfilled this promise as the descendant of David
- Union with Jesus, believers become children of God.
To the praise of his glorious grace (1:6).
- Gracious plan of God involving Jesus,
- Paul exults in the same way as the psalmist who exclaimed, “My tongue will speak of your righteousness and of your praises all day long” (Ps. 35:28). (On grace, see comments on 2:7.)
- The ultimate aim throughout the divine plan of redemption is that the recognition of God’s merciful dealings with men.
- Grace evokes such praise finds its richest outlet in God’s love-gift to man—his Son.
Grace: to receive what we don’t deserve
John Newton – When I get to heaven I shall see three wonders there.
- First: to see people there I did not expect to see there
- Second: to miss many people whom I did expect to see;
- Third: greatest wonder of all, will be to find myself there.
In him we have redemption through his blood (1:7).
1:7 redemption The word apolytrōsis refers to the act of freeing a slave by payment.
Through his blood: Jesus’ violent sacrificial death on the cross.
Jesus’ life was the payment that God made to redeem His people.
- Old Testament Passover example blood on door frame saved by the blood of innocent animal
- Now God has delivered his people from enslaving power of sin.
- By Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross. Believers experience the forgiveness of sins. (Not ashamed of Cross)
- Forgiveness (aphesis) is loosing someone from what binds him. Verb “to send away” (John 20:23).
- When God deals with our sin, it is dispatched into the wilderness like the scapegoat (Lev 16:20–22).
He made known to us the mystery of his will (1:9).
“Mystery” term widely used in the ancient world.
- Gentile converts Ephesian churches knew ritual initiation into mystery cults, / cult of Artemis, Isis, Cybele, or Dionysus.
- Mysteries” devotees sworn to secrecy about their experiences.
- Speaking about God’s plan made known through revelation.
- Same word “made known” (gnōrizō) Daniel used to describe Nebuchadnezzar’s dream about God’s plan for the ages.
- Action of revelation.
- the word “mystērion” refers to God’s plan of salvation
- previously kept secret / now revealed in Christ.
- Unification of Jews and Gentiles into one new people of God.
When the times will have reached their fulfillment (1:10).
- The Greek and Roman world thought of time as unending. The world will continue on and on.
- The Old Testament, by contrast, is clear that time is measured and fixed (Dan. 9:24–27). Time future & history will be drawn to conclusion.
- This period of fulfillment will represent the climax of God’s redemptive plan.
- Expect End time – Jesus return
To bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ (1:10).
- Disruption of God’s creation / fall to sin.
- Angels in heaven rebelled against the Lord.
- Sin emerged / enslaves God’s creation, / causes revolt against him and his plan / This condition will not continue forever.
- All of creation—heavenly principalities and every human—will someday be forced to submit to the Messiah.
Plan started in Jesus
- Incarnation of Jesus (Come to humanity)
- proclamation of the kingdom (Preaching)
- Death, resurrection & exaltation to the right hand of God.
- Believers now await the complete fulfillment. (Return of Jesus)
We and you (1:11) Use to think – Jews are like to be Jewish
Paul introduces a “we / you” distinction.
Paul’s background, “we” refers to Jews / God’s first “chosen” His people (in the OT) & first followers of Christ.
The “you” refers to Gentiles those who made majority of people in the house churches of Ephesus.
Jewish Messiah, Jesus “In Christ” literal “In Messiah” anointed one.
The word of truth, the gospel of your salvation (1:13).
- First-century Ephesus had nearly fifty gods and goddesses claiming to be true.
- Various philosophies claimed to providing knowledge of the truth. (Gnostics / Knowledge)
- Good news of Jesus revelation: ultimate reality of the truth of Jesus / insight into plight of humanity & their need for deliverance.
You were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit (1:13).
- Seals were used widely in the ancient world as the primary way of indicating ownership.
- Made of hard stones or precious metals
- had a distinctive image engraved on them (favorite deity, a hero, or a portrait).
- All of a person’s significant possessions were marked with the impression of the seal. Even slaves and livestock were marked by the owner.
- In some cases, people declared themselves the possession of a deity by the imprint of a seal.
- God has also marked his possessions by means of a seal, his seal does not leave a physical impression.
- He has given his people the gift of the Holy Spirit as a sign of their belonging to him.
A deposit guaranteeing our inheritance (1:14).
- The Spirit – down payment on full future inheritance believers will receive.
- The word arrabōn, translated “a deposit guaranteeing,” from the context of business and trade.
- In the morning go shopping at the open market stamp the item pick it up at the end of the trading day.
- It can also be applied to an engagement ring.