Chapter 1

(Read Ephesians 1:1, 2) 
The Epistle to the Ephesians is a prison epistle written by Paul. The writer identifies himself as Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God. Paul was directly commissioned by Christ to serve God. Paul was always conscious of the origin of his calling and the divine grace that sustained him throughout his ministry (1 Corinthians 15:10).  This letter was addressed to the saints. Every Christian is a saint because of his identity with Christ.  Saints are sinners saved by the grace of God and set apart for God’s use.  We are saints because of what Christ has done for us.  Saints are not some special religious group. Nine times believers are called saints in this letter. They are believers in Christ.  They are in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit to enjoy vital union with Christ. Scholars suggest that Paul uses the phrases “in Christ’ more than 30 times in Ephesians. Saints are not sinless or perfect people but faithful followers of Christ.  Faithful, simply means "full of faith in Jesus Christ". Paul uses a standard greeting in this epistle.  "Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ". Grace is the unmerited favor of God in Christ. It is the extravagant goodness of God lavished upon us in Christ Jesus. Only those who experience the grace of God can find peace with God and peace of God.  We can never exhaust God's grace or comprehend it fully.  Peace is not the absence of trouble but the calm God gives in the midst of trouble. Grace is a gentile greeting word and peace is a Jewish greeting.  The way to experience grace and peace is through faith in Christ. They come from our heavenly Father and Lord Jesus Christ. A Christian is a person who trusts in Christ and is made holy by God.  Do you enjoy the peace of God in your life?

The Spiritual Blessings in Christ: 
Read Ephesians 1:3-14) 
Paul begins the epistle by describing the spiritual blessings believers have in Christ. God has a master plan for our salvation in terms of past, present and future. These are the blessings of grace. Everything in the scripture ultimately points us to the grace of God in Christ. Christians have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. This speaks of the quality of their blessings. They are united to Christ by faith.  Since we belong to Christ, we inherit all the blessings of salvation. Our blessings are not primarily earthly blessings but spiritual in nature.  They are heavenly blessings contrasted with earthly blessings of Israel.  Our names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20), our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20), our inheritance is in heaven (1 Peter 1:4), and our hope is laid up for us in heaven (Colossians 1:5). The phrase "In Christ" indicates our vital union with Christ.  Paul describes six spiritual blessings of salvation in this Chapter 1:4-14.

These blessings include:

We are chosen to be holy and blameless before the foundation of the world. 1:4.  

The election and predestination trace their origin to God. Election means to pick out or to choose.  God has chosen us in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world (1:4). He has chosen us so that we should be holy and blameless before him in love. They begin now, but are not fully achieved until we are with Him.  God is sovereign and has the right to make His choices (Romans 9:20). God was not obligated to choose any one of us. It is God’s love that moved Him to bring us into His family.  Election and human responsibility will have their solution in God.  "They don’t need to be reconciled because they are friends".  It is the clear teaching of the Scripture. Meanwhile every human being is urged to accept God’s salvation (John 6:37; Romans 10:13). The ground of this invitation is the work of God in Christ Jesus. Divine election and free will are humanly irreconcilable. Someone has said  "Election and free will are like two parallel lines meeting in infinity".  It is amazing and undeserving that our salvation was planned even before the foundation of the world in Christ (Romans 11:29). It was God’s eternal plan. The fall of man was no surprise to God.  Our redemption was not God’s after- thought. There is no scriptural support for election to damnation.  Christ died for the remission of the sin of the whole world (John 1:29; 1 John 2;2).  If people are lost, it is because of their choice. God has chosen us to be conformed to His Son Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29).  We are chosen to live a holy and blameless life before God in love.  Holiness is the positive side of Christlike life.  Blamelessness does not mean sinlessness but without blemish. We are saved to live in a higher spiritual plane.  The believers are called to pursue peace and holiness. Without holiness no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). Have you responded to God's gracious invitation to live such life by trusting in Jesus Christ?

We are Predestined for adoption in God’s family (Ephesians 1:5).   

The purpose of predestination was that we should experience son-ship in the family of God. When we get saved , we become the children of God (John 1:12). In adoption we become the adult sons to enjoy the privileges of son-ship (Galatians 4:5; Romans 8:15). The future aspect of adoption is to receive a glorified body when Christ returns (Romans 8:22, 23). This is our eternal position in Christ.  Our salvation includes foreknowledge, predestination, calling, justification and glorification (Romans 8:29). There is a link from eternity past to eternity future in God’s salvation. God knows and loves everyone (John 3:16). But God’s foreknowledge is His intimate knowledge of those who believe in Christ (Romans 5:8). When God foreknew, He predestined us to be conformed to His Son (Romans 8:29). This happens before we are born (Acts 4:28). God does not manipulate us like puppets.  When we are quickened by the Holy Spirit to believe in Christ, we are made righteous ( Ephesians 2:8). It is an imputed righteousness. Glorification is the final step of salvation. When Christ returns, we will be glorified (1 John 3:2; Colossians 3:4). The fact of election and predestination can’t be known until after a person is saved (1 Thessalonians 1:4-7; 2 Peter 1:10, 11). The believers are accepted into God’s family because of their union with Christ.  God does this, “to the praise of the glory of his grace” (Ephesians 1:6).

We have redemption in Christ: Ephesians 1:7. 

Our redemption is through the blood of Jesus Christ. Redemption is deliverance from bondage of sin by means of a price paid. Those who are purchase from bondage of sin by paying a ransom are set free to serve God.  Believers are set free from the slavery of self, Satan and world. Christ’s blood is the ransom price paid for our redemption   (1 Pet 1:18-20).  “Our salvation is not a matter of human attainment but it is by divine atonement”.  All our blessings are made available through the precious blood of Christ. We are redeemed, justified, forgiven and cleansed by the blood of Christ (1:7; Romans 5:9; Colossians 1:14; 1 John 1:7). We have access to the presence of God by His blood (Hebrews 10:19).

We have forgiveness of sin in Christ. 1:7. 

Forgiveness means to carry away or remove our sin from us. God’s forgiveness is free, full and final. This reminds us of the scapegoat on the Day of Atonement carrying away the sins of Israel (Leviticus 16:22; John 1:29). God has blotted out our sin for his own sake (Isaiah 43:25). He removed our sins from us (Psalms 103:11-12). He has cast our sins behind his back (Isaiah 38:17).  He has cast them into the depth of the sea (Micah 7:19). He remembers them no more (Hebrews 8:12).  Forgiveness is not redemption but the result of it. Forgiveness is according to the riches of God’s grace. God’s grace is infinite, boundless and beyond human comprehension. It is unsearchable and glorious (3:8, 16). It is far greater than all our sins (Romans 5:20). God lavished on us his overflowing grace in all wisdom and understanding (1:8; Romans 5:20).  Wisdom is the God given insight to understand God’s plan for the church and the universe in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:24). Understanding is the practical use of wisdom and the God-given insight.  If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask and he will gladly give you. But when you ask, be sure that God will answer you. A doubtful mind is unsettled in everything they ask and they will not receive anything from God (James 1:5-8). 

We have an Eternal Inheritance in Christ: 1:9-12. 

God has a master plan for the universe which was hidden for ages but now revealed in the person of Christ (Romans 16:25). It was a mystery. Mystery is the sacred secret once hidden but now revealed.  Sin separated man from God and brought corruption and fragmentation in the universe. But God will restore everything to Himself in Christ in His appointed time (Colossians 1:20).  In Christ believers have obtained an inheritance. We are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:19). God purchased the church by the blood of Christ and made us part of his inheritance. Christ is God's love-gift to us and we are His love-gift to Christ (John 17:6; Ephesians 5:27). God rejoices over his inheritance (Deuteronomy  32:9; Zephaniah 3:17). Our eternal inheritance was predestined even before the foundation of the world (1:4, 11).  God works all things according to his eternal council and purpose.  God has a sovereign plan for this universe. God wants us to acknowledge our blessings in Christ and  bring praise and glory to God. 

Believers are sealed with the Holy Spirit: 1:13, 14.  

Our inheritance in Christ is certain because God has sealed us with His Spirit.  All believers receive this seal when they get saved (Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 12:3). The entire process of salvation is described in verse 13. First we hear the gospel, subsequently we trust Christ and then we are sealed by the Holy Spirit (1:13). Sealing with the Spirit is not something addition or subsequent to salvation, it happens at the moment we get saved.  Believing in Christ is the connecting link between God and man. Seal is the mark of ownership and guarantees our salvation (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Philippians 1:6; John 14:16-17; Romans 8:9). Sealing is also the picture of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit within the believers.  He is the down-payment of our eternal inheritance. These are the blessings of God’s grace. Father has chosen us, adopted us and accepted us in the beloved. Son has redeemed us, forgiven us and revealed God’s sovereign plan for the church and the universe. The Holy Spirit has sealed us and become the guarantee of our salvation and inheritance.  Someone has said “The Creator God reveals His wisdom and power, Christ reveals His love and grace through the church”. Our union with Christ is a profoundly important spiritual reality. We are elected in Christ (1:4).  We have adoption in Christ (1:5). We have redemption and forgiveness in Christ (1:7).  God has made known to us the mystery of his will for future in Christ (1:9). At the right time God will bring everything together under his authority in Christ (1:10).  God has blessed us with all spiritual  blessings for the praise of the glory of His grace. Are you thankful for God's great salvation?

Prayer for Spiritual Wisdom and Power: 
Read Ephesians 1:15-23)  
There are two prayers in Ephesians.  Paul was a man of prayer. Prayer is likened to breathing in the physical life.  It is our lifeline to God. Paul’s first prayer is given in chapter one verses 15-23. Paul starts his prayer with thanksgiving (1:16). He makes three requests that can help believers to grow in their spiritual life. They were the recipients of the overflowing grace of God (1:3-14). Their faith in Christ saved them and that faith manifested by love.  Love is the outgrowth of faith (John 13:35; 15:12). Almost ten years have passed-by since Paul left Ephesus.  Paul heard about the quality of their faith and love for other believers  (Colossians 1:4, 7, 8). This motivated Paul to pray for them. Someone has said “Faith and love are likened to the two pillars at Solomon’s Temple” (1 King 7:21). Faith and love are the marks of true Christians. Paul prayed to God, the Father of all glory (1:17; James 2:1). 

God gives the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ.1:17.  

Paul prayed that we may know God better. Man is guilty of willful ignorance of God and under condemnation of sin (Romans 1:21-24).  To know God intimately, we have to believe the Bible.  Knowing God personally is salvation (John 17:3).  Knowing God in experience  is sanctification (Philippians 3:10). Knowing God perfectly is glorification (1 John 3:2). Saved people need illumination of the scripture to know Christ. This comes from the Holy Spirit (John 14:26). The Spirit knows the deeper things of God (1 Corinthians 2:11). Wisdom is the God-given illumination of truth. It is the ability to apply the revealed truth in daily life.  The knowledge of God comes from the Word of God and through the ministry of the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 3:18). Divine Wisdom and insight are essential to know God better (1:17-19).

That we may know the hope of His calling. 1:18.   

Our heart should be enlightened to know what is the hope to which God has called us. It is dangerous thing to be ignorant about Christ and not to know him personally.  We should desire that our inner man should be enlightened by the Holy Spirit (1:18; Psalms 25:14; Jeremiah 29:13). God’s call is a call by the gospel to new life in Christ (Galatians 1:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:14). It is a high calling to be like Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:13-14).  Also it is a holy calling to live a separated life for Christ.  It gives hope to live for the glorious future awaiting us (1 Peter 5:10). Faith, hope and love are the powerful pillars of Christian life (Colossians 1:3-6). These three virtues come from God. They work in harmony in Christian life. Hope connects us with our future inheritance and reinforces our experience of faith.  Love is our daily experience. Paul includes these three in his prayer.

That they may know His glorious inheritance in the saints. 1:18

Paul prayed that we may know God's riches. God owns this universe but His precious possession is the church (Acts 20:28). The believers are his glorious inheritance. God gets glory from the church because of what He has invested in it.  He bought us with a great price (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20). God has revealed His wisdom, purpose and glory through the church (3:9-11; 18-19). The church is His inheritance and the trophy of His grace (1:11). Christ will be glorified in the church fully when He returns (2 Thessalonians 1:10; John 17:22). The purpose of illumination was that believers would know the hope of their calling. It is a call to new life in Christ.  

That we may know the exceeding greatness of His power toward us.1:19

Paul also prayed that we may know God's power that works on behalf of us. This is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.  Through creation and miracles, God displayed his power. But His greatest display of power is seen in the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:24). It was the first such event in history. It is the divine declaration that Christ is the Lord of all (Acts 17:31). It is the proof that Jesus is the Son of God (Romans 1:4).  It also guarantees our resurrection (Romans 1:14; 8:11). It is the attestation of God’s acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice. Christ is seated at the right hand in the heavenly places. This is a reference to Christ’s ascension and exaltation. The same power that raised Christ from the dead is available to us (Philippians 2:8-11). Heaven is not a spiritual state but a place (John 14:3). Christ has been exalted over all other powers in the universe (1:21-22). Right hand signifies honor, privilege and power (Matthew 26:64; Psalms 16:11). Christ is head-over all things to the church. Also the church is closely associated with Christ in the universal dominion. Christ is exalted over all things.   

The Church is the fullness of Christ who fills all in all. 1:23

The union of Christ and the church is real. He is working everything for the benefit of the church.  Church is the living organism (4:15). God accomplishes His plan through the church today. Believers are not only the members of the church, they are members one to another in the body (Romans 12:4-5).  Christ is the full expression of God and He is the head of the church (Colossians 2:9). The Church should be filled with all the fullness of Christ (3:19). Out of His fullness, the church receives grace to fulfill its mission.

Without divine illumination and power, it is impossible to appreciate our spiritual blessings. Only God’s power enables us to use our inheritance in Christ for His glory and for our blessing. Satan always will try to deprive us of our inheritance in Christ (1:20-21; 6:11-12). Satan knows that our flesh is weak and the spirit is willing. We can never defeat Satan in our own strength (Revelation 12:11). What made the difference among the apostles was the resurrection power of Christ (Acts 1:8). There is a power shortage in our personal life as well as in the church today. Until we experience God’s presence and power in life, we will not be effective in our ministry. Only by God’s enabling grace we can lay hold of our spiritual wealth in Christ (1 Corinthians 15:10).

What is the Church?
The church is the body of Christ where God clearly manifests his living presence. It is not a building of bricks and mortar. It is the gathering of the household of God (1  Timothy 3:15).  The word church is used about 110 times in the New Testament. It means, called out assembly of believers and mostly refers to local churches (Matthew 18:17). The church is closely associated with Christ in His glory, dominion and purpose. Christ is the head of the church. The church is the fullness of Christ, who fills all in all  (Ephesians 1:23). The church should be the complete expression of Christ in its purpose and mission (Ephesians 4:13). Christ accomplishes his plans for the world through the church. The church is the household of God, the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15).  It is appointed to uphold and support the truth that God has revealed through Christ.  The Church is supposed to be a community of fellowship and a network that supports each other.  The church is not a dead organization but a living organism in which Christ dwells and works.  As Christians we are the church, the body of which Christ is the head.  The church celebrates truth because it is founded on truth (1 Timothy 3:15). Truth about what? Truth is personified in Jesus Christ (John 1:14).  Man was created to live in the moral likeness of God.  God is not a physical being. Jesus said "I am the truth" (John 14:6). Only truth can regenerate, transform and liberate us from sin (James 1:18; John 17:17; 8:32). Jesus came not only to save sinners but also to reveal the nature of true humanity as God intended.  Nothing is more fulfilling than embracing the truth.  The church celebrates God as our heavenly Father, Christ as our Savior and fellow believers as brothers and sisters in Christ. There is no greater calling than being a part of the church. Christ reveals the mystery of godliness. The church should live out this mystery.  Are you a member of a Bible believing Church?  Do you appreciate the local church you attend?