The Gospel is the great equaliser, but also the great uniter.
2:8-9 – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
2:18 – For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
After giving his readers a sweep of the amazing things they benefit in because they are in Christ, Paul now reveals what he wants for them. That they know not merely what God has done for them, but that they know God himself.
The same power that raised Jesus now works in us. A truth & power worth understanding.
1:17-18 – I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people
Who are you? What defines you? As Paul starts his letter to the church in Ephesus he wants his readers to know that the place we need to start is Jesus. He is the place we find all we need to understand ourselves and be whole again.
Our new identity begins with Jesus.
v.3 – Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
vv. 13-14 – And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
Discussion questions for group (If you want them):
– Where would you say problems stem from in the world? Can you see any connection to identity / how people see themselves?
– What does Paul mean when he says that we have “every spiritual blessing” in Jesus? Does this mean we don’t need anything else?
– What are the characteristics of this blessing that Paul describes in verses 3-14?
– How are these blessing similar and different to the blessings / things we might find in the world?
– Where do you draw your identity from now?
– What would it look like to allow Jesus to be the beginning of how you see yourself?
– Which of the truths identified by Paul in this passage (holy/blameless, adopted, redeemed/forgiven, eternal security, chosen) do you struggle to believe? Why?
– How does our identity in Jesus reshape other aspects of who we are?
Notes / Observations:[ut_togglegroup] [ut_toggle title=”Ephesians 1:1-2 – Paul’s Introduction”] One of Paul’s prison letters – Philippians, Philemon, Colossians & Ephesians. You can read about Paul in Ephesus in Acts 19.
￼See also Col 1:1; 2 Cor 1:1. “To speak of himself as an apostle of Christ Jesus not only signifies that he belongs to Christ, but also that he is a messenger who is fully authorised and sent by him. As an apostle he has the authority to proclaim the gospel in both oral and written form, as well as to establish and build up churches (see on 2:20 and 4:11). He has been called to this ministry ‘through the will of God’, an expression that appears four times in the space of a few verses (vv. 1,5,9,11…) and has particularly to do with God’s saving plan, or some aspect of it. Paul’s calling to be an apostle to the Gentiles fits within that gracious divine plan (cf. 3:1-13). He had not appointed himself to this position; God chose him. Hence the words by the will of God have overtones of God’s unmerited grace, and emphasise that there was no personal merit on Paul’s part either in becoming an apostle or in continuing as one.” O’Brian.[/ut_toggle] [ut_toggle title=”Ephesians 1:3-14 – Everything in Christ”] This part is one long sentence of thanksgiving for what God has done in Jesus. Notice the change in personal pronouns between vv.3-11 & vv.13-14. We’ll explore this more in further weeks, but one of Paul’s arguments in Ephesians is that the Gospel brings unity to diverse people. In this case Jews (“us”) and Gentiles (“you”). He’ll pick this up again in 2:11ff.
– God is here pronounced blessed because he is the source of all blessing. As this verse makes clear, it is because of the blessing which he has bestowed upon us that we pronounce him to be blessed.
– ￼The phrase “heavenly realms” occurs also in 1:20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12, the first two of which help us understand this one. Christ is now in the heavenly places and all of our blessings are to be found in him. As the Spirit conveys these blessings to us we are united with Christ and through that union enjoy the blessings which he has for us.
– It doesn’t come out very strongly here, but there’s a connecting word “In as much…” that starts this bit. The sense here is that the blessings given us in Christ are precisely those which, in eternity past, God planned for those whom he would have to be his own.
– The pervasive use of the phrase “In Christ” in this letter (and elsewhere in Paul) indicates that all that God does for the salvation of his people he does in Christ. This applies not only to what has been done for us through Christ’s earthly life, death and resurrection, but also to the eternal plans and purposes of God. These also were plans towards us in Christ in that Christ is the heart and focus of these plans and the one to whom they were and are entrusted. We are chosen in him.
– “The two adjectives holy and blameless were used to describe the unblemished animals set apart for God as Old Testament sacrifices (Exod 29:37-38; cf. Heb 9:14; 1 Pet 1:19).” – O’Brian.
– Adoption “was understood in Graeco-Roman law, as referring to the adoption as sons of those who were not so by birth. It signified entry into a privileged position. Paul applies this term from the Graeco-Roman world to the special relationship which believers have with God. This reference to adoption must also be understood against the background of Israel’s relationship with the Lord as his ‘firstborn son’ (Exod 4:22; Isa 1:2), a relationship which was established at the Exodus” – O’Brian
– This word has both a Greek and Jewish background. Greek prisoners or slaves were redeemed by means of a payment. In the OT ‘redemption ‘ has three elements:
i) Deliverance, particularly from the bondage of Egypt (Deut 7:8; 9:26; 13:5);
ii) The initiative of a Redeemer (goel);
iii) The payment of a price (particularly for redemption from bond service).
“God’s lavish grace has bestowed on us not only redemption, but along with this all the necessary wisdom and insight by which we should live wisely (cf. 5:15), particularly in the light of his saving plan in Christ (which is developed in what follows).” – O’Brian
The word translated “to be put into effect” is a word used in the Greek of God’s ordering and administration of the universe. It refers here to the manner in which God’s purpose is being worked out in human history.
The Holy Spirit is a pledge or down payment (cf. 2 Cor 1:22). His presence marks the Christian out as belonging to God. He is also an eschatalogical (last days) gift imparting something of the blessings of the age to come (cf. 4:30).[/ut_toggle] [/ut_togglegroup]