Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Ephesians 1:1-12

1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our and the Lord Jesus Christ.  

Typical first century letter salutation. Writer mentioned first followed by the recipient, then blessing. The difference lies in the context of the blessing. Pagan letters mentioned non-existent gods such as Diana or Apollo; the apostles call upon the one true God and His Son Jesus Christ to bless their readers. In Ephesians Paul refers to himself as an apostle because he was personally commissioned by Christ  to preach the gospel. Saints in the New Testament refers to all believes set apart by God in Christ. Ephesus: this letter may have been a circular letter for the churches around Ephesus (see intro)

3 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, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. 7In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, 9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself,10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth--in Him. 11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, 12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.

Right at the beginning of the letter Paul bursts out praise for God who chose him before the foundation of the world. The blessings of Christianity are largely spiritual. God does not guarantee health, wealth and prosperity to the NT believer. The phrase in the heavenly places suggests that a Christian living anywhere in the world is even now in a spiritual  with Christ on high.

Love here is agape in Greek, the love that is by choice or one's will, not just a sentimental feeling, having predestined us; Predestination is not a cold-hearted determinism or set fate, but rather a loving choice on God's part.

Redemption: To 'buy back'. Christ, through his death bought us from our slavery to sin. His blood means by which our redemption comes. The OT and NT clearly touch that there is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood. Blood here is a vivid symbolic equivalent of death. It recalls the sacrificial system of the cold covenant, which looked forward to the self-sacrifice of Jesus Christ that took away the sin of the world.
The mystery is not a puzzle to solve. It refers to an aspect of God's will that was once hidden or obscure, but was now being revealed by God (Rom 11:25)

Dispensation; translated means 'house rule'. The english word economy is derived from this Greek word. The word refers to the administration or arrangement of all history to fulfill His plan of salvation. While God never changes, His plan for the salvation of humanity has distinct phases. In this context, dispensation probably refers to the time when God will establish His eternal kingdom.

This is to be studied further after I change baby's nappy!

13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. 15Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. 22And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

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