In this epistle Paul describes “the wealth, the walk, and the warfare” of the believer. In the first three chapters, we are raised into a heavenly sphere where glories are unlimited. In the last three chapters, we are abruptly brought face to face with the cold facts of everyday living and told how we should live in the home, in the church, and in the workplace.
Scholars believe that among Paul’s writings there is none more sublime, profound or greater than the letter to the Ephesians. The truths revealed take us to the summit of divine revelation. This epistle takes us both farther back and farther ahead in the eternal counsels of God than any other of his writings.
Among other truths, the epistle reveals:
1. The present character of the church (The highest church truths, but nothing about church order).
2. The relationship between Jew and Gentile.
3. The source and exercise of spiritual gifts.
4. The spiritual warfare of the believer.
Blessings in Ephesians 1
Paul wrote this letter to the saints at Ephesus, who were also known as “saved sinners.” The first truth he reminded them of was that they were, “In Christ.” He mentions this fourteen times in fourteen verses. Believers are vitally united with Christ by the baptism of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 12:12-13).
In Ephesians 1:2 we are introduced to two of God’s great attributes:
(1) His grace (the first mention of fourteen references). This reminds us that our glorious position as described in the epistle is because of God’s grace.
(2) His peace (this is the first of seven references).
These blessings come to us through the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (See Eph. 1:17). Note in this connection that our Lord is given His full title: The Lord Jesus Christ. As Lord, He is our absolute Master with full rights to all that we are and have. As Jesus, He is the Savior of the world. As Christ, He is our anointed Prophet, Priest and King.
Ephesians 1:3-14 contains the longest sentence in the Bible. This is one of the most magnificent hymns of praise in the Bible. It is the overflow of a heart that worships God for all of His blessings. See Psalm 48. Without a break in thought, Paul pours out his heart in these verses. This particular section is divided into three parts and is divided by the phrase “to the praise of His glory.” See Ephesians 1:6, 12-13.
In Ephesians 1:3-6, Paul directs his worship to the Father. [See and describe Eph. 1:3]. He traces all his spiritual blessings to the Father’s counsel in eternity past. Notice that these blessings are spiritual, not material, and are to be experienced in the “heavenlies,” not heavenly places.
The expression “heavenlies” is used five times in the epistle:
It is the sphere of our spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3).
It is where Christ is presently enthroned (Eph. 1:20).
It is where we are presently enthroned (Eph. 2:6).
It is the place where the angels see God’s wisdom manifested in the Church (Eph. 3:10).
It is the place that is the source of our present conflict with evil spirits (Eph. 6:12).
The believer is a heavenly person and a pilgrim and stranger on earth.
Notice how the blessings that come to us are from God our Father:
Ephesians 1:4 shows that He has chosen us in Him.
Ephesians 1:5 shows that He has predestined us and that He has adopted us.
Ephesians 1:6 shows that He has made us accepted in the beloved.
Let us analyze some of these blessings:
“God has chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world.” This is an astounding statement. This is the truth of election. It is in the Person and work of the Lord Jesus that we were chosen. This is one of the most profound truths in the Scriptures. It was meant to be a source of comfort and strength to believers down through the centuries – before the creation of the world, they were chosen by God to have eternal life. Paul mentions this great truth in 1 Thessalonians 1:4, 2 Thessalonians 2:13, and 1 Peter 1:2. Unfortunately, Satan has distorted this truth, disturbing the faith of some and fraying the temper of others.
Despite what anyone may say, in the last analysis, God chose every believer before the creation of the world (see 2 Thessalonians 2:13). Peter tells us that we were elected according to the foreknowledge of God (see 1 Peter 1:2). The Bible also teaches us that people can know whether they have been elected by their response to the Gospel. Those who hear and believe it are the elect (see 1 Thessalonians 1:4). One must consider, however, that the Bible never teaches that God chooses men to be lost.
The same Bible that teaches election also teaches human responsibility. God makes a bona fide offer of salvation to all men in the Gospel. See Matthew 11:28, Romans 10:13, and 2 Peter 3:9. Anyone can be saved by repenting and accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. Therefore, if a person is lost, it is because he chooses to be lost, not because God desires it. [Note the purpose for which we have been chosen, “That we might be holy and without blame before Him.” See 1 John 3:2 and 1 Peter 1:16. They speak of the future, the present time, and practical issues.]
The other two great themes in this section are predestination and adoption. Predestination has to do with God ordaining ahead of time that the believer is to be made like Christ. The difference between election and predestination is as follows: Election is God’s choice of men to salvation. Predestination is an advance on this. It means that God has determined ahead of time that all who would be saved would be adopted into His family as sons. He could have saved us without making us His sons, but He chose to do both.
God predestines us “to be conformed to the image of His Son.” In our adoption we are placed in God’s family as sons. This brings pleasure to God. As chosen, predestined and adopted sons, we rejoice that He has blessed us (Eph. 1:3), chosen us (Eph. 1:4), predestined us (Eph. 1:5), adopted us (Eph. 1:5), and accepted us (Eph. 1:6). All these blessings are ours to the praise and glory of God’s grace. He is the “Great God of wonders.” For this reason Paul pours out his heart in adoration and worship (Eph. 1:3).
In Ephesians 1:7-12, Paul focuses our attention on the Lord Jesus. In this section he gives the preeminent place to the Son. It is in the Son that we have “redemption through His blood.” We have redemption here and now—its blessings are a present possession. We have been purchased from the slave market of sin. We have been bought never to be put on sale again. We have been freed from the Law, the judgment of God, and the guilt of sin. In other words, He has redeemed us and we are never to be enslaved by sin again.
The price for these blessings is “the precious blood of Christ.” An added blessing from “redemption through His blood is the forgiveness of sins.” Our sins are gone, never to be remembered against us again. God’s grace and Christ’s blood are the means through which they have been removed. God’s grace is infinite and so is His forgiveness, “to the praise and glory of His grace” (see Eph. 1:6), “to the riches of His grace” (see Eph. 1:7).
“Having made known unto us the ‘mystery of His will’ through Christ.” In Ephesians 1:9, we are introduced to one of the main themes of the book. This “mystery” was a sacred secret unknown to Old Testament saints, but now, in Christ, He makes the “mystery” known. The “mystery” is that believing Jews and Gentiles are now one in Christ. The middle wall of partition has been broken down and we are fellow-members in the body of Christ—the Church. Ephesians 1:10 tells us that at present, we are seated together in Christ in the heavenlies. In the future, we will share Christ’s glory as Head over all things.
“The dispensation of the fullness of times.” The Millennium is the time when “all things will be headed up in Christ.” It refers to the last, great, glorious age when Christ will reign from shore to shore as King of kings and Lord of lords. He will be the administrator of the last era of human history. He will put down every enemy and reign over all things on earth and in heaven. He will be the object of universal worship.
In Ephesians 1:11, “we have no continuing city, but we look for a city which hath foundations whose builder and maker is God.” See Hebrews 11:10. This inheritance that is being referred to in this verse, in God’s purpose and will, was predetermined beforehand. According to 1 Peter 1:4, this inheritance is “incorruptible, undefiled, and fadeth not away, [it is] reserved in heaven for us.”
The glory of our inheritance will be realized when the Lord comes. The church’s complete blessing awaits the Lord’s coming. Every individual’s ultimate blessing awaits the Lord’s coming. The redemption of our body awaits His coming. The conversion of Israel awaits His coming. The full redemption of all Gentiles awaits the coming of our blessed Savior. [Consider the glory of our inheritance by reading Revelation 21:1-5. All this was given in Christ for the praise of God’s glory.]
In Ephesians 1:13-14, Paul now directs our attention to the blessings we have in the Spirit. The Spirit’s ministry here is twofold. He is the seal and the earnest. We are sealed “unto the day of redemption.” John 10 and Romans 8 speak of this security. The Holy Spirit is the seal, signifying a finished transaction. See Jeremiah 32:9-12; it also speaks of ownership. See also Esther 8:8 and Ephesians 4:30.
The Spirit has given us His pledge and is the “earnest of our inheritance.” He is the “down payment,” pledging that the full amount will be paid. God guarantees our future blessings in that He has sealed us with His Spirit. The ‘seal’ guarantees that we will be kept for our inheritance. The ‘earnest’ guarantees that the inheritance will be kept for us. These, then, are some of the spiritual blessings that drew forth the magnificent hymn of praise, adoration and worship from the depth of Paul’s redeemed heart.