SUBSCRIBEGIVE NOW

Ephesians: Chapters 1-3

Ephesians: Chapters 1-3

 

“Heaven’s Riches” is a subtitle used for Ephesians in TPT. The first three chapters set forth truth – the gospel or good news about Jesus, the Messiah, and about us as born-again believers.

 

God’s plan is to create a new man – corporately called the church. God sees humanity as eing comprised of two groups: those who are in Christ (born again believers or the church) and those who are not born again and are not “in Christ.”

 

God’s Glory dwells in the Body of Christ or in the church. The church is the Bride of Christ. The church is His beloved partner who is destined to rule with Him.

 

I count 22 instances where the phrase “in Christ” or a similar term is used in chapters 1-3.

 

Paul wrote this letter about AD 60-62 while under Roman house arrest (Acts 28: 16-31). Most (or all?) of the early manuscripts of the book do not contain “Ephesians” as a title. Most think that Ephesus and Ephesians was added by a scribe in the margins of the text, and that the letter was meant as a circular letter to many churches, the church at Ephesus being the major city. There are no particular problems mentioned, nor does Paul personally greet anyone. This also supports the belief that Paul wrote a circular letter to all the churches in Asia Minor. Note. Similarly, to the Fayette-Urban County Government or the city government of Danang, Ephesus controlled rural area up to a 30 miles radius from the city limits proper. Churches would have been planted in these areas that Paul knew nothing of.

 

In the world system prevailing then, Ephesus was one of the five most important Roman cities, along with Rome, Antioch, Corinth, and Alexandria. Paul visited Ephesus on his second journey (Acts 18: 19-21). During his third journey, Paul stayed in Ephesus for three years (Acts 19). Later, he met the Ephesian elders (Acts 20: 16-38) as he travelled to Jerusalem.

 

Ephesus was a commercial, religious, and political center for all Asia Minor, also known as satan’s headquarters. It was a place of idolatry and moral corruption. The Temple to the Greek Goddess Artemis (known to the Romans as Diana) was there. Diana’s was a religion of sexual perversity with cult prostitution. God kept the church pure in that environment, and He can keep Christians today in the love of God and in the fellowship of His Son in whatever environment they find themselves. From this chief but evil city, Paul was able to evangelize almost all of Asia.

 

Paul been a Christian for 30 years when he wrote this letter.

 

Chapter 1. Verse 1

 

“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the Will of God to the saints who are in Christ Jesus, and the faithful ones in Christ Jesus.”

 

TPT. “My name is Paul. God chose me to be an apostle (one sent forth to accomplish a mission or purpose) of Jesus, the Anointed One. To the holy and faithful ones in Jesus, the Anointed One.”

 

 “Yeshua,” transliterated in the English OT as “Jeshua,” is a late form of the Biblical Hebrew name “Yehoshua” (Joshua) which means “The Lord is Salvation.” The scriptures couple “The Lord” and “salvation” to emphasize that Yahweh and Yahweh alone save His people from their sin by sovereign grace.

 

Generally, Messiah is a lover-leader, lover-deliverer, lover-helper, or lover-rescuer. Messiah (He. Mashiah) and Christ (Greek Christos) mean “Anointed One.”

 

Paul knows that: 1) Jesus chose him from love before the foundation of the world for eternal salvation and to be a preacher, a “sent-forth-one” to make Jesus known. 2) He knew his life’s mission.  This allowed him to have single minded purpose in life and gave him strength and staying power when facing life’s hardships. If we have the same knowing, we will have the same certainty and the ability to accomplish our life’s mission also – no matter the difficulty we face.

 

An apostle is a special messenger or a personally chosen representative.

 

Why are the Christians “holy, set-apart, consecrated, faithful, loyal, and steadfast” Not because they are super Christians, but because they are “in Christ.” Those characteristics are Christ’s characteristics. He is holy, set-apart, consecrated, steadfast, loyal, and faithful.  By the power of the Holy Spirit as we follow, by the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, we are also set apart, faithful, loyal, and steadfast.

 

Wesley. By the will of God - not by any merit of my own, nor desire of my own, nor appointment by man. This epistle is not directed to the Ephesians only, but to all the other churches of Asia. Paul is an apostle “by the will of God.” Only those whom God appoints carry His authority and anointing. If believers know that they are in God’s will, it makes whatever hardships that come their way bearable. Saints are “holy ones, consecrated ones.” Faithful saints in Christ Jesus would mean that the disciples are faithful with the faithfulness of Christ. It’s Christ’s faithfulness in them, and not of themselves, which wins the day.

 

TPT says that Paul is writing to the devoted believers who’ve been make holy because of being make one with Messiah. When one is born again, one is made holy. New birth brings holiness – the holiness of Christ. God sees such a person just like he sees Jesus. Our Spirit is like Jesus, although our mind may not be renewed fully yet, and certainly our body is not yet glorified.

 

Womack says that God sees believers as holy even if there is still sin in their lives. He teaches that Jesus’s sacrifice covers past, present, and future sins. By this Womack is not advocating freedom to sin.”

 

‘The saints’ and ‘the faithful’ are not two sets of people. They are one set of people. Both the fact of being saints and of being faithful are gifts of God because we are placed in Christ Jesus. Faithful’ here, simply means ‘believing’ in the sense of trust. The only way a man or woman can realize that he/she belongs fully to God, to yield himself/herself fully to God, and thus become pure and holy like Him, is by trusting faith in Jesus Christ. The faith of Jesus in us enables us to realize this.

 

“In Christ Jesus” is a descriptive phrase used forty times in the New Testament. “In Christ” denotes an eternal, inseparable, life-giving union with Christ. The believer’s true life is found in union with Christ because his true life is the life of Jesus – just as the life of the vine is found in the branch. Ephesians 1:6 states that the Father’s acceptance of us is not through our merit, but because we are “in the beloved.” God’s acceptance of Christ has become God’s acceptance of us because of our vital union with Christ.

 

God placed us in Christ so that He would always know where we are. He placed us there so that He could always find us.

 

Verse 2. “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

Some translations say, “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” The Message says: “I greet you with the grace and peace poured into our lives by God our Father and our Master, Jesus Christ. TPT: “May God Himself, the heavenly Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, release grace over you and impart total well-being into your lives.”

 

Grace is Divine favor, kindness, friendship (Gen. 6:818:319:192 Tim. 1:9). It’s the Father’s forgiving mercy (Rom. 11:6Eph. 2:5). It’s the gospel as distinguished from the law (John 1:17Rom. 6:141 Pet. 5:12). It’s spiritual gifts freely bestowed by the Father upon his sons and daughters (Rom. 15:151 Cor. 15:10Eph. 3:8). It’s Christian moral and character virtues (2 Cor. 8:72 Pet. 3:18). It’s the glory hereafter to be revealed (1 Pet. 1:13).

Charis translated “grace” expresses The Gospel’s central message. Grace in the NT is synonymous with salvation. Charis has the underlying idea of a bestowal of help by an act of one’s free generosity born of love. God who gave Himself in His Son now finds a dwelling-place in the life of the believer: that’s “the gospel of the grace of God.”

Jesus’ recurrent phrase “I am come” ( Matt 9:1310:34Luke 12:51), describes grace. The Son came to seek and to save that which was lost. Grace sought out the sinful.

The words of the Song “Mercy Came Running” would make a good illustration here.

One doesn’t gain a place in His kingdom by good works. The Father makes us holy, qualifies us, and gives us a place in heaven. At the Last Supper, Jesus indicated that grace flowed from His cross. The blood of the cross inaugurated a new covenant and is the means by which God saves us. The life and work of Christ are a gift of grace. The cross (the ending of Jesus’ earthly life) show how grace enables our life to begin.

God initiates and completes our salvation. He even enables us to complete those aspects of His plan of salvation where we must “cooperate.” Any plea to human merit for salvation is ruled out. Jesus is the source of the “grace” of which the whole NT speaks.

“Grace” is the unsought and unbought saving activity of God. His Grace makes us debtors forever. Paul’s Damascus Road encounter with Jesus highlights the twin “Charis’s ideas” —that God alone initiates salvation, and that human merit is of no avail to achieve salvation. “Grace” means that salvation is from first to last a gift from God. God’s saving of man has its beginning and ending in His eternal purposes. He loves because He loves; He saves because He saves.

The “absoluteness of grace” in man’s salvation is reflected by the fact that Paul begins and ends his letters with reference to grace. By beginning with grace, Paul points out that grace is the source of the new creation. God’s unmerited favor, through Grace, has redeemed our soul.

Paul associates “grace” and “peace.” 2 Cor 13:11-13Eph 6:23241 Thes 5:23-282 Thes. 3:16-18). As the first word of greeting and the last word of salutation “grace” sums up the totality of the blessings which come from God through Christ to us. “Grace denotes God pardoning sinful men; and peace is the feeling of inward quiet and harmony which comes to our heart because we are reconciliated to God.”

The first and last word for any church is “grace.”

God gives Grace ( Rom 15:151 Cor 1:33:1015:10; Rom 3:245:202 Cor 4:159:81412:9Eph 1:72:71 Tim 1:14). God’s grace is His “radiant love.” “The grace of God,” is God’s generous love expressed in Christ bestowing salvation on us.

In Hebrews the Holy Spirit is referred to as “the Spirit of grace” (10:29; Zech 11:10). The Holy Spirit manifests the grace of Christ to believing hearts. Both the individual and the church are God’s dwelling place through the Spirit (1 Cor 3:1612:1113Eph 1:122:22).

The association between “grace” and “power” is emphasized in 2 Corinthians 12:9: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” ( 2 Tim 2:111 Pet 4:10). By referring to charis as the active power of God, “grace” may be thought of as the presence of the Holy Spirit. Luke 4:1424:49Acts 1:88:1010:38). The experience of being “full of the Holy Spirit” and being “full of grace and power” is the same. Acts 6:5-81 Cor 12:4-11Eph 4:7-13).

Faith. While justification is based upon Christ’s work at Calvary, the channel by which His saving act is made effective in our lives is “faith.” Faith is instrumental cause of our salvation while grace is the formal cause. Salvation is, then, “by grace...through faith” (Eph 2:8). Grace points back to God’s love justifying us by His sheer goodwill and mercy. Faith, as our response to God’s loving act, is a divine work in us. Faith is a gracious gift of God. From first to last, our salvation is a matter of grace: “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would be no longer grace” (Rom 11:6).

The usual Hebrew greeting was “Shalom” or Peace. Shalom means to be well, to have enough for your needs, safety, and health. Even when life’s circumstances are rough, God’s Shalom remains inside. So, Paul’s greeting is really a Declaration: That they be covered with God’s Grace (free, unearned help and favor from the Father and Jesus) with resulting peace. 2 Pe. 1:2 shows that Grace and Peace are multiplied as we know God better.

 

Verse 3.

 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in Christ.”

 

Spiritual blessings are gifts and graces given by the Holy Spirit.

We praise God for them. Spiritual blessings in the heavenly realm were obtained by Jesus and given to us  - in the past. They are already ours.

 

The spiritual blessings we possess, which are all of the spiritual blessings’ resident in the heavenly realms, are found in Christ. We simply share what God has given Christ.

 

We who have put our faith in Christ are not headed to a victory; we are coming from a position of victory. In that sense, “let your will be done on earth as it is (already) done in heaven.

 

In the original Greek, v. 3-14 is one long, elegant sentence. God initiated and accomplished reconciliation with man and creation for the praise of His glory.

 

Wesley. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us - God's blessing us is his bestowing all spiritual and heavenly blessings upon us. Our blessing God is us paying him our solemn and grateful acknowledgments, both on account of his own essential blessedness, and for the blessings which he bestows upon us. He is the God of our Lord Jesus Christ - man and Mediator. With all spiritual blessings in heavenly things - With all manner of spiritual blessings, which are heavenly in their nature, original, and tendency, and shall be completed in heaven.

 

“In heavenly places” carries the idea “in the spiritual realm.” “In Christ” we have been and are blessed with all spiritual blessings. These things are spiritual realities now. As we trust and act in faith, these spiritual blessings become physical realities. The phrase “in heavenly places” is used four times in Ephesians (this verse, Ephesians 1:20; 2:6; and 3:10). Paul gives a partial list of blessings in chapters 1 & 2. We have been adopted as God’s children (Ephesians 1:5); we have redemption through Jesus’ blood; we have the forgiveness of our sins (Ephesians 1:7); we have obtained an inheritance (Ephesians 1:11): we have been sealed with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13): we have been given the same power that raised Christ from the dead (Ephesians 1:19-20): we are made a new man (Ephesians 2:15); we have been made fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God (Ephesians 2:19); we have become a holy temple in the Lord (Ephesians 2:21); we are a habitation of God (Ephesians 2:22) in the Spirit.

 

Verse 4. “Just as he chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him.”

 

Before God made the world, He knew us, loved us, and chose us. Because we are in Christ, we are holy and perfect in God’s eyes.

 

We were chosen in Christ before the world began. We are holy and without blame because God sees us as He sees Christ. God predetermined (before creating the world) that we would be His children (Ephesians 1:5). We have been accepted by God (Ephesians 1:6). We are redeemed and forgiven (Ephesians 1:7). We have all of God’s wisdom and prudence (Ephesians 1:8). The mysteries of God have been revealed to us (Ephesians 1:9).

Note: In Eden, God created everything that we would ever need BEFORE He created man. He prepared those things beforehand.

The Lord did not choose us on our merit, but solely based on our acceptance of Christ. The Father would no more reject us than He would reject Jesus, because we are accepted by the Father through Christ (Ephesians 1:6).

None of us can claim that we are without blame in the sight of man, because man looks on the outward appearance (1 Samuel 16:7) and all of us have sinned (Romans 3:23). The Lord looks on our born-again spirits, which have been regenerated in Christ, and He sees us as holy and without blame. God looks at us as we are in Christ, and everything in our lives becomes covered by the blood of Jesus.

 

Verse 5-6. “In love having predestined us to adoptions as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will to the praise of the glory of His grace by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.”

 

It gave God great pleasure to adopt us into His family through Christ. We are heirs of God. He is our Father and He gives us an inheritance. He gives us the same inheritance that Jesus gets. Ro. 8:17. Lu. 12:32.

 

“Adoption” has its roots in Roman culture rather than Jewish. Through adoption, old ties were severed, and the new father became full owner of the child with all legal rights. Through adoption, believers now have all ties severed from their old master and are the property of their heavenly Father as heirs and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.

God’s will is to pour out his grace, love, and goodness to believers in Christ Jesus. (ESV)

The Lord didn’t save us out of pity or a sense of obligation as our Creator. He saved us because He loved us (John 3:16). It was the “good pleasure of his will” for us to become adopted sons. We are wanted and accepted (Ephesians 1:6) by our Father.

 

The word translated “made accepted” (Charitoo) is used one other time in the N.T. That is in Luke 1:28, “And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored [CHARITOO], the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.” So, “being accepted” in Ephesians 1:6 is equivalent to being “highly favored” in Luke 1:28.

It is through the grace of God that we have been accepted in Christ. It is not due to any effort of our own, outside of putting faith in Christ as our Savior.

The Lord does not just tolerate us. He actually loves us. He even likes us. He rejoices over us with joy (Zephaniah 3:17). Only Christianity presents the truth that God can actually be pleased with us (Hebrews 11:5-6).

 

God’s ultimate purpose is not Redemption; rather, the Praise of His Glorious Name Because of Pouring Out His Grace through Redemption. (ESV)

 

Verse 7. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”

 

Kindness and Grace overflow from God’s character. This kindness and grace caused Him to purchase our freedom, our salvation with the Shed Blood of His Son. He loves us as much as He loves Jesus. He gives everything to Jesus; therefore, He gives everything to us.

 

Jesus’ blood bought: 1) Redemption – redemption from the slavery to sin and from eternal punishment for sin (Lev. 25:47-54); 2); forgiveness for sins both past, present, and future (Lev. 17:11; Ro. 5:9; Ep. 2:13; Col. 1:20; He. 9:22; I Pe. 1:19). There is no other way to salvation (Acts 4:12).

Notice that this redemption is already an accomplished fact. Our sins are already forgiven. Yet Ephesians 1:14 speaks of waiting for the redemption of the purchased possession. More than one part of us needed to be redeemed. We are each a spirit, soul, and body (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Our spirits have already been redeemed, forgiven of all sin through the blood of Jesus. But our bodies and souls have yet to be redeemed. They have been purchased, but we are waiting on the redemption of those purchased possessions (1 Corinthians 3:10-12 and 15:53-54).

The Greek word for “redemption” is “APOLUTROSIS,” and it was used ten times in the New Testament (Luke 21:28; Romans 3:24, 8:23; 1 Corinthians 1:30; this verse, Ephesians 1:14, 4:30; Colossians 1:14; Hebrews 9:15, and 11:35). It means “a releasing effected by payment of ransom...liberation procured by the payment of a ransom.” Matthew 20:28 and Mark 10:45 make it clear that the price paid for our redemption was the life of Jesus; that is, Jesus’ blood (Colossians 1:14). This redemption, according to Hebrews 9:12, is eternal and intended to purify us from all iniquity (Titus 2:14) and bring us to serve the living God (Hebrews 9:14).

Paul says that it is through the riches of God’s grace that we receive forgiveness for our sins. There is nothing we can do to obtain forgiveness, except humble ourselves and receive forgiveness as a gift through faith in Christ.

 

Redemption denotes ransoming someone from slavery or captivity. Christians are freed from slavery and captivity to sin. The redemption was accomplished by Christ’s shed blood. (ESV)

 

Verse 8. “which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and goodness.”

 

He has showered upon us Grace, Kindness, Wisdom, and Understanding.

 

The English word “abounded” was translated from a Greek word which means “to superabound, to be in excess.” This is much more than having just enough grace to get by. It is more grace than any of us need.

 

Two of the ways God has “super-abounded toward us” is through giving us wisdom and prudence. Wisdom is knowledge of the truth. Prudence is the practical application in life of knowledge. In 1 Corinthians 1:19, the word “understanding” was used to describe the prudent.

 

Verse 9. “having made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself.”

 

Wesley. The gracious scheme of salvation by faith, which depends on his own sovereign will alone. This was but darkly discovered under the law; is now totally hid from unbelievers; and has heights and depths which surpass all the knowledge even of true believers.

 

“MUSTERION,” translated “mystery” means “something that man couldn’t know except by divine revelation. Though once hidden, it has now revealed in Christ and is to be proclaimed so that others can know. Ephesians 1:10. Jeremiah 29:13: “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye search for me with all your heart.” The truths of God are hidden for His children, not from His children. The Holy Spirit has been instructed to teach us all things (John 14:26) and has given us an unction so that we know all things (1 John 2:20).

 

Verse 10. “that in the dispensation (plan) of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth – in Him.

 

God’s plan is to bring everything on earth and in heaven together under the Headship of Christ. His purpose and plan will be accomplished. Those who do not make Jesus Lord over their lives are out of focus with God’s eternal purpose.

 

Among the things that God will bring under Christ are angels, man and the government of heaven and earth. Christ will rule all this from one Jerusalem throne.

 

Verse 11. “In Him we also have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.”

 

TPT. This could mean that “God appointed us to be his inheritance,” or that we have been appointed an inheritance. Both are because we are united with Christ. Compare Ro. 8: 28-39.

 

This inheritance is one of the blessings found in Ephesians 1:3. It’s ours now. It includes everything that belongs to Christ because we are joint heirs with Him (Romans 8:17). Although we won’t see the fullness of this inheritance until Christ personally takes the reins of government (Revelation 11:15), we can pray for things to be done here on earth as they are in heaven (Matthew 6:10).

 

Verse 12. “that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.”

 

God works all things together to bring praise to His glory. If we are in doubt about the Lord’s leading, we can ask whether it brings praise to His glory.

 

Verse 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.”

 

Wesley. You were sealed by that Holy Spirit of promise - Holy both in his nature and in his operations and promised to all the children of God. The sealing seems to imply A full impression of the image of God on their souls. A full assurance of receiving all the promises, whether relating to time or eternity.

 

“Gospel” is “the good news.” News has already taken place. Salvation is news. Christ paid everyone’s debt thousands of years ago. There is nothing more that has to happen on God’s part. That’s the good news. All we have to do is believe and receive what God has provided.

The Greek word “SPHRAGIZO,” translated “sealed” means “to stamp (with a signet or private mark) for security or preservation.” The Holy Spirit protects our salvation. The Spirit’s sealing takes place when two things happen: (1) The Gospel is heard, and (2) we believe and trust the message. (Acts 16:31 and Romans 10:9-10).

 

At salvation, we receive a brand-new spirit. It is free from sin and totally pure. Then we are immediately sealed by the Holy Spirit. That’s like vacuum-sealing or canning food for the purpose of preservation. A barrier is formed to keep sin out and retain the purity of our born-again spirits. When we Christian’s sin, it is in the soulish and physical realm. The born-again spirit doesn’t participate. It cannot sin (1 John 3:9).(Womack)

 

ESV. God gives the Holy Spirit to us as a guarantee that 1) We belong to Him; 2) He will do what He says and fulfill all His promises. The Holy Spirit is a down-payment or deposit on our eternal inheritance.

 

Verse 14. “who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”

 

The Holy Spirit is given to us like an engagement ring. Background: The Bridegroom’s wedding would signify an eternal union between the Bridegroom and Bride. Completed, eternal, unbreakable union. A union to jointly rule. In antiquity people believed that the ring finger had a direct connection to the heart and so the man put the ring on the left hand of his fiancé, the side of her heart, as a sign of infinite love and eternal connection.

 

By the Middle Ages, women received a ring from their bridegroom as a promise for marriage. It was a pledge or down payment. The Holy Spirit was given to us as a pledge/down payment. A pledge is a transfer of something important and guarantees that the full promise will be delivered later.

 

Wesley. Who, thus sealing us, is an earnest or down payment- both a pledge and a foretaste of our inheritance. Till the redemption of the purchased possession - till the church, which he has purchased with his own blood, shall be fully delivered from all sin and sorrow, and advanced to everlasting glory. To the praise of his glory - Of his glorious wisdom, power, and mercy.

 

 Ephesians 1:7 says we already have redemption, i.e., the forgiveness of our sins. But this verse says there is a future redemption of “the purchased possession.”

Verse 7 is speaking of the redemption that is already a reality in our born-again spirits. All of our sins, past, present, and future, have already been forgiven. This spiritual redemption is already complete.

Our souls and bodies have also been purchased through the atonement of Christ. And there will be a future redemption of those purchased possessions. That’s what this verse is speaking of. Our mortal and corruptible bodies will be changed into immortal and incorruptible bodies.

Our bodies have been purchased through the sacrificial payment of Jesus, but they are not yet glorified.

 

Verse 15. “Therefore, I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints.”

 

There is more to being saved than just having our sins forgiven. The new birth ushers us into the kingdom of God. To the degree that we understand how God’s kingdom works and apply that understanding to our lives, we experience heaven here on earth. This doesn’t happen automatically, and it doesn’t happen all at once. We are progressively changed as we renew our minds. All Christians are the same in our born-again spirits, but there are different levels of understanding (mind renewal) and accompanying victories that manifest in our lives.

 

Verse 16. “do not cease to give thanks for you making mention of you in my prayers.”

 

Paul thanked God for the Ephesians as part of his prayers for them. Thanksgiving to God is an important part of prayer. Psalms 100:4 says to, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him and bless his name.”

Philippians 4:6, “Be careful about nothing (don’t be anxious about anything); but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” According Matthew 6:9-13, we begin and end our prayers with thanksgiving and praise. Let us not complain to the Lord about our burdens but instead give them to Him in prayer. Making thanksgiving a part of our prayer will prevent complaining.

When we start prayer with praise and thanksgiving, we remind ourselves that God is bigger than our problems. And when we close our prayer with praise and thanksgiving, we move beyond the problem to the answer.

Paul prayed two prayers for the Ephesians (Ephesians 1:15-23 and 3:14-21).

 

Verse 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.”

 

Wesley. That the Father of that infinite glory which shines in the face of Christ, from whom also we receive the glorious inheritance, Eph 1:18, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation - The same who is the Spirit of promise is also, in the progress of the faithful, the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, making them wise unto salvation, and revealing to them the deep things of God. The eyes of your understanding - It is with these alone that we discern the things of God. Being first opened, and then enlightened - - By his Spirit. That ye may know what the hope of his calling is - That ye may experimentally and delightfully know what the blessings are which God has called you to hope for by his word and his Spirit. And what is the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints - What an immense treasure of blessedness he hath provided as an inheritance for holy souls. And what the exceeding greatness of his power toward us who believe - Both in quickening our dead souls and preserving them in spiritual life. According to the power which he exerted in Christ, raising him from the dead - By the very same almighty power whereby he raised Christ; for no less would suffice. And he hath seated him at his own right hand - That is, he hath exalted him in his human nature, as a recompence for his sufferings, to a quiet, everlasting possession of all possible blessedness, majesty, and glory. Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion - That is, God hath invested him with uncontrollable authority over all demons in hell, all angels in heaven, and all the princes and potentates on earth. And every name that is named - We know the king is above all, though we cannot name all the officers of his court. So, we know that Christ is above all, though we are not able to name all his subjects. Not only in this world, but also in that which is to come - The world to come is so styled, not because it does not yet exist, but because it is not yet visible. Principalities and powers are named now; but those also who are not even named in this world, but shall be revealed in the world to come, are all subject to Christ.

 

You can’t have a revelation of something that doesn’t exist. The word “APOKALUPSIS,” translated “revelation,” means “disclosure.” It is derived from the word that means “to take off the cover.” Paul prayed for us to receive a revelation of what is already ours.

The Christian life is not an effort to get more faith, more anointing, or to get closer to the Lord. We already have these things in their fullness. We just need a revelation of what is already ours. It’s easier to release something we have than to get something we don’t have. Through Christ, we are blessed with all spiritual blessings. We appropriate what is ours through the renewal of our minds.

 

Verse 18 “the eyes of your understanding being enlightened that you may know what the hope of his calling is and what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.”

 

Paul prays that the eyes of our understanding will be opened so that we see what we already have in our born-again spirits.

The phrase “eyes of our understanding” is a metaphor referring to our ability to perceive with our mind and heart. We need our understanding opened by the Lord to perceive spiritual truth.

We receive wisdom and revelation as the eyes of our hearts are enlightened. Several modern translations have rendered the English word “understanding” in this verse as “heart.” Being spiritual minded is the way to life and peace (Romans 8:5-6 and Isaiah 26:3), and the renewing of the mind is the way to know the perfect will of God (Romans 12:2).

The end result of wisdom and revelation for the Ephesians was that they would know (1) “the hope of His calling,” (2) “the riches of the glory of his inheritance,” and (3) “the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward.” Without a revelation from God, no one can understand these things.

Notice that Paul said, “the hope of His calling,” not our calling. Through our faith in Christ, we have become partakers of everything that Christ does. We are fulfilling Christ’s calling in our lives as we follow Him.

The inheritance within us is His inheritance. Everything we have is all through Christ. It came through His holiness, not ours, and it remains because of His faithfulness, not ours.

The riches of the glory of his inheritance are in the saints. Most people picture the heavenly gold streets when they think of the glories of God’s riches, but His true riches are within us.

Verse 19. “and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.”

 

Paul prays we get a revelation of the power that we have. It’s the same power that raised Christ from the dead.

Paul wants us to know God’s power, then the greatness of His power, and then the exceeding greatness of His power. We receive this knowledge through revelation.

This exceeding greatness of God’s power is toward us, for us, for our benefit. That power works for us.

The phrase “according to” means “in keeping with; in agreement with.” The power that believers have is the same power that raised Christ from the dead. That’s more than enough power to accomplish God’s will in our lives.

The Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead. The Holy Spirit will raise our bodies from the dead; indeed, the Holy Spirit has already raised spirit from the dead.

 

Verse 20 (for comments, see verse 19)

 

“Which he worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.”

 

Verse 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.”

 

All the spiritual and eternal benefits we have come to us through our union with Jesus. In the same way that Jesus is now “above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion,” so are we. We share in Christ’s throne; we partake in the authority that the throne represents; we exercise divine power and dominion. God tells us to do something about the devil. God has given us delegated authority over the works of the enemy.

Verse 22. “And He put all things under His feet and gave Him to be head over all things to the church.”

 

The church being the body of Christ is written of in Corinthians (1 Corinthians 12:12-27 and 15:25-28). Paul writes that Christ is the head and the church is His body. Christ is Lord over the church and directs us, just as the head controls the physical body. Resurrection power is not just a reality for Christ, our Head, but also for us because we are part of His body.

 

Verse 23. “which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”

 

“The church is Christ’s body, the completion of him” (Today’s English Version).

 

Chapter 2. (No division of text here in the original language)

 

Verse 1.

 

Subtitle of verses 1-3: Hopeless and Helpless Without Christ (ESV)

 

“And you He made alive who were dead in trespasses and sins.”

 

ESV. Literally: *“you were like corpses.” “God helps those who help themselves” is not in the Bible. God helps those who are helpless and without hope. Facing eternity in hell, we were helpless with no hope.

 

Bible chapter and verse divisions were added in the 16th century. Chapter and verse divisions don’t necessarily mark a change of thought in the text. Paul talks about God’s power raising Christ from the dead and Christ being given all dominion and power (Ephesians 1:19-23). We are also raised from the dead and we share in Christ’s victory and authority.

Before being born again in Christ all of us were “dead in trespasses and sins.” We had no communion with the Living God. Our spiritual death and separation had occurred when we fell in Adam (as well as our own sins). Our “dead” human spirit still functioned; it just functioned independently of God. As Paul explained in Ephesians 2:3, our lost human spirit was united to satan so that we were “by nature the children of wrath.”

 

Verse 2.

 

“in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.”

 

“Course” is “a mode of behavior, or a regular course of conduct.” Outside of Christ, we are bound by habits and desires that we can’t break. By nature, we live in bondage to sin (Ephesians 2:3).

After being born again, we (our spirits) are resurrected with Christ and we are in Christ (Ephesians 2:1). His victory over sin is complete and thus our victory over sin is complete (Ephesians 1:19) because we are “in Him.”

Dead people can only walk in sin. They can’t help it. Outside of Christ, we are utterly captive to sin and satan, without power to break free, constantly driven by our nature to sinful behavior (even if we are able to keep ourselves from certain sinful behavior or keep ourselves from certain sinful behavior some of the time). satan controls the unsaved, even if they are moral.

In praying for the lost, we need to bind (Matthew 18:18-19) “the prince of the power of the air” who is working in the lost, because “the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ...should shine unto them.” (2 Cor. 4:4).

“APEITHEIA,” the Greek word translated “disobedience,” means ‘the condition of being unpersuadable’.... it denotes obstinate rejection of God’s will.”

 

Verse 3. “among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires (will) of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”

 

The Old Self or Old Man is comprised of 1) the lustful, evil passions of our body or flesh (The word translated “desires” here is usually translated “will.” Before we were “in Christ,” we fulfilled the will of the flesh (the will of the Old Man, the man of self-centeredness. We were slaves to the Old Man, slaves to sin (Romans 6:16-17 and 2 Peter 2:19).); 2) our unregenerated mind, controlled by idolatrous thoughts, unable to break free into purity (The word translated “mind” is translated “imagination” in Luke 1:51); and 3) our will which is bound by sinful nature so that while it may have a measure of freedom never has the freedom or ability to break free from sin as a principle.

 

ESV. Nature. Before salvation, we have a natural, unbreakable disposition to sin. Our sin nature made us commit individual acts of sin, even if we are successful in keeping ourselves from committing some acts of sin. Salvation comes only with a changed “nature” at the new birth.

 

*To be sons and daughters of Adam is to be born into a fallen state (Ps. 51:5) and subject to God’s condemnation as ‘children of wrath.’ To escape this hopeless situation requires a new birth resulting in a new creation. (Ep. 2:10). (ESV)

Verse 4

Subtitle Verses 4-10: Hope in Christ (ESV)

But God who is rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us….”

The Amplified Bible’s reads, “But God – being so very rich in mercy, because of His great, intense, and wonderful love with which He loved us.”

The Lord intense love for us motivated Him to save us (Jo. 3:16). Therefore, accepting salvation is accepting God’s love.

ESV Comment on v. 4. No hopeless fate looks any grimmer than that which awaits mankind marching, without hope of breaking free, behind the prince of the power of the air to their destruction. But just when things look the most desolate, Paul speaks the greatest phrase in the human history: “But God who is rich in mercy.” God’s love and mercy rescued us.

Verses 5 & 6

“even when we were dead in trespasses made us alive together with Christ (by grace you’ve been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

ESV comments: The first phrase harkens back to verse 1-3 – our utter helplessness. But God “make us alive.” He regenerated us. He caused us to be born again. He caused us to be new creatures. We have new spiritual life within – the same life as Jesus has. First, He gave us new life, then He raised us up with Christ, then He made us sit together with Christ on His throne in the heavenly places. We were resurrected from the dead (reborn), ascended with Him spiritually, and enthroned with Him.

“By grace ye are saved,” but consult with Ephesians 2:8 which states that we are saved by grace through faith. Grace alone doesn’t save, or everyone would be saved.

Our salvation is an unconditional act of God’s love in Christ. He didn’t begin to love us after we straightened up our lives, but He raised us up in Christ while we were dead in sins (dead people can’t help themselves. They can’t move, talk, or respond in any way because they have no life). Ephesians 2:4-5, put another way reads: “Even when we were spiritually dead because of our sins, God’s forbearance was working on our behalf. He was tolerant, patient and kind towards us. God abounded in excessive proportion with good will, love, compassion, and desire to help us. His disposition was loving, kind, compassionate, and forgiving in His treatment of us. He wanted to alleviate our distress and bring relief from our sins. He did this by giving us life in place of death. Christ secured this salvation. By His grace, kindness, love, and favor we are saved. All of this was the result of God’s extremely large degree of love wherewith He loved us, always seeking the welfare and betterment of us. God likes us” (Don Krow). (Romans 3:27 and 11:6).

Verse 7: “that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His Kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

ESV. Why did God lavish such love upon His people? So that they will eternally marvel over the incredible Kindness and Love of God. Though they have all eternity to consider, the redeemed will never fathom the depts of God’s love.

God’s motive in saving us and raising us up together with Christ was “his great love” (Ephesians 2:4). His purpose in salvation was to show us the exceeding riches of His grace and how very, very great His kindness is toward us. As the Living Bible translates this verse, “And now God can always point to us as examples of how very, very rich his kindness is, as shown in all he has done for us through Jesus Christ.”

Verse 8-9

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

ESV. Grace can be understood as a “power” here. God’s grace not only offers salvation but also secures it. Saved refers to deliverance from God’s wrath at the final judgment and more. It’s repeated from v. 5 for emphasis. “Have been saved” communicates that the Christian’s salvation is fully secured.

Ephesians 2:8-9 states that the basis of our salvation is grace—that is, God’s undeserved, unmerited favor toward us as expressed in providing redemption through Christ Jesus. The means of God saving us is through faith. Through faith we accept God’s free gift of salvation that was provided by grace. So, we are saved “by grace through faith.”

“Saved” means more than forgiveness of sins; it includes healing, prosperity, and deliverance in every area of our lives.

The Greek word that was translated “saved” is in the perfect tense; this means that something was done and completed in the past yet continues to have present results. God’s grace has already provided all spiritual blessings in Christ (Ephesians 1:3), and our faith reaches out to God and receives the benefits (Romans 5:2). The Greek scholar Kenneth S. Wuest translated this verse, “For by grace have you been saved in time past completely, through faith, with the result that your salvation persists through present time; and this (salvation) is not from you as a source.”

We are not saved by grace alone. We are saved by grace through faith. Faith gives us admission to God’s grace. Without faith, God’s grace is wasted, and without grace, faith is powerless. Faith in God’s grace has releases what God has provided through Christ to us.

God’s grace is the same toward everyone. Titus 2:11 says, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.” Therefore, “all men” (mankind) have had salvation provided for them (1 John 2:2) and extended toward them by God’s grace, but not all are saved. Why? Because not all people have mixed faith with what God has done for them by grace.

The word “that” in Ep. 2:8, can refer to our salvation, but probably refers to faith. The faith we have for salvation is not of ourselves. It too is the gift of God.

To receive God’s gift of salvation, we have to receive the supernatural, Godkind of faith first. Where does this faith come from?  Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” God’s Word contains His faith. As we hear the Word of God about our salvation, God’s faith comes so that we can believe the good news of our salvation.

This Godkind of faith doesn’t leave us after the born-again experience. God’s faith becomes a fruit of the Spirit that is in our hearts. We never lose this supernatural faith. We just need to renew our minds to the fact that God’s faith is in us, and then learn how to use it.

Many Christians, after receiving the gift of salvation, still think they must work to pay for their acceptance. The only acceptable response to salvation is gratitude and praise to God for His indescribable gift (2 Corinthians 9:15). Salvation is a gift to be received (Romans 6:23), not a wage to be earned.

These verses explain in detail the nature of grace. If it’s by grace, then (1) it is not of ourselves ( Romans 3:28, and Titus 3:5), (2) it is a gift (Romans 5:17), (3) it is not of works or human effort (Ephesians 2:9, Romans 11:6, and Titus 3:5), and (4) it excludes man’s boasting (Ephesians 2:9 and Romans 3:27).

No one can be saved by the combination of grace and works, for they exclude each other (Romans 11:6). We are saved by grace through faith alone, or our works must meet the standard of God’s perfection set down by His Law (Romans 2:13), which is impossible. “Therefore, we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

God has designed salvation in such a way as to eliminate any boasting from man. If salvation was by works, either partially or wholly, then man could boast, but grace and faith eliminate man’s boasting altogether. Salvation by grace brings praise and glory to God alone.

Verse 10. “For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

ESV. Salvation is not based on works, but the good works Christians do are the result and consequence of the outworking of God’s new creation work. Good works do not gain us salvation; rather, they affirm that salvation has been deposited into our lives. Good works naturally flow from our new nature. Today’s English Version: “God has made us who we are, and in our union with Christ Jesus He has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do.” God has ordained a perfect plan for each of our lives (Jeremiah 29:11).

The Greek word for “workmanship” is “POIEMA,” and it means “that which is made, a product designed or produced by an artisan. We derive our English word “poem” from it. We are God’s poem, His work of art, His masterpiece. The outworking of His calling in our lives is a continuation of His creative work in our lives to others.

Verse 11. “Therefore, remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh, who are called uncircumcision by what is called the circumcision made in the flesh by hands.”

ESV. Paul continues his theme of a new creation which he began in verse 10. In verses 11-15, there is one people of God. God sees all humanity in two great categories: the saved or unsaved; the redeemed or the unredeemed; the children of God or the children of wrath. This supersedes ethnic groupings, what we call racial groupings, gender groupings, social groupings, economic groupings.

To be called “uncircumcised” was a Jewish term of derision. A Gentile was to be outside the covenant with God.

“Therefore remember.” It is good to remind ourselves of what we were, apart from God’s saving grace. It is an antidote for pride and self-righteousness. Those of us who remember what we used to be will have a clearer understanding of who we are now.

Verse 12. “that at that time you were without Christ being aliens from the Commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise having no hope and without God in the world.”

In Ephesians 5:11-12), Paul described the complete hopelessness of all Gentiles before Jesus opened the door of salvation unto them. The reason for this was to remind them of how their salvation was completely a work of God’s grace.

Verse 13. “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”

ESV. To be brought near is to have access to God. Those “far off” are probably those who had no OT covenant promises.

Verses 11-12 describe the totally hopeless and helpless situation of an unbeliever before salvation. “But now” begins the description of the transformation that takes place at salvation.

The Gentiles, separated from God’s promises were “far off” from God, but are now “made nigh” unto God by Jesus’s shed blood. God is “not far from every one of us” (Acts 17:27). But before being “born again,” the Lord seems very far away. After salvation, it is as though the Lord has come near. After salvation, the Lord promised that He would never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Regardless of how we feel, the Lord is always present and watching over His promises to fulfill.

The blood of Jesus is a central theme of the New Covenant. It refers to Christ’s death as the means of securing salvation for us. Under the New Covenant, the blood of Jesus provides for forgiveness of sins (Ephesians 1:7), a new heart (Jeremiah 31:33-34), mercy toward unrighteousness (Hebrews 8:12), justification (Romans 5:9), eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12), intimate relationship with God (Hebrews 8:11), deliverance from a worthless kind of life (1 Peter 1:18-19), peace with God (Colossians 1:20), the putting away of sin (Hebrews 9:26), continual cleansing (1 John 1:7), a cleansed conscience (Hebrews 9:14), deliverance from the Law (Ephesians 2:15), reconciliation (Ephesians 2:16), access to the Father (Ephesians 2:18), a perfect standing before God (Colossians 1:22), the spoiling of principalities and powers (Colossians 2:15), Christian liberty (Galatians 5:1), and healing for the physical body (Matthew 8:17).

Verse 14. “For He himself is our peace who has made both one and has broken down the middle wall of separation….”

ESV. Peace is the harmonious friendship with God and other believers.

There is no longer any division between Jew and Gentile (ethnic divisions) because we are not under the O.T. Law, which was this wall of partition. We are both (Jew and Gentile – all ethnic groupings) one new man in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

In the Jerusalem temple, there was a physical wall of partition that symbolized this division. The Gentiles could come into a designated area of the temple known as the Court of the Gentiles, but a five-foot stone wall kept them from going farther. A sign standing before the wall stated, “No man of another nation is to enter, and whosoever is caught will have himself to blame for his death!”

In the New Testament church, there is no such thing as Jew or Gentile, bond or free, for God has created something absolutely new. It’s the “one new man,” the new creation in Christ Jesus, the church, Christ’s body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all (Ephesians 1:23). The prejudice caused by racial and religious distinctions has been dissolved. Enmity, hostility, and hatred are over by the blood of His cross.

Believers are all new creations in Christ Jesus with heavenly citizenship. Therefore, not only are national and religious divisions done away with; social standings that divide (bond and free), as well as gender differences, are dissolved in Christ. All believers are united to each other regardless of race, sex, or social standing.

Verse 15. “having abolished in His body the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances so as to create in Himself one new man from the two thus making peace.”

Jesus, the second Adam, inaugurated a new human race.

Jesus rendered the Old Testament Law useless by nailing it to His cross. Colossians 2:14 says, “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.” By abolishing the law, Jesus removed the barriers between Jew and Gentile and all of the barriers between God and man.

The Greek word for “abolished” is strong. It means “to be entirely useless or to render entirely useless.” The Old Testament Law, which made a division between Jew and Gentile, was entirely useless in relating to God. James 2:10 says, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”

The purpose of the Law was and is to show us our sin and lead us to our Savior. The Law provided justification for one man only – Jesus. He kept every detail of the Law and was justified by His actions. But having obtained justification for us through the Law, He abolished that function of the Law forever and now offers justification with God on the basis of faith in His grace.

Verse 16. “and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body on the Cross thereby putting to death the enmity.”

The enmity spoken of is the division that the Old Testament Law created. The O.T. Law has been killed or done away with as a means of obtaining salvation.  It no longer applies as a means for anyone to obtain justification with God.

Verse 17. “And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near.”

This verse is an allusion to Isaiah 57:19. Through Jesus, mankind is reconciled to God and to each other. It is “through him”–Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:18) and His death–that Jew and Gentile come boldly unto His throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16). The Gentiles, who were far off “having no hope, and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12), and the Jews, who were near because of the covenants of promise, are now in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:13).

Verse 18. “For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.”

The Greek word for “access” is (Prosagoge) and it is used three times in the New Testament (Romans 5:2; this verse, and Ephesians 3:12). It means “admission.” “Jesus provided the admission price unto the Father with the shedding of His blood. The Holy Spirit is the one who escorts us unto the throne of God, and God the Father Himself receives us.

Verse 19. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.”

Christians are to know and be convinced of who they are as saints and in the household of God and live accordingly. In political terms, “strangers” were foreigners with no rights or privileges. Only citizens had full protections and rights in the city.

Because of Christ’s reconciling work on the cross, Paul used three metaphors in describing Jews’ and the Gentiles’ new position before God: (1) fellow citizens with God’s people, (2) of the same household, and (3) part of God’s building. Those united with Christ through the new birth are inseparably part of God.

Verse 20. “having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building being fitted together grows into a holy temple in the Lord.”

Verse 21. “in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.”

The saints as the “household of God” (Ephesians 2:19) are built upon the foundation of the apostles’ and prophets’ teaching. Christ is the chief cornerstone on whom every structure is aligned perfectly. This metaphor depicts believers as a carefully joined, constantly growing temple inhabited by God. Believers are the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:9 and 6:19. “For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2 Corinthians 6:16).

Verse 22. “In whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”

Ephesians 3

Verse 1

For this reason, I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles—

Paul worldview enabled him to endure suffering. He wasn’t a prisoner of Rome; he was a prisoner of Jesus Christ. See also Ephesians 4:1; 2 Timothy 1:8; Philemon 1, and Philemon 9. In Ephesians 6:20, he referred to himself as “an ambassador in bonds.” Paul had a heavenly perspective. He knew he was a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, whatever the suffering that might come.

Verse 2

if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you

The word “dispensation” can be translated “stewardship” or “administration” (Luke 16:2-4). It concerns the oversight and administration of another’s property. God’s grace and gifts are given to us for others.

ESV. Could be “assuming you have heard.” Remember, Paul may not have met or know all who read this letter.

Verse 3

how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already,

ESV. The mystery here is that Christ unites Gentiles and Jews in Himself, and more broadly that He unifies all ethnic, racial, social, socio-economic ranks groups into one new man.

This is the mystery that was unknown in the Old Testament and revealed in the New Testament unto His apostles and prophets by the Spirit.

Verse 4

by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)

By reading the Holy Spirit illuminated Word, we understand the mystery that the Gentiles and Jews are one body. Christ in His fullness is known.

Verse 5

which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets

Revelation knowledge and understanding come from the Holy Spirit - one of His primary ministries. Those who do not have the Holy Spirit, or do not yield to the Holy Spirit, are cut off from revelation knowledge.

ESV. Moses and the Prophets had written of Christ’s worldwide salvation and although God told Abraham that through him all the nations of the world would be blessed, the full extent of who Christ was and what He would accomplish was not make known to men until the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Verse 6

that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel.

Believers, both Jew and Gentile, are united to Christ, and thus, are united in Christ. Gentiles are now joint heirs with Christ, fellow heirs with believing Jews, co-heirs with Christ.

Verse 7

of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.

We are called by God, anointed by God, and given a grace-gift from God to preach, teach, love, and fulfill our calling.

Verse 8

To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.

God loves us because of His grace and mercy. If we have this revelation, we know that we are “less than the least of all saints.”

 

ESV. God’s wisdom is revealed in Christ. Before being revealed it was a mystery.

 

 

 

 

Verse 9

 

and to make all see what the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ

 

Paul’s purpose is “to make all men see the fellowship of the mystery.” His writings, canonized as Scripture, have touched billions of people.

The mystery Paul is speaking of is that Gentiles are equal heirs with the Jews in the body of Christ (Ephesians 3:6. In Colossians, he goes further to say that the mystery is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).

All things were created by Jesus Christ. Isaiah 44:24 states, “I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself.” Since Jehovah stretched forth the heavens alone and spread abroad the earth by Himself, and since Jesus created all things (John 1:3, 10; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:16; and Hebrews 1:2), this again proves the deity of Jesus Christ and the unity of the Godhead. The following are some passages in the Old Testament referring to Jehovah that in the New Testament are made to refer to Jesus Christ: Isaiah 44:6 with Revelation 1:17-18, Isaiah 40:3 with Mark 1:3, Numbers 21:5-6 with 1 Corinthians 10:9, Joel 2:32 with Romans 10:13, Isaiah 45:23 with Philippians 2:10-11, Isaiah 6:1 with John 12:41-42, and 2 Kings 17:35 with Colossians 3:24.

 

Verse 10

 

to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places

 

God’s church is like a city set on a hill for all the world to see (Matthew 5:14), including the demonic world.

In this letter, Paul used the same terminology (“principalities and powers”) to refer to the demonic realm (Ephesians 6:12). As we walk in the power and victory that Jesus provided, we constantly show Satan and his demons their folly, and God’s infinite wisdom.

“Manifold” means “of many and varied kinds. One cannot comprehend God’s wisdom except by revelation knowledge. (Psalms 147:5, Romans 11:33, and Ephesians 3:8).

 

Verse 11

 

according to the (His?) eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).

God’s plan of redemption did not arise after man sinned. Rather, Jesus was “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8. Before the world began, God promised eternal life to those who would believe (Titus 1:2). Jesus was foreordained before the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:20). In Ephesians 1:4, we were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. The plan of redemption was God’s eternal purpose.

 

ESV. The plan of God accomplishing redemption in Christ originated in the fathomless sea of eternity from God’s manifold wisdom.

 

Verse 12

 

in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.

 

Verse 13

 

Therefore, I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations (sufferings) for you, which is your glory.

 

Paul took full advantage of his access to the Father (Ephesians 3:12). Paul’s access into the presence of God gave him victory and enabled him to tell the Ephesians not to be bothered about his imprisonment for them; he wasn’t. Ep. 3:12). No problem is comparable to the glory of God - by which we “have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him” (Ephesians 3:12).

 

Verse 14

 

For this reason, I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus.

 

Ephesians 3:14-19 is one sentence - Paul’s second prayer. He prays that the Ephesians will have spiritual strength by God’s Spirit (Ephesians 3:16) and that Christ will make His home in their hearts by faith (Ephesians 3:17). He also prayed that through their being rooted and grounded in love, the Ephesians would comprehend, or get revelation knowledge (Ephesians 3:17-18). Last, he prayed that by experiencing Christ’s love, they would be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19). The remaining two verses of this chapter (Ephesians 3:20-21) are praise to God in anticipation of His answering this prayer.

Kneeling is an indication of an attitude of worship, reverence, adoration, and praise. This posture is mentioned in Scripture numerous times: Solomon knelt before the altar of the Lord to pray (1 Kings 8:54 and 2 Chronicles 6:13). Ezra fell upon his knees to pray (Ezra 9:5). Daniel preyed upon his knees three times daily (Daniel 6:10). Jesus knelt down to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:41). Stephen knelt as he forgave his enemies (Acts 7:60). Peter kneeled down to pray before raising Dorcas from the dead (Acts 9:39-42). At his farewell speech to the elders of Ephesus, Paul, and those he was addressing knelt down and prayed together (Acts 20:36). Paul did this again with other disciples (Acts 21:5). Psalms 95:6 instructs us to come and bow down as we worship. The Scriptures prophesy that God will make every knee bow to Him (Isaiah 45:23 and Philippians 2:10). Other postures of prayer include standing (Mark 11:25), lying prostrate (2 Samuel 12:16), and lifting up of holy hands (1 Timothy 2:8). Other things that accompany prayer include fasting (Matthew 17:21; Acts 13:3, and 14:23), forgiveness of others (Mark 11:25), agreement (Matthew 18:19), faith (James 5:14-15), treating one’s mate with respect (1 Peter 3:7), the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 6:18), and the laying on of hands (Acts 6:6 and 13:3). We are encouraged to pray: always (Luke 18:1), in the day of trouble (Psalms 50:15), constantly (1 Thessalonians 5:17), in everything (Philippians 4:6), at all times in the Spirit ((Ephesians 6:18), when suffering (James 5:13), in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:2 and 14), for our enemies (Matthew 5:44), for those who harm us (Luke 6:28), for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44), for a brother who sins (1 John 5:16), for friends (Job 42:8-9), for others to receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:15), for healing (Acts 28:8), for laborers to be sent into the harvest (Matthew 9:38 and Luke 10:2), and for the saints (Romans 1:9-10, Ephesians 1:16, Philippians 1:3-4, and 2 Timothy 1:3).

 

Verse 15

 

from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named

 

Paul is speaking of the saved, both Old and New Testament, those alive and those already in heaven. Common names for the saints are “the body of Christ, or “the holy temple of God.”  

 

Verse 16.

 

that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man.

 

The Lord strengthens believers through the power of the Holy Spirit. Some of us fall short of what God wants us what we want for themselves, because we try to live for God instead of letting God live through us. The key to all victory in the Christian life is learning how to depend on the Holy Spirit for strength. Note that they strength comes from the Holy Spirit and the riches of His Glory.

This strengthening of the believer is done not in the spirit, which is complete and perfect in Christ (1 Corinthians 6:17, but within the heart, i.e., the soul and personality of the believer. The “inner man” referred to in this verse is also called “the inward man” in 2 Corinthians 4:16. There, Paul said his inward man was being renewed day by day. This was not speaking of his spirit since that was complete in Christ Jesus (Colossians 2:10). A born-again spirit has already been strengthened with might through the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul was praying that this strength would manifest itself in the Ephesians’ character as well. This is not speaking of the initial indwelling of Christ at conversion (Romans 8:9) but rather the indwelling of Christ within the believers’ whole personality. This happens by faith as the believers invite Christ to be at home within their souls, thus resulting in the Spirit’s control of both attitude and conduct. This happened throughout the book of Acts. Believers who were already baptized with the Holy Spirit were filled and strengthened with God’s might. One of the more notable examples of this was in Acts 4:31.

 

Verse 17

 

that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love.

 

Womack: Christ indwells every believer at the moment of salvation (Romans 8:9). So, why then was Paul praying that Christ would dwell in their hearts by faith? The answer is that the heart is comprised of the soul and the spirit. The instant people make Jesus their Lord, the Father sends the Spirit of His Son (Galatians 4:6) into their hearts. They have to believe with all their hearts (spirit and soul) to see or feel the result in their bodies. Therefore, Paul prayed that the presence of Christ, which is already a reality in the spirit, will become a reality in believers’ souls (through the renewing of the mind. This is a matter of faith.

Paul wasn’t describing just a casual acquaintance with God’s love. He was speaking of an intimate understanding and experiential knowledge of the depths of God’s love. Just as a tree’s roots provide it with stability and nourishment, so also our revelation of God’s love is the foundation on which everything else we receive from God is built.

 

Verse 18

 

may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height.

 

Comprehension comes through “being rooted and grounded in love” (Ephesians 3:17). Understanding love opens up the door to understanding our Father because “God is love” (1 John 4:8).

Paul’s use of the word “all” makes it clear that this understanding of God’s love is not reserved for just a few. The Lord wants us all to know “the breadth, and length, and depth, and height” of His love.

God’s love is not one-dimensional. There is width, length, depth, and height to it; this can only be comprehended through the revelation knowledge of the Holy Spirit. Having only a superficial knowledge of God’s love is like looking at a one-dimensional picture of a real object.

 

 

Verse 19

 

to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

 

When we experience God’s love, it surpasses intellectual knowledge and causes us to be filled with all the fullness of God. A person experiencing the love of God is full of all God has to offer because God is love (1 John 4:8).

Verse 20

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.

The key is “according to the power that works in us, which implies being filled with the Holy Spirit and obeying the Holy Spirit. In Acts 1:8, we receive power when the Holy Ghost comes upon us. Romans 1:16: the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Christ is called the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:24), and in context (Christ dwelling in our hearts, Ephesians 3:17), this is Paul’s probable meaning here.

Verse 21

to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Paul exalts Him who is able (Ephesians 3:20) to do abundantly more then we ask or think according to the power working in us and Him who is to be glorified in the church for “the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe” (Ephesians 1:19). “I can do all things through Christ who strengths me” (Philippians 4:13). 

 

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Ephesians: Chapters 1-3
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