1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus:
2Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul writes to the church at Ephesus where Timothy was an elder. He describes himself as he usually does as an apostle (sent one of God who had seen Christ personally) of Christ, chosen in Him to be a missionary to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15-16). Paul credits Christ as the author of His salvation (Hebrews 12:2), though certainly he had to respond in faith and repentance to Christ’s revelation to him. He also credits the Lord with his present calling and purpose in life, recognizing that he is doing what God had ordained and prepared for him to do (Ephesians 2:10). He writes to the saints, who are called saints and not sinners because they are positionally justified and clean in Jesus. Though the saints will sometimes stumble (James 3:2), they are said to be faithful in Christ because Christ will be faithful to them by completing the good work He began in them (Philippians 1:6, Hebrews 12:2). Paul gives his familiar greeting, wishing the saints peace and grace from God and Christ to be able to live pleasing to Him and to be sustained by Him.
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
4just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love
5He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,
6to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
Paul blesses God the Father Who has given us His Son Christ through Whom we have access to every spiritual blessing in heaven. We have all that we need for life and godliness in this life (2 Peter 1:3), and we have the assurance and promise of eternal life with Christ in heaven forever. Though it is true that we each are responsible before God for either receiving Him or rejecting Him, it is also true that God knew before the foundation of the world who would respond in faith to Him (c.f. Psalm 139:16). Indeed, those who choose God were first chosen by God in His infinite wisdom and perfect purpose even before the world was created. God planned the future from the beginning, knowing perfectly well that He would have to step in and redeem man from his sin which He would do by giving up His only Son as a sacrifice for sin.
Those who receive Christ in faith are blameless and holy in the sight of Christ because we are seen in light of the righteousness of Christ. What we could not do, God did by sending Christ (c.f. Romans 8:3). His desire is that we who are saved would live lives that are blameless and holy before Him. In His great love, God predestined (foreordained, predetermined, appointed) those who believe to be adopted as sons of Christ. God desired that all would come to know Him, but in His sovereignty and omniscience He knew that only certain ones would. Seeing the end from the beginning, we can rest in the fact that we who are saved were adopted as sons of God because it was God’s kind intention to do so. Ultimately, we must credit God with the redemption plan, the redemption call, and the redemption work, though doing so does not negate man’s free will and responsibility to choose to repent. God’s plan from before the foundation of the world was to send Christ to bring men and women across the globe to a restored relationship with Him. This entire passage is a perspective that the church must embrace because it reminds us that God is sovereign and in total control of all things. Nothing takes Him by surprise, and all that unfolds in human history was ordained from the beginning, though that is not to say that He delights in all that transpires. Yet He gives man the ability to choose his own destiny, a destiny which He has foreordained and foreknown. It also reminds us that even our own salvation is not because of some inherent goodness in us that compelled God to save us, but our salvation was a manifestation of the love of God toward us, demonstrating His love to those who were unwilling, uninterested, and ungrateful. Furthermore, our salvation was done not for our glory but for the praise of the glory of His grace. God’s gracious nature is what deserves the praise, and this He demonstrated to us in giving us His Beloved Son and our Beloved Savior. God gave Jesus in love to us freely because of His grace, and Christ, having conquered sin and death, now extends to the world a free gift of salvation, if only they will receive it (Romans 6:23).
7In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace
8which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight
9He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him
10with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.
It is through Christ alone that man can be restored to relationship with God, being delivered and liberated from the power of the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2). Christ’s death paid the ransom so that God could receive us as adopted children. The beautiful part is that, since God sent Christ, God Himself paid our ransom. Hebrews 9:22 explains that “without shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.” The penalty of sin is death, and Christ bore the penalty so that we would not have to, dying in our place. It is through His shed blood that forgiveness is even possible in God’s economy. His blood is our ransom payment, ordained by God and paid by God in Christ to satisfy God’s own wrath, and this is why we must remember His blood shed and His body given for our sake (1 Corinthians 11:24-25). Our sins can be forgiven us because they were nailed with Christ to the cross (Colossians 2:14). God lavished His grace on us in pouring out just wrath for our sins on Christ Who had no sin of His own. What grace that God would die for man because of His love which we didn’t deserve!
When we respond in faith to Christ, God opens our eyes in His wisdom (Colossians 2:3) and insight so that we can see things clearly, make a right judgment of ourselves, and choose to repent and receive Christ by faith. We have manifest in the person of Christ having come to earth the mystery of God revealed to us of God’s great love and plan from the beginning to redeem us. God had all the events of history in view from the beginning, and at the proper time, God sent Christ to speak to the world about His love. Christ fulfilled the Law (Matthew 5:17), and He instituted a new and better covenant (Hebrews 8:6). Now it is clear that all things from Genesis to Revelation point to Christ and the love, sovereignty, grace, and power of God. The love of God and the grace of God are summed up in Christ. He is preeminent over all things (Colossians 1:18), and all things point to Him. He is the head of the church, He holds all things together, all things whether in heaven on earth were created through Him and for Him, and He is the fullness of Deity (Colossians 1:13-19). Christ is the point, Christ is the message, and Christ is to be glorified.
11also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,
12to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.
If it wasn’t for God’s grace, we would all be going to hell. There is nothing that we could do to undo our own sinfulness. We need God’s intervention, and we received God’s intervention because He sent Christ. It was God’s good will, pleasure, and purpose to give those who would hope in Him an inheritance in Christ. Thus, our being restored to relationship with God is praise ultimately to God because it was God’s ultimate purpose. Our inheritance is every spiritual blessing with Christ forever in eternity. It starts even now because the word translated “inheritance” implies being chosen as one’s private possession. In other words, God purposed to take ownership of us as His children. He worked to make it so that we could be adopted and therefore enjoy the rights that even His own Son enjoys. Every spiritual blessing is ours in Christ as He enables us to live godly in this life (2 Peter 1:3) and have fullness of joy in knowing God (Psalm 16:11). The fullness of His glorious riches are yet to be seen, but we as His children can be confident that we will see them when He glorifies us to go and be with Him in eternity.
13In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation--having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,
14who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory.
The Ephesians heard the message of the gospel (c.f. Romans 10:17) and were saved. The truth set them free (John 8:31-32) from their enslavement to sin and Satan (Romans 6:6). They heard, understood, and received the message of Christ, having believed in Him for the forgiveness of sins. Because of their faith, they, and all believers, were sealed as children of God in Christ with the Holy Spirit Who was promised to come, Who had now come, Who indwells the people of God (1 Corinthians 6:19), and Who serves as a deposit guaranteeing the fullness of their future inheritance. God, in giving us the Holy Spirit, is making a pledge to us that we will receive our full inheritance His children. We are God’s own possession (1 Peter 2:9) because He Himself had paid our ransom so that He doesn’t have to pour out His wrath on us. The debt we owed God that we couldn’t pay, He took upon Himself to pay in giving us Christ. God has made a serious, permanent, and binding pledge to us that we will enjoy life forever with Him as His children. The Holy Spirit even now reminds us that we are indeed sons of God (Romans 8:16). God will finish this work He has begun in us (Philippians 1:6) because it brings Him glory and praise.
15For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints,
16do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers;
17that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.
The Ephesians have a strong faith in God, and they have a great love for all the saints. Paul is extremely thankful that a mature and Biblical body of Christ is continuing to grow to the praise of God at Ephesus. As he prays for them, he cannot help but keep giving thanks to God for what God has done there in that city. He prays that God Who is the Father of glory would give the Ephesians a spirit of wisdom such that they would continue to grow in their knowledge and understanding of God. The specifics of what Paul desires would be revealed to them follows.
18I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
19and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might
20which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,
21far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
The specific truths that Paul prays the Ephesians would come to understand and fully appreciate concern the glory of God and the glorious plan of God for them in Christ. He wants them to hope strongly, fervently, and completely in their calling in Christ. They have much to look forward to, and thus there is no reason for them to doubt or lose hope. God has called them to come to Him as children, and God does not retract His adoption. God is thrilled and overjoyed to have men and women everywhere respond to Him in faith. He has riches beyond what we can imagine, but His prized possessions, aside from Christ Himself, are we, His saints. We are His glory because He has replicated His image in us and loved us. Christ in us in His glory, and we as vessels of clay contain the glory of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 4:7). God will conform our mortal bodies to be fit for heaven as well (Romans 8:11) such that our entire being can be part of God’s wealth and glory, a testimony of praise to Him for the transforming and redeeming work which He has done in us who believe. God has immeasurable power, and He uses it on our behalf. God, our loving Father of all glory, longs for us to share in His glory forever. He will thus bring us home to Him and perfect our faith. He will enable us to honor Him in this life as we walk by faith. He longs to work on our behalf through the power of His Son in and through us to advance His kingdom. God wants to show Himself strong through us even though we are but weak instruments. God demonstrated that all power was His when He raised Christ triumphantly from the dead, proving that there is no force or being that has power which surpasses His. The wonderful truth is that this is the same power that the same God says is acting on behalf of His children. The power that it took to raise Christ and seat Him at His right hand in heaven, giving Him the name above all names (Philippians 2:9-11) and the position of utmost authority (except for His own, of course- 1 Corinthians 15:27-28) is the same power and strength which God applies to believers. Thus, we can be confident that He gives us strength to do His will (Philippians 4:13) and give us all that we need to live blamelessly (2 Peter 1:3). Furthermore, we can have great hope in His calling because, if He can raise Christ from the dead, surely He can raise His adopted children from the dead as well. The power that God demonstrated to raise Christ will one day raise us also.
22And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church,
23which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
Because Christ was obedient to the point of death on the cross, God has exalted Him. He has been granted all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). The devil has been defeated, and death has been swallowed up in victory. Sin’s sting, death, is gone for the believer because Christ has conquered it (1 Corinthians 15:54-57). Christ has all power by God’s decree, and there is nothing that anybody or any spirit being can do to change this reality. Satan thus knows that he is doomed. Christ is in authority over all things including the church, being our head, our authority and master. Just as the head of a person controls the body and directs it as to what it should do, Jesus is to control and direct His body, the church. We are His body, and He lives within us, desiring to fill us with His Spirit to do His will by His strength, power, and authority (Ephesians 5:18). Satan doesn’t fear what a believer can do in his own strength, but he must cower in fear at what Christ is able and willing to do in and through His church. The church must find its power in Jesus and not in its own feeble abilities and mechanisms. Christ indwells every person that constitutes His true church. Individually and corporately, we are His and filled with Him.