Chapter 1

1:1 - Only in Romans and in Ephesians Paul is mentioned as the only author. In other letters other names are included with Paul in the address;

Saints and faithful - they are saints not because of their own actions; they are saints because God has sanctified them;
“Faithful” has its root in “faith” - their new identity is rooted in their faith in Christ - as Christians they are people of faith - believing in Jesus or still better believing in God through Jesus Christ.

[at Ephesus] does not appear in many early manuscripts - see Introduction.

“In Jesus” - is a beloved phrase of Paul - Christian life - new life - is conducted in Christ Jesus - understood as the Church - the Body of Christ.

1:2 - standard greeting of Paul. The word “Lord” in reference to Christ Jesus puts Him on the same level that God of the Old Testament (YHWH from Ex 3:14 was translated as “Lord - Kyrious” in Greek version of the Old Testament - LXX).

The Mystery of Christ in the Church 1:3–14 - Hymn in praise of God

In Greek, the whole part 1:3–14 is just one long sentence.

It can be divided in reference to Trinity:

  1. The action of the Father (3–6);
  2. The action of Christ (7–12);
  3. The action of the Holy Spirit (13–14)

It can also be divided based on topics:

  1. Introduction (3)
  2. Election (4);
  3. Predestination (5–8);
  4. Revelation of the mystery and participation in it (9–12);
  5. Seal of the Holy Spirit (13–14)

Finally, it can also be divided based on stanzas:

  1. 3–4;
  2. 5–8;
  3. 9–12;
  4. 13–14.

1:3 - introduction

God here is not presented as the King of the whole universe - the Almighty or as the God of Israel. Here God is introduced as “Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”.

“Our Lord” in reference to Jesus Christ appears five times in this letter (1:3,17; 3:11; 5:20; 6:24). Access to the God is only through Jesus Christ who on one hand is related to the God as Son of the Father and on the other hand is related to us - Christians - as our Lord.

Why is the God blessed by Paul?

  1. He himself blessed us. Every spiritual blessing in heavenly places is explained later as: a) election; b) bestowing of grace; c) revealing to us the mystery; d) apostolic preaching; e) faith, f) seal of the Holy Spirit - baptism.
  2. Heavenly places (Eph 1:20–21) - a ‘place’ where God dwells and Christ’s sits on the right hand of the Father.
  3. The blessing comes to us “in Christ”. “In Christ” or “in Him” appears here 11 times (35 times in the entire letter). It can mean through Christ - Christ as a mediator; it can also mean that something happens to someone only if they are in union with Christ (Gal 2:20; Rom 6:3–5; 2 Cor 5:17; John 15:1–7). This stress on “in Christ” points to the uniqueness of Christ - He is the mediator of God’s salvation - none else! (Eph 1:4,9,13).

1:4–6 - the action of the Father

In Jesus Christ we - the Church - were chosen by the Father before the foundation of the world. That is an incredible statement. Before the world was even created you and I were on God’s mind.

The election is an important theme in the Bible (see Ex 19:5; Deut 7:6–8). Noah was chosen by God, Abraham was chosen by God, Israel was chosen by God, finally the Church - the community of Jews and Gentiles believing in Christ - is chosen by God. The election states that we belong to God.

The purpose of Abraham’s election is stated in Gen 12:3 - that all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Then, there is another purpose in Gen 18:19 - to instruct people to keep the way of the Lord.

We are chosen to be holy and blameless before God! This has to aspects:

  1. Passive - through the death and resurrection of Christ, we have become holy and blameless before God;
  2. Active - explained in Eph 5:25–27 - here this active aspect is stressed.

We are also chosen to for Him. God is adopting as for Himself. This election is motivated by God’s love. This adoption can happen through Jesus Christ.

Thus, we are chosen for a purpose - the adoption. The idea of adoption is prominent in Paul’s letters (see Gal 4:4–7; Rom 8:14–17).

Are you aware that you are a son/ daughter of the Almighty God?

To adopt people to Himself is God’s good will.

It is done through God’s grace.

Its purpose is God’s glory.

Christ is called here “the beloved” (see Mk 1:11; 9:7).

The grace that makes us adopted children of God comes to us in Christ Jesus. Again we see here the mediating role of Christ.

Everything that comes to us from the Father passes through Jesus Christ; and everything that comes from us to the Father passes through Jesus Christ.

1:7–12 - redemption - the price of our redemption is the blood of Christ (see 1 Peter 1:18–19). Again, this redemption is “in Christ”. The effect of this redemption is “the forgiveness of sins”. 1 Peter speaks about “the vain conduct”. We have to understand “sin” properly in order to grasp the meaning of this powerful statement.

We are born into sin - a reality that controls society, human behavior, human mind and heart. It is a slavery more real than that of Egypt. Yet, since we do not know any better, we accept it as a something normal. To be a sinner is to be human - we say. Then, someone from a “free world” comes to us and tells us that we can be free. How will we react? Most of us will reject his offer, and some of us will even try to make him sin and join our slavery.

The forgiveness of sins is a measure of God’s grace - the richness of God’s grace.

Together with the forgiveness of sins, God’s grace also brought to us wisdom and intelligence. To us have been revealed the mystery of God’s will. What is it? Reunification of the entire universe in Christ. It is necessary, because this original unity was destroyed by sin.

The Church - composed of the Jews and Gentiles - is the beginning of the fulfillment of this plan. The wall of hostility is broken within the Church. For this, we - both Jews and Gentiles - have been chosen according to God’s will - again we have here the aspect of grace.

The Church is composed of those “having previously hoped in Christ” - here Paul refers to himself and other Christians who believed in Christ before the Ephesians. There are many other who do not have that hope yet. They need to be brought to the Church as well.

The Church is also called to live for God’s glory.

1:13–14 - the Ephesians are also now part of this plan of reunification of everything in Christ. How did it happen?

  1. First the word of truth - the Good News about their salvation - was preached to them. (Notice again “in Him”);
  2. The result of this preaching was their faith. Faith is understood as putting confidence - trust - the message of Good News (Eph 2:8; 3:17);
  3. Baptism - presented as the seal of the Holy Spirit. This Holy Spirit was promised by Christ to the disciples before and after His resurrection (see John 16:7–11; 14:16,26; Acts 1:4–5). Apparently, baptism is understood as our personal Pentecost.
  4. This three-fold process is also seen in Acts 8:12,35–37.

The Holy Spirit is seen as a pledge of our inheritance - something more is still awaiting us - but the Holy Spirit is already an assurance that we shall receive it. Paul speaks here about “the redemption of the possession” that needs to be accomplished [first] (see Rom 8:19–25). Then, the completion of God’s mysterious will of reunification of the universe will bring praise of God’s glory.

Notice that the phrase “to the praise of the glory of him” (1:14) referring to the future appeared also in 1:12 - referring to the Church - in which the plan of reunification has been accomplished.

Thanksgiving and Prayer for the Ephesians

  1. Reason for prayer - 1:15–16;
  2. First request - for the Spirit of wisdom and understanding - 1:17;
  3. Second request - to grasp the greatness of the inheritance they were called - 1:18;
  4. Third request - to understand the power of God in their life - 1:19–23


Faith and love come together. Perhaps faith relates to Christ and love to brothers and sisters (see Gal 5:6). It is the news about their faith and love that moves Paul to a prayer of thanksgiving. But, there is also a prayer of request on their behalf.

1:17–19 - Three requests

  1. The Spirit of wisdom and revelation in order to know God more (see Ex 31:3; 35:31; Is 11:2). The Holy Spirit whom they have received in baptism will gift them His gifts so they can deepen their knowledge of God.
  2. For enlightenment of their understanding. As it was said, the Holy Spirit is the pledge of something greater yet to come - hope of God’s calling and God’s inheritance. Paul is praying that the Ephesians will grasp that future reality.
  3. He also prays that they will understand God’s power towards “us” the believing. The proof of this power is seen in Christ:
    3.a - in Christ’s resurrection;
    3.b - in Christ’s Ascension - sitting at God’s right hand above everything - cosmic powers - that is and yet is going to be;
    3.c - in submitting everything to Christ;
    3.d - in making Christ the head of the Church and Church is seen as Christ’s body and fullness of everything.

Here we have reference to Ps 8:7; there are also motives from Phil 2:6–11; 1 Cor 10:17, 12:12–13; Rom 12:5.

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