Setting

In this section, Paul greets the readers as saints and then tells them about the blessings saints receive in Christ. He prays that the Ephesians will be enlightened about certain spiritual truths and realities. He introduces the concept of the church as the body of Christ.

Key Verse

(1:8,9)

Did You Know...?

1. Ephesus (1:1): “Ephesus was the most important city in western Asia Minor (now Turkey). It had a harbor that at that time opened into the Cayster River, which in turn emptied into the Aegean Sea. Because it was also at an intersection of major trade routes, Ephesus became a commercial center. It boasted a pagan temple dedicated to th Roman goddess Diana (Greek Artemis); cf. Ac 19:23-31. Paul made Ephesus a center for evangelism for about three years… and the church there apparently flourished for some time, but later needed the warning of Rev 2:1-7.” [ref]
2. Dispensation (1:10): “The word Paul uses is oikonomia, which occurs nine times in the NT (TDNT, 5:151-3). Its basic meaning relates to household management (Luke 16:2-4) and is extended to cover general provision or arrangement… Here paul uses it to suggest the administration or putting into effect of God’s farreaching redemptive plan (3:9)” [ref]

Outline

  • Salutation
    (1:1-2)
  • Blessings in Christ
    (1:3-14)
  • Prayer that the Ephesians be enlightened
    (1:15-23)

Segment Analysis

  • 1:1-2

    1.

    What qualifies a person to be called a saint?

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    Sanctification of the Spirit (1Cor 1:2; 1Pet 1:2), through the truth (Jn 17:19), by the blood of the covenant (Heb 10:29). In effect, a person who is baptized into the true church is washed by the blood of Jesus and if he maintains his sanctification by spiritual nurture in the Holy Spirit and through the Word of God, he remains a saint in God’s eyes. In contrast, the Roman Catholic Church has an elaborate system of determining who can be called a saint and that also only some years after his/her death. Paul here addresses living saints not dead ones.

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  • 1:3-14

    2.

    Where are the heavenly places (3)?

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    Not heaven in eternity but the spiritual realm that exists together with the physical realm today. Note that blessings are there (1:3), Christ is there (1:20), we are there (2:6), the spiritual battle is fought there (6:12).

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  • 3.

    What is the repeated key phrase in this paragraph?

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    “In Christ.”

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  • 4.

    List the blessings we obtain in Christ. a. 1:4-6 b. 1:7-9 c. 1:10 d. 1:11-12 e. 1:13-14

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    a. Chosen in Him for holiness and predestined to adoption as sons.
    b. In Him, redemption through His blood.
    c. In Him, gathered together in one.
    d. Obtained an inheritance in Him.
    e. Sealed with the Holy Spirit, the result of trusting in Him.

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  • 5.

    Record all the phrases in this paragraph that begin with “according to.” What do they tell you about our spiritual blessings in Christ?

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    “According to the good pleasure of His will” (5). “According to the riches of His grace” (7). “According to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself” (9). “According to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will” (11). All spiritual blessings in Christ are not based on man’s merits but proceed from God’s sovereign purpose and immense grace.

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  • 6.

    How important are spiritual blessings vis-à-vis material blessings to you?

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    Spiritual blessings are eternal and worthwhile. A Christian who realizes this will be able to have joy in the Lord no matter what his earthly physical circumstances (Hab 3:17-19). Consider how common it is for Christians to be happy and ‘witness’ for the Lord when they succeed in the world. Though such blessings in the world sometimes do come from God, clearly the emphasis here and in the rest of the Scriptures is on spiritual blessings of salvation and the perfection of our souls.

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  • 7.

    Verses 5 and 6 teach us that our adoption as sons was predestined. Does predestination negate man’s free will?

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    God desires all men to be saved (1Tim 2:4). The fact that not all men are saved implies that God does not impose His desire against man’s free will. Man’s exertion alone cannot save him (Rom 7:15-24). On the other hand, a man’s free will to decide to accept the salvation of God is necessary but not sufficient. Man needs a giant hand up from God and this He accomplished by the death of Jesus and by choosing us. Man’s free will is not negated because if God offers salvation, man can still reject Him.
    Verses on predestination to consider:
    Eph 1:5,11—Predestination according to the good pleasure and counsel of His will.
    Rom 8:29,30—He foreknew then He predestined. Next, He called, He justified and He glorified.
    The picture that emerges is that if one is ultimately saved, it is because of God’s grace. If one is not saved, it is our rejection of His grace. Does God determine the course of human lives? Yes, within His sovereign will (Rom 9:10-24). Is man helpless to determine his own destiny? Not completely, for man is alive and can decide (2Tim 2:20-21).

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  • 8.

    Explain the role of the Holy Spirit according to 13-14.

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    Although we have been adopted as sons and obtained an inheritance in Christ, we still wait for the ultimate adoption, the redemption of our bodies (“until the redemption of the purchased possession” in verse 14; Rom 8:23). In other words, we still expect the ultimate glory that will only be fulfilled at the final resurrection. But in the meantime, God has given us the Holy Spirit as a seal to show that we are his possessions. The presence of the Holy Spirit also guarantees the reality of our eternal inheritance (2Cor 1:21-22; 5:1-5).

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  • 1:15-23

    9.

    For what aspects of the Ephesians did Paul give thanks to God?

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    For their faith in the Lord Jesus and their love for all the saints (1:15,16).

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  • 10.

    List the 3 things for which Paul prayed that the Lord would enlighten the eyes of the Ephesians’ understanding.

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    1. To know what is the hope of His calling (18).
    2. To know what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints (18).
    3. To know what is the exceeding greatness of His power (19).

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  • 11.

    Do you feel that the eyes of your understanding are enlightened? How do you think such an enlightenment would affect a Christian’s perspective of life?

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    If we know what the hope is, we will not pursue earthly things (cf 1Cor 15:19; Col 3:1,2). If we know what are the riches of His glory, we would consider the things of this world as rubbish (Phil 3:7,8). If we know what is the exceeding greatness of His power, we would not put our trust in man nor in wealth but only in God. We would rely on Him for all things (Ps 146:3-5).

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  • 12.

    Verse 18 speaks of the working of God’s mighty power. How did God demonstrate His mighty power in Christ?

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    God raised Him from the dead and exalted Him (20-21). God also put all things under His feet and made Him the head over all things (22).

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  • 13.

    What does the word “church” refer to? (cf. 1Cor 12:13,27)

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    The assembly of believers who have been baptized into Christ.

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  • 14.

    What does the phrase ‘the fullness of Him who fills all in all’ mean?

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    It tells us that God who ‘fills all in all’ is everywhere (cf Ps 139:7-12). It also tells us that God’s presence or fullness tends to be more focused in some places than in others (Ex 20:24), people (Jn 14:16,17) or entities like His body, the church (Eph 1:23).

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