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Ephesians One

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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Ephesians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:

Ephesus. Unlike the other Pauline epistles, there are few, if any references to individuals or to local church problems in Ephesians. Nevertheless, strong confirmation exists in the ancient manuscripts and in writings of the church fathers that it was indeed addressed to the Ephesian church. In view of the fact that Paul visited Ephesus at least three times and once spent at least three years there teaching them night and day (Acts 20:31), he knew this church and its people better than any other, and no doubt felt they would be best equipped to receive, then circulate, this most doctrinal of all his epistles. It is significant that the letters to the seven churches in Asia (Revelation 2 and 3) begin with the letter to Ephesus, suggesting that Ephesus was the mother church of the seven. None of the others (Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea) apparently received a letter from Paul (although there is a possible reference to a Laodicean letter in Colossians 4:16). So it seems plausible that Paul wanted the Ephesian epistle to be read in all the churches of Asia. That could well be the reason why he included no personal references. The latter could have been conveyed by Tychicus (Ephesians 6:21), who carried the epistle from Rome to Ephesus, presumably also with the instruction to circulate it among the other churches.

Ephesians 1:2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

in heavenly places. This fascinating phrase occurs five times in this epistle (Ephesians 1:3; 1:20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12). The phrase could read simply “in the heavenlies,” since “places” has been inferred, as is clear especially in Ephesians 1:20, where Christ is said to be seated at God's “right hand in the heavenly [places].”

Ephesians 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

chosen us. God chose us by His own will (Ephesians 1:11), not because He could foresee our choice of Him. Jesus made this compellingly clear: “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you” (John 15:16). Nevertheless, from our human perspective, every believer has also made his own willing decision to receive Christ (John 1:12; 3:16; Romans 10:13; etc.).

in him. The phrase “in Him,” “in Christ” or the equivalent occurs at least thirty times in Ephesians. For example, we have been “blessed ... in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3), “accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6), “in whom we have redemption” (Ephesians 1:7), “in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6), and many others.

foundation of the world. God in Christ was the Creator of the space/matter/time universe, but before He began the world, in some way beyond our comprehension, we were chosen in Him. Note also the other events that were planned, and (since God does not change) in effect all consummated before the world began: (1) love within the Godhead (John 17:5, 24); (2) Lamb of God slain (1 Peter 1:20); (3) names written in Book of Life (Revelation 13:8; 17:8); (4) chosen ones saved by grace (2 Timothy 1:9); (5) saved ones given assurance of eternal life (Titus 1:2); (6) established hidden wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 2:7); (7) all God's works known and planned (Acts 15:18). Even though our finite minds cannot really comprehend such truths, we can believe them since God has revealed them to us. He did not say we must understand the full depths of His gospel to be saved; we just have to believe!

Ephesians 1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

predestinated. The goals of God's predestinating work are given in this chapter as: (1) producing holiness in those so chosen (Ephesians 1:4); (2) adopting them as His own sons and daughters (Ephesians 1:5); (3) assuring them of an inheritance in eternity (Ephesians 1:11). Its over-all purpose is to be “to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14; note also 3:21). The word “predestinate” is also used in Acts 4:28 (there rendered “determined before”), Romans 8:29, 30 (see notes on these verses), and 1 Corinthians 2:7 (rendered as “ordained before”). The same Greek word, without the prefix, is found in Luke 22:22, Acts 17:26 (“determined”), and Acts 10:42; 17:31 (“ordained”), with essentially the same meaning. Since our minds are finite, we are unable to comprehend the infinite character of the plan and purpose of God, which is exactly the situation with regard to the clearly Biblical truth of predestination. In no way does this preclude the ability of God to plan also the paradoxical truth of human freedom and responsibility, which also are clearly Biblical (remember God's ability is infinite!). We cannot fully comprehend with our minds, but can believe and rejoice with our hearts that God has known and chosen us believers for Himself even before the world began.

Ephesians 1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

accepted. “Accepted” is translated “highly favored” in the angel's message to Mary (Luke 1:28). The Greek word, charitoo, means “graced,” or “graciously honored.”

in the beloved. Although Christ is called God's “beloved Son” seven times in the New Testament (each time directly by the Father Himself), this is the only time (except in Matthew 12:18, quoting Isaiah 42:1) where He is spoken of simply as “the beloved.”

Ephesians 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

riches. The attributes of God are characterized by this term of abundance. Note “the riches of His grace” in this verse, “the exceeding riches of His grace” (Ephesians 2:7), “the riches of the glory of His inheritance (Ephesians 1:18), His “unsearchable riches” (Ephesians 3:8), “the riches of His glory” (Ephesians 3:16; also Romans 9:23), “the riches of His goodness” (Romans 2:4), “the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God” (Romans 11:33), and His “riches in glory” (Philippians 4:19). No wonder men have suggested the familiar acrostic for GRACE to be “God's riches at Christ's expense!”

Ephesians 1:8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;

all wisdom. Since God in Christ has abounded toward us in all wisdom, there is no other true wisdom! Compare 1 Corinthians 3:19, Matthew 11:25.

Ephesians 1:9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:

Ephesians 1:10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

dispensation. For a discussion on “dispensation,” see note on Ephesians 3:2. he. Here, “He” refers to the Father, as also in Ephesians 1:6. The Father's work of predestination is expounded in Ephesians 1:1-6, the Son's work of redemption in Ephesians 1:7-12, and the Spirit's work of sealing in Ephesians 1:13-14. This passage (Ephesians 1:3-14) is said to be the longest sentence in the Bible.

in Christ. Christ is both Creator and Consummator of all things (Colossians 1:16-20).

Ephesians 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

predestinated. On predestination, see notes on Romans 8:29-30 and note on Ephesians 1:5. Note the important assertion here that God did not base our predestination on His ability to foresee our decision to accept Christ, but simply according to “the counsel of His own will.” In fact, He works all things—even evil things(!)—according to His own will. If it were otherwise, He would not be omnipotent. The fact that He allows evil, when He could prevent it if He so chose, and the fact that He allows Satan and wicked men to perform and instigate evil actions, knowing when He created them that they would do this, yet creating them anyway, can only lead to the conclusion that God is the ultimate cause (though not the immediate cause) of evil, as well as good. This conclusion would seem to compromise His perfect holiness, but any other conclusion would lead to the still more unthinkable denial of His omnipotence, and thus deny that God is really God! We can partly harmonize this in our understanding by saying that God has allowed (or even caused, if we press our semantics) evil for a finite time in order to produce a greater good in eternity, when all the ills of this present world will be long forgotten. Compare Romans 9:18-23. We cannot fully comprehend or reconcile such matters in our finite minds, so must simply rest our hearts in the truth that whatever the Creator does is right, by definition, since He has created us as well as the very concept of right and wrong. Note again Acts 15:18.

Ephesians 1:12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

Ephesians 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

sealed. The sealing ministry of the Spirit, serving as an assurance (a down payment, earnest money, as it were) of our ultimate complete redemption when Christ comes again (Ephesians 1:14), is also mentioned in 2 Corinthians 1:22 and Ephesians 4:30. This sealing is evidenced experientially by His indwelling witness and guidance (Romans 8:16, 23).

Ephesians 1:14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

Ephesians 1:15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,

Ephesians 1:16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;

Ephesians 1:17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:

Ephesians 1:18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,

enlightened. The spiritual eyes of the natural man have been blinded by Satan, the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4), and the saving gospel of Christ is beyond his comprehension. In answer to prayer (Ephesians 1:16), the Holy Spirit—the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, whose ministry is to convict unbelievers “of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8)—may bring light to his spiritual eyes, and an understanding faith in Christ. The same Spirit will then continue to enlighten his understanding through the Word.

Ephesians 1:19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,

Ephesians 1:20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,

Ephesians 1:21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:

not only in this world. When Christ defeated sin and death and arose from the dead, He ascended far above all heavens (Ephesians 4:10), including all the angelic hosts and their stellar habitations. The risen, glorified Lord Jesus is now King of all creation (Matthew 28:18; Philippians 2:9-11), and will be so forever.

Ephesians 1:22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,

Ephesians 1:23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

his body. The theme of the church as the body of Christ, whose members are composed of both Jews and Gentiles, is prominent in Ephesians (Ephesians 2:15-16; 4:4, 12-16). See also 1 Corinthians 12:12-31; Romans 12:4-5; Colossians 1:24.

fulness of him. This is an amazing concept, that somehow we, the members of His body, can contribute to the “fulness” of the great King who, by virtue of His work of creating, saving and reconciling all things (Colossians 1:16-20) already “fills all things” (Ephesians 4:10; see also Ephesians 3:19; 4:13; Colossians 2:9-10).