“From Paul the apostle of Jesus Christ and commissioned by Jesus Christ, to the faithful Christians in Ephesus. May grace and peace be yours from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”  (Eph. 1:1-2, paraphrased)

v. 1

When Paul writes to Philemon, he describes himself as “the prisoner of Jesus Christ” (Philemon 1:1). In his letter to Titus, he is “the servant of Jesus Christ” (Titus 1:1). But as Paul begins his epistle to the Ephesians he emphasizes his apostolic authority and privilege. Although Paul is not one of the original twelve apostles, he meets all the requirements for this office (I Cor. 9:1). An apostle is “one who is sent; an ambassador.” One primary prerequisite for apostleship is to have physically seen the Lord Jesus (Acts 1:22). Paul meets the resurrected Jesus on the Damascus road (Acts 9: 3-6).

Paul is a man with a mission who ministers “by the will of God.” He claims neither academic nor rabbinical training as qualification for this position. The apostle does not assume his authority, nor does he write, teach, or evangelize based on personal merit or aspiration. Writing to the churches in Galatia, he affirms his divine commission is bestowed upon him by Christ alone (Gal. 1:1). He does not write with self-confidence but with confidence in Christ. It is noteworthy that he mentions the name “Jesus Christ” three times in these two verses. From the first strokes of his pen, Paul makes it clear the focus of his correspondence concerns the relationship between Believers and their Lord. The phrase “in Christ Jesus” is used frequently in this epistle. This term or its equivalent “in Him” or “in the Lord” is found 23 times. 

The letter is addressed both to the Ephesian congregation and other groups of Believers as well. Because this epistle is intended for circulation among the churches in Asia Minor, Paul pens his letter to “the saints at Ephesus” but also “to all who are faithful to Christ Jesus.” The second letter to the Corinthians carries a similar intent, for Paul addresses both “the church of God at Corinth” and “the saints which are in Achaia” (II Cor. 1:1). 

The term “saint” (hagioi) or “holy ones” can only be understood in light of its usage in the Old Testament. The tabernacle, altars, and priests are considered “holy” (hagioi) for they are consecrated and set apart for God’s service (Lev. 19:2). The term describes the responsibility and the privilege enjoyed by every Christian. A Believer does not become a saint by virtue of personal merit but because he has dedicated his life to Christ. “The faithful” (pistoi) is another phrase used to describe Believers, referring to those who trust and demonstrate consistent fidelity to the Lord. 

v. 2

The term “grace” (chairein) is frequently used in Christian greetings to describe the unmerited favor God bestows on His people (II Pet. 1:2). This word is used so often in Ephesians it is called “The Epistle of Grace.”

But if grace is the fountain from which God’s blessing spring, “peace” (eirene) is the stream which flows from it. Jesus assures us the peace He offers cannot be defined in secular terms (Jn. 14:27). Confidence in Christ produces an inner tranquility undisturbed by external circumstances. In Hebrew, peace is “shalom.” For the person or persons being addressed, shalom is a term of endearment which carries a wish for spiritual health and prosperity. In the salutation of almost every Pauline epistle, the words grace and peace are combined. Together they form a short prayer asking God to richly bless every reader. 

Paul states the dual source of his authority is God the Father and His Son. The connective term and indicates equivalence, for both God and Christ are deity. A thread that runs the length of the epistle is Paul’s desire that Believers will comprehend the dynamic blessings bestowed on them by the Son of God. 

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

Points to Ponder

1. Describe the conversion of Saul on the Damascus road. What words are exchanged between Saul and Christ (Acts 9:3-6)?

2. Provide an extensive definition of the word grace. Why does Paul wish this for his readers? What are some benefits of receiving God’s grace?

3. Define the word peace. Quote and comment on Jesus’ remarks regarding peace (Jn. 14:27).

4. What phrase is thrice repeated by the resurrected Christ? (Jn. 20:19-26). Why is this significant?

5. Why does God require His followers to live holy lives? List some of the benefits of being separated from worldly influences.


Comments

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.