Every Spiritual Blessing in Christ
Comments for Study 1
Memory Verse: 3
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I. Greetings (1-2)
>1. Who is the sender of this letter?
* Ephesians 1:1a "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God"
* "Paul" -Paul persecuted the church until Jesus called him to service for God. He traveled through Ephesus while returning to Jerusalem and Antioch on his second missionary trip. (Acts 18:18-21). Others had already preached the gospel there. (Acts 18:24-27, 19:1) During his third missionary trip Paul stayed there over two years (53-55 A.D.) using it as a missionary base for the rest of Asia minor. (Acts 19:10) Ephesus was the capital of the area. At the end of his third missionary journey Paul was arrested in Jerusalem and taken as prisoner to Rome (Acts 23:23-26:32). During the time Paul was in house arrest and wrote this letter. See the Introduction for the time frame and more background information.
* The name that Paul's parents gave him was Saul. Since he was from the tribe of Benjamin it can be assumed that he was named after the first king of Israel, Saul who was also a Benjamite. (1 Sam. 9:1-2) Paul's parents had high expectations for their son naming him such and Paul did all he could not to let his parents down as he himself testified, "though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless." (Phil. 3:4-6) However, after he meet Jesus he changed his name to Saul, which means little.
>How did Paul identify himself?
* "apostle" -Apostle means sent. Jesus chose twelve to be his apostles during his earthly ministry. (Mark 3:13-19) When Judas betrayed Jesus another was chosen to take his place. (Acts 1:12-26) Then Jesus called Paul, the fourteenth apostle. (Acts 9:1-30) Apostles are the only ones that display all the gifts of the Holy Spirit in order to support the mission that God has given them.
* How we see ourselves is important. Do we see ourselves in the eyes of others, in our own eyes, or the eyes of Jesus? If we see ourselves in the eyes of Jesus he will help us understand ourselves more when we study the Bible and pray. After Jesus came to Paul and called him as an apostle, and after he changed his name, he saw himself in the eyes of Jesus. He later confessed, "But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead." (Philippians 3:7-11)
>Are you in the will of God for your life?
* "by the will of God" -The only way to be an apostle is by the will of God. While all followers of Jesus are called to be in him and sent out, only a few are called as an apostle. An apostle displays all the gifts of the Spirit.
* Jesus reveals his will for us through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit communicates to our spirit through Bible study, prayer, and other members of the body of Christ. Sometimes, though very rarely God shows us his wills through dreams and visions. Finally, for a very few select people he will appear to them as he did with Paul. If you desire the latter before the others consider this, like Paul and the other apostles you will also endure much hardship, persecution, and sufferings.
>Who is the recipient?
* Ephesians 1:1b "To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus"
* "Ephesus" -One of the largest and most impressive cities in the ancient world, a political, religious, and commercial center in western Asia Minor, on the coast of the Mediterranean. Associated with the ministries of Paul, Timothy, and the apostle John, the city played a significant role in the spread of early Christianity. Ephesus and its inhabitants are mentioned more than twenty times in the New Testament. (Holman Bible Dictionary)
* Paul wrote of his long stay in Ephesus to the Corinthians this way, "But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me." (1 Corinthians 16:8-9)
* As explained in the introduction, though Paul wrote this letter to the Ephesians he also made several more duplicate letters leaving Ephesus out and thus this spot blank. The deliver of the letter was to mention the other city name here as he read it allowed, and then left a copy for them to read later.
* Letter writing was the main means of communicating with other believers and churches in Paul's day. Today we have other means of communicating. The method is not important as long as we continual to communicate in love and truth.
>How did they hear the gospel? (Acts 18:19-21, 24-27; 19:1, 8-12)
* Acts 18:19-21 "They arrived at Ephesus, where Paul left Priscilla and Aquila. He himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. When they asked him to spend more time with them, he declined. But as he left, he promised, "I will come back if it is God's will." Then he set sail from Ephesus."
* Acts 18:24-27 "Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately. When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. On arriving, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed."
* Acts 19:1 "While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples"
* Acts 19:8-12 "Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord. God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them."
* Acts 2:9 states that people from Asia were present on Pentecost. (33 A.D.) Asia was the Roman providence that Ephesus is located in. When Stephen was killed almost all the believers left Jerusalem, some going back to their homes. (35 A.D.) Therefore, we can assume that eventually some went back to Ephesus and shared the gospel. (Acts 8:1, 4)
* Paul wanted to go into Asia on his second missionary journey. However, the Holy Spirit kept him from doing so. As mentioned above he only made a brief stop there at the end of the mission journey. (52 A.D.)
* How the gospel came and spread in Ephesus and all of the Roman providence of Asia is a clear example that Jesus is the head of his church. He controls and works according to his plans. Denominations, churches, groups, mission boards, and individuals do not control the spread of the gospel and the growth of the kingdom of God. They are only some of the instruments he uses.
>What does it mean to be a saint?
* "saints" -Saint means "sanctified", "holy" and "purified". A saint is someone who has been sanctified, made holy, purified by the Jesus' blood, not because of good conduct. Israelites were called holy, separated, and consecrated. (Exodus 19:6; Deut. 7:6, 14:2, 21; Daniel 7:8, 22) The Christian church has inherited the title and the privileges of the Israelite nation. So are you a saint or a ain't? If the latter, what are you waiting for? Admit your sin and helpless state, turn to God in humble repentance and ask for his forgiveness and for him to become the Lord of your life giving him complete control.
* In the Old Testament two Hebrew words are used for saints: "qaddish" and "chasid". Qaddish comes from the qadosh and means holy. To be holy is to separate oneself from evil and dedicate oneself to God. This separation and union is seen both with things and people. All the items of worship are separated for the Lord’s use: altar (Exodus. 29:37), oil (Exodus 30:25), garments (Exodus 31:10), and even the people are to be holy (Exodus 22:31). This separation reflects God's very character, for He is holy (Leviticus 19:2). Holiness is clearly portrayed as an encounter with the living God, which results in a holiness of life-style (Isaiah 6). So holiness is more than a one-time separating and uniting activity. It is a way of life. “Ye shall be holy: for I am holy (Leviticus 19:2). Saints are people who try to live holy lives (Daniel 7:18-28).
Chasid means “to be kind or merciful.” These are qualities of God. Thus, chasid people are godly people because they reflect His character. Saints praise the Lord for His lifelong favor (Psalm 30:4), rejoice in goodness (2 Chronicles 6:41), and know that God keeps their paths (1 Samuel 2:9). God’s encounter with His people through the covenant enables them to walk as His saints.
In the New Testament, one word, hagios, (Greek) is used for saints. This word, like qadosh, means holy. Consequently, saints are the holy ones. There is only one reference to saints in the Gospels (Matthew 27:52). In this verse, dead saints are resurrected at the Lord's crucifixion. The death of the Holy One provides life for those who believe in God. In Acts, three of the four references occur in chapter 9 (Acts 9:13, 32, 41). First Ananias and then Peter talks of the saints as simply believers in Christ. Paul continues this use in his Epistles to the Romans, Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians, and Philemon. In each case, saints seem simply to be people who name Jesus as Lord. In the Book of Revelation, however, where the word saints, occurs more times than in any other single book (13 times), the meaning is further defined. Saints not only name Jesus as Lord, but they are faithful and true witnesses for Jesus.
Little wonder then that the early church considered witnesses who were martyred for their testimonies to be saints. In fact, soon these saints were accorded special honor and then even worship. Unfortunately, the term saints came to be applied only to such special people.
Biblically, though, the term saint is correctly applied to anyone who believes Jesus Christ is Lord. To believe in Jesus demands obedience and conformity to His will. A saint bears true and faithful witness to Christ in speech and life-style. To be a saint is a present reality when a believer seeks to let the Spirit form Christ within (Romans 8:29; Galatians 4:19; Ephesians 4:13). (Holman Bible Dictionary)
>What does it mean to be faithful?
* "the faithful in Christ Jesus" -Word Study in the New Testament by Vincent states, "This is not faithful in the sense of fidelity and perseverance, but believing, as John 10:27 and Acts 10:45. It is to be included with the saints under the one article." With that "faithful" means adhering firmly and devotedly to Jesus. The faithful are consistent and reliable.
* Hebrews 11:1-2 gives the following definition of faith. "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for." The rest of the chapter gives a list of men and women who expressed faith in the Lord through their actions, thoughts, and heart. The chapter concludes with, "These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect." (Hebrews 11:39-40)
* All of the examples of faith in Hebrews chapter 11 are given when they were in need, tested, in pain, about to die, and against all practical means of hope. Who grows in faith when they are not in need? And are we truly in need if we have faith?
* Jesus' bride has faith in Jesus, the King and his Father. We do not have faith in mere humans, mankind's abilities, nor what man has or will create. We do not have faith in angels whether faithful to God or fallen from God. We do not have faith in some intangible force. We do not have faith in the created universe. We have faith in God and his Son who far exceed all these things, who we know personally. We have faith that Jesus will keep the promises he made.
* Faith always compels action. James 2:14-18 states, “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.”
* The above three points are from The Believer's Future - Hope That Inspires.
* Galatians 3:9 "So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith."
* "in Christ Jesus" -John 14:20 records Jesus saying, "On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you."
>2. Where can we obtain grace and peace?
* Ephesians 1:2 "Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
* "grace and peace" -Although these words were commonly used in the greetings of secular letters, the words that Paul follows these up with show that he intended a spiritual dimension. He used "grace" twelve times and "peace" seven times in this letter.
>Why list both?
* Grace and peace go together. Without grace there is not peace. Where there is no peace, grace is not present.
>How is Jesus identified and what does this personally mean to you?
* "God our Father" -Jesus referred to God as his Father not in the sence that Jesus had a beginning, but that Jesus had no human father since Mary was a virgin when Jesus was conceived in her womb. 1 John 5:20 states, "We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true--even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life."
* "Lord" -Lord is "kyrios" in Greek and is also translated "owner" and "master". Jesus is the owner of everything as master and owner. Isaiah 45:18 states, "For this is what the Lord says-- he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited-- he says: "I am the Lord, and there is no other." And John 1:1-3, 14 states, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made... The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."
* "Jesus" -The Messiah's name given before birth to Joseph, his step father, through an angle. (Matt. 1:21) Jesus means salvation in Hebrew.
* "Christ" -Greek equivalent to the Hebrew word "Messiah". This is not Jesus' sir name. It is a title that means "Anointed One".
* John 20:17 records Jesus saying to Mary after resurrection, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"
* Who is Jesus to you? This is a very important question to answer. Jesus asked his disciples, "'Who do people say the Son of Man is?' They replied, 'Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.' 'But what about you?' he asked. 'Who do you say I am?' Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'" (Matt. 16:13-16)
>What is grace?
* "grace" -Grace is unmerited assistance from God. We were apart from God, aliens of the truth. He made ourselves enemies of God; fighting him off, resisting his love. (Rom. 8:7) Through sin we also mocked and ridiculed him. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Yet God persisted until we could not resist his love. When we were heaped in sin his son died for us, taking away our sin and guilt, the beerier of hostility. He showed us compassion that could only come from the love of God. His love is not like man's love. Man's love is conditional and temporary. God's love is unconditional and permanent. He poured his love on us until we could not resist the taste of its goodness. This is grace.
>What is the peace of God?
* "peace" -The peace of God comes from the Spirit of God. The peace of God surpasses understanding; when trouble comes we are calm and don't worry. Peace is a more than contentment. Apart from God man's soul is a violent storm spinning in the oceans, turning up giant waves, wind, rain, and lightning. Apart from God man's soul is a violent volcanic earthquake ripping the earth apart, heaving it to and fro, throwing hot ash, melted rock, steam, and gasses. When we allow God to enter our soul the waters of our soul are placid, and the earth is quiet -producing plants; grain, herbs, fruit and vegetables.
* Colossians 1:21-23 "Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation-- if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant."
II. The Glory and Headship of Christ (3-14)
* This section is all one long sentence in the original Greek. It is often called a "doxology" because it recites what God has done and is an expression of worship to honor him. Paul speaks first of the blessings we have through the Father (3), then of those that come through the Son (4-13a), and finally of those through the Holy Spirit (13b-14). (NIV Study Bible)
>3. What can we praise God for? (3)
* Ephesians 1:3 "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ."
* "Praise be" -The KJV translates this as "blessed". Word Study in the New Testament by Vincent states, "The word here is not the same as is in the Beatitudes, which donates character. This word denotes repute."
* "the heavenly realms" -God is in heaven (as he is everywhere). Angles are in heaven (though they sometimes come to the earth). Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven (though he is coming soon to the earth). The saints who have left this world are also in heaven (and will be coming back to this world with Christ). Since those who are still physically in the world are also in Christ (often repeated in this letter), we are spiritually right now with him spiritually, though we are physically in this world. (1 Thes. 5:23) We have one foot on this earth and one in heaven, one person in two places. In the heavenly realms were are blessed, though people only in the physical world think otherwise because their god is materialism.
* John 4:24 "God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."
>What are we blessed with? (Gal. 5:22-23)
* "every spiritual blessing in Christ" -All believers in Jesus have every spiritual blessing. A spiritual blessing is an eternal gift given that enables us know and experience God. We have no need to seek additional blessings. Instead, we must appropriate the ones that already have been provided. All three parts of the trinity as shown here, are involved in the blessings we have.
* "spiritual" -The blessings that we receive from God and are in Christ are spiritual, proceeding from the Holy Spirit. Today many throughout the world made materialism their god. Their life direction is, "The one with the most toys wins. The man with many material things is a blessed man." Spiritual blessings seem foreign and/or worthless to the modern man. Even when people hear the gospel they think, "What tangible benefit is there in accepting this news?" People of the world live in the here and now. The concept of being blessed spiritually in the heavenly realm seems nonsense. True nonsense is trusting in things that spoil, face, rust, and are not taken with us when he die. The good news is a person, not a commodity; and eternal spiritual blessings flow out from him. "From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another." (John 1:16)
* The following verses contain the word "spiritual"; Eph. 5:19; Col. 1:9, 3:16; and 1 Peter 2:5; and 1 Cor. 2:14-15, 3:1, 9:11; Gal. 6:1; Rom. 8.6. With these in mind, how is "every spiritual blessing" defined?
* Philippians 3:20 "But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,"
* Galatians 5:22-23 speaks of the fruits of the blessings, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."
>When did God chose us?
* Ephesians 1:4a "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight."
* "he chose us" -We did not chose God. He chose us. He sought us out and cried out to us to let him in our hearts and in our lives. We accepted his invitation to be Lord of our lives. When I asked Jesus to have complete control in my life back in 1982 it was the hardest thing that I did. I had to pray three times because I knew that the first two times, though I asked him to take complete control of my life with my lips, my heart was afraid. The third time I dropped my opposition and turned fear to faith by the grace of God. I was not able to ask him on my own. By his grace I said this prayer, "Dear God, I've been living my life my own way. Now I want to live it your way. I need you and I am now willing for you to take control of my life. I receive your son Jesus Christ, as my personal Saviour and Lord. I believe He died for my sins and has risen from the dead. I surrender to Him as Lord. Come, Lord Jesus, and occupy the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be." (Power for Living, Buckingham)
* "in him" -One of the twelve times verse 4-12 state that Christians are in Jesus. Jesus is the head and all his people are in his body; individual parts in one body. 4:6 states, "one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
* "before the creation of the world" -"In the beginning God created the heavens and earth" Genesis 1:1 begins. And before that "he chose us to be in him." I heard a funny joke the other day. Someone said, "Its a good thing God chose me before the creation of the world, because if he waited until after I was born, he wouldn't have chose me." The speaker knew that God is omniscience; he was just being funny.
* Calvin said, "Election is the foundation and the first cause of all blessing."
>For what purpose did he chose us?
* "to be holy and blameless in his sight" -We are not born holy and blameless. We are born in sin and have a sinful nature. Psalms 51:3-5 states this truth, "For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me." How are we them holy in his sight. "1 John 1:7b states, "the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin."
* "in his sight" -Even though most can say that they have never seen God the Father or the Lord Jesus Christ, he sees us. In his sight we are blameless. Praise be to God forever more!
* After initial washing us sins from our whole body we only need to have our feet washed. "No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me." "Then, Lord," Simon Peter replied, "not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!" Jesus answered, "A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you." (John 13:8-10)
>What was God's motivation?
* "in love" -God's love is boundless. God's love is man's desire. God's love created all. God's love holds together all creation. God's love is eternal. God's love is man's praise.
* Holiness is only made perfect in love.
>4. What does it mean to be adopted? (4b-5, Matt. 12:46-50, John 10:16)
* Ephesians 1:4b-5 "In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will"
* "he predestined" -Before God adopted his sons he decided to do it. He elected to make us sons.
* "us" -Paul, an Israelites of the tribe of Benjamin included himself in this. Jew and Gentile are the same when it comes to election.
* "to be adopted as his sons" -No one is born a son of God, except Jesus Christ who naturally is God's Son. Everyone in Christ is a part of God's family by God's choice alone. How is this done? By adoption. The Greek and Roman system of law allowed a natural born Roman or Greek citizen to adopt sons, even if they were slaves. When an adoption was made legal, the son had all the rights and privileges of a natural born citizen. Not only that, but all that is his adopted father's is now his too; he inherits all. (Gal. 4:5-7)
* "through Christ Jesus" -Jesus the natural son made it possible for us to be sons. All is owed Jesus.
>Why would he do this?
* "in accordance with his pleasure and will" -God delights in saving people in the name of Jesus, his One and only Son.
* John 5:22-23 states, "Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him."
>How is this grace to us? (6)
* Ephesians 1:6 "to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves."
* We did not deserve to be adapted as sons. Our adoption is by God's sovereign grace and love. God took a leper living in his filthy waste and turned him into a healthy clean son. Jesus taught a parable of a son who disinherited himself, squandered his father's wealth, only to be accepted as a son again. We will live in eternity praising the grace he had shown to us.
>Who is the One God loves? (Matt. 3:17, 17:5; 2 Peter 1:17)
* "the One he loves" -Jesus is the One God loves and we are delighted that he does.
* Matthew 3:17 "And a voice from heaven said, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.'"
* Matthew 17:5 "While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!'"
* 2 Peter 1:17 "For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.'"
* Colossians 1:13-14 "For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."
>5. What does it mean to be redeemed?
* Ephesians 1:7 "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace"
* "In him" -Jesus, the one God loves.
* "we" -Believers in Jesus, those who are in Jesus.
* "have" -Not will have redemption. We already gained it when we accepted Jesus to come in us.
* "redemption" -Redeemed means to recover ownership of by paying a specific agreed amount. Israel, Greece and Rome had laws of redemption.
* The Old Testament provided for the redemption of land and people that had passed from their original owner to become the property of another (Lev. 25:25-27, 47-49; Num. 18:15)
* Israel was essentially a redeemed people. They were slaves in Egypt, redeemed from slavery by obeying the first Passover, the smearing of lamb's blood on their doorposts and eating its meet and unleavened bread. Later, when they were in Babylon captivity, the Lord brought them back by overthrowing Babylon with Cyrus the Persian. (Ex. 15:13; Deut. 7:8; Is. 48:20, 52:9)
* "the forgiveness of sins" -The Pharisees taught rightly that only God can forgive sins. Jesus told them, "Matthew 9:6-7 "'But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins....' Then he said to the paralytic, 'Get up, take your mat and go home.' And the man got up and went home."
>How are we redeemed?
* "through his blood" -Redemption is not free or easy. Redemption comes at a price. The price of the redemption for sin is the blood of Jesus. Jesus shed his blood when he was arrested, beaten, flogged, crucified and died. The who point of the Old Testament sacrificial system was to show that sin should not be taken lightly, the removal of sin is done through the shedding of blood, and the Messiah would shed his blood to fully and eternally remove man's sin.
* Romans 3:24 "and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."
* Jesus willingly left all his glory and honor and became a flesh and blood human baby. (Col. 2:9, Heb. 2:14-15) Jesus, the bridegroom, became the Lamb of God that shed his pure blood so that the sins of Adam and Eve's race could be done away with and so they would be restored. (Rom. 5:9) Jesus, God who created and then walked and talked with Adam and Eve, suffered and then died on the cross to restore their relationship with him. Jesus willful act of receiving humiliation, pain, suffering, and death displays just how far God needed to go to restore a relationship with his people, his bride. (Phil. 2:8) The drastic act was needed because sin is so heinous. (Rom. 1:18, 21, 28, 32) Those overseeing his crucifixion drove a shaft into his side to ensure that his body had stopped functioning. The white and red blood cells in his heart separated and poured out of his heart when the shaft sliced through his body. (John 19:35) The separation only happens when the blood stops flowing for one is heavier than the other, so they separate. His body was buried and lay in a grave for three days so his bride's body could be raised from the grave. (Rom. 7:4, 8:11) Jesus is the perfect sacrifice because he alone is of the seed of God. His blood alone in the entire human race is and was pure. As Paul says he is the second (last) Adam. (1 Cor. 15:22, 45) Leviticus 17:11-12a states, “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life." Hebrews 9:22b states, “…without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
* Have you put your faith in what Jesus did on the cross and through his resurrection? If not, do so now in prayer to him. Confess your sins, ask God to forgive your sins through Jesus' blood, believe that he rose from the dead, and ask God to take control of your life. An example of this prayer is in a point above, the one I prayed.
>What can we learn from God's wisdom and understanding?
* Ephesians 1:8 "that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding."
* "he lavished on us" -God lavished his grace on us. God gave from vast wealth of grace an abundance of grace to us. Giving his one and only son to die such a horrid death is lavishing grace on us.
* "wisdom" -Wisdom here is the knowledge that sees in the heart of all things, which knows them as they really are. His wisdom is not just intellectual or academic. (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Francis Foulkes)
* "with all wisdom" -God's grace to us is not foolish. The way God showered us with grace is wisdom.
* "understanding" -God's understanding is prudence, leading to right action. God's grace to us is not without understanding our situation before he lavished grace on us. He has complete understanding. Before I was giving his grace, as a young boy, I was walking down a street in my hometown. At the end of the street was the towns lone church building, a tall double steeple Gothic building. I thought to myself, "God does not know what it is like to be human." I believed that God was so far above and removed from us that he could not understand. I was wrong for he lavished grace on us in complete understanding. More than that, his Son, Jesus, God's radiance and exact representation, became human in every way, yet without sin. (Heb. 1:3, 4:15)
* When we see other people we can learn from God how to relate and interact toward them, for God knew of our state and yet lavished grace on us. If God did this for us, we should be willing to forgive and love others in grace and truth. As Jesus taught us to pray, "Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us."
>6. What is the mystery of God's will? (9-10)
* Ephesians 1:9-10 "And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment--to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ."
* "he made known to us" -The revelation of Jesus Christ is recorded in the Gospels, Acts, the letters of the apostles, and Revelation. Studying the Bible with the Holy Spirit as the teacher leads us to know the will of God. (Dan. 2:19; Rom. 16:25)
* "according to his good please" -God was pleased to reveal to us his will through Jesus, his Son.
* "which he purposed... to be put into effect" -God is fully self-determined and self-sufficient.
* "the mystery of his will" -God will bring everything under Jesus. Jesus is coming very soon. When he does he will establish his kingdom on the earth. God's will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
* "which he purposed in Christ" -Again, Jesus is the means to the end and to all.
* "to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ." -Jesus is the ruler, the king of his people now in our hearts. When he comes again physically in his glorious resurrection body he will be the head of everything on earth as he is now in heaven. 1 Corinthians 15:27-28 "For he "has put everything under his feet." Now when it says that "everything" has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all."
* Paul's working in "to bring... under one head" not only means leadership but the phrase in Greek also meant the way to add up a column of numbers. In a world where things do not make sense (add up) Jesus will come and make sense of all things (make them add up) thus bringing order and meaningful relationship under him. This is the hope of believers and through faith in this hope we are saved. (1 John 3:3)
* "together" -In the first century it was very hard to imagine that God would bring the Jews, Israel, and the gentiles together in one faith and one Spirit. This mystery did not make sense to many. Yet, this is what he did in Christ. To this day some do not understand and/or accept this. Satan scatters. God gathers in Christ.
>When will this be put into effect?
* "when the times will have reached their fulfillment" -Before the creation of all God established times. He slowly revealed these times to his prophets who recorded it in word and spoke it to Israel and Judah. God also revealed it in other ways, for example through the theocracy he established when Israel entered the promised land and through David, the second king of Israel (David being a type of Christ). All of this is when men's kingdom are established on this world and administer by the prince of this world, that is the devil. Yet as Daniel and other prophets foresaw, the time of men's kingdoms will come on this earth and Jesus' kingdom will be established, the kingdom that will not end. At that time men's kingdom will end and the devil will be thrown in hell for one thousand years. Eventually, he will be their permanently to no longer deceive mankind by his lies.
>7. What does it mean to us to know we are part of God's plan?
* Ephesians 1:11 "In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,"
* "In him we were also chosen" -The Christian individual and whole only find themselves in Jesus. We are Christ's inheritance and as he is ours. The Lord said to Abraham, "I am your very great reward." (Gen. 15:1)
* "according to his plan" -God had a plan before the creation of anything. He brought that plan into action and is completing him exactly as he had planned.
* "works out everything" -No one and nothing can stop and/or change God's plan. God is in complete control. We can take comfort in this. Since part of his plan was to include us in Christ and his kingdom, we can be sure that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. Romans 8:38-39 states, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
>Why were we predestined? (12)
* Ephesians 1:12 "in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory."
* "we who were the first to hope in Christ" -Paul and other Jews and Jewish converts (like the Magi who came to the manger) were the first to put their faith in Christ, before Cornelius, the first gentile of the New Covenant. (Acts 10) Even before the incarnation, some Jews and Israelites looked forward to the coming of Christ and the kingdom of God. Matthew and Luke mention some at the beginning of their gospels.
* "for the praise of his glory" -We are brought into Christ to praise him. We are for his glory. He planned this before creation.
* "his glory" -God's glory is his revealed character and nature; his very essence. We praise God and we know him only as he has revealed himself to us. He is gentle and humble, revealing himself as much as we can handle and understand. And even what has been revealed takes time for us to understand and digest. As we participate in Christ his glory is revealed.
* How can we bring glory to God? Obedience to his word which among other things, includes; word, action, thought, and music.
>After hearing the gospel and believing what does God do?
* Ephesians 1:13 "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,"
* "And you also" -Paul is referring to the hearers of this letter. Since it has been determined that this letter was not only meant for the Ephesians in Christ, but written for many congregations we to are included in the promise.
* "when you heard the word of truth" -The preaching and teaching of the Bible is the means by which a person hears the good news. Each believer has been instructed to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.
* "the gospel of salvation" -The gospel of salvation concerns what Jesus did for sinners on the cross and at his resurrection.
* "Having believed" -In order for the gospel to take effect in a person God has required that we believe in Jesus. At the moment one believes in Jesus the believer is given the Holy Spirit. All true Christians have the Holy Spirit. So as Paul wrote in Galatians 5:25, "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." Jesus told a parable of four different kinds of soil which God, the farmer planted seed on. This is how we can understand what Paul is talking about here. We need to hear the word so that the seed of the word can take root in our being (our soil) when we believe. The whole point of planting the seed is so that we may produce fruit, this is active faith.
* "marked with a seal" -The mark of the Holy Spirit is not physical. It is spiritual. Jesus taught, "The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." (John 3:8)
* "a seal" -An authority in Paul's time had a seal, usually on a ring. Whenever the authority marked something it meant possession and security When something was marked with the seal only the owner could give authority over it.
* "the promised Holy Spirit" -On the day of Pentecost, Peter gave a speech where he quoted some Scripture which promised the Holy Spirit. (Isa. 32:15, 44:3; Eze. 39:29; Joel 2:28-29; Zech. 12:10; John 7:39; Acts 2:17-18; Gal. 3:14)
>Why is the Holy Spirit a deposit? (Consider this a promissory note.)
* Ephesians 1:14 "who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession--to the praise of his glory."
* "a deposit" -A deposit is not necessarily the who some, usually just a portion of a much greater amount. The Greek word came from Phoenician traders who paid and part as a promise to the whole later. And so the Holy Spirit we have now is just a deposit of the greater that is to come. Oh, how I look forward to the coming kingdom of God.
* The Greek word for "deposit" is used in the Greek Old Testament (used in Paul's day) in Genesis 38:17-20 for a pledge, and significantly the same world is used in modern Greek for an engagement ring.
* Romans 8:23 "Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies."
* The Christian's possession of the Holy Spirit is not only evidence of hsi present salvation, but is also a pledge of his future inheritance - and not only a pledge, but also the down payment on that inheritance. (Rom. 8:23; and 2 Cor. 1:22, 5:5)
III. God's Purpose and Power (15-23)
>8. Why did Paul give thanks?
* Ephesians 1:15 "For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints,"
* "faith in the Lord Jesus" -For it is by faith we are saved. Paul is saying, "Ever since I heard that you were saved." I like Paul's way of saying it better.
* "your love for all the saints" -Love is as important as faith. 1 Corinthians 13:13 states, "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." These three are linked together.
* The Christian faith bears fruit in love toward all Christians. The original letters do not have "love" in them, though it is implied that faith in the Lord Jesus leads to love toward other believers. Jesus said, "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, that you love one another." John expressed it this way, "We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him." (1 John 3:14-15)
>What hint do we get about Paul's prayer life?
* Ephesians 1:16 "I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers."
* "I have not stopped giving thanks" -Paul prayed a lot, learning from Jesus who prayed a lot too. The next verse states this again, "I keep asking."
* "remembering you in my prayers" -Paul prayed for others. His prayer was not just about himself and his needs. Rather he thanked God for other believers and prayed for them.
* "giving thanks" -Prayer is not just about "give me, give me, give me." Thanksgiving is a big part of prayer too. We pray continually as we give thanks in every and all situations.
* Prayer is communication with God in love and truth. Prayer is a spiritual activity, and with the help of the Spirit our prayer is brought to Jesus and his Father.
>What does the Spirit of wisdom and revelation tell us about Bible study? (17, John 14:26)
* Ephesians 1:17 "I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better."
* John 14:26 "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you."
* "the glorious Father" -Daniel called him the "Ancient of Days" and described him as best he could with, "As I looked, "thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened." (Daniel 7:9-10) Ezekiel wrote, "I looked, and I saw a wind storm coming out of the north--an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal... above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking." (Ezekiel 1:4, 26-28) All John could write was, "And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian." (Rev. 4:3a)
* Hebrews 1:3 "The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven."
* "may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation" -The Spirit reveals God to us. Bible study is nothing without the Spirit. Yet, God does not only reveal himself through Bible study. He reveals himself through his Son, Jesus.
* "so that you may know him better" -The whole point of Bible study is to know God. Know here is not just head knowledge, it is a personal relationship with God through Jesus which the Spirit reveals. The word "better" reveals that when we first come to believe is just a beginning. Our eternal life pursuit is to grow in a deeper and deeper relationship with him.
* Studying Jesus life and following his example will help us get to know him better.
>9. What is the eye of the heart? (18-19a, Matt. 6:22)
* Ephesians 1:18-19a "I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe."
* Matthew 6:22 "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light."
* "eye of your heart" -"Eye of your heart" occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. Heart is not merely the seat of emotion, as in popular usage, but of thought and will. (Rom. 1:21) The particular aspect in which its activity is viewed, perception or cognition, is determined by what follows, "that you may know".
* "may be enlightened" -God is the one that opens our emotions, thought and will to him.
>What three things should they eye of the heart see?
* "you may know the hope to which he has called you"
* "the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints"
* "and his incomparably great power for us who believe"
>What is our hope?
* Our hope is in Jesus, his second coming to establish his kingdom here on earth and our eternal reward.
>What is our inheritance?
* As mentioned above our inheritance in is Christ and his coming kingdom.
>What is his power?
* God who created the heavens and the earth has all power. Modern man fears the power of the atom. God not only created the atom, but holds together all the atoms in creation. God's great power is made available to those in Christ.
>What is it like?
* Ephesians 1:19b-20 "That power is like the working of his mighty strength which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,"
* "That power is like" -The working of God is like, by not the same as that which raised Jesus from the dead for we are not changed completely yet as his had been raised from the dead.
* "when he raised him from the death" -The resurrection of Jesus is the second part of the good news and is just as important as the first, his death.
* "and seated him at the right hand" -Jesus is still at the right hand of God.
* "in the heavenly realms" -Verse 3 states we are blessed in the heavenly realms, which we learn here is where Jesus is now.
>10. What title does Jesus have?
* Ephesians 1:21 "far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come."
* "far above" -None of creation is even close to Jesus' authority; this includes spiritual and flesh.
* "the present age" -The present age is the age of the preaching of the good news of the kingdom of God.
* "the age to come" -The age to come is the Millennium, the one thousand reign of Jesus here on this earth.
* No matter what age we were to study we would see that Jesus is sovereign of that age.
>Who is the head of the church?
* Ephesians 1:22 "And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,"
* "head over everything for the church" -Jesus is the head period. When many men are appointed in some position in the church they are tempted to believe that they are important, in control, and others are subject to them and their will. Such arrogance is not in Christ, for he is the head.
* Since Jesus is in charge of the church we would do best to know and follow his commands. He commanded us to love one another. He commanded us to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth. He commanded us to be holy in his sight.
>What does it mean that we are his body?
* Ephesians 1:23 "which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way."
* "which is his body" -Each believer in Jesus is a part of the body of Christ.
* Being Jesus' body may be confusion to some. Consider your own body as Paul described in 1 Cor. 12:12-29. And consider your body this way too. Our body is physical, mental, will, and spirit. In the morning the alarm tells us to get up, yet the body does not move and the mind says stay in bed and we have no will to get up. And then the Spirit of God moves our spirit activating the will, which activates the mind, which activates the body. All these parts are us and yet they are distinct. And so the body of Christ is every believer.
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