— Ephesians 1.1-4 – Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
Just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.
Rather than a letter to a church in a specific city like the one to the Corinthians, Ephesians was a circular letter to be read on the western shores of modern-day Turkey.
“To the saints” may have been a nod to the Jewish followers of Jesus, just as the “faithful” recognized the Gentile believers.
“Peace” was a customary Hebrew greeting. “Shalom” is the Hebrew wish for well-being or peace.
“Grace” will figure prominently in the letter. It is God’s grace that grants a new relationship between God and humans. It also breaks down ethnic, gender, and economic walls that divide people.
The entire letter to the Ephesians is filled with gratitude and praise for God’s abundant love.
Like the Hebrew psalm writers, the letter blesses God for his activity through Jesus Christ.
We bless God because he has blessed us by giving us spiritual blessings in the heavenly places.
Spiritual blessings are gifts from God that are ours when we live in a relationship with the Holy Spirit.
To have so-called “spirituality” apart from the Holy Spirit is not a Biblical concept. Humans are spiritual when they are guided by the Holy Spirit.
We have been chosen to participate in the life of God. This is an awesome privilege, but it also carries serious responsibility.
The Old Testament sacrifices had to be “holy” and “without blemish/blameless.”
Paul explains the kind of sacrifice God desires.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, on the basis of God’s mercy, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable act of worship” (Romans 12.1).
It is an honor of high esteem for God to choose us to live in a relationship with him. At the same time, we best live out our calling by surrendering to his leadership.
A Closer Look: Heavenly Places
God “has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (verse 3).
Ephesians will declare followers of Jesus to live with him in “heavenly places,” where we are victorious over earthly forces.
Earthly forces like fate, luck, and overwhelming powers are realities that must be reckoned with. We can be encouraged that Jesus is above these forces and we are protected by him.
The theme of “heavenly places” will be developed further in the letter.
Bridging the Ages
The opening verses of Ephesians should encourage today’s readers.
(1) Because of God’s grace we have peace with God and are able to live in God’s well-being.
(2) Spiritual blessings are available to followers of Jesus, as we live in an obedience relationship with the Holy Spirit.
(3) We are privileged humans because God has chosen us. To be “holy” and “blameless” involves us in the language of sacrifice.
We live to the fullest when we surrender self-will to the gracious will of God.
(4) Praise and worship are the proper response to God’s abundant grace and love.
YouTube Video and Prayer
It is always a joy to talk with Rudy Ross about the Bible. Rudy and I talk about this passage and have it presented on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
Please email your prayer request to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.