Acts 19; Ephesians 1:1-14; Revelation 2:1-7
Lesson Context: The book of Ephesians is one of what is often called Paul’s prison letters. As in Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon, Paul presented himself as “the prisoner.” It is reasonable to conclude that he wrote this letter while he was a prisoner in Rome.
Greetings (Ephesians 1:1-2). From Paul (v. 1a). In the opening verses of Ephesians Paul deals with the matter of identity. Paul identifies himself as an “apostle,” That is to say, a special messenger or ambassador who has been commissioned to represent somebody else and who is completely identified with the one whom he represents. In the case of the New Testament apostles, they were commissioned by Christ and came as His personal representative.
To the Faithful (vv. 1b- 2). “To the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus.” The apostle Paul is writing to “the saints.” “Saints” are those who have been set apart to belong to God.
2a. “Grace be unto you, and peace.” “Grace” with variations was a typical Greek greeting, and “peace” was a Hebrew greeting. Paul combined the two with his own genius for improving both of them and expanding their meaning. In the Christian concept, grace is not merely “cheerio” but the joy unspeakable flowing outward to people from the fountain of God’s gracious and overflowing love, forgiveness and mercy, and that without any merit whatever in the part of people. Peace is the tranquility and equilibrium of a soul in harmony with the Creator.
2b. “From God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” Naming God our Father in parallel with the Lord Jesus Christ highlights the Christian revelation of the Son’s equality with the Father.
Unbridled Blessing (Ephesians 1:3-14).“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” There are no spiritual blessings of any kind whatsoever, other than “in Christ.” The expression was evidently used by Paul to convey the idea that the totality of all blessings of a spiritual nature and having eternal value are to be found exclusively “in Christ.”
Through Christ (vv. 4-12).“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.” Inherent in this is the fact of God’s calling and electing people before the foundation of the world; and very few theological questions demanded more attention and interest than this. Clearly revealed in this is the fact that the coming of Jesus Christ into the world for the purpose of taking out of it a people for himself and redeeming them unto eternal life was no afterthought on God’s part. Before the world was ever created, the divine plan of the Son of God’s visitation of the human family existed in the eternal purpose of God. That body that Christ would gather from the population of the earth is destined to receive eternal life; because what God purposes is certain of fulfillment.
References: Enduring Word Bible Commentary, Matthew Henry Bible Commentary, KJV 2022- 2023 International Sunday School Lessons