GOD’S PEOPLE IN ALL TIME
Lord, we thank You for our redemption.
Read EPHESIANS 1:1–14
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To God’s holy people in Ephesus,[a] the faithful in Christ Jesus:
2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Praise for Spiritual Blessings in Christ
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. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he[b] predestined us for adoption to sonship[c] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he[d] made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
11 In him we were also chosen,[e] having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 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. Ephesians 1:1 Some early manuscripts do not have in Ephesus.
b. Ephesians 1:5 Or sight in love. 5 He
c. Ephesians 1:5 The Greek word for adoption to sonship is a legal term referring to the full legal standing of an adopted male heir in Roman culture.
d. Ephesians 1:9 Or us with all wisdom and understanding. 9 And he
e. Ephesians 1:11 Or were made heirs
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘May the words which I write and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer’ (Ps 19:14, KJV – altered).
Paul announces his apostolic authority for the letter.2 The recipients are greeted anonymously as the ‘faithful’ (v 1), unnamed saints whose lives Paul has only heard about (v 15), though he hopes that they may have heard about him. (Eph 3:2). These probably aren’t the Ephesians whom Paul knew so well, because they had openly received the Holy Spirit at baptism and witnessed mighty works of healing and exorcism in the name of Jesus. (Acts 19, 20). These must be the scattered Christians everywhere whom Paul has been unable to visit and whom he would never see. We can include ourselves in this group. We are God’s people scattered through time and space; we too can read here all that Paul longed to say to us but never could.
The letter opens with unbounded praise for the God of time and eternity. Paul has gone to his death, but his message to all Christians facing similar persecution, then and now, is that we belong to this God who is in control of all that is and all that will be. We are the redeemed, we are the forgiven, we are those upon whom has been lavished the ‘riches of God’s grace’ (v 7) from that distant moment in time when God thought us into being.
Some have shrunk these awesome verses to a them-and-us view of predestination that misses the glories of God’s moral universe. We are awed by the stunning color pictures of the universe brought to us by modern telescopes, but today’s reading is even more awe-inspiring. The universe, of which the people of God are an integral part, is designed so that all things return ultimately to God in Christ.
‘When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers … what is mankind that you are mindful of them … that you care for them’ (Ps 8:3,4)
Lord, truly You have blessed us with every spiritual blessing both in the heavenlies and here on earth.