It's all about Jesus
“Hello. Paul here."1 From: Paul, appointed by God as an official messenger of the Messiah, Jesus.
To: God’s devoted people—all the followers of Jesus living in Ephesus. 2 May you experience the kindness and peace that come from God our Father and from our leader Jesus, the Messiah.
God freed us and forgave us3 We owe thanks to God, the father of our leader, Jesus the Messiah. He has given us every wonderful gift that’s available in heaven. He has done that because we’re family now—the family of the Messiah. 4 God chose us. Even before he created the world, he decided that we should be his children, devoted to him and goodhearted. 5 Before we ever gave God a thought, he decided to adopt us into his family. He worked the adoption through Jesus and was delighted with how it turned out. 6 We thank him for his kindness. He honors us by the way he has treated us through his beloved Son. 7 We’re free, no longer held hostage by our sins. We are forgiven. God paid our ransom out of the wealth of his kindness and through the blood of his Son. 8 He lavished us with his kindness, which shows how well he knows us and understands us. 9 God let us in on his secret plan involving his Son. God did this because it delights him. 10 Here’s the plan. When the time comes, God is going to bring everyone and everything together—in heaven and earth. The Messiah will rule it all. 11 We’ve got an inheritance waiting for us. It’s something God planned long ago. He has the power to do whatever he decides to do. 12 Those of us who have already put our hope in the Messiah did so because God chose us long ago. Through us, others will see God in his glory and rave about him. 13 You heard the Good News, the true story of how God saved you. You believed in the Messiah. When you made that decision, God claimed you as one of his own. He sealed that relationship with you by giving you the Holy Spirit—as he promised he would do a long time ago. 14 That’s our guarantee, people. God’s Spirit in us guarantees that we’re in his family and we’ve got the family inheritance waiting for us. God saved us, we belong to him, and we thank him for being such a glorious savior.
Paul’s prayer for Christians15 I have heard about you folks. I’ve heard that you put your faith in the Lord Jesus. And I’ve heard that you express your love to all believers. 16 I want you to know something. I can’t stop thinking about you or thanking God for you. You’re always in my prayers. 17 I ask the glorious God of our leader, Jesus the Messiah, to give you spiritual wisdom. I’m asking that he allows you to see what others can’t, and that he helps you get to know him better. 18 I’m praying that you will grow in your understanding of the hope God gave you. Because he has called you one of his own, you are rich. The wealth of his inheritance is yours, as it is for all people devoted to him. 19 I’m praying, too, that you will one day discover how incredibly powerful God is—and that this power is available to those of us who believe in him. How much power is it? Well, it’s the same power 20 that raised the Messiah from the dead and that gave him a seat on a throne at the right hand of God in the spiritual dimension of heaven. 21 God put him in charge. The Messiah is the boss of everyone—every ruler, authority, power, government. You name it, he’s the boss of it. Not only now, but in the days to come. 22 God gathered up everything and set it at the feet of the Messiah. Everyone looks up to Jesus now because he’s in charge. He looks out for the church, too. 23 The church is his body on earth. His presence fills the church—and can fill everyone in every way.
The word in the language Paul used, Greek, is apostolos, from which we get the English word apostle. The word means “official messenger,” such as a delegate or an ambassador sent to deliver a message. The title “apostle” came to mean disciples handpicked by Jesus to tell his story and spread his teachings. The title usually referred to the 12 original disciples of Jesus as well as to Paul, who met Jesus in a miraculous encounter while traveling to Damascus to arrest Christians (Acts 9:5).
“Messiah” in the original Greek language of the New Testament is Christos, from which we get the word Christ. It means “Anointed One,” as in “anointed by God.”
“Ephesus” doesn’t show up in the oldest copies of this letter. One presumption is that it was added later.
The Greek word, charis, is often translated “grace.” It also means “loving-kindness,” “good will.” And it often refers to the merciful kindness of God.
The original Greek word for “leader” is kyrios, often translated “lord” or “master.”
More literally, and cryptically, the church is “his body, the fullness who fills all in every way.”
The footnote for Ephesians 1:1 says that the oldest copy of the letter doesn’t mention the city of Ephesus. Yet it still shows up in most Bibles today, and lives on as the name of the Bible book. How do you react to the suggestion that someone added the name of Ephesus later, and that Paul may not have been writing to Christians there?
In Ephesians 1:2, the Casual English Bible replaces the phrase “Lord Jesus Christ” (New Living Translation) with “our leader Jesus, the Messiah.” It’s because “lord” was a title that people used to address a boss, master, or leader. And “Christ” means the Messiah, God’s Anointed One. Do you think the more descriptive phrasing seems to diminish the deity of Jesus?
Paul serves up a big plate of predestination in this chapter, or so it seems to many Christians. Paul says “God chose us. Even before he created the world, he decided that we should be his children” (1:4). Who do you think Paul was talking about? People destined by God to become Christians? Or all people everywhere, whom God invited into his family?
What do you think of how Paul describes our salvation: “We’re free, no longer held hostage by our sins. We are forgiven. God paid our ransom out of the wealth of his kindness and through the blood of his Son” (1:7). Do you think that’s a metaphor that most people can relate to and understand?
What do you think Paul means when he says that God’s plan is “to bring everyone and everything together—in heaven and earth. The Messiah will rule it all” (1:10). Scholars debate it. Pick your favorite guess.
- God will restore the original harmony of his creation under the leadership of Jesus.
- God will do the math, summing up his creation and closing the books on time, for the eternal reign of Jesus.
- Every good thing God promised to his people will happen through the Messiah.
- Sinners and saints will unite in harmony under the peaceful rule of Jesus.
LIFE APPLICATION. Paul encourages Christians by reminding them that they have an inheritance waiting for them (1:11). He wrote that during a time when they were being persecuted as Jewish heretics. What inheritance do you think of when Paul talks like that? Do you think the idea of a spiritual inheritance offers any help or consolation when we’re going through tough times?
LIFE APPLICATION. Paul says God gave us “the Holy Spirit” (1:12) and that “God’s Spirit in us guarantees that we’re in his family and we’ve got the family inheritance waiting for us.” (1:13). How do you think people can know that God’s Spirit is in them? Is there a way to know for sure that the Spirit is with us, guiding us
LIFE APPLICATION. Paul says he can’t stop thanking God for the Christians to whom he’s writing. Who are some of the people you constantly thank God for bringing into your life?
LIFE APPLICATION. Paul says the church is the body of Jesus on earth. It’s a metaphor, perhaps, to describe the hands and feet and eyes and ears of good Christians as they work to follow the example of Jesus by helping others. What have you seen the church (or a member of the church) do recently that illustrates what Paul was talking about?