Summary: The first in a series of verse-by-verse studies of the book of Ephesians. This sermon introduces some of the broad themes that run through the book.
Next week we will look at the city of Ephesus, the beginnings of the church there, Paul’s related ministry and the broad themes of this book.
Vincent summerises the this book with this statement: “It’s theme is the Church of Christ, founded in the will of the Father, developed by the work of the Son, and united in him through the indwelling and energy of the Holy Spirit.”
Distinctive in the first verse:
In many of the books of the Bible we find in the first verse an indication of the theme of the book. Beginning with Genesis we find it is a book of beginnings. Consider two other epistles that Paul wrote and notice how the first verse gives a good indication of the theme of the book:
Galatians 1:1 – Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)
Galatians was written to correct the error of legalism and to re-enforce the authority of Jesus Christ. So from the beginning Paul makes mention of his own ministry as being ordained by God. Paul speaks of God the Son and God the Father and of the fact of the resurrection.
Philippians 1:1 – Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
Philippians was written to encourage the believers to continue in the right direction. There is no indication of the necessity of correction or rebuke. It seems Philippi was a sound and solid church. Paul makes mention of the bishops and elders which may be an indication of its stability and maturity.
Ephesians 1:1 – Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:
Writing to a persecuted yet persevering people we will see Paul makes much of God’s authority, of Providence, and of the believer keeping his eyes on Christ and on Heavenly things.
As we look at the first 3 verses today consider how it is an introduction to the book as a whole. Remember, these people were persecuted but remained faithful to God.
a. One who knew suffering – II Corinthians 11:23
b. One who knew what it was to be directed by God
i.Conversion - 9
ii. Comments on desire to be with certain churches but God directed elsewhere. (Rome, Corinth) – Romans 15
II. Appointment and Authority
a. Paul was appointed the Apostle to the Gentiles – Romans 11:13
b. His authority was not his own, but God’s.
a. Saints at Ephesus and faithful in Christ Jesus
i. Not flattery, but commendation
ii. A challenge to continue
iii. If I were an Ephesian could this introduction include me?
a. Grace and Peace
i. 18 verses use this greeting
ii. Used by Paul, Peter and John
b. The encouragement, challenge and instruction are nested between grace and peace
V. Ambition – Point to God and Look to Christ
a. Most often a superior blesses his subordinate by giving him something. To bless someone necessitates one having something that another desires or needs. In the Old Testament we see numerous examples of this. We see blessings most often in the relationship between God and man. God has promised to bless us if we obey. In Psalm 1 we read that a man is blessed when he does not heed ungodly counsel, but rather seeks the wisdom of God. In the second portion of this verse we read that God has blessed us, given us something to make us better off, with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies.
b. To bless means to bestow something upon someone alternatively it means to speak well of someone: to praise someone: to honour as holy, to glorify.
i. It is in the second definition we find application for the passage before us. The word here for blessing, eulogetos, is related to our word eulogy. In a eulogy we give high praise or commendation to a person, normally when they have died. In this passage we have something that God wants, something He desires of us. Note that God does not NEED anything and so does not need our praise. God’s name, Jehovah, means in part, the self-sufficient One. God sustains Himself. He does not need anything to exist. We need so much to stay alive. We need oxygen, air mixed in just the right proportion. We need food, water, clothing, sunlight and numerous other needs. To be at our best we need God, family, friends, to love and be loved, to work, to relax and many other needs must be met. However, Jehovah God needs nothing and no one. So, remember, God wants our praise, but does not need it.