Summary: Ephesians 1
Ephesians 1 - Our Blessings in Christ - 7/9/06
Join with me this morning in turning to the book of Ephesians. We are going to begin going through the book this morning, and will be looking at it together over the next several weeks. Ephesians is in the middle of the New Testament, the second half of the Bible. It is written by a man named Paul, an apostle of Christ in the early church, who was saved in the years immediately following the resurrection of Christ. Paul traveled extensively through Asia Minor, the area that today we know as the country of Turkey. He started churches wherever he went. And one city where he started a church was the city of Ephesus.
In the book of Acts, we find the history of this church listed for us. In Acts 18 Paul left the city of Corinth to travel to Ephesus, the capital of Asia Minor or Turkey. It was a large, seaport town, and the center of the worship of the goddess Artemis or Diana. Paul was there for a short time, and then left, leaving two disciples in town, Priscilla and Aquila. He came back a few months later, and stayed in Ephesus for two years, teaching in the synagogue, proving to the Jews that Jesus is their promised Messiah, and then leaving the synagogue and going to a lecture hall in Ephesus, teaching every day. Paul stationed Timothy, his young protégé, to stay and lead the church at Ephesus while he went on to Rome. While Paul is under a sort of “house arrest” in Rome, he writes this letter to encourage the church. The letter was actually very likely sent around to all the churches in the area.
Ephesians has two parts, like most of Paul’s letters. The first half is teaching, the second half is application. The first half is doctrine, the second half is duty. Because a study of doctrine always leads to duty and doxology, or praise to God. So, chapters 1-3 talk about the blessings we have received from God, and chapters 4-6 tells us what that should mean in the way we live our lives. Today, we are going to look in chapter 1. Stand & READ 1:1-14 - PRAY.
The early chapters of Ephesians sound wonderful, but can be hard to understand, because we just don’t talk like Paul does today. Actually verse 3 to 14, our passage today, in the original language is really one super-long run-on sentence. Paul just gets all caught up in trying to put into words the blessings we have in Christ.
When you go out to the mall, out in the middle of the mall is a sign with a map of the stores. You’ll see a big X on the map and it says “you are here”. That map tells you what stores you have been to, where you currently are, and what stores are waiting for you down the mall. In Ephesians, Paul paints a map for us that shows us our blessings. He shows us what God has done for us in the past, what he is currently doing in our lives, and what the future holds for us. And the result of it all is that we give praise and glory to God.
In verse 9, Paul talks about the “mystery” of God’s will that he has revealed to us. For centuries, for millennia, people who loved God never knew anything about the church. All of God’s plans were centered, they thought, on the nation of Israel. But from the beginning God had a greater plan in mind. His plan was to bless all the nations of the earth through the nation of Israel, through the promised Messiah. God’s plan is in no way finished with Israel, but this new revelation that God has brought to light is this: all who trust in Christ are part of a new body, the church, the body of Christ, which becomes partner with Israel in receiving all the blessings of God. Paul talks about those blessings here in chapter 1.
Here in chapter 1, we see that
THEME: We are blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. And because God has so greatly blessed us, we lead lives of worship and give Him praise. In this chapter, Paul reminds us what the Father has done for us, what we have through Christ the son, and the security we have in the Holy Spirit. And after each reminder, Paul gives this phrase, “to the praise of His glory.”
In verse 3, we see the key idea of this passage. 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. In God, we have been given “every spiritual blessing” in the “heavenly realms.” The first thing we need to understand as we look at our blessings is that God has not promised us “earthly” blessings. What are the things we so often want from God? God, keep me healthy. God, make me rich. God, give me a nice house, nice car, a house at the lake.