The Way - Day 137 (Ephesians 1)

Daily Reading:
Ephesians 1
Don't forget to journal in your Foundations Book!
Daily Reading Audio Commentary:
Today's Question or Action Step:
Read Ephesians 1:11 aloud. If God works "all things" according to the counsel of His will, why do you think we tend to view some things as "too small" to pray about or seek His guidance on? What does this reveal about our view of God? What does it reveal about our view of ourselves?
Weekly Memory Verse(s):
OPTION 1: Psalm 51:12-13
OPTION 2: Proverbs 18:22
OPTION 3: Matthew 6:9-11
Further Study Resources:
Study Guide for Ephesians 1 (Enduring Word - David Guzik)
Pastor Tom's Journal on Today's Reading:
Introduction to Ephesians
Paul writes this letter to the church of Ephesus, but it is also commonly thought by some scholars that it was meant to be distributed amongst all the churches in Asia Minor (Ephesus was just the first to receive it). Nevertheless, this letter was written by the hands of Paul (AD 60-62) from a Roman prison so it is often referred to as a prison epistle (see Acts 28). Tychicus probably delivered this letter to its recipients (Ephesians 6:21-22). There does not seem to be an overriding reason for Paul writing this letter (response to false teaching, etc.) except to remind them about their blessings in Jesus Christ and to encourage them to walk according to their faith. It seems that during the first three chapters Paul is very doctrinal and establishes a foundation for their new life in Christ. In the final three chapters of Ephesians Paul makes great application of doctrine by challenging them in their daily actions and attitudes. One important thing to also note is the mention of the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2:1-7. John writes that they have kept out false teachers but have left their first love (Jesus Christ). Paul also mentions the word love nineteen times throughout Ephesians, much more than in any of his other writings. It seems like the church at Ephesus had no problem with standing for the truth, but struggled with remaining zealous in their love for Christ. Paul also urged them to love their fellow brothers, Jew and Gentile alike.

Ephesians 1:1-6
Beginning with a standard greeting, Paul welcomes his readers with "grace...and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." He quickly turns the attention of his readers to God "who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." Through Jesus Christ, believers have been given His grace and therefore His favor in every area of their life. Apart from the death of Christ there would be no blessing. So, when were we blessed? Paul reveals that we are blessed when "He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love." In eternity past (before time began) God elected those who would be blessed. If we believe God is sovereign and completely in control of all things we must also believe that He knew those who would accept the sacrifice of His Son by grace through faith as well as those who would not. Does this in any way compromise the responsibility of man in the matter of salvation? Absolutely not. This doctrine of election cannot be viewed with a human mindset; in fact, we must accept that this doctrine does exist, but without claiming to fully understand the mind of the God. When God did choose in eternity past, He desired that Christians would be holy and that righteousness would only be received through His Son, Jesus Christ. In the moment we believe that Jesus is our only hope of being righteous, we are declared righteous before God and are adopted into His family (1:5). When we are adopted into His family, we are given the righteous nature of Jesus Christ and are accepted by the Father. Praise be to God who has provided a way for sinners to become righteous!

Ephesians 1:7-9
Having revealed God's purposefulness in the past regarding salvation, Paul unveils the current benefits experienced through salvation in Jesus Christ. Paul mentions two specific things that we inherit the moment we place our faith in Jesus Christ - redemption and forgiveness. Redemption conjures the idea of a payment someone makes for the release of a slave. In this case Paul says that believers are redeemed or purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ. Thinking back to Adam and Eve, God told them that the punishment for their sin was death; in other words, the only thing which could release them from the penalty from sin was death. In that moment of Adam and Eve's guilt for sin and the shame of realizing they were naked, God slaughtered a lamb and used the skin to cover them. This was the first time Adam and Eve had ever seen anything die and it must have horrified them to think that their sin had caused this death. God's actions symbolized the need to cover sin and the necessity of death to accomplish this. Since Paul also declares in Romans 5:12 that through Adam all were made sinners, all mankind falls under the same punishment for their sin - death. All men are under bondage of sin and therefore must suffer death to ultimately pay the price for sinning. But, Paul says that Jesus has redeemed us through His blood. We are slaves to sin but Jesus Christ purchased our pardon through offering His life for our life. God the Father demanded death for sin and Jesus took our place in shedding His blood so we did not have to. As those who have been redeemed, we now experience the forgiveness of sin through His grace. In Romans 5:20 Paul puts it like this "where sin abounded, grace abounded much more." The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our sin is the central theme of the Bible and without it there is no redemption or forgiveness of sin.

Ephesians 1:10-14
Paul has addressed God's sovereignty in salvation in the past (1:4-6) and the present benefits of redemption and forgiveness which we experience now (1:7-9). Now he turns his attention to our future inheritance. The future is referred to as the "dispensation of the fullness of the times" and specifically references the time when God will gather believers to Himself in the millennial kingdom. This is also known as the 1,000 year reign of Christ on the earth. Revelation 20:1-6 reveals that during this time the devil will be bound in a bottomless pit so he cannot deceive the nations and all believers will reign with Christ establishing an era of righteousness upon the earth (1:10). The only reason we have been redeemed and forgiven is because of Jesus Christ. He took upon Himself our sin and gave us His righteousness. Romans 5:19 says that "by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous." Believers are able to rule with Christ not because of what they have done, but because of Christ's redeeming work on the cross. We have been redeemed "to the praise of His glory." Verse 13 declares that salvation comes through the hearing and believing of the gospel. At the time of belief we were given the Holy Spirit, who is the "guarantee of our inheritance." In other words, the indwelling Holy Spirit secures our eternal salvation and guarantees our future inheritance. 2 Peter 1:4 states that our future inheritance is that we are "partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." Furthermore, 2 Peter 1:11 tells us that the eternal heaven is the hope of those who are weary on earth. Although life on earth is hard and filled with struggles, we can rejoice that heaven will be a place of eternal rest!

Ephesians 1:15-23
On a personal note, Paul commends his readers for their "faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints." Because of their faith and love, Paul gives thanks to God and continually makes mention of them in his prayers. So, what did Paul pray for them? He prayed that God would give them the knowledge of the greatness of God and the understanding of the inheritance that is theirs through Jesus Christ (1:17-18). Understanding God's greatness is complicated to grasp so Paul provided some insight (1:19). God's power and greatness were most evident when "He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places." Paul wanted his readers to understand that the same power which raised Jesus from the dead was given to them at the moment of salvation and is continually available to us. Later on in Ephesians 3:20 Paul says that through us He can do "exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us." God has granted us the power we need to live life according to His will. This power is far above any earthly or heavenly power (1:21-23).
Dear God, help me to realize the power which has been given to me through Jesus Christ.