Paul established this church when he went there with Aquila and Priscilla on his second missionary journey (Acts 18:18-19). On his third journey he stayed here for about 3 years and the Gospel spread from there throughout Asia Minor (Acts 19:10). He wrote this letter while in prison (probably the first time) in Rome. It is probably a "circular" letter...intended to be shared among the churches. For a map showing Paul’s second missionary journey and the location of Ephesus see: http://www.blueletterbible.org/images/rosepub/imageDisplay/#s=maps_pa ul2_b
Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon are sometimes referred to as the Prison Epistles (letters)...since they were all written during Paul’s imprisonment in Rome (Ephesians 3:1; Philippians 1:7; Colossians 4:10; Philemon 9). There is some debate over whether Paul was imprisoned one or two times. Two times seems to fit the facts and chronology better. During his first imprisonment (2 years-Acts 28:30), Paul stayed either in, or near, the barracks of the Praetorian Guard (bodyguards of the Roman Emperor)...or, in quarters that he rented at his own expense. These Epistles were written during that time. Paul expected to be released and eventually was. Afterward, he made several trips, wrote 1 Timothy and Titus (while free), was rearrested, wrote 2 Timothy (while under arrest), and then was martyred.
After Paul, Timothy was the Pastor of the church at Ephesus for a while (1 Timothy 1:3), and later the Apostle John based his ministry there.
Paul quickly establishes the source of his calling to be an Apostle...”by the will of God”. In other words, this is not a decision of his own, but God has appointed him for this task.
Ephesians 1:3-2:12-The blessings of God given to believers
Ephesians 1:3-14-The grace of God that comes from Christ
Paul lists several things that God has done by His grace (:6,7) in our behalf. He says that God...
• “blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (:4). While we will only full embrace the blessings that God has in store for us when we arrive in Heaven, we have already begun to live in the blessing of our relationship with Him.
• "chose" us to be "holy and blameless" (:4). God choice is for us to live a life in keeping with His nature...holy and blameless.
I. to pick out, choose, to pick or choose out for one's self
- choosing one out of many, i.e. Jesus choosing his disciples
- choosing one for an office
- of God choosing whom he judged fit to receive his favours and
separated from the rest of mankind to be peculiarly his own and to be attended continually by his gracious oversight
i. i.e. the Israelites
D. of God the Father choosing Christians, as those whom he set apart
from the irreligious multitude as dear unto himself, and whom he has rendered, through faith in Christ, citizens in the Messianic kingdom: (James 2:5) so that the ground of the choice lies in Christ
and his merits only
• "predestined" us to "adoption" (:5)
1:5 predestined. God has determined beforehand that those who believe in Christ will be adopted into His family and conformed to His Son (cf. Rom. 8:29). It involves a choice on His part (Eph. 1:4); it is done in love (v. 4); it is based on the good pleasure of His perfect will (vv. 5,9,11); its purpose is to glorify God (v. 14); but it does not relieve man of his responsibility to believe the gospel in order to bring to pass personally God’s predestination (v. 13).
The Ryrie Study Bible, The Letter of Paul to the Ephesians, 1:5, p. 1780
• "In Him we have redemption through His blood" (:7)
1:7 redemption. Three ideas are involved in the doctrine of redemption: (1) paying the ransom with the blood of Christ (1 Cor. 6:20; Rev. 5:9); (2) removal from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13; 4:5; and (3) release from the bondage of sin into the freedom of grace (1 Pet. 1:18). Redemption is always through His blood, i.e., through the death of Christ (Col. 1:4).
The Ryrie Study Bible, The Letter of Paul to the Ephesians, 1:7, p. 1780
- "forgiveness of our trespasses" (:7). Our sins have been erased.
- "He made known to us the mystery of His will" (:9). The “mystery” was how God was going to make provision for redemption from sin. Prior to the coming of Christ the Jews only had a partial understanding of God’s provision for their redemption. When Christ came and died on the cross God’s method for the provision of redemption was finally and fully
- "also we have obtained and inheritance" (:11). We have become the
children of God.
- "you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit" (:13).
Seal (Noun and Verb):
"to seal" (akin to A), is used to indicate
(d) ownership and security, together with destination, Rev 7:3-5 (as with the noun in ver. 2; see A); the same three indications are conveyed in Eph 1:13, in the metaphor of the "sealing" of believers by the gift of the Holy Spirit, upon believing (i.e., at the time of their regeneration, not after a lapse of time in their spiritual life, "having also believed," not as AV, "after that ye believed;" the aorist participle marks the definiteness and completeness of the act of faith); the idea of destination is stressed by the phrase "the Holy Spirit of promise" (see also Eph 1:14); so Eph 4:30, "ye were sealed unto the day of redemption;" so in 2Cr 1:22, where the Middle Voice intimates the special interest of the Sealer in His act;
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G4972&t= NASB
Ephesians 1:15-23-The knowledge of God that comes from enlightenment Ephesians 1:15-Paul says that having heard of their faith in the Lord Jesus and their love for all the saints (:15)...he prays for them that God will help them to know Him better (:17). He expands on this prayer and says that it includes their understanding of...
- the hope of His calling
- the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints
- the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.
All three of these matters speak of the benefit of God's activity towards believers...what God is doing for them..."the working of the strength of His might" (:19). This is the result of the resurrection of Jesus (:20-23) which established Him as the head of the church.
Prayer: Dear Lord, I read these verses in Ephesians and I become aware that I probably realize little of the true extent of Your work in me and in the church. Please, Lord, enlighten the eyes of my heart that I may fully know and be actively aware of all that You are doing in the church, and all that You desire from Your church.