Ephesians 1:1-6

Sunday Morning Bible Study

November 27, 2005


William Randolph Hearst once read of an extremely valuable piece of art, which he decided he must add to his extensive collection.  He instructed his agent to scour the galleries of the world to find the masterpiece he was determined to have at any price.  After many months of painstaking search, the agent reported that the piece already belonged to Mr. Hearst and had been stored in one of his warehouses for many years.

As we mentioned last week, the first half of the book of Ephesians tells us about the treasures that we already have as Christians.  In the last half of the book Paul will tell us how we are to live as Christians.  I think it’s very important as we learn about what we’re supposed to be doing as Christians that we first know what we already have.

Since we moved into our new house a year ago, I still haven’t had the chance to straighten up my tool bench.  And whenever I need to do something around the house, I keep wondering if I have the right tools.  I know I’ve had to go out and buy some things I didn’t need to because I didn’t know where the right tools were.

These first three chapters are designed to show us the tools and treasures we have been given by God in order to do what God wants us to do.

:1-2 Greeting

:1  Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God,

apostleapostolos – a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders

We usually reserve the term “apostle” for those special men who were used to start the church.  In the New Testament, it seems to be reserved for those who had been witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus.

But the basic idea behind the word “apostle” is one who has been “sent”.


God’s plan for me

It is God’s will that we all be “sent forth” in some way or another.
God’s will for Paul was to travel the world, win people to Christ, and establish churches.
God has plans for our lives.  He has things for us to do.
(Eph 2:10 NKJV)  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
He has things on His “List of things for you to do”.  And they are things that He has designed specifically for you, things that are a perfect fit for you.

A sports team will excel when it’s players are in the right spots.  USC might do okay if Matt Leinert was playing tight end or if Reggie Bush was playing on defense, but they excel when Leinert is quarterback and Bush runs.  The Angels might do okay if Bartolo Colon played center field and Vladimir Guerrero pitched, but they excel when Bart pitches and Vladdy hits.

Part of God’s plan for you involves the people and places He wants to “send” you to as well, the places you become an “apostle” for.

The man was known as “Legion”, because of the huge number of demons that lived inside of him.  When Jesus cast the demons out of the man, he begged Jesus to let him follow Him and his band of disciples:

(Mark 5:19 NKJV)  However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, "Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you."

To the ten lepers who begged Jesus for mercy:

(Luke 17:14 NKJV)  So when He saw them, He said to them, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.

To His own disciples:

(Mark 16:15 NKJV)  And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.

Some think this means that to be important you have to go into the ministry.  Not of that isn’t what God has called you to do.
Brother Lawrence was a helper in the kitchen of a monastery in the 1600s.  He learned to press meaning into virtually every action of his day.  He didn’t have the most glamorous of jobs, but he found God’s presence in his work.  He wrote a little book, “The Practice of the Presence of God”.  He had quite an influence throughout France because of His love for the Lord.  Yet he was only a kitchen helper.
You may not be sure that you’ve found your place yet, but learn to thrive where you are, even if it’s cooking burgers in a kitchen.  And be asking God about where He wants you to go.

:1To the saints who are in Ephesus,

sainthagios – most holy thing, a saint. 

A common misconception is that a “saint” is a person who is extra special, who walks around with a glowing yellow ring above their head and who lives in in the stain glass windows of churches around the world.

The word “saint” simply means “one who has been set apart” for a special use.  I have a holy toothbrush at home because it is set apart for my special use and my use only.  A “saint” is a person who has been set apart for God’s use.

The truth is that the Bible teaches (1Cor. 6:11; Heb. 10:10) that every person who trusts in Jesus becomes set apart for His use.  Every Christian is a “saint”.

As Christians, we have been set apart for God’s use.

It’s as if God puts a sign around our neck that says, “Property of God”, or, “You toucha my saint, I breaka you face”.

If you have opened your heart to Jesus, you are a saint.

Turn to the person next to you and introduce yourself to them.  Ask them if they are a Christian.  If they are a Christian, then say to them, “Well hello there Saint ____”.  If they’re not a Christian, then say to them, “Well I sure hope that one day you will become a Christian!”

:1  and faithful in Christ Jesus:

and faithfulpistos – faithful; believing, confiding, trusting.  It’s a letter that is written to those who are “trusting” in Jesus.  That includes us.

in Christ Jesus – Here’s another important phrase in the book of Ephesians.  You will find this phrase or variations on it (“in Him”, “in Christ”, “in whom”, etc.) over 25 (I counted 29) times throughout this little letter.  It is found ten times in just the first fourteen verses.

Here’s how this works – if you were to win a shopping spree at Wal-Mart, it won’t do you any good until you go “into” the store.  Once you are “in” Wal-Mart, you have access to everything the store has to offer.

When a person comes to trust in Jesus, in a sense they step into the store – they step into all that God has for them through Jesus Christ.  You may not know what’s found in every aisle, but it’s still yours.

:2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

This was a common greeting of the day, but it’s also important to remember that “grace” is one of those important words in the book of Ephesians.

Grace is the good that God does for you, even though you don’t deserve it.

:3-6 Blessings from the Father

:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,

Paul praises God for having blessed us with so many blessings …


For many years Hetty Green was called America’s greatest miser. When she died in 1916, she left an estate valued at $100 million, an especially vast fortune for that day.  But she was so miserly that she ate cold oatmeal in order to save the expense of heating the water. When her son had a severe leg injury, she took so long trying to find a free clinic to treat him that his leg had to be amputated because of advanced infection.  It has been said that she hastened her own death by bringing on a fit of apoplexy while arguing the merits of skim milk because it was cheaper than whole milk.

The overall thrust of the book of Ephesians is to expose us to the riches that we have from trusting in Christ, and to learn to see how it affects our lives.

God doesn’t want us living a miserable existence like Hetty Green, who had some incredible resources at her disposal, but didn’t take advantage of what she had.

There are three qualities about these blessings:

1. spiritualpneumatikos – relating to the human spirit, or God’s Spirit.

He hasn’t blessed us with every “conceivable” blessing.  He doesn’t say that God has blessed us with every “physical” blessing.  He says that God has blessed us with every “spiritual” blessing.  The blessings that he will talk about come specifically through the work of the Holy Spirit.
Paul will talk about why we need to be “filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18).  As we are filled with the Spirit, we will experience more and more the blessings that God has for us as Christians.
A young mom wrote, “One day I asked my two-year-old daughter, Catherine, where her slippers were. “Downstairs in the kitchen,” she told me. “What are they doing there?” I asked. “Nothing,” she replied. “They can’t walk because they don’t have feet in them right now.””

2. in the heavenly placesepouranios – existing in heaven

Wuest:  It is that we saints while still in the body on earth, are enjoying some of the blessings which we will enjoy in heaven.[1]
We call this our spiritual “position”.  We do not currently and physically live in heaven.  But we have a position in heaven.  Paul will tell us later that we are “seated in the heavenlies” (Eph. 2:6).
What does this mean?  Warren Wiersbe writes,
“The President of the United States is not always seated at his desk in the White House, but that executive chair represents the sphere of his life and power. No matter where he is, he is the President, because only he has the privilege of sitting at that desk. Likewise with the Christian: no matter where he may be on this earth, he is seated in the heavenlies with Jesus Christ, and this is the basis of his life and power.”[2]

3. in Christ – you won’t find these blessings apart from Jesus.  When you are “in Christ”, then you will experience these blessings.

Ephesus was not only the center for the worship of Diana, but was in a sense the “bank of Asia”.  The Temple of Diana was a depository for wealth.  Some of the greatest art treasures of the ancient world were housed in the Temple of Diana.
But our riches aren’t in the Temple of Diana, they are in Christ.


J. Wilbur Chapman often told of the testimony given by a certain man in one of his meetings:
“I got off at the Pennsylvania depot as a tramp, and for a year I begged on the streets for a living.  One day I touched a man on the shoulder and said, “Hey, mister, can you give me a dime?”  As soon as I saw his face I was shocked to see that it was my own father.  I said, “Father, Father, do you know me?”  Throwing his arms around me and with tears in his eyes, he said, “Oh my son, at last I’ve found you!  I’ve found you.  You want a dime?  Everything I have is yours.” Think of it.  I was a tramp.  I stood begging my own father for ten cents, when for 18 years he had been looking for me to give me all that he had.”
God has so much to give us …

What are these blessings?  Paul will go on to unfold these blessings…

:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world

God’s choice.

This can all get pretty confusing.  The Bible does teach that God seeks us out and chooses us:

(Luke 19:10 NKJV)  "for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."
(John 15:16 NKJV)  "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.

But the Bible also teaches that we as human beings have a choice we must make:

(John 6:37 NKJV)  "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.
(John 3:16 NKJV)  "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

How does this all work?  Do we choose God or does He choose us?

Someone once said,
“Try to explain election and you may lose your mind. But try to explain it away and you may lose your soul!”

:4 that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,

This is what God has chosen us for.  It speaks of what Jesus has done for us in dying on the cross, taking the penalty for our sins.  God now looks at us as holy and blameless.

He has done this all in love.

:5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,

having predestinedproorizo (“before” + “boundary”, “horizon”) – to predetermine, decide beforehand

This is a difficult and perhaps misunderstood word.  Some mistakenly teach that God not only predestines some people for heaven, but that He also predestines others for hell.

I have a hard time believing this about predestination.  If God predestines some people for hell, then how could Jesus be sincere when He invites all who are weary and heavy laden to come to Him?

Though the Bible talks about God predetermining what would happen beforehand, this word (proorizo) is never used in reference to those who do not accept Christ, but only for those who do accept Christ.

(Rom 8:28-31 NKJV)  And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

What a marvelous promise.  We cling to this during difficult times.  If we love God and are called by Him, He promises to work everything out for the good.

Paul goes on to clarify what it is to be “called according to His purpose”.

{29} For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

It starts with God’s “foreknowledge”.  I guess one of the big questions has to do with just what does God “foreknow”.  It has been suggested that this “foreknowing” involves knowing who we are and what we’re going to do with Jesus.

It’s those that God “foreknows” that He “predestines”.  He makes a decree about us based upon His foreknowing.

Here our “predestination” has to do with being conformed into the image of Jesus, to become a child of God.

In Ephesians, the predestination has to do with being adopted as sons of God.

{30} Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

The ones that God predestines, He calls, justifies, and glorifies – a person is saved.

If it all starts with God’s foreknowledge, and His foreknowledge is based upon the choices He sees us making concerning Jesus, which came first, our choice of God or God’s choice of us?


Charles Spurgeon has described what it might be like for us as we approach the gates of heaven.  He says we’ll see a large sign overhead that says, “Come, Whosoever Will”.  Then, as we pass through the gates and look over our shoulder, we’ll see the backside, where it reads, “Chosen Before The Foundation Of The World”.
In other words, for those of us on this side of heaven’s gates, the best thing for us to focus on is that we have a choice to make in life.  We have a decision to make concerning Jesus Christ.  Once we’ve made that decision, we find that God has already chosen us from before the foundations of the world.
D. L. Moody said, “I’m so glad God chose me before I was born, because I don’t think He would have chosen me after I’ve lived!”

{31} What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Don’t miss this verse.  This is the whole point.

God is on your side.  You have been chosen by Him.

When I was in Jr. High, I held the world’s record for the most number of at bats in softball without a hit, without even a foul tip.  I can look back at it now and understand I was a growing young boy, my body was changing, and one of the results of puberty was a lack of coordination.  But there was another result as well.  When it came to picking teams in P.E., I was often the last pick.  Boy is that a rotten feeling to not be “picked”.
But this is not the case for the Christian.  The universe’ ultimate Team Captain has “picked” you.  He is “on your side”.

What if I’m not sure if God has chosen me?  What if God hasn’t predestined me?

Then you simply need to choose Jesus.  And when you choose Jesus, you will find that God has already chosen you.

:6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.

gracecharis – grace; that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness. It’s an undeserved gift.

God’s choice of us is something that brings praise to Him for His grace on us.

made us acceptedcharitoo – to make graceful; charming, lovely, agreeable

It’s because of what God has done for us through grace that has made us “graceful” or “lovely” in the Beloved.

The word comes from charis (“grace”), you could translate this passage, “to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has graced us in the Beloved”

It is God’s grace that makes us accepted or “lovely” in the Beloved.

We are not only chosen by God, but He makes us “accepted”, He makes us “graceful”, He makes us “lovely”.


God doesn’t just choose you for His seventh grade football team and then place you on the sidelines and ask you to be the waterboy.  You’re not just His “charity case”.  He makes you “graceful”, He makes you as accepted as if He had chosen Reggie Bush for the team.

in the Belovedagapao – the loved one.  Jesus.

When you are “in Jesus”, when you are “in the Beloved”, then all that God sees is “accepted”.  He sees you as “lovely”, as “charming”.

Some of us know the pain of being rejected.  Some know the pain of being rejected by someone that once said they loved you.  There aren’t too many things that hurt more than that.

It makes me think of the beginnings of my relationship with my wife Debby.  I broke up with her so many times, what a jerk I was.  But finally I got things figured out and asked her to marry me.  What a surprise to find out later that she had not only picked me out as well, but that she had even felt that God had picked me out for her – but she didn’t tell me about this until much later (I’m sure it would have freaked me out).

But God has not rejected you, He has chosen you.  A long time ago …


[1]Wuest, K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English Reader. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997, c1984. Eph 1:3.

[2]Wiersbe, W. W. The Bible Exposition Commentary. Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1996, c1989. Eph 1:3.