Day 318 – Thru the Bible
Today we start Ephesians. Here’s the overview video on Ephesians.
Video – Read Scripture: Ephesians
How does this video help you understand Ephesians better?
Ephesians 1 – Paul uses two words to describe the Believers in Ephesus: saints and faithful. Every Christian is both. The word “saint” means holy ones. We have been sanctified, or set apart, unto God. We are saints because of what Jesus did for us. He made us clean and holy. In verse , the word “faithful” does not mean “dependable” as much as “full of faith in Jesus Christ.” A Believer is a person made holy by God (a saint) and a person who trusts in Jesus (faithful).
There may be no more glorious topic sentence in all the Bible than the one beginning the second paragraph. Paul uses three prepositions to describe our great blessing. God has blessed us in the heavenly places with every spiritual blessing in Jesus. Because we belong to Jesus, we reside where He resides (heaven) and we receive what He deserves (unending blessing). All this is possible because of our union with Jesus.
Paul uses the language of “in Christ” or “in Him” or “in the Lord Jesus” roughly 40 times in Ephesians. The whole of our salvation can be summed up with reference to this reality. Union with Jesus is not a single specific blessing we receive in our salvation. Rather it is the best phrase to describe all the blessings of salvation. We have unconditional election in Jesus (v. 4), adoption in Jesus (v. 5), redemption and forgiveness in Jesus (v. 7), and the fulfillment of God’s plan in Jesus (v. 9), until the final uniting of all things in Jesus (v. 10).
Our entire blessedness—our victory, our happiness, our hope—is bound up in our being bound to Jesus. How foolish, and ultimately disappointed, are those who stoop to drink from any other fountain.
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no heart can possibly imagine all that God has stored up for those who love Him (1 Corinthians 2:9). Though this promise is for the next life, our inheritance was guaranteed before any of us had life. We were predestined for this privilege before the foundation of the world, before we had done anything good or bad (Romans 9:11). We can be confident of finally receiving this inheritance because the One who planned it accomplishes whatever He purposes (Isaiah 46:9–10).
We can also be confident because of the sealing of the Holy Spirit. Just like our signature on the dotted line or an official seal on a government document, the seal of the Spirit (which is belief in the Gospel of salvation through Jesus) authenticates us as truly included in Jesus. This seal secures our eternal safety and marks us out as God’s possession. Apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, we would neither have the opportunity to believe in Jesus nor have the eyes of our hearts opened to the realities and promises of His word. Thus, we do not test the authenticity of our faith by the perfection of our performance but by our belief in the necessity and provision of Jesus—concerns that we could not have apart from His Spirit in us. This authentication is an objective reality true of every Believer and also an experiential reality we can know more and more.
And why are we given such a torrential shower of blessing in verses 3–14? God’s chief purpose is for the praise of His name. Every blessing for us in Jesus, planned by the Father and sealed by the Spirit, is meant to make much of our triune God. Grace glorifies the Giver.
In addition to giving thanks, Paul makes three petitions, all of which are instructive for our prayer lives. We should pray to know God better (v. 17). We should pray to know God’s riches (v. 18). We should pray to know God’s power (v. 19).
The anatomy of God’s “for-us” power is remarkable. First, we are told that the One who is for us is at the right hand of God, the position of highest privilege given to Jesus for all ages after His resurrection and ascension. Next, as Jesus is in that honored position, God places all things under His feet and gives Him authority over all. Finally, we are told the purpose of Jesus’ dominion is for the church, His body, which reflects Him.
These statements of the amazing privilege, power, and future for the church of which all Believers are a part receive further details as Paul’s letter unfolds. He will go on to tell us that we can fulfill God’s calling to fill all things with Jesus’ purposes because the risen Lord who is head over the church is the One who cares for the church (5:29), strengthens the church (4:15–16), and exercises authority over the church (5:22–24). And finally, Paul reminds us that we do this together because collectively we are the body of Jesus, held together by Him and made to be like Him in every way (4:13). When we recall that all of this power is for us, it is no wonder that we should pray that our eyes might be opened to see it, marvel, and believe.
Do you really believe you are a saint?
Remember this is true, not based upon your behavior, but because of the declaration of God for all who believe.
Ephesians 2 – The heart of the Gospel pumps bright red in the first two words of verse . In verses we see that mankind was dead, disobedient, demonic, and destined for destruction. We were prodigals, scoundrels, vile, impure, unholy, treacherous, lecherous, self-absorbed, self-exalting, out-and-out rebels. That’s the bad news.
And then this good news: “But God!”
We were dead, but God made us alive in Jesus. We were not strugglers in need of a helping hand or sinking swimmers in need of a raft; we were stone-cold dead—spiritually lifeless, without a religious pulse, without anything to glorify God. But He loves the loveless, gives life to the lifeless, and is merciful to those deserving no mercy.
The anti-gospel which runs through every false religion and every false heart is the “gospel” that says “can do” instead “is finished” by Jesus. We are saved by faith alone, not because of any works. What’s more, faith itself is a gift. Faith is not the ultimate good deed that saves us but the instrumental cause of our salvation—grace flows through the channel of faith, but the channel is itself of God’s construction. We are saved by Jesus; faith simply acknowledges and rests upon who He is and what He provides.
Because salvation is entirely by the grace of God, we ought never to boast of our spiritual insights or accomplishments. Instead we should rest in Jesus our righteousness, our holiness, and our redemption (see 1 Corinthians 1:30).
Faith alone justifies, but the faith that justifies is never alone. Good works are not the root (cause) of our redemption, but they are the fruit (result).
Throughout the Bible we see that the greatest privilege a people can have is to be near to God (Exodus 19:4–6; Revelation 21:3) and the greatest curse is to be banished from His presence (Genesis 3:23; Hosea 1:9).
In verses 11-16 Paul announces the seemingly impossible: the Gentiles who were excluded from the promises of God have been brought near by the blood of Jesus. More than that, the hostility between Jew and Gentile has been broken down. This is the predestined plan of God. The “dividing wall” may have reference to the barrier separating the Court of the Gentiles from the rest of the temple proper, but the most immediate allusion is to the abolition of the law.
The ceremonies of circumcision, holy days, and kosher food which divided Jew from Gentile have been removed. The cross of Jesus, which brought together such fundamentally different peoples, can surely be the means of reconciliation for those presently divided by ethnicity, nationality, upbringing, economic status, or any other earthly distinctions that wrongly separate us.
Paul mentions three metaphors for the church: God’s people (fellow citizens), God’s household, and God’s temple.
The first two metaphors are important to communicate the relational security that we have, with increasing intimacy. We learn first that we have a place in the kingdom, and then we learn that we have a place at the King’s table. These metaphors are of particular significance when we remember that those gathering in the Ephesian church were of different backgrounds and ethnicities. The work of the Gospel not only breaks down barriers but unites hearts in profound ways.
The third metaphor is particularly rich in theological significance. The temple in the Old Testament was the physical representation of the divine manifestation. The sacrifices, the rituals, the festivals—these all took place at the temple because God dwelt there. God lived among His people and met with them through the temple to indicate His care and their preciousness to Him. In the age of the new covenant we are the Holy Spirit’s home and the temple of God (2 Corinthians 6:16; 1 Peter 2:5), to indicate His care for us wherever we are and to indicate our preciousness to Him whatever our situation.
Temple imagery stretches from Genesis to Revelation—from Eden (the first place of God’s presence) to the tabernacle (the portable temple) to Solomon’s temple (designed to resemble a garden paradise) to Ezekiel’s temple, to Jesus Christ the incarnated Son of God who “tabernacled” among us (John 1:14). The cubic dimensions of the new Jerusalem suggest that the new earth is our final temple (Revelation 21:16).
What an indescribable privilege that we who have the Spirit of Jesus should be counted as the temple of God. Living in light of this privilege leads to joy, gratitude, confidence, and holy living as God’s holy people.
How does it encourage you to know you are the temple of God-the place where His Spirit resides?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s video and reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
Videos produced by www.TheGospelProject.com.
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