Studies in Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians #1: The Author and the Addressees
Scripture: Ephesians 1:1.
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It is my prayer that as we begin our study of this treasure of gospel doctrine that we come to know and to love the Saviour much better.
This epistle stands at the apex of gospel revelation. It has been termed the “crown and climax of Pauline theology.” It is an epistle that centres upon the revelation of the riches of Christ’s grace and love. It takes us from the darkness and alienation in which sinners once dwelt (2:1-3) to the riches of grace of which the believer will partake in glory (2:4-10).
We will consider verse 1 in our first study.
I. THE AUTHOR OF THE EPISTLE.
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God.
1. Paul is in prison in Rome as he writes this epistle. He is where we leave him at the end of The Acts of the Apostles. Paul’s evangelistic ministry is practically over. During his labours he demonstrated that the gospel was indeed the power of God unto salvation. Heathen religion had to give way before its truth. Places where once darkness ruled supreme had been conquered by the gospel and the truth of Christ now held sway. All over the region called Asia, the standard of the gospel had been triumphantly raised. No greater example of the triumph of the gospel existed than that of the church in Ephesus.
2. Paul was an apostle. He was a man set apart for a special mission and endued with power for that mission. Acts 9:15; 13:1-4. His enduement was above that of ordinary workers and that was displayed at Ephesus, Acts 19:11-12.
3. Paul’s apostleship was of God. He served the Lord Jesus in the will of God. Paul ever set forth his divine call. This was because of the attack upon Paul whereby his apostleship was questioned. 1 Cor 11:5-6, 12:11-12. This subject comes up in his Galatian epistle as well, 1:1-2, 11-12.
So in the opening verses of this epistle he lays stress upon his divine appointment. He is speaking to them by the authority of Christ. It is to such men alone we should listen. The stamp of authority today is the preaching of the Word of God. To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them, Isaiah 8:20. God’s men must be called and must execute their duties faithfully.
II. THE ADDRESSEES.
To the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus.
1. The epistle is believed to be more of a circular letter, written to other churches in Asia as well as to Ephesus. Thus, it is to the faithful in Christ Jesus. It is to be noted that in this epistle there is no mention of local issues or people or places. This is because it was also being sent to other churches and therefore such local references would have been inappropriate. This means that we, who are not of that region or indeed, of that era, may read and benefit from this epistle.
2. Note the description of a Christian. Saints. The word means holy ones. A Christian is one who is holy.
3. These holy ones are in Christ. This is not a man-produced holiness. Man is a sinful being capable only of sinning. Jer 17:5. Rather it is a Christ-produced holiness. Man is incapable of holiness. He must be saved, washed and made holy by the power of Christ working through faith.
4. A Christian is faithful. The word means the opposite of unbelieving, John 20:27. It characterises God, 1 Cor 1:9; 2 Cor 1:18.
The Christian is faithful to Christ, His Word, His name, His cause. How offended some are when questioned on whether they are truly saved but they show no faithfulness to Christ!
Faithfulness demands a dying to self. Gal 1:4, 4:5-7. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts, Galatians 5:24.
5. Here is a reminder of the power of the gospel. Ephesus was a sinful city, given over to idolatry, Acts 19:26. But how mightily the gospel changed the region, Acts 19:10, 18-20.