LINK: Ephesians 1:1-14
I love the book of Ephesians! It has so many very important things to teach us! No matter how many times I study it, it never gets old. It helps us understand our salvation and the work that Christ did and does for us.
The book of Ephesians was written by Paul when he was imprisoned in Rome (as were Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon), around the year 61 or 62. It is likely the book was written as a circular letter to be passed around to all the churches in Asia Minor. It is a doctrinal treatise, lacking personal references, and does not address issues of any specific church. Paul was on trial and could soon lose his life, but he was very concerned that the churches understand some important doctrinal truths. He sent this letter to teach them and to build them up in their faith.
Paul had first visited Ephesus briefly on his second missionary journey (Acts 18). On Paul's third journey, he stayed in Ephesus for more than two years, using it as home base to reach all of Asia Minor (Acts 19).
The city of Ephesus was known as the home of the temple of Artemis (Diana). It was a major commercial, political, and religious center in the Roman Empire. It was a wealthy city with much influence on the surrounding area.
Paul greeted his recipients, calling them "the saints who are at Ephesus" and used the term "saints" to refer to these believers repeatedly throughout this book. Our modern use of the word "saint" has changed in meaning since then. The Greek word translated "saint" simply means "one who is set apart" or "holy one." Paul often used it to refer to believers. As believers we are all set apart for God's purpose. The idea of using "saint" as a special title of canonization of a deceased person is not a scriptural one. In scripture, all believers are considered by God to be saints! We are all set apart from the world and given a position with Christ.
In today's reading, you'll also encounter the word "predestined." Don't let that word scare you. It simply means "determined beforehand." God predetermined our salvation. Notice that His purpose is ultimately for His glory (vs 12). It's hard for us to fully grasp how it all works, but in the end God gets all the glory for our salvation.
Verse five tells us that we have received adoption as sons. This means we are given a position of an adult son, one who has full privileges of a son. We have access to the inheritance and can enjoy the spiritual wealth of a son of God!
Another important teaching in this passage is the sealing of the Holy Spirit. A seal indicates possession and security. One who believes in Jesus receives the Holy Spirit as a seal. This means he now belongs to God and is secure in that position. No one can take it away from him.
The Holy Spirit is also given as a pledge (vs 14). It's like a down payment, assuring that God will one day complete our salvation.
Choose a reflection/application:
(1) As a believer, you are called a "saint." How does that change the way you view yourself? Does it change the way you want to live?
(2) How does it affect you to know that God chose you that you should be holy and blameless before Him (vs 4)?
(3) Make a list of all the blessings you have received that are listed in today's passage. Spend some time meditating on those things and thanking God for them.
Lord, you have chosen me to be your own adopted child! You purchased me with your own blood and lavish riches on me. You have sealed me with your Holy Spirit and will keep me always as your own! I praise and thank you! Amen.