Monday, July 1, 2013

Ephesians 1:1-14 - Top Ten Believer Blessings

LINK: Ephesians 1:1-14

Ephesians 1 is one of the richest chapters in all of Scripture so linger long over it!


It's Bible Study TOOL TIME TIMES TWO TODAY (oh how I love alliterations)!


Structuring (fabulous to do with Epistles!)

One of the things I often do when studying Scripture is structuring. This helps me to understand the flow of thought in the chapter or book. This tool takes some practice. Here is my example to get an idea of how it is done: 

Ephesians 1 

Print it off and enjoy Paul's rambling!

If you would like to learn more about this skill, Precept Ministries has a workshop to help you do that!

Word Studies


Ephesians 1 is FULL of rich words that have a FULLER meaning when you define them in the original language. Here is a handout to download for doing it with a Strong's Concordance


http://www.padfield.com/acrobat/handouts/words.pdf

In addition to the Strong's Concordance, I use the Vine's Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. (The Old Testament word definitions are not that great. So you can get a cheap used copy of just New Testament words HERE.) More expensive tools are the Theological Dictionary of New Testament Words, Abridged (TDNTA), and The Complete Word Study Old Testament and New Testament


(I have all of the above resource in electronic form through the premier Logos Bible Software because I did not want to carry all those heavy books overseas. It is an investment though. I have built up my library since 1996 when it was much cheaper to buy the initial package.)

There are many online tools. Here is the Vine's online with the definition of the the word "chosen":

http://studybible.info/vines/Choice,%20Choose,%20Chosen


Here is Ephesians 1 at one of the popular websites that you can set up to show the Strong's numbers hyperlinked in the text: 

http://www.biblestudytools.com/nas/ephesians/1.html



In order to set this up, you must always be on the New American Standard Bible or King James Version, click on the "settings" button on the far right that I have circled in red in this example from Exodus 36:



This will lead you to a drop down menu: 



When you click on "Strongs Numbers," it will show Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament) words in blue. If you click on the blue words, they will lead you to a new page with the definition! 

The website www.preceptaustin.org has some amazing study tools. Here are their directions for doing a Greek Word study on the web and different references for deeper word studies that include more than just the Vine's:

Performing Greek Word Studies (scroll down)


http://www.preceptaustin.org/summary_of_references.htm#SEARCH VINES NT GREEK

This site also has many Greek word studies already done for you here:


http://www.preceptaustin.org/greek_word_studies1.htm

The online options keep expanding and growing so explore! Word studies are one of my favorite things about Bible Study. I like to define words and then rewrite the passage in my own words with my new found understanding of what the words mean in the original language. The only caution is to not spend all your time on word studies and forget to obey what you have learned by way of application! This is a pitfall of getting “carried away” in word studies! 

BACKGROUND 


Paul writes from Prison in Rome - to Colossians, Philemon, Ephesians and Philippians 
http://www.ccel.org/bible/phillips/JBPhillips.htm 

Ephesians


Paul wrote this letter while under house arrest in Rome in about A.D. 60 (Acts 28:16ff). It was sent to Ephesus in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) via Tychicus. 


Unlike many other epistles, Paul did not write this letter to address any problems in the church there. He wrote it simply to strengthen the believers and to explain the nature and purpose of the church, who is the Body of Christ. Many scholars believe it was intended to be a circular letter read by all the churches in the area.


You might recall from your previous reading in the Bible Book Club that Paul had spent over three years with the Ephesians and had met with the elders of the church at Miletus (Acts 20:17-38). 


Ephesus was one of the five major cities in the Roman Empire with the others being Rome, Corinth, Antioch, and Alexandria. It was the capital of that particular Roman province of Asia and a major trade center of the empire. Its population was about 300,000 at the time. It is most famous for being the center of worship for the pagan goddess, Diana. The temple was one of the wonders of the ancient world. It was a "beautiful city, very sophisticated, wealthy, and pagan" (Holman New Testament Commentary: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, p. 88). 



In Ephesians 1-3, Paul explains what we have in Christ. A key word is “riches.” We have a spiritual wealth because of our relationship with Him. We have been given much. In Ephesians 4-6, he goes from speaking of our individual wealth to our walk within the body of Christ that should be a natural overflow of that wealth. This is the “rubber meets the road” practical section of this rich book where Paul exhorts them to line their conduct up with God's calling on them. Eugene Peterson calls it the knitting together of "belief and behavior" (The Message Remix, Introduction to Ephesians, p. 2122). 

Ephesians 1:1-14

After Paul's greeting of grace and peace (1:1-2), he summarizes how incredibly RICH believers are in one incredibly long sentence in the Greek! It is as if he cannot stop in his enthusiasm for EVERY spiritual blessing needed for living a spiritual life we have through the Triune God of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Let's look more closely at these "Top Ten Believer Blessings":

God the Father has chosen and adopted us as spiritual children (1:3-6):



1) Chosen (1:4) - "To choose for oneself, not necessarily implying the rejection of what is not chosen, but choosing with the subsidiary ideas of kindness or favour or love" (Vine's, 2:189). Jesus was "holy and blameless." Since we are "in Jesus," God sees us this way!

This verse does raise the question of God's election and predestination versus our free will. This has hung people up for two thousand years. The Bible does indicate that God sovereignly chooses those who will be saved (Ephesians 1:4-5; Romans 8:29-30; John 6:44), but several passages also indicate that we have a free will (Matthew 11:28, John 3:16; 1 Timothy 2:1, 3-4; 2 Peter 3:9). It is hard to make sense of this, but I fall on this Word from God: 



“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, 
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. 
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, 
So are My ways higher than your ways 
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:8-9)

I chose to believe both are true, but I do not try to merge the two! Only God can do that, and I am not God. So I will rest in His mystery and leave it at that.

In addition, I do not want this debate to get in the way of you fully appreciating the riches you have in Christ Jesus!!!! So meditate on!


2) Adopted (1:5) - "Adoption is a term involving the dignity of the relationship of believers as sons; it is not a putting into the family by spiritual birth, but a putting into the position of sons" (Vine's, 2:32). During this historical period, adopted sons enjoyed the same rights and privileges as biological sons! See Romans 8:14, 23 and Galatians 4:5. 

A person was considered a new person and because of that "even all debts and obligations connected with his previous family were abolished as if they never existed" (The Letter to Galatians and Ephesians, The Daily Study Bible, p. 91-92). 


In Christ, we have been given redemption and forgiveness of sins; being spiritual enlightened and enriched (1:7-12):


3) Redeemed (1:7) - This means "to buy back for the purpose of setting free." 
To be redeemed means to be 'bought back.' It carries with it the sense of being released from slavery. By being redeemed by Christ, we are freed from sin, both the penalty and enslaving power. This redemption was accomplished by the death of Christ on the cross where he shed his blood and died to secure our redemption. His death paid the price for our release from sin and death. 
(Holman New Testament Commentary: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, p. 92)
4) Forgiven (1:7) - This is the result of redemption! It means "to carry away." The sacrifice of Christ's blood settled God's justice and cleansed us (Hebrews 9:22). Our sins were carried away like the scapegoat on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16). Christ died to carry away our sins so they would never be seen again (Psalm 103:12; John 1:29). 

5) Enlightened (1:8-10) - As a result, believers are given wisdom (practical, applicable knowledge) and understanding to know His will and the mystery of His purpose in Christ.  His purpose is that one day everything will be united in Christ.  Sin tears everything apart but, one day, all will come together, and we are a part of God's big plan! 


6) Enriched (1:11) - I am doing our taxes, and although it is a pain, I am grateful for the inheritance that has been left to us by our deceased parents. We have been enriched and so have you! We have an inheritance (1 Peter 1:1-4), and we are an inheritance in that we are valuable to God! We are "joint-heirs with Christ" (Romans 8:17). 


In the Holy Spirit, we are sealed, made secure, and guaranteed an inheritance and final release from sin (1:13-14):



7) Sealed (1:13) - After we hear the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1ff) and believe it, we are sealed. This implies a finished transaction and validation of ownership. It authenticates us as His adopted sons and protected by Him (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; John 14:16-17). 

8) Secured (1:13) - Because we are sealed, we can be secure in that knowledge!


9) Guaranteed inheritance (1:14) - The Holy Spirit is our down payment of future things to come!
Originally, earnest–money deposited by the purchaser and forfeited if the purchase was not completed, was probably a Phoenician word, introduced into Greece. In general usage it came to denote a pledge or earnest of any sort; in the N.T. it is used only of that which is assured by God to believers; it is said of the Holy Spirit as the Divine pledge of all their future blessedness, 2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5; in Eph. 1:14, particularly of their eternal inheritance (Vine's, 2:11)

10) Released from sin (1:14) - We are sealed until that final day of redemption when we will be free from sin as we stand before God in heaven. 

REFLECTION 

When I first studied this chapter in the fall of 1979, I had a been a believer for ten years, but my belief was not aligning with my behavior. This chapter gave me encouragement to walk away from the slavery of my sinful behavior into the freedom I had in Christ! It was a major turning point in my life, and God blessed that decision abundantly!


It has been so special to revisit Ephesians 1 the same week I have been studying Romans 8 in my "face-to-face" Bible Study. Many of the concepts overlap, and Romans 8 marks another major turning point in my life that occurred in the spring of 1983. Hopefully you already read about it when we studied Romans! 


Many believers live as slaves when they are positionally free and fully adopted sons and daughters of the King of kings. 


I invite you to live into that freedom today. You will never turn back. 


APPLICATION 

It is time to live into the truths above. Meditate on each of these blessings and dialogue with God asking Him to help you live into the blessings in the nitty-gritty of daily life! I took one to two of these blessings each day and bathed in them! I suggest the same for you!


PRAYER

Praise to You for setting me FREE! May we all live into that freedom on a moment-by-moment basis. Amen. 
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