Online Bible Commentary

Ephesians 1:1

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:
Note 1 at Ephesians 1:1: Paul made special mention of the fact that he was an apostle “by the will of God.” People appoint themselves to positions and sometimes gain the recognition of others, but only those whom God appoints carry His authority and anointing. If believers know that they are in God’s will, it makes whatever hardships that come their way bearable. It’s not good enough for people to become ministers just because their mothers always wanted a preacher in the family (see note 1 at 1 Corinthians 1:1). Note 2 at Ephesians 1:1: Paul first preached at Ephesus on his second missionary journey. Later he returned there on his third missionary journey and spent more time there than with any other congregation, a total of three years (Acts 20:31). Ephesus was the chief city of the Roman province of Asia, in what is now known as Turkey (see note 3 at Acts 16:6). It was the site of the temple of Diana, also known as the many-breasted goddess, Artemis, who was worshiped through the act of prostitution. Through this chief city, Paul was able to evangelize almost all of Asia. His letter to the Ephesians was possibly a circular letter reaching to all churches in this Roman province (see Life for Today Study Bible Notes, Introduction to Ephesians). See note 3 at Acts 18:19, note 1 at Acts 20:18, and note 12 at Acts 20:31 for more details about Ephesus and Paul’s ministry there. Note 3 at Ephesians 1:1: Paul made a distinction between the saints that were in Ephesus and the faithful in Christ Jesus. It is possible that the phrase “and to the faithful in Christ Jesus” broadened the audience beyond the Ephesian church, showing that Paul intended this epistle to be circulated (see Life for Today Study Bible Notes, Introduction to Ephesians). It is also possible that “the faithful” was designating a group within the saints in Ephesus. It is true that in every church, there is a core group who carry the load. They are always present, always give, and are the ones who propagate the faith. While we are all one in the Lord, not all of us live up to our potential. We need to strive to be among the faithful (see note 19 at 1 Corinthians 15:10). Note 4 at Ephesians 1:1: “In Christ Jesus” was a descriptive phrase used forty times in the New Testament, sometimes meaning “through Christ.” Generally speaking, this phrase implied a vital union with Christ. Just as the life of a root is found in the soil, or a branch in the vine, or a fish in the sea, so the believer’s true life is found to be in union with Christ. For every verse that speaks of Christ being in the believer, there are at least ten that speak of the believer being in Christ. Ephesians 1:6 states that our acceptance with God the Father is not ours through some merit of our own, but because we are “in the beloved.” It is God’s acceptance of Christ that has become ours because of our vital union with Christ through salvation.

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