In many ways, Ephesians 2:11-22 covers the same ground as Ephesians 2:1-10. Both sections highlight “the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe” (Eph. 1:19). In both sections, Paul moves from addressing what his readers were before they were Christians to what they are now that they are “in Christ.” The difference is that each section has a particular focus. In 2:1-10, Paul speaks of the problem of sin, but in 2:11-22, Paul speaks of the problem of fellowship – both with God and with the rest of God’s people. The glory of salvation is multi-faceted: Not only does Jesus deal with our sins, He also brings us peace – both with God and with others.
Ephesians 2:8-10 is a very familiar passage for most Christians. It is a summary of the good news of Jesus Christ. In 2:1-3, Paul reminds us of what we used to be. In 2:4-7, he reminds us of what God has done for us. And he closes the section in 2:8-10 by summing it all up. It is a glorious reminder of some of the most essential, and thus important, parts of the Christian faith, because it is a simple – yet profound – meditation on the nature of salvation.
Sometimes, the most wonderful word in the English language can be the little conjunction “but”. In the midst of receiving bad news, that little word can be the difference between complete despair and hope. We see this interesting reality in the Bible as well. Ephesians 2:1-3 is a very bleak, sad reminder of the natural condition of every human being. We are dead in our sins – following the world and Satan, and as a result, we are objects of God’s wrath. Verse 4 shines out in the midst of that darkness, however, with that little word: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved” (Eph. 2:4-5).
Ephesians is a letter about the gospel – the good news of Jesus Christ. Clearly, Paul wants every reader to understand the immense blessing that has come to everyone who is a “saint” (1:1). Beginning in chapter 2, Paul reminds us of the past. In order to drive home the good news of the gospel, he remembers the bad news that preceded it. In particular, in Ephesians 2:1-3, Paul reminds us of this vital truth: if we do not have Jesus, we are dead because we are slaves of sin and enemies of God. Only with that understanding can we begin to see the full glory of the gospel of Christ.
As we saw last time, Paul follows up His praise of God (1:3-14) with a prayer for his readers (1:15-19). He prays that God would grant them wisdom and “light” so they will know the hope to which they have been called, the riches of God’s inheritance for them, and the greatness of God’s power toward them. The first two items are simply listed, but the last reference to the power of God actually gets expanded. In Ephesians 1:20-23, Paul goes out of his way to actually help us understand and appreciate more of the very power of God that works on our behalf. Put simply: Jesus Christ has been given ultimate authority, and God has put Him – as the ultimate authority – over the Church for her good so that she will be equipped for her task. These words are intended to help us understand the immeasurable greatness of God’s power toward us.
After describing – and praising God for – the blessings He has given to those who are “in Christ” in 1:3-14, Paul shifts his attention to the readers themselves in 1:15-20. Not only does He care about God and what God has done, he clearly cares about his readers. In these verses, we see Paul’s heart for the Ephesians as well as his prayer for them. By God’s design, this shows us the heart we should have for others as well while also reminding us of some things that we must not forget.
We have seen that Paul is using these early verses of Ephesians to remind us of the spiritual blessings God has poured out on His people. He has spoken of election and adoption and redemption. Now, beginning in verse 11, Paul speaks of the amazing reality that God has made us an inheritance for Himself. Put more simply: God has chosen us to be His treasured possession – just like He did with the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. This is blessing indeed!
Every Christian possesses abundant fuel to stoke the fires of worship in their heart. Paul reminds us of this throughout the first part of Ephesians 1. He is praising God, and he is reminding us of the reasons we have to do the same. If you are a Christian, God has blessed you with every spiritual blessing in Christ. In Ephesians 1:4-6, Paul speaks about the blessing of election. Today, we will look at the next blessing Paul highlights: redemption. Not only did God choose us before the foundation of the world, He also set us free from our sins.
In Ephesians 1:3, Paul praises God for the blessings He has poured out on His people. Beginning in 1:4, Paul describes those blessings for us. He wants to draw us into praise as well. He stirs our hearts with reminders of the glorious things God has done. And he begins with the spiritual blessing of election: Because of His love, God chose us in Christ before the world began so that we would praise Him and give Him glory.
After his initial greeting in Ephesians 1-2, Paul launches into an eruption of praise to God for the blessings God has poured out on His people. The blessings are many, and they are incredible. Paul lays them out so that we would join him in praising God. Do you feel as if you have no reason to praise God? Do you struggle with wanting to praise Him? If you are a Christian, meditate on Paul’s words in Ephesians 1:3-14, and you will find reason to praise – regardless of your situation. Continue reading Live By the Word (Ephesians 1:3)