EPHESIANS 1 = WHAT GOD IS UP TO!
Bible Background: This New Testament ‘letter’ is addressed to Christians in Ephesus (modern day Turkey), but may be a more ‘general letter’ for all audiences. It brings a very Christ-centered message which emphasizes again and again our unity in Christ (mentioned 20x!) The message also highlights the work of the Holy Spirit in the church, the world, and our personal lives.
Digging Deeper: 1. A typical ‘letter’ by the Apostle Paul begins with a greeting and then a word of thanksgiving to God for faith of the recipients. It’s different here: after the greeting, Paul goes into a lengthy blessing of God (which happens to be all one sentence in the Greek!)
2. Besides the long, run-on sentence, there are big words and big gifts in chapter 1: Spiritual blessings, destined for adoption, forgiveness, glorious grace, the gospel of your salvation, and redemption are all included. That’s a lot! What’s one of these terms you think you grasp? Which one of these big ideas would you like to know more about?
3. This rich opening paragraph celebrates a God who:
+blesses us in Christ with every spiritual blessing;
+has chosen believers, and destined them for adoption;
+showers grace on those believers;
+redeems and forgives;
+AND, who has much, much more planned!
4. “In Christ you have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation” (v13). We use these words in one of our worship liturgies. Can you remember where?
5. There’s also some tension in this passage, as in: Yes, God is amazing and has done wonderful things! And yet…and yet, when we look at the world, there is so much that still needs to happen-which we are waiting on God to do. This is the “already-and-not yet” challenge of the Christian faith. How do we live confidently in light of what God has done and is doing, while we still long for and pray for “all things to be gathered up in Christ?” (This has been THE challenge since the time of Christ!)
6. We usually read this scripture on Christmas Day or the Sunday after. It is like a symphony celebrating all that the gift of Christ the Son means for us and for all of creation! Wow!
Read Ephesians 2 for next week. Or read the entire letter each week!