Paul's letter to the Ephesian church was addressed to a group of believers who were rich beyond measure, yet seemed to be living in ignorance of their wealth and needed to be reminded.
The first three chapters describes the sovereign grace of God and some of the spiritual blessings that are ours in Christ, such as, adoption into God's family, redemption through His blood, forgiveness of sins, a heavenly inheritance and sealing with the Holy Spirit of promise. Paul wanted to expand the horizon of His readers to understand that salvation is not a matter of our benefit alone, but of praise and glory to God also.
A 'Mystery' in the New Testament signifies that which in Old Testament times was hidden, but is now revealed. Before the world or mankind had been created, love within the Godhead chose a company out of future mankind that would involve a sacrifice for sin.
For a Christian, the source and sum of all their blessings is Jesus Christ, and in the purposes of God he, or she, is seen as already seated with Christ in the heavenly places.
The apostle prays that we might have a knowledge of Him1 and experience the same power in us that raised Jesus from the dead. The power is there, and it is the Christian's responsibility to enjoy it in His daily life.
The Devil is described as the prince of the power of the air2, and elsewhere as the god of this world3, a liar, and the father of it4, and that old serpent5. It is in the air that Christians will be caught up to meet the Lord Jesus when He comes again to receive us to Himself, and so demonstrate the triumph of Calvary in Satan's own territory. Our God is a working God (Genesis 2:2), and in Ephesians 2:10, Christians are described as [God's] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works. God expects His people to follow His example and to work on His behalf.
In Ephesians 2:1417, peace is mentioned three timesnot an absence of hostilities or troubles as the world understands it, but a peace of heart and conscience. It is the Peace of God6 and Peace with God7a peace made by Jesus through the blood of His Cross.
As Paul grew in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus, so his opinion of himself diminished accordingly. In 1 Corinthians 15:9, he is the least of the apostles. Five years later in his letter to the Ephesians (3:8) he is less than the least of all saints, and after another four years he refers to himself as the chief of sinners.8 As with John the Baptist, our desire must be that He must increase, but I must decrease.9
Fatherhood is revealed as a Divine status in Ephesians 3:1619, and all fathers are but a copy derived from God the Father. This chapter 3 of Ephesians concludes with the greatest benefit to the Christianthe indwelling Holy Spirit bringing the full enjoyment of the love of Christ.
The second half of Paul's letter to the Ephesians is important in being a picture of how the teaching of the first three chapters is to be practiced.
There is an emphasis that a Christian is called to the power of a living union with Christ. It is not a matter of a decision to adopt Christianity for its attractions or what benefits it may offer. Neither is it conformity to a religious pattern for whatever reason. Becoming a Christian is in response to a calling by God (Romans 8:28-30).
Such is the high and lofty nature of a Christian's calling, that it must be reflected in the kind of life we leadto walk worthy of our calling with a desire to maintain its spiritual unity. This involves an attitude of humility, meekness, patience and forbearing each other in love, a relationship beyond anything experienced by the world.
The formation of the mystical body of Christ, the church, was accomplished by the baptism of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (1 Corinthians 12:13). Being baptized into the body of Christ occurs retrospectively for every Christian at their conversion, in the same way that we are seen as having been crucified with Christ.
What, then, is the function of this mystical body? The things that Jesus began to do and teach (Acts 1:1) were, of necessity, limited by His physical body being restricted to one place at a time. The Body created at Pentecost would be worldwide, every believer a member carrying on the work that the Lord began. For this purpose the body was especially equipped by the ascended Christ through the bestowal of spiritual gifts, namely, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11). The gifts of the spirit are for the benefit of the church; the fruit of the spirit is for God.
We are chosen by name; our names are recorded in the Lamb's book of life, and Jesus calls each of His sheep by name. Spiritual growth demand dedication, determination and devotion. The three stages of growth are shown in 1 John 2:1214, as follows:
God desires His children to bear the family likeness in holiness, righteousness, goodness, compassion, graciousness etc. Believers are exhorted to demonstrate this in the relationships of husbands and wives, children and parents, servants and masters. The neglect of these relationships in our society has resulted in the diminishing place the Bible now has, an increase in humanism, co-habitation outside of marriage and fewer Christian church marriages. The husband-wife relationship in this former Christian country has become the particular subject for Satanic attack. This is virtually an attack on God's model of Christ and the church, His body (Ephesians 5:3032).
Finally, the Divine solution of withstanding Satan's strategy is to put on the spiritual armour of God (Ephesians 6:1017). A subject in itself!
1 Ephesians 1:17 Return to text
2 Ephesians 2:2 Return to text
3 II Corinthians 4:4 Return to text
4 John 8:44 Return to text
5 Revelation 12:9; 20:2 Return to text
6 Philippians 4:7; Colossians 3:15 Return to text
7 Romans 5:1 Return to text
8 1 Timothy 1:15 Return to text
9 John 3:30 Return to text
© Harry Norman 2005 <http://www.twoedgedswordpublications.co.uk/Articles/The_Riches_of_Christ.htm>