HIS SERVANTS' MINISTRY
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Theme: The church is a body, a spiritual body;
Introduction; God the Father planned the church; God the Son paid the price for the church; God the Holy Spirit protects the church; prayer of Paul for knowledge and power for the Ephesians. Ephesians begins with the doctrinal section concerning the heavenly calling of the church.
Introduction (Ephesians 1:1-2)
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: (KJV)
This is the briefest of all the introductions to Paul's Letters. I think it is brief because this Letter was sent to the church in Ephesus but was intended to be for all the churches. Ephesians was apparently the Letter that Paul referred to when he said in Colossians to read the epistle to the Laodiceans (Col.4:16). It seems that this Letter was a circular letter for the churches in that day. He is not writing here to the local church as much as he is to the church in general, meaning the invisible body of believers.
Paul did not know Him as the Jesus of the three years' ministry but instead as the glorified Christ he met on the Damascus road (Acts 9). Paul always emphasized the title of Christ first . . . Christ Jesus.
Paul states that he is "an apostle." What is an apostle? It is the highest office the church has ever had. NO one today is an apostle in the church today. WHY? Because NO one meet the requirements of an apostle.
What are the requirements? #1. The apostles received their commission directly from the living lips of Jesus. Paul made that claim for himself. He wrote: Galatians 1:1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) (KJV)
I think that Paul took the place of Judas. The disciples had selected Mathias, but there is nothing anywhere that I can find, that Christ Jesus ever made Mathias an apostle. All the apostles received their commission directly from the Lord Jesus. #2. All the apostles saw the Saviour after His resurrection. Paul could meet that requirement. #3. The apostles had a special inspiration. They expounded and wrote Scripture (Jn.14:26; 16:13; Eph.1:11-12). Paul certainly measures up to that more than any other apostle. #4. They had supreme authority (Jn.20:22-23; 2 Cor.10:8). #5. The badge of their authority was the power to work miracles (Mk.6:13; Lk.9:1-2; Acts 2:43). There is NO such power given to men today. That was only the badge of an apostle. John wrote at the end of the first century: 2 John 1:10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: (KJV) . . . The badge was no longer the ability to work miracles but having the right doctrine. #6. They were given a general commission to found churches (2 Cor.11:28). Paul clearly met these six requirements for apostleship.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God . . . Paul rested his apostleship upon the will of God rather than any personal ambition or will of man or request of a church. He wrote to the Galatians: Galatians 1:15-16 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, 16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: (KJV)
Paul said to Timothy: 1 Timothy 1:12-13 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; 13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. (KJV) . . . Paul made constant reference to the will of God as the foundation of his apostleship (1 Cor.1:1; 2 Cor.1:1; Col.1:1; 2 Tim.1:1).
To the saints the saints which are at Ephesus . . . the word for saint means "holy" or "separated." The main intent of the word is set aside for the sole use of God, that which belongs to God. A saint is one who has trusted Christ and is set aside for the sole use of God (then and now). There are only two kinds of people today: the saints and the ain'ts. If you are a saint, then you are NOT an ain't. There are some saints who are not being used by God. They are NOT saints because of the way they act. They are saints because of their position in Christ. They belong to Him to be used of Him.
And to the faithful in Christ Jesus . . . these are the believers. Believers and saints are the same. A saint should be saintly and a believer should be faithful. A believer is one who has trusted Christ and a saint is the same one. The term saint is the God word for the Christian. The term believer is the man word for the Christian.
In Christ Jesus . . . this is the most wonderful thing of all. This Letter is going to amplify this so much. How do YOU define our salvation? Redemption, atonement, justification, reconciliation, propitiation, and the vicarious, substitutionary Sacrifice of Christ. ALL of these words are wonderful, but each one of them just gives ONE point of our salvation. What does it really mean to be saved? It means to be “in Christ.” We are permanently joined to Christ by the baptism of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor.12:12-13).
1 Cor.6:17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. (KJV) . . . We belong to Him. How wonderful that is! Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (KJV) . . . Being in Christ Jesus is the greatest success of salvation. We are in Christ. There is no way I can explain this. The following comparisons may help:
The bird is in the air; the air is in the bird.
The fish is in the water; the water is in the fish.
The iron is in the fire; the fire is in the iron.
The TRUE believer is in Christ and Christ is in the believer. We are joined to Him. He is the Head of the body, and the body is in the Head. The church, which is "the body of Christ" is in Christ, the Head. All the truths of Ephesians rotate around this fact.
We all should take time to look carefully at this Letter, along with Romans, 2 Corinthians and Galatians. Ephesians should be given top priority among the Letters. These Letters have a personal, living message for us today, as probably no other portion of Scripture does. They are the great doctrinal Letters. When God told Joshua, ". . . arise, go over this Jordan" (Josh.1:2), I know God is not talking to us; but giving instructions to Joshua. But, maybe it has an application for us too. The Letter to the Ephesians is sort of like the Book of Joshua of the New Testament, speaking directly to us in a personal way.
Ephesians 1:2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. (KJV)
Grace be to you . . . grace was the form of greeting of the Gentile world in Paul's day. It was a form of greeting.
And peace . . . the greeting in the religious world was peace. Paul takes these two words which were the common greeting of the day and gives both of them a wonderful meaning and lifts them high. The grace of God is the means by which He saves us. You must know the grace of God BEFORE you can experience the peace of God. Paul always puts them in that order . . . grace comes before peace. You must have grace before you can experience peace. Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (KJV)
The world can never know peace until it knows the grace of God . . . but it is rare to see or hear the word grace around very much. Love and peace are very familiar words, and they are supposedly taken from the Bible . . . but they do not mean what they mean in the Scriptures. Peace is peace with God because our sins are forgiven . . . and we cannot be forgiven of our sins until we know of the grace of God.
From God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ . . . grace and peace are from God! He becomes our Father when we experience His grace and are stimulated by the Spirit of God. Grace and peace also come from the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus was seated at God's right Hand in the heavens.
God the Father Planned the Church (Ephesians 1:3-6)
We come now to the second major division of the first chapter. It begins with a wonderful verse.
Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: (KJV)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . we bless God when we praise Him and thank Him for His blessings or benefits, and acknowledge Him for Who He is.
Who hath blessed us . . . has given all spiritual blessings to us. God blesses us when He does good to us . . . so here the word blessed is taken in a different way from what it was in the former clause.
With all spiritual blessings . . . all sorts or kinds, opposing temporal and worldly, which the carnal Jews mainly expected, and the law mostly promised (Deut.28:1-14), and which were just types and shadows of those spiritual blessings which closely relate to the spiritual life and salvation of believers.
In heavenly places . . . heavenly places oppose earthly places, mainly the land of Canaan, in which God had formerly promised to bless His people. These spiritual blessings are in heavenly places because although they reach us here on Earth, yet they come to us from God and Christ in Heaven, and only in Heaven will their full perfection be hereafter.
In Christ . . . blessings come to us by or through Christ; because of His merit and effectiveness. These spiritual blessings come from God the Father to us because of Jesus. Christ Jesus as our Head, the source and seat of all Divine blessings, flow down on us as His members, receiving all we have out of His richness. Paul seems to have respect to the Promise made to Abraham (Gen.12:1-2; 18:18; 22:18), that in His Seed all the nations of the Earth should be blessed; pointing out Christ as that Seed, and those blessings as spiritual (Acts 3:25-26).
Ephesians 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (KJV)
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world . . . our election is the fountain from where those blessings come, so that God does nothing for us in carrying on the work of our salvation, except that He had in His eternal counsel before determined. Chosen us . . . God planned our salvation far back in eternity past, long before we were even in this world. The Lord Jesus Christ came down to Earth, and He worked out our salvation upon the cross, when the fullness of time had come (Gal.4:4; Eph.1:10). God the Holy Spirit is the One who convicts us today. He brings us to the place where we can have faith in Christ, or reject Him.
God chose believers in Christ before the foundation of the world. We had nothing to do with the choosing. I have always felt that ALL people are chosen but NOT all people choose to accept Jesus work on the cross when the Holy Spirit convicts us. (2 Pet.3:9).
Israel gives us a good example of this divine choosing. Amos 3:1-2 Hear this word that the LORD hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying, 2 You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. (KJV) . . . God chose Israel in time; He chose the church in eternity.
That we should be holy and without blame before him in love . . . God has chosen you in order that He might make you holy and that He might make you without blame. It means that your life must be changed. IF there is no evidence of change, then you are NOT one of the elect. God wants His children to live lives which are not spotted with sin. He has made every provision to absolve them from all blame. 1 John 2:1-2 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (KJV) . . . This throws limited atonement out the window! This verse in 1 John makes it VERY clear that He died for the world, NOT just the elect! I don't care who you are, there is a legitimate offer that has been sent out to you today from God, and that offer is that Jesus Christ has died for you. You cannot say that you are not one of the elect. You ARE one of the elect if you hear His voice, BUT, you can have free will NOT to hear His voice.
Consider that you are traveling down a big, smooth, wide highway, and you come to a little, narrow exit. Over the entrance it says, "...I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6), and "I am the door..." (John 10:9). Now the interesting thing is that that broad highway is that on which most of the people of the world are on. As they travel, that road gets smaller and smaller. It is like a funnel and the longer you stay on it, the harder it is to get off.
But too, that tiny exit is also like a funnel, starting out tiny but getting bigger and bigger as you travel onward, and the longer you are on it, the easier it gets.
You can keep on that broad highway if you want to, but you can also turn off if you want to. You can turn off at the invitation, "...him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out" (John 6:37). Whosoever will may come . . . that includes you. D. L. Moody had a quaint saying: "The whosoeverwills are the elect and the whosoeverwon'ts are the nonelect." It is up to you.
On the door to Heaven, from our side, it says, "Whosoever will may enter. I am the door: by Me if any man...." Any man . . . that means you. When you get on the other side of the door someday in Heaven, you're going to look back, and on that door you will find written, "Chosen in Him before the foundation of the world."
That we should be holy and without blame . . . by essential grace begun in regeneration, and carried on in sanctification and mortification in this life, but not perfected until the other life. Holiness in us is declared here to be not the cause, but the effect of our election; we are chosen that we may be holy, not because we are, or God foresees we will be holy.
Before him . . . in the sight of God, who is not deceived with an outward appearance, but looks to the heart.
In love . . . as a main part of our sanctification (1 Cor.1:30), and the best evidence of the fear of God (Eph.5:21; Col.3:22) in us, and our obedience to the whole law (Mat.22:36-40).
Ephesians 1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, (KJV)
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children . . . having appointed us to be His children and the right to glory. This seems to be more than the just being chosen, for it is a greater thing to be the sons of God, and heirs of Heaven, than to be holy. Spiritual heirs: (Jn.14;1-3; Rom.4:13; 8:17; Gal.3:29; 4:7; Eph.3:6; Tit.3:7; Heb.1:14; 6:17; 11:7; Jam.2:5; 1 Pet.1:4; 3:7; Rev.21:7).
By Jesus Christ . . . as Mediator, and Head of the elect, and the foundation of all spiritual blessings given them. Because of this relationship into which they are brought, by being united to Christ Jesus, they become the adopted children come into that state by the intervention of the natural Son of God (Jn.1:13-14).
To himself . . . looking no farther than to Jesus for the cause and motive to his adopting them. God would have the honor of having many adopted children that shall all call Him Father (1 Jn.3:1).
According to the good pleasure of his will . . . His sovereign grace and good will, is the only fountain from which predestination flows.
To some, the word predestination is a scary term, but it really is one of the most wonderful words in Scripture. It is something we don't hear too much about today. Ephesians treads on mountaintops. It takes us back to eternity past when God planned the church. He tells us how He did it. God simply tells us: Take it or leave it. God is the One who is running this Universe, for which I am grateful.
God has done three things for us in planning the church. #1. He chose us . . . pretty hard to understand. #2. The Father predestinated us to the place of sonship (His children). #3. The Father made us accepted in the Beloved.
Election is God's choosing us in Christ. I emphasize again that men are NOT lost because they have not been elected. They are lost because they are sinners and that is the way they want it and that is the way they have chosen. The free will of man is never violated because of the election of God. The lost man makes his own decision. Romans 9:14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. (KJV)
I am going to be in Heaven someday (Jn.20:31; 1 Jn.5:13), and the only reason I am going to be in Heaven is because of the mercy of God. I am a lost sinner. Until we are willing to come to God as a nobody and then let Him make us a somebody, we will never be saved.
In love having predestinated us . . . God's love is involved in this word which has been fearsome to a great many people. The word predestination literally means to mark out, to set apart. When it refers to God, predestination has to do with God's purpose with those He chooses.
Predestination is NEVER used in reference to unsaved people. God has NEVER predestined anyone to be lost. IF you are lost, it is because you have rejected God's one and only Remedy (Jesus). It is like a dying man to whom the doctor offers curing medicine. "If you take this, it'll heal you." The man says, "I don't believe you." (1 Jn.5:10-13). So the man dies and the doctor's report says he died of a certain disease, and that's correct. BUT . . . there WAS a remedy, and he actually died because he refused to take the remedy. God has provided a Remedy for eternal suffering in Hell. IF you refuse and reject Jesus, eternal Hell is yours! That's where your free will comes in, and you have to determine for yourself what your choice will be.
Predestination refers only to those who are saved. What it actually means is that when God starts out with one hundred sheep, He is going to come through with one hundred sheep. That is a great percentage.
"All we like sheep have gone astray..." (Isa.53:60. That's our tendency; that's the direction we go. We do NOT go toward God, but we go AWAY from Him. But, our precious Shepherd goes out to look for that one lost sheep! (Mat.18:12-13). If I am not there when He counts in His sheep, He is going to go out and look for me, and He is going to bring me in. That is what predestination means.
John 10:27-28 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. (KJV)
IF sheep are saved, it is NOT because they are smart little sheep. IF they are safe, it is because they have a wonderful Shepherd. Have you thanked Him today?
All of this is done in Christ Jesus. "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Tim.2:5). It CANNOT be done without Jesus! (Jn.14:6; Acts 4:12).
Ephesians 1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. (KJV)
To the praise of the glory of his grace . . . since all (everything) is for the glory of God, Paul sings this wonderful psalm of praise. All is done on the basis of His grace and the end is the glory of God. The beginning is grace; the realization is adoption; the response is for His glory. His grace to us, should be acknowledged and praised and cherished by us.
Wherein He hath made us accepted in the beloved . . . in or through Christ Jesus, by the same grace by which He chose us. The Father having chosen us in Christ, He also favors us, is well pleased with us in Christ, to whom we are united, whose members we are, and in whom God looks upon us. We are hateful in ourselves as sinners, but accepted in Christ as sons.
Who is the Beloved? It is the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the Lord Jesus who said, "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world" (Jn.17:24). When God looks down and sees the believer in Christ, He accepts the believer just as He receives His own Son, Jesus. That is the only way by which we will be admitted into Heaven. We cannot stand there on the merit of any good we have done (Eph.2:8-9; Rom.6:23). We are accepted only in the Beloved. God loves TRUE believers just as He loves Christ, because we are in Christ. John 17:23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (KJV)
There has been a threefold work performed by God the Father. He chose us in Christ. He predestinated us to the place of sonship. He has made us accepted in the Beloved. It is all to the praise of the glory of His grace. He is the One who gets the praise, because He is the One who did it all. We need never forget that the grace of God is revealed in Christ alone!
God the Son Paid the Price for the Church (Ephesians 1:7-12)
Ephesians 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; (KJV)
In whom we have redemption through his blood . . . in Christ, the God-Man, the instant worker of this redemption; for although the Father and the Holy Spirit agreed to it, yet the redeeming work was uniquely completed in the Second Person, Jesus. Have redemption . . . freedom from the wrath of God, and curse of the law, through his Blood . . . by the Sacrifice of Jesus’ death on the cross, where His precious Blood was shed (1 Pet.1:18-19). This was the price God paid for our redemption, and by which His justice was satisfied. We could no longer be detained, held, imprisoned under the power of the devil, or the dominion of sin.
The forgiveness of sins . . . redemption is not legally forgiveness, but forgiveness is the effect of it; and it is mentioned not as the only or adequate, but the prime and principal fruit of redemption, and upon which the other depend.
According to the riches of his grace . . . what Paul called glorious grace in verse 6, here he calls riches of grace, meaning plentiful and abounding grace, by a phrase frequently used by him elsewhere in the same sense (Rom.2:4,7; 9:23).
In eternity past God chose us, predestinated us, and made us accepted in the Beloved. Now we move out of eternity past into time, where the plans of God the Father are placed into the Hands of Christ, who moves into space and time to create the church.
The cross of Christ does not appeal to the visual part of man; it doesn't appeal to the pride of man. Sad to say, liberal churches and even a few so-called Bible churches place NO emphasis on the Blood of Christ. That precious Blood is considered repulsive to some people! My dear friend, sin is the thing that is repulsive to Almighty God, and that Blood of Jesus is the only thing that can redeem you! It is only through His blood that we have redemption! 1 Peter 1:18-19 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: (KJV) . . . All the silver and gold in the world could not buy redemption for one lost soul! The Blood of Christ is more valuable than silver and gold. We have redemption through His Blood, and the reason He saves us in that way is because "...without shedding of blood is no remission" (Heb.9:22).
We are dealing with the work of God the Son on behalf of the church. That work is threefold: #1. Christ redeemed us through His Blood; #2. He has revealed the mystery of His will; and #3. He rewards us with an inheritance.
Ephesians 1:8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; (KJV)
Wherein he hath abounded toward us . . . by His grace before mentioned, out of abundance of His grace in Himself, called riches of grace in verse 7, a like expression in (1 Tim.1:14).
In all wisdom . . . this means the perfections or excellence of it, compared to all other wisdom, and more excellent than all else. Under the Gospel, believers have wisdom more fully and largely, for the Spirit of wisdom and revelation is being poured out on them.
And prudence . . . is the knowledge of the rule of our duty, with skill to govern ourselves according to it: and so wisdom is no other than faith, and prudence the same as holiness; the former relates to the things we are to believe, the latter to the things we are to do. Prudence means understanding, thinking. I think the meaning here is, that God had revealed great intelligence in the plan of salvation. There was ample proof of mind and of thought, it was adjusted with the end in view. It was far-seeing; skillfully arranged; and carefully formed. There was an extremely wise intention running through the whole plan, and abounding in it in an outstanding degree.
Now we come to the second work of God the Son on behalf of the church: Christ revealed the mystery of His will.
Ephesians 1:9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: (KJV)
Having made known unto us . . . having revealed to us outwardly by the preaching of the Gospel; and inwardly, by the illumination of the Spirit.
The mystery of his will . . . the total doctrine of grace and salvation by Christ, which is a secret to others (unbelievers), and would have still been to us, had not God revealed it to us in the Gospel.
According to his good pleasure . . . the good pleasure of God is the fountain of all spiritual blessings which flow out to us from Him, as well as it is of our being first chosen and appointed to be the subjects (His adopted children) of them.
Which he hath purposed in himself . . . this means a firm, settled will in God, and moved by nothing but Himself, or His keeping this purpose in Himself until the time appointed for the publication of it.
What is a mystery in Scripture? It is NOT a whodunit or a mystery story, and it is NOT something you wonder about: Was it the butler who committed the crime? A mystery in Scripture means that God is revealing something, that up to that time, He had not revealed. There are two elements which always enter into a New Testament mystery: #1. It cannot be discovered by man, for it is always a revelation from God; and #2. it is revealed at the right time and not concealed, and enough is revealed to establish the fact without all the details being disclosed.
There are fifteen mysteries in the New Testament:
#1. The mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven (Mat.13:3-50; Mk.4:11; Lk.8:10).
#2. The mystery of His will (Eph.1:9).
#3. The great mystery of Christ and His church (Eph. 5:32; Col.4:3).
#4. The mystery of the Gospel (Eph.6:19). ,
#5. The mystery of Israel's blindness during this age (Rom.11:25).
#6. The mystery of the faith (1 Tim.3:9).
#7. The mystery of the translation of living saints at the end of this age (1 Cor.15:51-52; 1 Thes.4:13-17).
#8. The mystery of the N.T. Church as one body composed of Jews and Gentiles (Eph.3:1-12; 6:19; Rom.16:25; Col.4:3).
#9. The mystery of the Church as the bride of Christ (Eph.5:23-32).
#10. The mystery of being in Christ (Gal.2:20; Col.1:26-27).
#11. The mystery of Christ as the incarnate fullness of the Godhead embodied, in whom all the divine wisdom for man subsists (1 Cor.2:7; Col.2:2,9).
#12. The mystery of godlikeness restored to man (1 Tim.3:16).
#13. The mystery of iniquity (2 Thes.2:7; Mat.13:33).
#14. The mystery of the seven stars (Rev.1:20).
#15. The mystery of the woman (Rev.17:5,7).
My friend, even with all these, God has NOT revealed everything to us. There are many things God has NOT told us, because it is not necessary for us to know. When it is necessary, He will reveal them to us.
What true love sees is a mystery,
God’s love sent His Son, to you and me!
Whosoever in Him does believe,
Eternal life in Heav’n will receive!
A deep mystery, is God’s true love,
Indeed a blessing, from Heav’n above!
In spite of all the times we do fall,
He’s always there, every time we call!
What true love sees is a mystery,
Never changing, in all eternity!
Our faith in Jesus, makes us God’s child,
And with the Father, we’re reconcil’d!
What does God see in a sinner like me?
Yet I’m His child, for eternity!
Our God’s great love, so wondrously true,
Forgives thru’ Jesus each day anew!
I’m praising Christ Jesus each new day,
His love on the Cross, He did portray!
He paid our sin debt and set us free,
What true love sees is a mystery!
Do we as God’s children true love show?
Our love, like a light, should surely glow!
Is our love like God’s? A mystery?
True love should be our identity!
By: His servant, Connie Kramer May 8,1999 # 526
God has always had just ONE Way (Jn.14:6), of saving people; EVERYTHING rests on Christ Jesus!
Ephesians 1:10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: (KJV)
That in the dispensation . . . dispensation means stewardship or administration; an arrangement of things; a plan. The meaning here is, that this plan was formed in order that God might gather together in one all things.
Of the fulness of times . . . when the times were just right; when all the periods had passed by which he had arranged, or thought necessary to complete the purpose. The plan stretched from before "the foundation of the world" to the period when all times would be completed; and of course all the events occurring in that specific period were included in the plan.
He might gather together in one . . . this means to sum up, to review, as a speaker does at the close of his speech. In the New Testament the word means to collect under one head, or to understand several things under one (Rom.13:9). In this Passage, it means that God would sum up, or see all things in Heaven and Earth through the Christian dispensation; making one kingdom under one head, under the same laws. I think that the reference is to the UNITY which will hereafter exist in the Kingdom of God, when all Jesus’ friends on Earth and in Heaven shall be united, and all shall have a common head (Christ Jesus). Now, there is alienation because the Earth has been separated from Heaven by rebellion. It has gone off into apostasy and sin. It refuses to acknowledge the Great Head (JESUS) to which Heaven surrenders to. God’s purpose is to restore all to its proper place, so that there shall be one great and united Kingdom.
All things . . . all things shall be placed under Christ (Eph.1:22; Mat.28:18), for the plan of God is to restore harmony in the Universe (Gen.14,10,12,18,21,25,31). Sin has produced disorder not only in mind, but in matter. The world is a big mess! The results of transgression are seen everywhere! The purpose of the plan of redemption is to put things back on their perfect footing, and restore them as they were at first. Everything is therefore put under the Lord Jesus, and all things one day shall be brought under His control, so as to establish one huge harmonious empire. See: (Ps.2; 21:8-9; 89:23; 110:5-6; Isa.30:14; 60:12; Jer.19:11; Dan.2:44; Mat.21:44; Rev.2:26-27; 12:5).
There shall be ONE Kingdom! There shall be NO alienation, NO conflict, NO hate, NO sin! The separated kingdoms of Heaven and Earth shall be united under one Head, and after this all shall be harmony and love.
In Christ . . . means of Christ, or under Him, as the great Head and King. He is to be the great Agent of Almighty God in achieving this, and He shall preside over this united Kingdom. ALL nations shall acknowledge JESUS, the Redeemer as their common Head and King (Isa.45:23; Rom.14:11; Phil.2:10; Rev.5:9-13). Come Lord Jesus, come (Rev.22:20).
Both which are in heaven . . . this may refer to all the saved in Heaven.
And which are on earth . . . the redeemed on Earth. The object is to bring them into harmony with the inhabitants of heaven.
There is now discord and dis-union. Man is separated from God, and from all holy beings. Between the unsaved and every holy being there is by nature discord and alienation. Unregenerated man (unbelievers) has no sympathy for the feelings and work those who are saved by the Blood of Jesus, or of the angels; no love for what they do for the Lord; no desire to be associated with them. Nothing is more different than the customs, feelings, laws and habits which prevail on earth, than from those which prevail in Heaven. God’s plan is to restore harmony to those alienated communities, and produce eternal peace and love.
Our Heavenly Inheritance (Ephesians 1:11-12)
The third work of God the Son on behalf of the church: Christ rewards us with an inheritance.
Ephesians 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: (KJV)
In whom we have obtained an inheritance . . . those who are called, those who have a right to a heavenly inheritance, or have a right given us to it as by lot. In reference to the twelve tribes having, in the division of the land of Canaan, their inheritances were assigned to them by lot (Josh.14:2). Paul shows that the Israelites did not first seek it, much less deserve it, but God gave it to them. Israel’s lot fell in the heavenly inheritance, when others did not.
Being predestinated . . . this, as well as the aforementioned privileges, was designed to us by eternal predestination, and though it is free, and without our securing it, but by His ordering.
Who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will . . . powerfully and effectually; that infinite wisdom of God, which is always combined with His will, whereby He acts wisely and freely, and not by debate, which falls beneath His infinite perfection, for He has the greatest reason and judgment.
Ephesians 1:12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. (KJV)
That we should be to the praise of his glory . . . the superiority and greatness of God's wisdom, power, grace and mercy should be shown in us by our being predestinated, called, sanctified and saved. We as God’s children must reveal by our holiness, obedience and fruitfulness of our lifestyle, might clearly show the glory of Him that has given to us the marvelous heavenly inheritance (Jn.14:2-3; 1 Pet.1:4-5).
Who first trusted in Christ . . . the apostles were the first ones to hear the Gospel, preached to them by Jesus Himself! They were the first fruits of the New Testament church.
God the Holy Spirit Protects the Church (Ephesians 1:13-14)
Consider the work of the Holy Spirit: #1. He regenerates us, #2. He is a refuge for us, and #3. He gives reality to our lives.
Ephesians 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, (KJV)
In whom ye also trusted . . . after they embraced the Gospel, they trusted Christ Jesus to save them. Ye is the Ephesians and other Gentiles.
After that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation . . .the Gospel is so called because it contains the most excellent and necessary of all truths, the doctrine of righteousness and life by Jesus Christ. The gospel of your salvation . . . as being the means whereby God works faith, and brings to salvation (Rom.1:12; Heb.2:3).
In whom also after that ye believed . . . is referring to believers, and then it shows by virtue of whom this benefit of sealing is bestowed . . . by benefit of Christ.
Ye were sealed with that holy Spirit . . . ye were secured and established of your right to the heavenly inheritance, which is done by the Holy Spirit's affecting on the soul the work of regeneration. Sealed and confirmed as God's children, by the Holy Spirit as the seal (Acts 19:1-6; Rom.8:16,23; 2 Cor.1:22; 1 Jn3:24). A seal stamped on a document gives absolute validity to the contract (Jn.3:33; 6:27; 2 Cor.3:3). The sense here is that "the love of God shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost" (Rom.5:5), and the adoption established through the Spirit at regeneration (Jn.1:12-13; 3:3-8; Rom.8:15-16), assures believers of God's good will to them. The Spirit, like a seal, stamps on the soul at regeneration, the image of our Father. The "sealing" by the Holy Spirit is spoken of as past once for all. It witnesses to our hearts that we are the children of God, and heirs (verse 11), and is the Holy Spirit's present testimony, the "earnest of the (coming) inheritance" (Rom.8:16-18).
The Holy Spirit of Promise: (Joel 2:28; Zec.12:10; Jn.7:38-39). Those who "believed the word of truth" are sealed by the Spirit accordingly.
This is a marvelous Truth. God gives us an eternal inheritance! He rewards us for something we have not done. It is the overall purpose and plan of God that believers should be joint heirs with Christ (Rom.8:17).
Jesus has done three marvelous things for us: #1. He's redeemed us with His blood; #2. He's revealed the mystery of His will; and #3. He rewards us with an eternal inheritance. How wonderful this is. We can't lose! We belong to Him because He paid a price to redeem us.
Ephesians 1:14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. (KJV)
Which is the earnest of our inheritance . . . earnest is a down payment. The Holy Spirit, given to and indwelling believers by His gifts and graces, is the earnest or pledge whereby their inheritance is secured to them; as men are secured by the payment of a promised sum, by a part given beforehand in earnest for the rest.
Until the redemption of the purchased possession . . . the redemption is full and final redemption from sin, death, Hell and Satan; which redemption although perfectly created by Christ, is just in part applied in this life, for it is to be fully enjoyed in the other. The full and final redemption in the end of the world, of all God's people, who are here called His purchased possession (Acts 20:29; 1 Pet.2:9).
Unto the praise of his glory . . . the final step of salvation and complete redemption of God's people, will be specially for the glory of God (2 Thes.1:10)..
Ephesians 1:15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, (KJV)
Wherefore I also, after I heard . . . Paul was an eye-witness of their first believing. Here he speaks of the increase and continued faith, of which he had heard by others.
Of your faith in the Lord Jesus . . . Paul does not mean just a belief of Christ's superiority, but a belief of His being their Saviour, their receiving and relying on Him as such, and a firm believing in Him as the direct object of their faith. It was their faith in Him, by whom they believed in God (1 Pet.1:21).
And love unto all the saints . . . their love is added to show the truth of their faith, which works by love.
Love to the saints is mentioned, as evidence of their love to God; and to all the saints, to show the sincerity of that love, as not being partial, but respecting all saints.
Ephesians 1:16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; (KJV)
Cease not to give thanks for you . . . for your faith and love, and all the spiritual blessings God hath bestowed upon you.
Making mention of you in my prayers . . . Paul not only acknowledged what they have received, but prayed that whatever was lacking in them, may come to them.
Ephesians 1:17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: (KJV)
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . He is the God of Christ not according to Christ's Divine nature, but His human nature, and as Mediator (Gal.3:19-20; 1 Tim.2:5; Heb.8:6; 8:15; 12:24), in which respect He was subject to the Father.
The Father of glory . . . the most glorious Father, and the Author of all glory and glorious things, and to whom all glory is due.
May give unto you the spirit of wisdom . . . a greater measure of faith, for they already had some faith (verse 8) where it is called wisdom, or of the knowledge of the things of God, whereof the Holy Spirit is the Author. God is said to give or send the Spirit, where the Spirit works effectively; and so to give the Spirit of wisdom, the Spirit successfully works that wisdom.
And revelation in the knowledge of him . . . by revelation, Paul means not as the prophets had, but such as was common to believers, and voiced the manner of the Spirit's working this wisdom, that He does it by removing the veil of natural ignorance (Ps.119:18; Lk.24:45), shining into the mind, making seen what before was not before known. So, as we see by this, the Holy Spirit works not only in the beginning of faith and spiritual knowledge, but in further spiritual progress, He lets new light into the mind, and removes some remaining degree of natural darkness. Knowledge of him . . . God or Christ, or God in Christ. Paul here declares the wisdom he mentioned consists of the knowledge of God and Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col.1:9-10).
Ephesians 1:18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, (KJV)
The eyes of your understanding being enlightened . . . by that spirit of revelation (Holy Spirit). What the eye is to the body, that the understanding is to the soul. Paul prays for a further degree of light for them.
That ye may know what is the hope of his calling . . . the object of hope, the thing hoped for (Col.1:5; Gal.5:5). Paul considered the Gospel a privilege, and he wanted them to be made fully acquainted with the benefits of the Christian hope (Tit.1:2), and for them to understand what Christians have a right to expect in the world of glory.
And what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints . . . the phrase "riches of glory" means that there is an abundance, a vast amount of wealth. It is NOT such a possession as man may be heir to in this world, which is always limited, and which cannot be enjoyed for long. The "inheritance" here referred to is eternal life.
Ephesians 1:19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, (KJV)
And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe . . . Paul means that power of God which is put forth in the whole of our salvation, from first to last . . . not that absolute power by which He can do whatsoever is possible to be done . . . but His harmonized power, His power joined with His will, whereby not only will He work in raising us up at last, and finally saving us, but that same power that established faith in us, and still works in preserving that faith (1 Pet.1:5, and lovingly carrying us on in the way of salvation. Paul speaks to encourage the Ephesians (and us), that they should not fear falling short of the riches of the glory of the inheritance mentioned, because God, who has by His power brought them to Christ, is also very well able by the same power to bring them to glory.
According to the working of his mighty power . . . the exceeding and intense greatness of His power is like dynamite, to us-ward who believe, according to the working or the activating of the strength of His might. NO one has power like Almighty God! The greatness of God's power is awesome! Only God could raise up Christ from the dead.
Ephesians 1:20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, (KJV)
Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead . . . the power God exercised toward believers is the same as that when He raised up Christ from the dead.
And set him at his own right hand . . . God the Father gave Jesus, His only begotten Son (Jn.1:18; 3:16,18; Heb.11:17), the greatest honor, majesty and power, just as princes set the next in honor and authority to kings (Mat.20:21).
In the heavenly places . . . in the highest heaven, called the third heaven (2 Cor.12:2), and paradise (2 Cor.12:4).
Ephesians 1:21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: (KJV)
Far above principality, and power, and might, and dominion . . . these terms are at times applied to magistrates and men in authority here in the world (Tit.3:1; Jude 1:8), sometimes to angels; to good ones (Col.1:16), to evil ones (Eph.6:12; Col.2:15). It could be that Paul means good angels (Eph.3:10, or, widely, all sorts of powers, both visible and invisible (Col.1:16; 1 Pet.3:22).
And every name that is named . . . because some may think that Paul had not named all above whom Christ is exalted, he adds every name to include ALL . . . every person and everything which has a name; whosoever or whatsoever has any honor, dignity or excellence.
Not only in this world, but also in that which is to come . . this most likely refers to Christ's sitting at His Father's right Hand, and meaning the permanence of His reign . . . that His Kingdom is an everlasting kingdom (Lk.1:33). No matter WHO . . . Christ is above them all.
Ephesians 1:22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, (KJV)
And hath put all things under his feet . . . (1 Cor.15:27). All things . . . all His enemies (Ps.8:6; 110:1), all except the church, which is said to be His body; or maybe all things in general, of which Paul spoke before, angels and men; all are made subject to Christ (1 Pet.3:22).
And gave him to be the head over all things . . . God the Father appointed Jesus to be the supreme Ruler.
To the church . . . the Universe is under His control and direction for the welfare of His people.
Ephesians 1:23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. (KJV)
Which is his body . . . a spiritual one, where every member is influenced by the Spirit of Christ the Head, just as in the natural body the members are influenced by feelings coming from the natural head. (1 Cor.11:3; 12:27; Eph.4:15-16).
The fulness of him . . . the church is called the fulness of Christ, not personally, but rather as Head of the church. The head is incomplete without the body; and Christ Jesus in His capacity as a Head, would not be complete (full) without His spiritual body, the church.
That filleth all in all . . . in case Christ should be thought to have any need of the church, because of her being said to be His fulness, Paul adds that she herself is filled by Christ. Christ fills all His body, and all the members of it, with the gifts and graces of His Spirit (Eph.4:10).
The idea is, that there is NO place where Jesus is not, and which He does not fill! He is the Source of all the holy and happy influences in the church. This means the omnipresence of Almighty God, and I think that it refers to the Lord Jesus. I think that this Passage teaches not only Jesus’ supremacy, but demonstrates His all-powerful universal agency, and His omnipresence (present everywhere).
My dear friend, one day EVERYTHING shall be under Him and His power! Hebrews makes this perfectly clear! Hebrews 2:8 Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. (KJV)
Today, the only thing that is under Him is the TRUE church, meaning real, sincere believers, NOT just those who “profess” to be “Christians”. Many say they are "Christians" but they are NOT Christians, They are hypocrites! A TRUE Christian has Christ Jesus in their heart and soul! There are many organized groups who call themselves churches (cults) who do NOT obey the Lord Jesus Christ, and some even rejecting Jesus completely! These so-called churches are paralyzed by the devil! They cannot feel, reason, think or move in the right direction! It is as though these people are lying on a bed, helpless, as if their brain is detached from their body. IF you are with One of these heretical and profane organizations . . . GET OUT NOW!
Many of these supposed “Christians” simply act as if they are detached from Christ, the Head of the body. John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments. (KJV) . . . SO . . . What are His commandments? Matthew 22:36-40 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (KJV)
We are to exercise whatever gift He has given to us, and do it because of love, or else you are not attached to Him, and are not obeying Him. We need to understand that Christ is the Head of the body, His church, and we are under Him. 1 Cor.12:12-13 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. (KJV)
Book of Ephesians
Eph. ch.1 . . Eph. ch.2 . . Eph. ch.3 . . Eph. ch.4 . . Eph. ch.5 . . Eph. ch.6 . . Ephesians Special Comments