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Study Notes on Ephesians 1

Ephesians 1

The book of Ephesians was written by Paul while imprisoned in Rome to the church at Ephesus, and provides truth related to the doctrine of the visible, local, church. Edification, encouragement, and instruction are seen throughout.

Acts 19 details some of the trouble that Paul had while in this city.

This chapter has been greatly abused by Calvinists so much of these notes will focus on refuting those false ideas.

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:

Paul was made an apostle by God, and is writing to the believers at the church at Ephesus. We see that saints is synonymous with believers, or the faithful.

Those "in Christ" are to whom this letter is written, and we see that sense (in Christ, in Him, in the beloved) repeated 10 times in just 13 verses. None of this is an evangelical section meant to bring people to salvation, but is encouragement for those already "in Christ."

2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul's letters are almost always bookended by "grace" (see Ephesians 6:24).

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:

In the Greek , Ephesians 1:3 through 1:14 form one long sentence, so it should be read together as a whole rather than grabbing one verse out of context to prop up a doctrine as Calvinists often do.

From this verse 3 he begins to list a few of those blessings, in heavenly places. These next two verses are things we will enjoy and experience in heaven.

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:

He hasn't chosen us to be in Him - the bible never once says that. It says He has chosen us that are in Him that we should be holy and without blame. This is the purpose God predetermined for those who would believe in Him. In our glorified state we will be Holy and blameless. This is talking about our complete sanctification which should begin here on earth. That is a wonderful thing to look forward to.

"Has God chosen individuals to be placed in Him?

Or, has God chosen individuals who are in Him?

Put another way…

Has God predetermined the individuals to be in the group?

Or, has God chosen a group of individuals for a predetermined end?" - Leighton Flowers

5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

Predestined believers for what? Adoption, which is a future event as made clear by Romans 8:23, "And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body."

"The predestination of God in eternity was, and is, that each who trusts in Christ shall have a glorified resurrection body, adopted to an heir-setting with Him in His kingdom."

- Garner-Howes

"This passage is not about God predetermining which individuals will be in Christ. It is about God predetermining what will become of those who are in Christ through belief in His truth."

- Leighton Flowers

Luke 12:32, Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

We are accepted in Christ (see Matthew 3:17). Praise be to God for our salvation, and the blessings He has and will bestow on us.

7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

It is in the Beloved, in the blood of Christ, that we have forgiveness. Not according to OUR riches or our good deeds or effort, but according to the riches of His grace. We have forgiveness, once for all, and all debt is paid.

Psalm 103:12, As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

Leviticus 17:11, For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.

The word “riches” occurs also in several other places in this epistle: Ephesians 1:18; Ephesians 2:7; Ephesians 3:8, Ephesians 3:16.

8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;

All of these blessings from God and His plan of salvation, sanctification, and glorification are from His wisdom and care.

9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:

Through Christ's teachings, the apostles, the New Testament, he has revealed His will. Romans 16:25-26 elaborates on this point.

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:

In the plan of the fullness of time. Because it says "all things" and not "all people" we must conclude that this doesn't just refer to a plan of salvation, but to all creation. Romans 8:22-23 seems to be talking about this same subject. We look forward to the new heaven and the new earth.

Revelation 21:5, And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

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:

What was predestinated? The inheritance for believers. God will both grant us an inheritance, and will gather all things to Himself (v 10). The council of His own will in contrast to any human advice. This is God's plan alone.

12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

The goal of God's plan is for us to glorify Him. This is our purpose in life.

Revelation 4:11, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

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,

Here is a deathblow to Calvinism as the verse clearly says YE trusted, YE heard, YE believed. We are held responsible by how we respond to the gospel, and for those that believe, God has great things in store for us.

14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

The Holy Spirit is given to us as the promise of the inheritance we will receive.

15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,

Like verse 1, all believers are considered "saints."

The church at Ephesus was known for their faith and love towards one another. A few decades later they would get lazy with their first love.

Revelation 2:4, Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;

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:

Paul prayed and thanked the Lord for this church. How often do we pray for our own church or other churches?

The Lord gives wisdom in answer to prayer (James 1:5).

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,

This is what the whole chapter is about, to try and convey the glorious promises God has prepared for those who belong to Him. He prays that the Ephesians would begin to grasp these amazing realities.

2 Corinthians 4:17, For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory

19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,

Who does God extend His power to? Those who believe. I think we generally do a very poor job of understanding the power of God in our lives. We have God in us, which is incredible. Yet there are people who believe this power to be so weak that our sin can cost us our salvation. What a damnable false-teaching!

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,

That power was first shown in Christ in raising Him from the dead, and who is now seated at the right hand of the Father. A place of authority.

"The same power that produced the marvelous miracle of Christ's resurrection now works in the hearts of believers." - TPC

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:

Jesus is the name above all names, and it is the name most under attack and most misused in the world today. He is above all things, all of creation, all government, everything.

He is above everything now, and will be in the Millennium when He rules with a rod of iron.

Hebrews 1:13, But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?

22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,

23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

See 1 Corinthians 15:25-28. Christ has authority over all, but all enemies are not destroyed and that will not begin to happen until the second coming.

A big theme in Ephesians is Christ as head of the church, which is a local body of believers. Every church that does not acknowledge Christ as its head (its authority and rule), is not a biblical church.

The term "body," when used regarding "the church" is always used in the organized, institutional sense, to refer to any organized local congregation, and in a similar sense that the term "body" may be used to refer to the "student body," the "legislative body," or the "judicial body," meaning an authorized, existing, functioning, orderly assembly of people --- never an invisible, mysterious, ethereal composite of spirits or souls of all the saved.

- Garner-Howes


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