This is the first installment of a six-part series for the January Bible study on the book of Ephesians.
By Will Hall, Baptist Message executive editor
ALEXANDRIA, La. (LBM) – While a prisoner in Rome, Paul wrote a letter of freedom to the members of the church at Ephesus, reminding them that “in Christ” God had provided the means of salvation.
Indeed, it is almost a singular emphasis in the first chapter of Ephesians.
This is critical to note because many scholars agree that Paul wrote half of his letter (Chapters 1-3) to emphasize doctrine — and Paul chose, first, to emphasize as doctrine the means by which God chooses us.
Consider how the translators of the New King James Version presented verses 1-13 (there are only slight differences in the English Standard Version). They concluded that Paul:
— wrote to the saints who were faithful “in Christ” (v. 1);
— offered grace and peace from God, specifically mentioning two Persons of the Godhead, “our Father” and “the Lord Jesus Christ” (Son) (v. 2);
— described redemption as being blessed “in Christ” (v. 3);
— declared that God had decided
– before the world was made
– that the means of our salvation would be “in Him” (Jesus) (v. 4);
— defined predestination as God’s plan that we should be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ, then repeated the point by stating we are “accepted” through “the Beloved” (Jesus) (vv. 5-6);
— specifically stated that our redemption is “in Him” (Jesus) “through His blood” (v. 7-8);
— explained the mystery of God’s will as “in the fullness of time” that all things in Heaven and earth will be unified “in Christ” (vv. 9-10);
— reemphasized that predestination is God’s plan that we gain our inheritance “in Him” (Jesus) (v. 11), and that we must trust “in Christ” if we are to be “the praise of His glory” (v. 12); and
— concluded that by our trust and belief “in Him” (Jesus) through the “word of truth” (“the Gospel of your salvation”), we are sealed by the Holy Spirit (the third Person of God) (vv. 13-14).
The remaining nine verses express thanks and prayer for the saints in Ephesus and close with a tribute to God’s mighty power, which He worked “in Christ.”
In Ephesians 1, Paul provides overwhelming doctrinal emphasis upon the means of salvation which is “in Christ.” This is the lens Paul provides to view his letter “to the saints who are in Ephesus.”