“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he[a] predestined us for adoption to sonship[b] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.”
Understanding Ephesians well means understanding the context from which it was written, the ears that were prepared to receive it, and what the Spirit would teach us today. So let us understand what Ephesians is within the body of Scripture, we will study what it meant to those that received it, and we will get down into the weeds on a couple of texts to understand what we should learn today. This book is chock full of rich theology delivered at fire-hose rates. One hardly has time to absorb the first verse before the next truth is slammed down on top of it.
Ephesians was likely written while Paul was a prisoner in Rome around 60 AD (Eph 3:1, 4:1, 6:20) and intended potentially for other churches in the area. Among his other letters Ephesians does not address specific heresy or error but instead mingles the high theology of the church with the nitty-gritty of daily life. Or maybe it isn’t mingling, it is highly intentional. Remember who Paul was, his context as an author and apostle to come from a card-carrying Pharisee to God’s apostle to the Gentiles. *
Ephesians is really a two part book, part one is where we will focus today, part two might be for a later sermon! Chapters 1-3 describe the mystery of the church developed sequentially from Paul’s statement of purpose, found in chapter 1:10 to an eloquently presented foundation on which to understand the earthly role of the church as well as the cosmic and “eternal” 3:11 role of the church.
To God’s work to reconcile sinners to himself 1:18-2:10
To Christ’s work uniting Jews and Gentiles 2:11-22
To the icing on top, that this work is a mystery that required revelation.
Note that this section of Ephesians falls between two of Paul’s prayers 1:15 and 3:14. The first prayer highlights his wish for the Ephesians to have understanding of the hope, the richness, and the power of God in salvation. The second prayer is a consecration and benediction to this new creation of God, bigger than a family or race. Paul’s prayer specifically ask from God that from his infinite strength that we might be strengthened in our faith in Christ. And when we have been strengthened, that we receive power to comprehend (and apply) the love of Christ.
This is the commission of the Church, to bring to a world the Power of God through the Love of Christ. And that is why we preach all of Christ, for all of Moscow, for all of life, for eternity! Amen