by Jeff Dominguez
Chapter 01 – The Church as the Body of Christ | Chosen by God and for God Before the Foundation of the World
Hello there! we will now begin with our study of Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians. And as we discussed in the introduction, Paul’s goal in writing this letter was to inform the believers in Ephesus of who they are in Christ and how blessed they are in Christ. And in this opening chapter, Paul taught that Christians are people chosen by God for Himself and they constitute the so-called “Body of Christ.”
I. GREETINGS (vv1-2)
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
As a typical characteristic of Paul’s letter, he began with a greeting where he introduced himself as the author of this letter, that he is a servant of Christ, and he specified to whom he is writing this letter. Therefore, from this alone, it is clear that Paul is the author of this letter and it was addressed to the believers in Ephesus.
II. SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS IN CHRIST (vv3-14)
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” – (v3)
Right after the greeting, Paul immediately stated the reason or the purpose why he wrote this letter. And according to him, that is to teach them that they are blessed in Christ “with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” As to what these blessings are, we shall see in the next verses.
“Even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world,
that we should be holy and blameless before Him.” – (v4)
Out of all the blessings that Paul discussed in this chapter, perhaps the number 1 is this: BEING CHOSEN BY GOD FOR HIMSELF. This short verse has lots of implications. First, it reveals that Christians are not unwanted people. They are chosen, accepted, and loved by God Himself.
This means that even if the whole world rejects us, we can find comfort in the truth that we are loved and accepted by God.
As we continue, Paul also stated that God chose us “before the foundation of the world.” In theology, this is referred to as the “Doctrine of Predestination;” a concept that is recurring in many Pauline letters. In general, it simply means that even before the events of Genesis 1, God already has in mind who He is going to save (“holy and blameless before Him”). While we acknowledge that this is a highly debated doctrine and many people struggle to understand it, we, however, agree with this doctrine. Not only is it biblical, but it also reconciles with the rest of the Bible’s teachings and with the character of God of being sovereign (totally in control of everything).
Here is the Ordo Salutis (Order of Salvation) as presented in this chapter. Notice that this doesn’t contradict the Ordo Salutis that Paul taught in his letter to the Romans (8:29-30).
“In love, He predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His purpose, which He set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth.
In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of His glory. In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory.” – (vv5-14)
After revealing that we are chosen by God, Paul expounded the resulting blessings out of the blessing of being chosen. The chart below summarizes the key points.
Therefore, a Christian is truly someone who is blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. And we are just in chapter 1!
III. THANKSGIVING AND PRAYER (vv15-23)
“For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His great might that He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” – (vv15-21)
We now come to the beautiful part. After revealing the blessings that we received in Christ, Paul’s next point is to explain the whole point of it. Why did God give those blessings anyway? According to Paul,
Yes, the reason is HOPE.
Paul wants us to learn that the Christian life is a life filled with hope. This is the whole point of the Gospel of Christ. He sacrificed Himself and died for us so that we can be saved from the punishment of our sins and live forever with Jesus. Therefore, this implies that Christians shouldn’t waste their lives acting like unbelievers who live without hope. Paul says that we have our hope in Christ, therefore, we should live as such! Let’s live and act like a person filled with hope so that we can be an inspiration to others and make them attracted to the source of our hope, Jesus.
Lastly, Paul ended this chapter with a revelation of who we are. And according to him, we, the church, is the “Body of Christ.”
“And He put all things under His feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” – (vv22-23)
What does this mean? well, this means that if we are the Body of Christ, then we belong to Christ. In his letter to the Colossians, Paul taught that Christ is the “Head of the Body, the Church” (Col. 1:18).
Therefore, Christ and the Church are like one being. If we are Christ’s body, then we certainly belong to Him.
As we have seen, Paul opened this letter with a powerful message. And truly, he did succeed in explaining who we are in Christ and how blessed we are in Christ. Next chapter, we will discuss the number 1 blessing that we received in Christ in the entire biblical message: BEING SAVED BY GOD’S GRACE.
See you in the next chapter! God bless! 🙂