Ephesians 1:1-2 Greeting faithful saints

In the course of serving Christ, Paul endured many hardships, in fulfilment of Christ’s words in Acts 9:16.  Paul lists his early sufferings for the name of Christ in 2 Corinthians 11:23ff – punishments, dangers, hardships – and there were many more to come.  On at least 2 occasions he was imprisoned in Rome.  Instead of showing self-pity and depression, Paul wrote letters to challenge and encourage various churches.  One letter from his first imprisonment (AD60 or 62), is Ephesians, a profound study of the eternal plan of God to save sinners, the unity of the church in Christ and the practical outworking of faith in spiritual warfare.  Consider Ephesians 1:1-2 Greeting faithful saints.

1. The author

‘Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ’ – he immediately identifies himself, with no mention of his imprisonment.  He is not seeking sympathy or boasting about his suffering for Christ.  Note his humility in 3:8 ‘less than the least’.  As an ‘apostle’ he belongs to the group selected by Christ as the foundation of the church in its NT form.  An apostle is a ‘sent one’, sent by the Head of the church.  As an ‘apostle of Jesus Christ’ Paul was sent by the Lord for a special work of evangelising and also for the writing of NT Scriptures.  His status was questioned by his enemies, who receive a strong response in Galatians 1 and 1 Corinthians 9:1 ‘Am I not an apostle?  Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?’  He is clearly thinking back to the Damascus road when he met the risen Christ and was commissioned as an apostle.  Note ‘of Jesus Christ’ – belonging to the Lord.  A true servant is concerned to glorify his Master, without any spiritual pride (see 1 Corinthians 3:5).  His position is ‘by the will of God’ – every servant is to accept willingly the place allocated by the Lord, learning and following his will.

2. The recipients

The letter may be a circular letter sent to several congregations in the area.  They are ‘the saints’ – a reference to every born-again Christian.  The word indicates that they are ‘set apart’ by God as his special people (see 1 Peter 2:9).  This holiness is to be expressed in a life lived according to God’s law.  The ‘faithful’ are best understood as ‘those who exercise faith’.  The Christian is one who puts faith entirely in Christ as Lord and Saviour (see 2:8).  Note ‘in Christ Jesus’ – faith unites us to Christ in his death and resurrection, so that we become part of his ‘body’, the church.  The recipients are at the same time ‘in Ephesus’ – in very ordinary situations.  When saved we are left in the world to serve the Lord (John 17:15).

3. The greeting

In his prayer Paul uses a Christian form of classical good wishes.  First ‘grace’ – free undeserved favour.  Grace saves (2:8) and equips for service (4:7).  We require a daily supply of grace for our every need.  Also ‘peace’ – the fundamental blessing of salvation. When justified, we have ‘peace with God’ (Romans 5:1).  Indeed ‘he himself is our peace’ (2:14).   This peace is an unchanging, objective fact, but we allow sin to disrupt our experience of peace and need regularly to seek that blessing.  There is only one source of these blessings: ‘God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ’.  We should often pray in the way Paul does.

Leave a Reply