Paul’s letter to the people of Ephesus is a succinct and impassioned outline of the heart of Christian theology. Paul had worked alongside the Ephesians for several years as he taught and preached the gospel. His care for them and delight in their pursuit of Christ is evident as he writes about the mercy and blessings of salvation and the paths still ahead for these people. His words were evident encouragement and direction at the time and continue to do the same for us.
Following Paul’s greeting, he delves into the spiritual blessings bestowed upon Christians through their connection with Christ. In 1:5, Paul writes that God predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ. It is by this adoption that we know forgiveness, redemption, and purpose. Before time began, God thought of us and planned for a day when we would all find our path to Him. When we didn’t yet exist, He considered us. This is why, beyond any other cause, our lives are to serve as praise to our God.
Paul, having lived through torturous trials and imprisonments, is graciously aware of the saving grace and redeeming power of a relationship with Christ, and he remarks of his prayers of thankfulness for those that have joined the family of Christ. Having drawn near to Christ, Paul prays that the Ephesians will also be able to know and understand their Savior more deeply. He seeks to help them comprehend the blessings and the power that God bestows and uses for His children; a power that far surpasses anything past or yet to come. He refers to Christ as he “who fills everything in every way” (1:22). Looking back to a past where they were denied entrance into the family, he now sees a people who will find fullness and restoration through Jesus Christ. For that, he is continually grateful.
Though he exults in their dedication to the faith, Paul is quick to remind the Ephesians, and all of us, where we were before the miracle of Christ’s sacrifice. We were dead in [our] transgressions and sins (2:1). We were deserving of wrath (2:3). God saved us from a life wrought with destruction and darkness. Because of His mercy and love, we have been saved from the inescapable clutches of weakness and sin. And, in an even more extraordinary show of His care, God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus (2:6). He saved us and reserved for us a front seat to His works for eternity. He did all and gave all for us, and only through Him and His son Jesus Christ can we truly find life.
The Ephesians were born as gentiles; as errant humans just as we are. God gave us life beyond the inevitable consequences of our faults. And, even after He captured our hearts, He ensured that our hope and our salvation was independent of our power. Our salvation comes by grace and not by works, so that no one can boast (2:9). We were created to do His work. It is our purpose. He’s planned for our workings from the beginning.
The Ephesians, all of us, were once separate from Christ. We were excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world (2:12). Before Christs sacrifice, the Ephesians and so many of Christ’s followers today would have been kept out of God’s chosen, but Christ’s blood unified the body. There is no longer a divide between Jew and Gentile. Through Jesus, we both have access to the Father by one Spirit (2:18). We are of one body and one heart with Christ. Each and every Ephesian and each one of Christ’s followers today are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit (2:22).
Knowing the power and peace found in Christ, Paul was thrilled to hear of the commitment of the people of Ephesus. He not only encourages them but reminds them of the blessings, power, and plan God has for them. Christianity is more than a label or a rehearsed declaration of salvation. Christianity is a path followed by those that see the grace flowing freely from a Savior. Christianity is a light shone in eternal darkness and a rope tossed to a world stranded in a pit of sin. Paul’s letter is a testament to the power of faith as his happiness and work continues beyond the trials he has faced. He encourages not only the Ephesians but each one of us who looks to Christ each day.