“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”
The apostle Paul is greeting the saints in Ephesus in these first two verses, reminding them that they are saints redeemed by Christ. He speaks of their faithfulness in the short time they have been believers and reminds them in his opening words of the grace and peace that they have with God, which is through the redemptive work of Christ on the cross.
“To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 1:1, LSB). This was a common way for Paul to open his epistles in addressing those in the various churches (Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:2). He was not merely addressing pastors or elders, but all who were of the church in Ephesus and in the other churches of Asia Minor that he had helped to establish.
Some have the idea that a “saint” is some “super Christian” of a different spiritual level, but when Paul is writing this letter about what is called for and expected in the life of those in the church, he means it for all, from the pulpit to the back wall.
Throughout the New Testament, believers are designated as saints, which means those who are made holy, set apart and sanctified. How did we get this way? On our own? By our own doing? Of course, we understand that this is not and cannot be the case.
Paul wrote elsewhere that “and such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11, LSB). This is how we are positionally sanctified: through the blood of Christ, His finished work, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The writer of Hebrews affirms this truth also when he wrote that “by this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all… For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:10-14, LSB).
The word “saints” here refers to all of us, specifically with respect to putting off the old man and putting on the new man, being filled with the Spirit, and girding our loins with the spiritual armor of God. No one gets a pass.
When Paul speaks of the faithful here, he is speaking of these same “saints.” The faithfulness he mentions is the outward manifestation of the inward reality of their sanctification and justification. All believers, or saints, are saved “by grace through faith,” and as such they are called to faithfulness and will be faithful. That does not mean sinless perfection, but it does mean a life that trusts in our Lord and reveals faith.
A very good example of this is, of course, Abraham, who is called “the believer” (Galatians 3:9, LSB) or, as the English Standard Version translates, “the man of faith” (Galatians 3:9, ESV). His life after his calling by God was a life of faithful obedience. His life was not one of perfection, but it was a life of progression and growing in faith. Faith is defined as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, LSB).
Dan Cozart, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas, once stated: “Faith is believing God and acting like it.” Look at the testimony concerning Abraham in the book of Hebrews: Abraham revealed his faith and that he was a saint by his faithfulness. Evidently, these saints at Ephesus revealed by their lives that they were faithful (Ephesians 1:15).
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:2, LSB). This was a common greeting among the Christians of that day: it was the equivalent of “Have a good day” or “Have a good one.” This was a reminder of the grace of God, from the Greek word, charis, that we have as believers, and that it is by the grace of God alone that we have salvation.
Paul, of course, reminds them of this reality later in Ephesians. The apostle reminds them and all of us what we were by birth and nature (Ephesians 2:3), that we were estranged from God by our sin, and that we now have right standing with God as the sons of God through grace (Romans 3:24; 5:21; 1 Peter 5:10). Because of this grace, we now have “peace” with God. We were at enmity with God prior to salvation, but now we have “peace,” or eirēnē in Greek, with God.
Paul says later that Jesus “is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14, LSB) and is “making peace” (Ephesians 2:16, LSB), thereby reconciling both Jew and Gentile believers to God.
Christ Himself said “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you” (John 14:27, LSB). Paul in this greeting reveals to us that the source of this grace and peace is God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. They are not separate in this, but one in the giving of both. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit all fulfill the purpose of God to give us grace and peace: the Father gave up the Son (John 3:16), the Son became flesh and laid down His life (John 10:11, 15), and the Spirit seals and indwells the people of God (Ephesians 1:13-14; Galatians 5:22; Romans 8:14).
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David Webber is married to Mary and they have four children and four grandchildren. He is the Pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Longview, TX. Webber earned a BS in History from the University of Texas at Tyler, TX, and attended Baptist Missionary Association Theological Seminary in Jacksonville, TX. Throughout his ministry, he has served as a guest preacher and teacher in many churches and various Bible conferences.
October 23, 2023
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