Last week we started looking at Ephesians 1 and asking the 5 W’s questions – who, what, where, when, why. Who is Ephesians 1 talking about? It starts off with the author, Paul, who describes himself as “an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.” He then addresses “To all the saints”. The phrase ‘in Ephesus’ is not in some manuscripts, so this may have been a more general letter. In either case, Paul is writing to believers “who are faithful in Christ Jesus.” Already in just the first verses, Christ has been mentioned twice. It then goes on to talk about God the Father who has blessed us in Christ. Over and over again we see throughout this chapter the phrase “in Him”, “in Christ”. Without Christ we would have nothing. In Him we are blessed beyond anything we could imagine.
‘When’ is mentioned with the phrase “before the foundation of the world”. God chose us before the world was even created. The phrase “according to” is repeated often throughout this chapter. God’s sovereignty is evident throughout. His will, His purpose is supreme. As Paul lists the blessings of all that God has done for us, he reminds us that these are ours “in Christ”. None of this is our own doing or anything we have brought on ourselves. Rather it is in Christ that these have been made available to us.
Redemption – what does this word mean? The World English Dictionary gives multiple definitions including: “ removal of a financial obligation by paying off a note, bond, etc”. The words ‘deliverance’ and ‘rescue’ are also used. In the NET Bible word search notes the definition includes ‘ransom’. The ransom was paid. We were in debt, in bondage and were ransomed, redeemed out of that bondage. Have you ever been in debt and had it finally paid off? That feeling of freedom and release is wonderful. That is what redemption is – the debt was paid. How? By Jesus’ blood – His death secured our release from bondage. Our sins (our debt) have been forgiven. We didn’t have to pay the debt off on our own (something we could never do!). Jesus paid it for us. This realization should change our lives and cause us to celebrate in exuberant praise to God for His willingness to accomplish this on our behalf! Why would He do this? “according to the riches of his grace” – pure grace – nothing we do or did caused God to choose to do this. He chose to provide this for us because of His grace. A grace that He lavished on us. The word lavish brings to mind a richness, an overabundance, a pouring out. The phrase “in all wisdom and insight” is connected to the next verse (verse 9) of God making known the mystery of his will. God reveals this in His wisdom and insight. He doesn’t do things willy-nilly. He is wise in all He does. What comfort this truth brings to our lives!
God is willing to let us know the mystery of his will and purpose – revealing what was not known during the Old Testament era – that His plan was to redeem a people from all nations, not just Israel. The Gentiles too are included in His plan of reconciliation. How liberating and exciting this must have been for the early church, to know that God was reaching out to not just the Jews, but to all nations and peoples. And for us now to realize that God desires all different ethnic groups to know Him. He is no longer focused on one ethnic group, but on all those who would call on Him. This greatly broadens our focus as Christians – to reach all peoples for God, that all will one day be united with Christ. “The fullness of time” signifies that God always has a perfect plan that will unfold at the time best suited for it. Because He knows all things and is wise, He can determine when the fullness of time is and bring forth His purpose at that time. This also shows His sovereignty to fulfill His will.
We are only up to verse 11 so far in our look at Ephesians 1. Can you see how vast and rich the treasury of Scripture is? Oh, that we would take the time to dig into God’s Word, to see and apply this treasure to our lives!