Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:…
In these words we have —
I. PAUL'S DESCRIPTION OF HIMSELF. "An apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God." He attributed nothing to the vigour of his faith, to the passion of his gratitude for the Divine goodness, to the completeness of his self-consecration to Christ's service; he was living and acting under the control of forces which had their origin above and beyond himself; his apostolic work was the effect and expression of a Divine volition. He believed that the Divine will is the root and origin of all Christian righteousness and blessedness. And this is the secret of a strong and effective Christian life. Our spiritual activity reaches its greatest intensity when we are so filled with the glory of the Divine righteousness, the Divine love, and the Divine power, that we are conscious only of God, and all thought of ourselves is lost in Him.
II. PAUL'S DESCRIPTION OF THOSE TO WHOM HE IS WRITING. They are "the saints which are at Ephesus, and the faithful in Christ Jesus."
1. Saints. The title of all Christians — not attributing any personal merit to them, but simply recalling their prerogatives and obligations. It reminded them that God had made them His own; that they were "holy" because they belonged to Him. The temple had once been "holy," not because of its magnitude, its stateliness, and the costly materials of which it was built, but because it was the house of God; and the tabernacle, which was erected in the wilderness, though a much meaner structure, was just as "holy" as the temple of Solomon, with its marble courts and its profusion of cedar and brass and silver and gold. The altars were "holy," because they were erected for the service of God. The sacrifices were "holy," because they were offered to Him. The priests were "holy" because they were divinely chosen to discharge the functions of the temple service. The Sabbath was "holy," because God had placed His hand upon it, and separated its hours from common use. The whole Jewish people were "holy," because they were organized into a nation, not for the common purposes which have been the ends of the national existence of other races, but to receive in trust for all mankind exceptional revelations of the character and will of God. And now, according to Paul's conception, every Christian man was a temple, a sacrifice, a priest; his whole life was a sabbath; he belonged to an elect race; he was the subject of an invisible and Divine kingdom; he was a "saint," i.e., one whom God has set apart for Himself. The act of consecration is God's act, not ours. Our part, is subordinate and secondary. We have only to submit to the authority of the Divine claim, and to receive the dignity conferred by the Divine love.
2. Faithful. Those who have faith have also fidelity; faith guarantees fidelity.
3. In Christ Jesus. One of Paul's characteristic phrases — the keynote of this Epistle.
III. PAUL'S SALVATION OR BENEDICTION. "Grace to you," etc. A gospel, a message from God, bringing home to Christian hearts a fresh assurance of the "grace" of God the Father and of the Lord Jesus Christ, a fuller realization and a richer consciousness of the "peace," the infinite and eternal blessings, which that grace conferred. If the true ideal of the Christian life were fulfilled, men would be conscious that whenever we came near to them Christ came near, bringing with Him the rest of heart, the courage, and the hope which His presence always inspires. When He was on earth those who touched the border of His garment were healed of physical sickness. Now that He is in heaven there streams from Him a mightier and more gracious power; and if our union with Christ and Christ's union with us were more complete, that power, working through us, would be a perpetual source of blessing to mankind.
(R. W. Dale, LL. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: