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 the present case Paul, without associating any brethren with himself, proceeds to state his apostleship, and to transmit his salutation to the saints at Ephesus. These saints had been gathered for the most part out of paganism, and this will account for the introduction, as well as many of the contents, of this magnificent Epistle. We note the following lessons as here suggested: -
I. THE APOSTLESHIP OF PAUL HAD BEEN RECEIVED DIRECTLY FROM JESUS CHRIST. (Ver. 1.) The name "Paul" was the Roman counterpart of the Hebrew "Saul," and its use in these superscriptions to the Epistles was doubtless to conciliate those Christians who had once been heathen. This Paul, then, the man who had made the interests of the Gentile world a chief concern, declares that he had received his apostleship from Christ directly. He thus repudiated any man-given or man-made apostleship. It is Jesus who alone could make an apostle, just as it is he alone who can make a minister. All that any Church can do is to recognize a God-given qualification. Paul was the apostle of Jesus, the man sent forth by the risen and reigning Lord to evangelize the heathen. Such a consciousness of Christ's consecration gave him great power.
II. HE HERE SALUTES LIVING SAINTS. (Ver. 1.) Monod has pertinently remarked that, while others seek their saints among the dead, Paul seeks saints, and so should we, among the living. Saintliness should characterize all Christians. In fact, a Christian is a "person set apart, separated from the world, and reserved for the service of Jesus Christ and for the glory of God, according as it is written, 'This people have I formed for myself, they shall show forth my praise.'" Accordingly, Paul did not hesitate to call the Christians at Ephesus "saints," for he expected from them saintly lives. The very name raised the standard of Christian profession throughout the Church at Ephesus. And would it not be well for us to use it, and to strive always to deserve its use? It is to be feared that our saints, like those of Rome, are for the most part dead and gone; whereas what the age needs is saintliness embodied in flesh and blood before it. It is only then that it shall come to acknowledge the power of the Christian faith. Of course, Paul did not imply that every professor at Ephesus was saintly. He used the term presumptively, as a charitable spirit will. But the very use of the term raised the whole standard of holy living there and did immense good.
III. THESE SAINTS ARE FULL OF FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS. (Ver. 1.) We take πιστοί in this passage in the sense of men of faith. Paul thus states the principle of their saintliness. They had learned to trust Christ and to regard him as their King, and so they came to be consciously consecrated unto all good works. Fidelity flows from this living faith in Christ. They prove reliable men because they have first learned to rely upon the Savior (cf. John 20:28; Galatians 3:9). Let us apply this principle ourselves. If we trust Jesus as we ought, we shall find the trust working itself out into lovable and lovely lives, and we too shall be saintly.
IV. PAUL DESIRES FOR THESE SAINTS THE GRACE AND PEACE OF GOD. (Ver. 2.) There is something beautiful in the old forms of benediction. We lose their fragrance in our cold "Good-byes." The Greeks and Romans were accustomed to wish their correspondents "Safety;" the Jews took the simpler form of "Peace." But the gospel came to give to both a deeper meaning and breathe grace and peace of the deepest character into human souls. Hence these salutations of the saints. God's undeserved favor coming forth as grace finds its effects in the responsive human heart in a heavenly peace, so that the once troubled spirit comes into wondrous calm. What Paul is about to state in his Epistle will not interfere with but rather deepen this holy peace. It is well for us to see the Fountain-head of blessing in the Father's heart, to see the channel of communication in his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, and to experience its effect in the peace which passeth all understanding, which he has ordained should keep our hearts and minds by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6). The saints are meant to be peaceful spirits as they consecrate their energies to the service of the Lord. - R.M.E.
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: