Ephesians 1:1, 2
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:…
The great verity of which the Epistle to the Ephesians treats is the Church of Christ. It has its place along with other everlasting verities in the twelfth chapter of the Hebrews. It exists in no visible community as it exists in the mind of God. This letter is addressed to the Ephesian Church; but there is nothing peculiarly Ephesian about it. There are no Ephesian errors which are combated. There are no salutations sent to particular members of the Church of Ephesus. This gives it a catholic form; and it may have been that it was addressed as a circular letter to a number of Churches of which Ephesus was the center.
1. The writer. "Paul." He was the founder of the Ephesian Church, as of many Churches besides. Of all Christian workers he clearly bears the palm. It seems as if it would take many of our lives to make up what he succeeded in putting into the latter half of his. And yet what was Paul? He at once brings himself into relation to two personalities, two and yet one. For the first mentioned, Jesus (Accomplisher of salvation) is the Christ (the Anointed) of the second mentioned.
(1) His relation to Christ. "An apostle of Christ Jesus." He was subordinated to Christ. He is the great efficient Cause who saves (in the fullest sense) by his Word, by his blood, by his Spirit. To him, therefore, must be all the praise of salvation. "Unto him that loved us." But yet he stood in an important relation to him as an apostle. He was not the only apostle, but he was as much an apostle as any. He was sent from Christ (with special authority), as Christ was sent from God. With special powers his mission was to bring the salvation that was in Christ to man, and to build up the Church.
(2) His relation to God. "Through the will of God." This was at once his abasement and his support. He had no personal merit entitling him to the position of apostle. At the same time, that position was not a self-chosen one. It was the will of God that Christ (such is the idea) should station him, now here and now there, among the Churches. And whether he was anxiously engaged in the composition of an Epistle, or whether he was pleading tremblingly with his voice for Christ, he was supported by the feeling that he was acting at the Divine instance and under the Divine authority.
2. The persons addressed.
(1) Generic designation. "To the saints which are at Ephesus." The members of the Ephesian Church are designated "saints." We are to think of the Old Testament meaning. Temple, city, land, priests, people, were all holy, or devoted to God. We are to take this name to ourselves, not vauntingly as what we are, but humbly as what we aspire to be.
(2) Specific designation. "And the faithful in Christ Jesus." This is a designation associated with Christ. They were distinctively a Christian community. We are marked off not merely from those who have no faith (infidels) or an unholy faith (such as those who think it right to offer human sacrifices), but also from the Old Testament Church (the one Sacrifice having now been offered), and also from angels, who admire and adore Christ but have not the same close interest in him as sinners of mankind. In the cross we see the Divine purpose of salvation fully disclosed; and, under a sense of our great demerit, we rest upon Christ (in his boundless merit) as he is offered to us in the gospel.
II. THE SALUTATION.
1. The two words of salutation.
(1) Grace. "Grace to you." The idea to which grace (on God's part) is opposed is merit (on our part).
"For merit lives from man to man,
And not from man, O Lord, to thee." We feel that, if it were only to fare with our friends according to their deserving before God, it would not be well with them. There would be innumerable things for which they could not answer. We therefore recognize the great condition of their welfare to be that there should be the outgoing of undeserved favor and of loving care toward them. And so that is the first thing we put into our greeting.
(2) Peace. "And peace." This is not peace of any description, which may only be a curse in disguise. But it is a peace which is conjoined with grace. It is a freedom from anxiety, which results from the consciousness of being loved and mercifully dealt with. It is the child's feeling at rest under the shelter of his father's roof, and, when he acts amiss, in the enjoyment of his forgiveness.
2. The twofold source to which we look in salutation.
(1) First source. "From God our Father." The fatherly in God is higher up than his omnipotence. The Father's heart we have found to be the source of blessing to ourselves, and we feel that it is only from that source that others can be truly blessed. He who is gracious to us be gracious also to them.
(2) Second source. "And the Lord Jesus Christ." He is the glorious Manifestation of the Father's grace. It is by him that blessings have been obtained, and through him that they come to us. "No man cometh to the Father but by me." We must, therefore, in seeking blessings for our friends, recognize him as the lordly Dispenser in his Father's house. - R.F.
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: