Ephesians 1:1

The apostle introduces his Epistle by a duplicate order of ideas: a double blessing - "grace and peace;" a double source of blessing - "God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ;" a double designation of the Christian people - "saints and faithful in Christ Jesus;" and a double source of authority - "an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God."

I. THE AUTHOR. "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God." As one standing outside the circle of the twelve, who overshadowed all others by his immense authority, it was necessary he should preface his Epistle by the mention of his independent apostleship. Yet in no spirit of vanity or self-assertion does he use the high language of apostolic authority and inspired conviction. He disclaims all personal merit in his call. His apostleship was linked with grace in its original bestowal; therefore he speaks of "grace and apostleship" in the same breath (Romans 1:5); it was "by the will of God," not by the suggestion or call of man, that he found his place in the service of all the Churches. For us the interest of our author's name has a profound significance; for, though in language of the deepest humility he speaks of himself as "the least of the apostles" and "less than the least of all saints," he stands before all coming ages as the great apostle of the Gentiles, whose personal history and writings fill one-third of the New Testament Scriptures, and who, more than any other apostle, has shaped the theology of Christendom in its best periods, supplying at once the bone and marrow of the evangelical system of thought.

II. THE PERSONS ADDRESSED. "The saints which are at Ephesus, and the faithful in Christ Jesus."

1. This double title seems to suggest the objective and subjective sides of Christian life; for if it is God's work to make saints, "it is man's to believe;" we are chosen to salvation "through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth" (2 Thessalonians 2:13). God has joined these two principles together: let not man put them asunder.

2. It is in Christ we obtain our standing both as saints and as believers. He is made unto us "wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption" (1 Corinthians 1:30). The expression, "in Christ," which occurs here for the first time in this Epistle, is found thirty-three times in the New Testament. Christian life, like revelation, is Christo-centric.

3. The Christians at Ephesus had grown from twelve disciples (Acts 19:1) into a large and influential community, worshipping the Lord under the very shadow of the great Temple of Diana. The apostle has a deep personal interest in the fortunes of a Church established in the very acropolis of paganism - the first of the seven Churches of Asia - forming the third capital of Christianity, as Antioch was the second and Jerusalem the first. He remembers the three years of untiring and anxious labor he had spent in the city, as well as the interest of the Ephesian Christians in himself and his work which he seeks shortly to intensify by the projected visit of "a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord" (Ephesians 6:21, 22). The Apostle Paul was unique among the apostles of Christ for his quickness in finding out a common ground of interest among the believers of every place, for his deep yearning after appreciation, and the heartfelt joy of finding his services recognized by the Churches he served, as well as by the facility with which he held a hundred interests in his hand, and engaged the sympathy of all sorts of men in the cause of Christ.

III. THE TERMS OF THE SALUTATION. "Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ." This is the apostle's usual salutation to Churches - it is only in the pastoral Epistles that he adds the word "mercy" - but its form suggests a beautiful and significant blending of the Greek and Hebrew methods of salutation, as if to anticipate the share of Jew and Gentile alike in the future blessings of the gospel How sweetly Christianity sanctifies the common courtesies of life!

1. The double blessing. "Grace and peace." The word "grace" has a unique history among English words. It means ever so many things, all suggestive of the happiest associations, and has never suffered that contraction of meaning which has spoiled the moral beauty of so many other words. In the gospel sense, whether it applies to the origin of man's salvation or to the Christian disposition which is the result of it, grace marks a beautiful movement of life in the direction of blessing given or received. Grace is the key-note of the Ephesian Epistle. Grace is the well-spring of all blessings. "The way to heaven lies not over a toll-bridge, but over a free bridge, even the unmerited grace of God in Christ Jesus." Peace is the fruit of grace, which can never be severed from its fruits. It is the very testament of Christ: "My peace I give unto you:" the very equanimity, firmness, serenity, of his own life carried into the lives of his saints. This peace so "keeps the heart and mind" that nothing can break down a spirit so established. The two graces are here in their due order; for there is no peace without grace. They cover the whole space of a believer's life; for if it begins in grace, its latter end is peace. The Lord always has "thoughts of grace and peace toward us" (Jeremiah 29:11). They are together the bright sum of the gospel.

2. The double Source of blessing. "From God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ." There is a certain intensity of bright suggestion in the asserted origin of these blessings. God the Father is the "God of grace" (1 Peter 5:10) and "the God of peace" (Hebrews 13:20); and equally so "grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (John 1:17), and he is also our Peace (Ephesians 2:14). But the Father is the original Fountain of all blessings, and the Son the Dispenser of blessing to us. The juxtaposition of Christ with the Father is the significant proof of the divinity of the Son of God. No man's name can be placed beside God's in the dispensation of Divine blessings. The Holy Ghost is not named, because it is he who communicates the grace and the peace. Similarly, the believer has "fellowship with the Father and the Son" (1 John 1:3), but the Holy Ghost is the power of this fellowship.

3. It is neither improper nor unnecessary to pray for grace and peace, though we already possess them. We need a continuous supply and a continuous experience of both blessings. Believers are, therefore, fully justified in coming boldly to a throne of grace, that they may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. - T.C.

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus.
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.)

1. Ministers must inculcate to themselves, and to those with whom they have to deal, that their calling is from God. Even as civil magistrates give out their writs in the king's name, with mention of the office they bear under him, to ensure due respect from the subjects, so this great Church officer mentions the position held by him under Christ, the King of the Church, that the things delivered by him may be accordingly received.(1) This is good for both minister and people. How can he speak the words of God as the mouth of God with reverence and all authority, if he consider not that God has commanded him to do this work?(2) The ministry is a work so weighty, that no man of himself is sufficient for it. Now, what can more assure me that I shall be made able, than to look at God, who has called me to this office? Princes call not their subjects to any service but that they see them furnished with all necessaries.(3) Whereas the difficulties and enmities which faithful ministers encounter are many, how could they expect to be shielded but by fixing their eyes on Him who has called them?

2. The quality of him who brings this Epistle to us is that he is an ambassador of Christ.(1) The apostles were immediately — no person coming between — designed by Christ.(2) They were infallibly assisted, so that in their office of teaching, whether by word of mouth or writing, they could not err.(3) Their mission was universal.(4) They could give, by imposition of hands, the gifts of the Holy Ghost.(5) Eyewitnesses of Christ. From these considerations we see the firmness of all things delivered in this Epistle; for it was not so much the apostle as God in him who wrote: as, when a lesson is sounded forth upon an instrument, it is not so much the instrument as his who plays on it.

3. We must account it our greatest dignity that we belong to Christ.

4. It is the will of God that assigns to us our several callings.(1) The providence.(2) The free grace of God.

5. All the members of the visible Church are to be saints.(1) They were all saints by outward profession. How dreadful the state of those who, like as they tell of Halifax nuts, which are all shells, no kernels, profess themselves saints, but by their lives deny it.(2) There were many true saints, and the better part, not the larger, gives the designation. Wine and water is called wine; gold and silver ore united is called gold and silver, though there is much dross mixed with it.

6. In the most wicked places God gathers and maintains His people. Where God has His Church, we say, the devil has his chapel; so, on the other hand, where the devil has his cathedral, God has His people. As in nature we see a pleasant rose grow from amidst the thorns, and a most beautiful lily spring out of slimy, brackish places, and as God in the darkness of the night makes beautiful lights arise, so here, in the darkest place, He will have some men who shall shine as lights in the midst of a perverse generation.(1) Let us not be discouraged; however uncongenial our surroundings may be, God can and will watch over His own, wherever they be.(2) Let us be thankful if we are placed amid Christian surroundings.

7. It is faith in Christ alone which makes men saints. Faith produces(1) purity of heart;(2) the outward profession of holiness;(3) holy conversation; which three things together go to make up saintliness or sanctification. Though we still have sins, yet the better part gives the name. Corn fields, we see, have many weeds, yet we call them corn fields, not fields of weeds; so grace, though it seems little in comparison with sin, yet will in time overcome the evil within us; for the Spirit that is in us from Christ is stronger than the spirit of the world.

(Paul Bayne.)

1. The wisdom of God hath judged it most convenient to teach His people, not immediately by Himself or by the ministry of angels, but of men like unto ourselves; hereby to try His people's obedience (Matthew 10:40), and because their infirmity could not well endure the ministry of others (Exodus 20:19).

2. It doth not follow hence that every man who thinketh himself sufficiently gifted may take upon him the office of the ministry, except he be called unto it of God.

3. Even those who are saints and believers do stand in need of God's grace and favour both to pardon and subdue sin, seeing the best of them are but sanctified in part (1 Corinthians 13:12), having the dregs of corruption always remaining and frequently stirring in them (Romans 7:23).

(J. Fergusson.)

Grace be to you and peace
1. It is the duty of a minister of Christ to bless the faithful children of the Church in the name of God (Numbers 6:23).(1) What this blessing is. A ministerial act, applying God's blessing to the well-deserving children of the Church, and placing them in assured possession through faith of God's blessing towards them.(2) On what it is grounded.

(a)The spirit of discerning (Matthew 7:20).

(b)The authority which God has bestowed.

2. Even the holiest justified persons have need of grace.

3. The best thing we can seek is the grace of God. This grace is our life; it is better than life. As the marigold opens when the sun shines over it, and shuts when it is withdrawn, so our life follows this favour; we are enlarged if we feel it, and troubled if it is hidden.

4. True peace is a most singular blessing (Philippians 4:7; John 14:22).(1) What it is. Peace is a tranquility or rest in the mind, springing out of Christ's death, wrought in us by the Spirit, through the Word of God; opposed to fear, grief, or any kind of perturbation which breaks the sweet consent and harmony of the mind.(2) In what kinds it may be considered.

5. All true peace is bred in us from the knowledge of God's love toward us.

6. God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ are the authors of true peace. Let us, then, learn whither to fly, that our souls may be settled in true peace, such as the world cannot take from us; let us seek it of Him who, if He quiet, nothing can disturb. Many, when disquieted in mind and body, fly to such means as may still those pains which they feel smart upon them; and when they have, with music, company, etc., quieted their troubled spirit, then they think their peace is well restored. If a creditor should set a sergeant upon our backs, were it wisdom in the debtor to compound with him, and corrupt him, and to think all safe while the sergeant winks at him? Everybody would account this folly; for he is never a whit the more out of danger till the creditor be agreed with. Thus it is likewise in seeking our peace by stilling our evils, and not by quieting the anger of God, which is justly kindled against us.

(Paul Bayne.)

1. Believers then, as now, required grace continually to keep them, and enable them to stand before their God. As our bodily frames require fresh food for their daily sustenance, and without it would grow weak, languish, and die, so do we in a spiritual sense require continual supplies of heavenly refreshment.

2. But it is not only grace, but peace too, for which the apostle prays for them. True peace cannot exist without grace — and peace is the consequence of grace. The believer stands, through grace, accepted, justified by the precious blood of Jesus; the sweet apprehension of Christ by faith brings pardon and peace to his soul.

3. And as then, so now, it is our consolation to remember the source from whence alone grace and peace can flow. Not from Paul, Apollos, or Cephas, but "from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." Jehovah, the Father, is the fountain, and Jehovah, the Son, the channel, of all blessings. The fountain of living waters as redundant as at the creation — the Sun of righteousness with undiminished effulgence — the Ocean unfathomable in the depths of love and mercy, — "an ocean without bottom or shore." Oh, how lamentably we live below our privileges! How little we bathe in that Fountain! how little we bask in that Sun! how little we ride buoyant on that Ocean with our anchor cast within the veil!

(R. J. McGhee, M. A.)

Grace is in the Holy Scripture in every way connected with God. The Father is the God of all grace (1 Peter 5:10); Jesus is the author, giver, and dispenser of grace (Acts 15:11; 2 Corinthians 8:9; Romans 16:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:28); and the Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of grace (Hebrews 10:29), who dispenses to the Church His gifts and graces as He pleases (1 Corinthians 12:1-14). The seat of the Divine Majesty is the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16); the gospel is called the Word of His grace; and believers are the children of His grace. The first word the young believer utters is grace, and the oldest dies with the same word on his lips. It is this free grace which makes God the sovereign giver, and man the humble receiver; it is this which lends to the gospel its chief glory, and renders speechless in the presence of God those who reject it. It is this which roots out the principles of pride and human merit, and surrounds the mercy of God with unparalleled splendour. Incarnation, atonement, resurrection, and mediation are but steps in the manifestation of His grace. His acts are in keeping with His character; and neither in creation nor in providence does the Divine Majesty shine forth more gloriously than it does from the throne of grace. The apostle connects grace with peace: "Grace be to you, and peace," etc. Peace is a lovely characteristic of the gospel. Everything breathes peace and pardon to the believer. But what does the word mean? It includes peace with God, peace of conscience, and peace with our fellow men; it declares that the veil between you and God is rent, and that you have free access to the Holiest of all; it is the assurance to your trembling conscience that the enmity is taken away, and that God is love. This is what we receive in believing, which Jesus promised, and which the world can neither give nor take away. It is strong and perfect in proportion as the eye rests on Christ; it becomes weak and broken in proportion as you love earthly things. In the assurance of this peace we brave the storms of life, and in the same tranquillizing conviction we fall asleep in Jesus. Sin alone can disturb this calm and blissful repose. It bids defiance to the rage of the persecutor, and is never more radiant than when in pain and torture it looks upward to the martyr's crown (Acts 7:60).

(W. Graham, D. D.)

The new man is a "habitation for God." He breathes out his desires, not from his own life alone, but from "God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ." The salutation of such an one is not in word only. He is not a mere messenger of Christ, but a medium. We must assuredly believe that whenever Paul wrote, "Grace be to you, and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ," there was an actual outgoing of grace and peace from God through him. No one can live in God without being a channel for God. The vessel that receives its supply from an exhaustless source must overflow. Our Lord, who spake no vain words, declared of His true disciple that "rivers of living water" should flow out from him. These living streams of grace and peace can never be lost. They may be rejected by those whom you desire to bless; but in that case, our Lord says, they return to you again. What you give you have. The river of life which flows, and flows evermore, from God, having completed its circuit, returns to God again. "We are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish."

(John Pulsford.)

Grace, grace, free grace, the merits of Christ for nothing; white and fair, and large Saviour mercy, which is another sort of thing than creature mercy or law mercy; yea, a thousand degrees above angel mercy, hath been and must be the Rock that we drowned souls must swim to.


Henry Welch (one of the Puritans) was, I suppose, a preacher of no extraordinary ability, but it is said of him that, "though he did not excel in gifts, it was made up to him in grace."

(Dr. Halley.)

Dew falls insensibly and invisibly. You may be in the field all night, and not perceive the dew falling, and yet find great dew upon the grass. So the operations and blessings of God's Word, and graces thereof, are invisible; we feel the work, but the manner of the working is unknown to us. No man can see the conversion of another, nor can well discern his own. The Word works by little and little, like as the dew falls.

(B. Keach.)

I have spilled the ink over a bill, and so have blotted it till it can hardly be read; but this is quite another thing from having the debt blotted out, for that cannot be till payment is made. So a man may blot his sins from his memory and quiet his mind with false hopes, but the peace which this will bring him is widely different from that which arises from God's forgiveness of sin through the satisfaction which Jesus made in His atonement. Our blotting is one thing; God's blotting out is something far higher.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

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