Written from prison, Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is a celebration of how they, Gentile Christians in Ephesus, are swept up in God’s eternal plan along with the Jews. This is God’s new initiative in Christ.
Our lesson (1:3-14) is, in the Greek, one long sentence over flowing with images and promises. It begins with blessing God as 2 Corinthians and 1 Peter do as well – praising God for creation and redemption and for being the giver of blessings. Whereas the other letters go on to “bring it home” – that is address local concern, in the Ephesian letter the blessing opens onto a wider field.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.”
There is God’s plan from the “foundation of the world”. It is “election” language but it is not exclusive. The “chosen-ness” is not based on what we do but God’s choice – will – plan – grace (v 5, 7, 9, 11). It is a gift given by a God whose grace surpasses our wildest dreams.
A highlight of this passage is v.8 – 10. “…With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” Paul expands on this in the 2nd chapter of Ephesians where Paul says Jesus has made peace for the whole human family.
Commentators frequently point out that Paul’s letter is poetic, with language drawn from hymns, meant to encourage and strengthen the faith of the early Christians and help them anticipate the full union with God and one another in the life to come.
- Paul’s letter affirms that Christ has reconciled the divisions between Gentile and Jewish Christians. To the Gentiles, Paul says, “Good News – You are included, too!” Who today might be encouraged with these same words – “Good News – You are included, too!”
- There are big, important words in this passage – blessing, adoption, grace, forgiveness, wisdom, mystery, inheritance, salvation, Holy Spirit and glory – to name a few. Someone described it as a “stream of words” that flow by. Does it make a difference to let the words flow like a song as opposed to trying to “define” each one?
What image comes to your mind as you read the whole passage again.