“Grace and Peace to You and Through You”
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 1.1-2
You could turn to the book of Ephesians, chapter 1. In 2006, my dad wanted to purchase a new vehicle for my wife and I. It was because we were expecting our first child. Haddie, short for Hadassah, was born in December of 2006.
We were going to trade in our 1997 Chevy Lumina. And just a few days before we were going to trade in that car, I rear-ended another vehicle and totaled it.
And I got a ticket for failing to stop. I was told by the officer that if I went to court and faced the judge, I would likely receive mercy.
So I went before the judge… And as I was waiting my turn, I could see off to my right those men in orange jumpsuits. I did not make me feel very righteous.
My turn came. And when asked, I pleaded guilty. And the judge did not make me pay the fine. I received mercy. I deserved a penalty, but I did not have to pay it. I did not receive what I deserved. I deserved to pay the fine, but instead I received mercy.
There is more of the story but I will tell you at the end of the message this morning. Similar to that, God has also shown us mercy. He has not given to us what we deserve. We deserve the penalty of our sin… We deserve to pay the penalty of hell for ever because of our sin against an infinite God. But God demonstrated His love toward us by sending us Jesus Christ to pay that penalty for our sins.
You could flip over to chapter 2 real quick, and I will read verses four and five… This is God’s mercy in Christ…
Ephesians 2:4-5 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).
It is great to be in this book of Ephesians. It is rich book and I trust that this book will have a major impact on our church.
Last week we established the theme of Ephesians: The riches of God’s grace empowers life in Christ. So, we were saying that to be empowered for life in Christ, you must comprehend the riches of God’s grace in salvation.
We described God’s riches in grace in chapters 1-3. Those are the doctrines of God’s grace. We also gave the applications of God’s rich grace in chapters 4-6. With those 2 things, we have head and heart knowledge. But unbelievers can memorize both sections and really ponder them and think about how good God is to us to give us such great riches in Christ and such good rules so that we might please Him.
But without illumination by God’s Spirit about both the doctrines of God’s grace and the applications for life in Christ, we would merely be legalists. Specifically, Paul prays 2 times for illumination.
Let’s read these prayers, Eph. 1:15-19 and Eph. 3:14-19. You’ll notice Paul’s prayer for illumination and power.
We must have all 3:
Instruction on the doctrines of God’s riches in Christ
Illumination of that doctrine
Applications on life in Christ
So then, illumination on the riches of God’s grace empowers life in Christ.
Now, today we’ll deal with just the first 2 verses of chapter 1. Is that discouraging? Don’t worry, I think we’ll be able to get through chapter 1 in about 6 messages. So, that should give you some indication as to the speed of going through this book.
Over now in chapter 1 verses 1-2, Paul does 3 things for us.
In the first line of verse 1, Paul establishes his authority as an apostle of Jesus Christ.
Next, he identifies those who have received the letter
In verse 2, he expresses his desire that grace and peace be given to those who receive the letter.
Originally, this was written to the Ephesian Christians, but this does not distance us. Paul’s desire would be for all Christians for all time have grace and peace be multiplied in abundance to them. And it’s in his desire that we have grace and peace that we’ll get the majority of our message this morning.
Proposition: the grace and peace you have in Christ is not meant to stagnate.
Command: Don’t stagnate the God’s grace and peace! Be enabled and grant peace!
Paul an apostle writes Ephesians desiring grace to believers (1:1-2)
Paul letters are authoritative Scripture
Paul’s authority: Paul is called by God to be an apostle
Paul begins the letter and he says Ephesians 1:1-2 1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
So first in verse 1, Paul establishes his authority as an apostle by the will of God. He establishes his authority to write this kind of a letter by stating first that he is an apostle of Jesus Christ and second that he received this office of apostleship by, he says, “the will of God.”
So, given the contents of this amazing epistle, I would want to know who it is who has the right to be able to pen down such wonderful truths. Who was Paul and why is he so important?
ILL: In the mid-eighteenth century, George Lyttelton, who became a member of Parliament and Commissioner of the Treasury in Britian, and Gilbert West, went to Oxford. There, they were determined to attack the very basis of Christianity. Lyttelton set out to prove that Saul of Tarsus was never really converted to Christianity, and West intended to demonstrate that Jesus never really rose from the dead. Each had planned to take a year to prove their point. But as they proceeded, they eventually concluded that Christianity was true. Both became Christians.
West eventually wrote the book Observations on the History and Evidences of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and George Lyttelton wrote The Conversion of St.Paul. Lyttelton wrote to West in 1761, “Sir, in a late conversation we had together upon the subject of the Christian religion, I told you that besides all the proofs of it which may be drawn from the prophecies of the Old Testament, from the necessary connection it has with the whole system of the Jewish religion, from the miracles of Christ, and from the evidence given … by all the other apostles, [notice what he says … ] I thought the conversion and apostleship of …Paul alone … was [by] itself … sufficient to prove Christianity [to be] a [God’s] revelation.”
The series entitled The Fundamentals gives a summary of Lyttelton’s arguments that prove the New Covenant to be God’s revelation. The Fundamentals was originally a 12 volume set published from 1910 to 1915. This set is known as the foundation for modern Christian fundamentalism. The 12 volumes consist of 90 essays edited by the likes of R. A. Torrey and A. C. Dixon.
Paul said he saw the risen Christ and that Christ commissioned him to preach. His argument is basically as follows …
Either Paul was a liar
Or his zealous enthusiasm overheated his imagination
Or he was “deceived by the fraud of others;”
And Lyttelton easily disproves each one of those…and so he concludes that what
Paul declared to be the cause of his conversion did happen; “and, therefore the New Covenant in Christ is God’s revelation.”
Paul is regarded as one of the most important people in the history of the world and so Paul’s conversion is one of the most important events in history.
Paul’s salvation testimony proves God’s will was that Paul become an apostle.
So, Let’s go to Acts 9 and read the account of Paul’s conversion.
Paul’s salvation testimony proves that God’s will was that Paul become an apostle of Jesus Christ. And we’re investigating this because Paul begins Ephesians by saying he is an apostle.
Now, I keep using this word “apostle.” What is an apostle? An apostle is someone who is sent with all the authority of the one who sent him. The apostle, again, is someone who has been sent with all the authority of the one who sent him. Jesus Christ sent Paul, or he commissioned Paul. So, Paul is an apostle of Jesus Christ, and he has, therefore, all the authority to speak and to write down the will of Jesus Christ.
To apply this to us, because Paul is an apostle of Christ, he was given the commission to write Scripture breathed out by God Himself. Ephesians is breathed out by God because it is written by Paul. Let’s read Acts 9 and see Jesus’ commissioning of Paul. We’ll read down through verse 19.
Acts 9:1-19 1 Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, 2 and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; 4 and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” 5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, 6 but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.” 7 The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. 8 Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus. 9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank. 10 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 And the Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying, 12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight.” 13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem; 14 and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; 16 for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” 17 So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized; 19 and he took food and was strengthened. Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus.
So, Paul has seen the risen Lord. Paul indicates in 1 Co. 15 that seeing the resurrected Jesus was a requirement for being an apostle.
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15 about the gospel. He says that the gospel is that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures but he was buried and that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. And then, Paul continues and he includes the appearances of Jesus Christ after his resurrection. He says that Jesus appeared to Peter. Paul also says there that Jesus appeared to more than 500 brethren at one time.
He also appeared to James, and then to all of the apostles. Then, Paul writes 1 Corinthians 15:8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
Paul just said there that he is an apostle of Jesus Christ, just like all rest of the apostles. This is because Jesus appeared to Paul. “Last of all, as to one untimely born…” meaning, as to one born late…he was late in becoming an apostle is the idea. And it’s Jesus appearing to him that makes Paul that apostle.
Because Paul saw the resurrected Lord Jesus and because Jesus commissioned Paul, therefore, Paul is an apostle.
So, Paul as an apostle was commissioned by Jesus Christ. Just as Jesus said Acts 9:15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel;
This was clearly God’s will. So by God’s will, through his missionary journeys, Paul proclaimed and wrote down God’s revelation as he was born along by the Holy Spirit. And he established and strengthened God’s people while forming local churches.
TRANS: So, Paul’s writings are therefore Scripture.
Paul’s writings: They are Scripture
Paul is writing with all the authority given to him directly from Jesus Christ. And as an apostle, his writings are inspired by God. In 2 Pet. 3:15-16, Peter indicates that Paul’s writings are indeed Scripture.
2 Peter 3:15-16 15 … our beloved brother Paul, …, wrote to you, 16 … in … his letters, … some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.
Peter says that some things in Paul’s letters are hard to understand and there are some people out there who have not received proper teaching and so they distort Paul’s teachings in his letters “as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.” In other words, the other Scriptures are Scripture and Paul’s writings are also the Scripture.
And concerning the Scripture and what is inspired, Peter also writes in 2 Peter 1:21 for no prophecy [of Scripture] was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
So the Scripture came about as the Holy Spirit moved or carried along certain men. It can be said therefore that these men who wrote the Scripture, “spoke from God.”
Therefore, since Paul’s writings are Scripture, also Paul, too, was carried along by the Holy Spirit when he was writing Ephesians. Ephesians is an epistle from God Himself.
TRANS: And so just like the other 65 books, Ephesians is divinely authoritative and it is written to you!
Let us therefore respond appropriately by loving God with all our minds as we study this word from God.
Paul writes to believers in Ephesus desiring grace and peace to them.
Now, Paul writes this letter Ephesians 1:1 …to the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus:
Here we have three descriptions of those who originally received this letter. We have 2 descriptions that describe where they live spiritually and the one where they live physically. We will get to the physical in a minute, but first the spiritual.
Paul is writing to saints
Paul is writing to the saints. That means that they are “holy ones.” A saint means one who is holy. Someone does not become a saint because of some special virtue about them. Someone becomes a saint or “holy one” when they trust in Jesus Christ for salvation. If you have turned from your sins and have trusted in Christ alone to save you and God has saved you from the power and penalty of sin, then you are a saint.
Paul is writing to believers who are in Christ
Paul is writing, therefore, to believers.
This is why Paul says that he is writing to the saints who are at Ephesus and he further describes these saints as those who are “faithful in Christ Jesus.”
That word “faithful” should be understood here as believers. In the Greek language, it could be translated either way. But Paul’s point here is not that there are some saints who are faithful to Christ and Paul is writing to them. Paul an apostle to the saints in Ephesus…just to the faithful saints in Christ Jesus. No…
Paul is saying that saints are faithful…or they are true believers. Look at it again, Ephesians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are at Ephesus […the idea is that these saints are] “believers who are in Christ Jesus.” These believers are “in Christ Jesus” is the idea there.
So the saints physically live in Ephesus and they are believers and the believers are in Christ. In Ephesus physically; in Christ spiritually.
Now, this phrase “in Christ” and other similar phrases occurs some 39 times in the book of Ephesians. And so let’s get this important phrase right from the get-go. This phrase “in Christ” simply means that God’s people whom He has saved from their sins are spiritually united to him. To be “in Christ” means to be “spiritually united to Him.”
So physically Paul’s writing to believers who physically live in Ephesus. Yet spiritually they live in Christ. We could say right now that we are in Colinton. And we are allowed to enjoy all of the great benefits of living in the metropolis of Colinton. We can enjoy all of the amenities and conveniences of Colinton.
It is the same way if you are in Christ. As believers in Jesus Christ, we enjoy all of the spiritual blessings that come with being in Jesus Christ. And thus you have these blessings in verses 3-14 here in chapter 1.
In Christ or in sin?
Now, spiritually speaking, you are either living in Christ or you are living in your sin. Everybody is living somewhere spiritually speaking. For those who are in Christ, we enjoy all of the rich blessings that are in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. But if you have not yet trusted in Christ and turned from your sin… If you have not called upon Him to save you, then you are in your sin.
Paul talks about this in Ephesians 2:1-3 1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked [or lived] according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
So spiritually, you are either living in your sin or living in Christ. If you have trusted Jesus Christ to save you, you do not live in your sin. And thus you do not and will not experience the consequences of living in your sin.
Life in Christ defines our Christian experience. Thus the theme of Ephesians: The riches of God’s grace empowers life in Christ.
So believers are spiritually united to Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Christ. Let me take a minute to discuss the word Christ. That means that he is the promised Messiah. Christ and Messiah each mean the “anointed one.”
So when the New Testament has the “Lord Jesus Christ” it refers to Jesus as the promised Messiah, the anointed one… the one prophesied to come to fulfil the Old Testament offices that required the anointing of oil. The offices of prophet, priest, and king each required anointing with oil upon taking that office. The Messiah was prophesied to be a prophet, priest, and a king. And Jesus fulfills each of those roles. This is Jesus as the Christ.
TRANS: So, Paul is writing to the saints … the holy ones…. These holy ones, Paul says, at the end of verse one, are faithful, that means they are believers. These believers are in Christ, that is, they are spiritually united to Jesus Christ.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus, to the believers who are in Christ Jesus.
Now, Paul is writing to believers who live in Ephesus. Let me give a little background to the city of Ephesus.
Background on Paul’s ministry in Ephesus
Paul is writing this letter from Rome. Paul is in prison as he writes this letter. Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon in fact, were all written while Paul was in prison in Rome.
Paul makes two references to his imprisonment in Ephesians 3:1 and 4:1. In both verses he says, “I Paul, the prisoner of the Lord.” And when he says at the beginning of chapters 3 and 4 he’s referring to himself as being imprisoned for the Lord sake.
Paul had arrived in Rome to stand trial. And while he is waiting for his trial, he is imprisoned. And his imprisonment is very low security. In Acts 28:16, Luke, who wrote Acts, records … When we entered Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who was guarding him.
And as a soldier were guarded him, Paul penned the letters: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. And so when you get a chance, next to Acts 28:16, you could just write there those letters to get somewhat of the chronology of the NT.
So Paul writes from Rome and he is writing to the believers in Ephesus. Ephesus was the third largest city in the Roman Empire. It had around 200,000-250,000 people. The only cities larger were Athens and Rome itself.
And as we read this morning, Ephesus was home to many magicians. Acts 19:19 And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.
So Paul’s ministry in Ephesus could be measured in money…money burnt up that is! Magic books worth 50,000 pieces of silver were burned that day. That is equal to 50,000 day’s wages. If you can translate that over to today, if a man makes $120 a day, … that’s the equivalent of $6 million!
So you can imagine the number of people whose lives were turned around through Paul’s ministry. So naturally, Paul spent a bit of extra time in Ephesus. In fact he says to the Ephesian elders in Acts chapter 20 that he was with them and taught them for three years. And as far as I can tell, that is the longest recorded time spent by Paul in any one location.
So, as you could imagine, Paul was very close to the Ephesian believers. So Paul has a desire for them…
Paul desires grace
Paul desires, Eph. 1:2, that the Ephesian believers receive grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
This was a standard Christian greeting for the first century.
But typically in Greek culture, after mentioning the sender and receiver of the letter, the letter would open with the word “rejoice.” But God’s people began to write their letters as it’s written here instead. So this was a very thoughtful change from common culture.
In fact, every one of Paul’s epistles opens this way. Not only that, he closes each of his letters this way, as well. And it’s not just Paul, but also Peter and John write this way.
So what is the significance of this? Why the change? Well, Christian grace is the undeserved favor or kindness that God has shown to us through the gospel. God has shown incredible kindness to us when He sent Jesus Christ to die and rise again and to appear to those many brethren. And none of this kindness from God is deserved. He sent Christ to us of His own will.
This is the sense in Ephesians 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.” We didn’t deserve it, it was God’s choice to express kindness.
Also, in Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” God’s kindness that we didn’t deserve is how God can save us.
TRANS: So, Paul, recognizes that each believer has been given grace in Jesus Christ. But when he writes this, he also is praying or desiring grace and peace to be to them from God.
Paul desires that believers in Christ have grace in the sense of enablement. This is the sense in Ephesians 4:7 …when Paul writes …But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
And the gift there refers to spiritual gifts given to each believer in Jesus Christ. That gift enables service for Christ.
So, Paul desires that we appreciate the great kindness that God has given to us but also that we apply that grace we have received. In other words, we have received God’s kindness to us in Christ…and that grace in turn empowers us for life in Christ.
So as you have received grace in Jesus Christ, minister the same to one another. Has God been kind to you in Christ? Be kind to one another!
It works the same way with peace …. Eph. 1:1 … “grace and peace be to you.” We are to appreciate the fact that God has granted us peace with Himself. We are no longer enemies of God once we lay down the weapons of our sinful rebellion against Him.
Ephesians 2:14 says…For He Himself is our peace, … Ephesians 2:17 AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR;
This is that peace with God that comes when our relationship is restored. Paul recognizes this peace that God himself has given to us.
But as we have received peace in Jesus Christ, we are also to minster the same peace to one another. This was particularly difficult for the Ephesian believers.
Through Paul, Jesus Christ saved many Gentiles and Jews in Ephesus. We read that this morning how God brought the word of the Lord to both Jews and Greeks. These are groups that are normally hostile toward one another.
So, Paul has to right to these believers that God has in Jesus Christ established peace between them. In Jesus Christ, the dividing wall between hostile people comes down. Ephesians 2:14-15 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,
Hostile people are to have peace with one another in Jesus Christ because Christ gave us peace with God. And so, Paul exhorts us in Ephesians 4:3 to be diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
God has brought together people who would not normally fellowship with one another. And this is the case in order to magnify God’s work in Jesus Christ, that he might show his manifold wisdom.
So as we have received peace with God, so also ought we to minister the same to one another. This is the application … God’s application of Ephesians 1:2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Appreciate and apply God’s grace and peace to you. May grace and peace be to you! As you have received his grace and his peace, minister the same to one another.
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 1.1-2
Well, the day I stood before the judge when I wreck my car, he granted me mercy. He did not make me pay the fine that I owed.
He probably recognized that I was a broke Bob Jones University student by the way that I was dressed … So he told me …he said, “you have violated the law and the fine must be paid…” but he said, “I am going to pay it for you.” He took out the $200 from his own wallet and the attached that to the ticket and then he took me out and bought me a steak dinner!
No, I’m kidding…! But didn’t do that, but if he had that would have been a great illustration of grace! Not only did he not make me pay the fine, but he paid it for me and then on top of that, gave me something that I did not deserve…a steak dinner!
That would really empower me if somebody runs their car into mine! If I get bitter and angry over a simple car accident, I would have failed to remember the grace and mercy that I received from the judge that day.
Even so, you believer, grace has been given to you… Be gracious and merciful and peaceful with one another, not bickering or complaining. Don’t forget the grace and peace that is yours from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ and minister that grace and peace to others!