College & Career Class Lesson Summary, June 24, 2018
As we close out the first chapter of Ephesians, we should be ever mindful that Paul is not only greeting these Ephesians (as a standard letter salutation would accomplish), but he is greeting them in a very specific fashion – by reminding them of what God has made them to be in Christ. As the rest of the letter unfolds, Paul will expand upon this all the more.
Ephesians 1:12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 1:14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
Part of this expression of grace, which sheds light upon what being in Christ entails, is also the fact that we have been bestowed the very Spirit of God. Romans 8 reminds us that the testimony (or fellowship) that our spirit has with His Spirit is because we are His. Paul says that His Spirit was given to us as an earnest (down-payment) for the inheritance that we have, in and through Him. Romans 8 also reminds us that as Christ is an heir of God (the Father), we have become joint-heirs with Christ. Everything that Christ is willed, by the Father, we are joint-participants. There is nothing that hasn’t been willed to Christ that isn’t likewise willed to us. Let that sink in!
But, Paul says that the Holy Spirit is down-payment for this inheritance that we will receive in time future. Think about that – the Holy Spirit is ‘just’ a downpayment for what God has in store for believers. A downpayment is always a small token of good faith that full compensation will be rendered. God essentially says – all that the Holy Spirit is, just think of that as a small token of what I have in store for you. When you think about what the Holy Spirit is/does – and that’s just a ‘small token’?! Again, let that sink in!
When we trusted Christ – who is the gospel of our salvation – we were sealed with this Spirit. The down-payment is secured because it is backed by the Faithful Character of God Himself. We read in Esther 8, where the king’s seal was put upon a missive and it says that “no man can break it.” No man has the ability to break the Faithfulness of God and nor does God break ties with His own faithfulness based on our poor, religious performance. This seal can NO MAN BREAK. We are indeed, as John writes, in the Father’s hand and NO MAN can pluck us out! The King of kings put His seal upon us – we are sealed with the down-payment of our inheritance and are backed by the full Faith and Credit of God Himself.
Ephesians 1:15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, 1:16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
Paul reminds them that he is thrilled to death of their faith in Christ and makes mention of them in his prayers constantly. We noted that as prayer can be an expression of thanksgiving, we see that Paul simply rejoices with God over these believers. Each saint at Ephesus was important to Paul – was valuable to Paul. Just their existence gave Paul encouragement. As Paul is finishing his salutation, he not only wants the believers at Ephesus to understand how important they are to God, but likewise how impactful they are to him.
Ephesians 1:17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 1:18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 1:19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 1:20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 1:21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 1:22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 1:23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
Paul kind of summarizes why he started off his letter the way he did by stating that there is a vast importance in being renewed in the knowledge of Christ. We noted that the knowledge of Christ isn’t an exercise in memorizing trivia tidbits, but was an active, perpetual experience. In Philippians 3, Paul says that his desire was to know Christ and the power of His resurrection. In these verses in Ephesians, we find the same desire Paul is expressing for the Ephesian believers – that they would know Christ and to know Him by the exceeding great power that was manifested by God raising Christ from the dead. In other words, we know Christ by having likewise gone through the same death and resurrection (in the spirit), but as we yield to the reality of already being resurrected with Him, we then allow His resurrection life to influence the lives we live. We do not know Christ by factoids, but by His life being our life. We know Christ by allowing His Spirit to renew our minds according to this truth.
What we understand about the resurrection of Christ is vital as it is the supreme expression to the universe that Jesus Christ is indeed far above all principalities and powers. He was resurrected to be the pinnacle of God. It is THAT life that we know Him. Further let that sink in!
By His resurrection, God established Christ as head above all, including the church, which is His body. Before we begin into Chapter 2, we are going to take a couple of lessons to establish two concepts – what is the church, His body, and, what is Biblical headship? Both of these are important to our understanding as they will play into various passages throughout the remainder of the letter.
Our story continues…