“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will: To the faithful saints in Christ Jesus at Ephesus.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Two verses. As I started digging into Paul’s letter to Ephesus, I had no idea that I would spend several days looking at just these two verses! I was planning on just jumping to verse three, but as I started reading commentaries and watching video sermons, I realized just how rich these two verses are. So let’s jump right in!
First, who is writing the letter? We know it is Paul, because he tells us at the beginning. Paul wrote thirteen letters that are included in the New Testament. He identifies himself as an apostle by God’s will. In Mark 3:14, it says “He appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him…” The verses go on to name the twelve. These are also found in Matthew 10:1-4. Paul is not one of these original twelve. Paul’s story is pretty dramatic and can be found in both Acts 9 and when he describes his conversion to Agrippa in Acts 26. In verses 15 and 16 it states:
“I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?”
“And the Lord replied: “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. But get up and stand on your feet. For I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and a witness of what you have seen and what you will see of me.”
Although Paul is not one of the original twelve, in Acts 9:12 Ananias is concerned about taking the newly converted Paul in. “But the Lord said to him, “Go, for this man is my chosen instrument to take my name to Gentiles, kings, and Israelites.” He is qualified to call himself an apostle. He also says by God’s will. He further develops that idea in other letters. For example, in Galatians 1:15-16 he writes, “But when God, who from my mother’s womb set me apart and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son is me, so that I could preach him among the Gentiles…”
Paul has been specially called by God’s will and is writing to the faithful saints in Christ Jesus in Ephesus. Ephesus was a part of ancient Greece and is located in modern day Turkey. Paul made two visits to Ephesus. The first was a brief visit and only gets a brief mention in Acts 18:19-21. His second visit was much longer. He stayed for three years and this can be found in Acts 19 and 20.
Paul then says “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul begins every one of his letters with this greeting. I decided to look up the word grace and I found these quotes:
“Grace is the free, undeserved goodness and favor of God to mankind.” -Matthew Henry
“Grace is the very opposite of merit… Grace is not only undeserved favor, but it is favor, shown to the one who has deserved the very opposite.” -Harry Ironside
“[Grace] is God reaching downward to people who are in rebellion against Him.” -Jerry Bridges
Paul, of all people, knew what grace was. Something that I discovered as I was researching this was that he started all of his letters this way and he ended this letter and all of his letters with a version of “grace be with you.” What a wonderful way to start and end letters. Grace to you and grace be with you.
Lastly, notice what ties all three parts of this introduction together. It’s Christ Jesus. He is the center of it all. He will be the center of this letter, so of course He is in every part of the introduction. Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus. To the faithful saints in Christ Jesus. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Who knew there was so much to be found in just two verses? I am loving digging deep into the verses and I hope you all don’t mind me bringing you along with me. Maybe next time I’ll get through more than two verses. Then again, as I look at the next two verses, maybe not!
Grace be with you!
2 responses to “Ephesians 1:1-2”
Grace! Where would we be without God’s grace? I shutter at the thought! And Paul is such a perfect example showing that God is not shy about oozing grace on the least deserving! This gives me hope and confidence.
Thanks for giving me a spot to dig deeper with my girlfriend!
God’s grace!! Where would I be without it? I shudder at the thought!!
Paul is a perfect example of God’s grace being extended to someone least worthy. He knew well the full extent and meaning of grace. His story gives me hope!