1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:
2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
(Ephesians 1:1-2 NIV)
As we begin our study of Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus, we see:
- the author of the letter (Paul)
- the recipients of the letter (God’s holy people in Ephesus)
Paul identifies himself as “an apostle of Christ Jesus”. What does that imply? It means that God specifically called and chose Paul and spent time with him face-to-face, training him for a specific purpose. There are only fourteen people in all of history that can be called Apostles with a capital A, that Jesus specifically called – the original twelve that Jesus chose, plus Mathias when Judas left, plus Paul.
Paul had a lot of worldly credentials (Acts 22:1-5, Philippians 3:4-10), but he did not refer to any of those. Instead, he relied on only two – being called by Jesus as an apostle, and that it was the will of God. What other credentials do you need?
Some disputed Paul’s apostleship. But Paul addressed this with the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 9:1-2. Paul reminded the church in Corinth that he had seen the Lord Jesus face-to-face, and that he had been called by God’s will.
Next, Paul addresses his audience – the church in Ephesus. Paul identifies them by two terms – “holy people”, and “faithful”. The phrase “holy people” is another phrase for “saint” – which means “set apart by God, for God’s purpose”. You don’t have to be dead and buried for years and year to be called a saint by others. Sainthood is something that God gives us as a follower of Jesus. Paul also calls the Ephesians “faithful” – crediting them for their part in following Jesus. And thus, Paul’s two-part greeting, God’s perspective (“holy people”), and Paul’s perspective (“faithful”).
Paul then offers his greeting – “grace and peace”. In this salutation, Paul reminds the Ephesians that grace is from God, and brings peace to their lives. Without God’s grace, there is no peace.
And finally, Paul reminds the Ephesians (and us) of the source for all this goodness: “from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”. This is all from both the Father and the Son – it has both their approvals.
As Paul opens this letter to the church in Ephesus, we see he doubles up on everything:
- double authority (Apostle, by the will of God)
- double identification of the people (“holy people”, “faithful”)
- double blessing (“grace and peace”)
- double source (“God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ”)
I think Paul was more than a little excited to write this letter to the church in Ephesus, don’t you?
May we allow ourselves to be captured by God’s heart for us as Paul had for the Ephesians.