This chapter opens like many of Paul’s letters. First the opening, then a thanksgiving to God, and finally a pray for the church.
I. Opening (1,2) -”the saints” Paul is writing to merchants, slaves, men, women, tradesmen, artisans, rich and poor; yet he calls them saints. Amazing! This is not a congregation of monks, but they are called saints because they are faithful.
II. Thanksgiving (3-14)
A. Vs.3 “We Bless God for He blessed us”
Every service in the Orthodox church begins with the blessing of God, because our life is a life of praise and worship to God. Chrysostom makes much of the term “spiritual blessing” as opposed to thanking God for material blessings. Chrys. “You are made immortal, you are made free, you are made a son, you are made righteous, you are made a brother, you are made a fellow-heir, you reign with Christ, you are glorified with Christ; all things are freely given you.” Then he asks, “What more do you need?”
B. God Chose the Church (4-6)
- “in Him” This phrase is used often in Paul’s writing. Christ is the instrument or channel for God’s blessing and choosing. It is because the Christian has been united with Christ in Baptism that he can partake in the blessings of God.
- The Church is God’s chosen people for a purpose. There is no sense here or in the writings of the Church that God is talking about an individual choosing for salvation or damnation before creation. The idea is corporate. God before the foundation of the world has chosen a people. Early on in salvation history, this choosing was Israel. Israel was not chosen to the exclusion and damnation of the rest of mankind, but that they would be the instrument to bring salvation to all man. The Church is merely an expansion of Israel. In fact in other places Paul is clear to point out that the Gentiles coming into the Church is a picture of them being grafted into Israel. God is choosing a people corporately called the Church that will be used to bring salvation to the world.
-The purpose in choosing the church is to be holy and blameless. This once again is using OT language. Just as the sacrifices of old were to be blameless and holy, as well as the people of Israel, the Church is to be a people who are set apart to be used by God and free from the blemish of sin. Chrys “A holy man is he who is a partaker of faith; a blameless man is he who leads a irreproachable life.” “We are to be holy before God not just man.”
-It is to His glory because it reflects Him. God does not need our praise but it changes us to receive more and more of God’s grace. God did not just clean us up but gave us more than we could have imagined.
C. God Redeem us (7-8)
-Redemption is the language of slavery. We were slaves of sin and death and Christ’s blood was like the payment that freed us from those slave masters.
-“The forgiveness of sin” Forgiveness also fits this slavery language. Forgiveness ultimately means release or to be freed. The chains of sin which enslave man are released through power of Christ’s blood.
D. The Mystery of His will (8-10)
- What’s the mystery or secret? It’s all about Jesus. He is the Logos made Incarnate and within Him Heaven and Earth are brought back together. What was separated at the fall was brought together through the person of Christ. Ireneaus discusses the term “gather together” or “recapitulate”. He says that Christ became and sanctified all aspects of being man.
E. An Inheritance (11-12)
- This plan that Christ would have an inheritance was planned out from the beginning. There is the language of sonship here. Christ being the Son of the Father inherits the people of God. The people of God being adopted as sons inherits Christ.
F. Sealed with the Spirit (13-14)
-The seal shows ownership much like a brand or trademark. As Orthodox, we also understand this through the sacrament of Chrismation which accompanies Baptism, and is the sealing and coming of the Holy Spirit into the life of the believer. In fact, as the priest anoints the person with oil (chrism) he says, “Sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit”. Those of the Church who are present will respond each time with the word, “Seal!”.
- “the pledge” This is a business term meaning down payment. Paul uses this another place and it is usually translated earnest or down payment. The Spirit of God is the down payment on our salvation.
III. Petition to know Christ (15-23)
- 15- 17 is transitional in Paul’s thought. His prayer is that the Church of Ephesus will experience God not merely understand Him.
A. Eyes be enlightened (18)
B. Hope of His Calling (18)
C. Riches (18)
D. Power of Christ (19-23)
-The power that God used to raise Christ from the dead is the power that is in the Church. Nothing will trump this power. He is the head of the Church. The Church is His body, and has the same power that is in Him. When Christ left, He replaced Himself with the Church. Within Greek the word for power (dynamis) suggests potential power. This is why you will often see “energy” words near “power”. Because it takes something to activate this latent power. It is God’s grace which activates this power of Christ within the Church. To the degree the Church opens herself to God’s grace will be the same degree of power will be evident.