Ephesians 1:1-2, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
At first glance, the first two verses of Ephesians come across as inconsequential or insignificant to the rest of the text, but within these two verses, we discover the who, what, where, and why of this divinely inspired letter. We know that all Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching; therefore, we know that the Holy Spirit gives us these seemingly minute details for a purpose. What that purpose is can clearly be explained by answering these four aforementioned questions; who, what, where, and why.
WHO and WHAT
Immediately leaping off the page we see the name Paul, and as quickly as Paul registers in our brains as the author we discover this is no mere man named Paul; rather this is Paul the apostle. Paul, the former persecutor. Paul, the militant Jew, turned passionate church planter. Paul, the man who stood watch as Stephen was executed. Paul, the man whose life was radically altered on the road to Damascus by the visible manifestation of Jesus Christ.
We learn that Paul doesn’t just call himself an Apostle, but rather it is the Lord Jesus Christ who calls him an Apostle by the perfect will of God the Father. We learn who the author is, but also what the author is. He is a redeemed man. He is a called man. He is a chosen man. He is God’s man. In and of itself this is incredible because in previous letters we see Paul give qualifications of himself. Qualifications that could have propelled him to the highest offices within the Pharisees, yet he clearly states in verse one that it is by Gods will, not man’s that he is an apostle of the Lord Jesus.
What this goes to show is that God can do more in a moment than a man can do in his lifetime, and up till the moment God called Paul to be an Apostle, he had spent a lifetime persecuting the Son of God. In that marvelous moment though God changed Paul and gave him a new reason for living. Paul received a new purpose in life. That glorious purpose was to be an Apostle who would later author half of the New Testament, plant numerous churches, share the gospel with the highest officials in the Roman Empire and bring glory to God through immeasurable suffering. It is because of Paul’s faithful devotion to God and reliance on the Holy Spirit that we have this letter and all the others that he wrote that have instructed countless Christians in the knowledge of God and the Lord Jesus for nearly two thousand years.
WHERE and WHY
In his commentary on Ephesians Pastor John MacArthur says that “the book of Ephesians is written to Christians who might be prone to treat their spiritual resources like unused financial resources…Such believers are in danger of suffering from spiritual malnutrition because they do not take advantage of the great storehouse of spiritual nourishment and resources at their disposal.”
Essentially, much like a man who has all the wealth in the world, yet starves himself to death, so too is this letter written to Christian churches in Ephesus. They have all the spiritual blessings they could ever need and want, yet they’re seriously malnourished because they aren’t fully embracing the riches of Gods glorious grace through the Lord Jesus. They are stagnant and not fully growing in their new-found faith. They are not all embracing the command to love one another the way that Christ loves the Church. They are experiencing growing pains and lacking some theological depth, but they are a church nonetheless striving after Christ. They’re unsure of themselves in some ways and holding themselves back from truly tasting and seeing that the Lord is good.
Paul loves this church though. He’s invested in his church. He loves them so much so that he’s writing to them from his prison cell in Rome to encourage, exhort, rebuke, and teach them how to be more like Christ. These people, most being new converts, need the sound theological and Christological instruction that Paul can provide. When it’s all said and done though Paul is writing to people who love God and the Lord Jesus, even if they don’t have everything figured out or right, and that’s why he still calls them faithful saints and greets them with the peace of God. He wants them to take full advantage of the spiritual storehouses of the grace of God. He wants them to faithfully adhere to the Way. He wants them to embrace one another in love and charity all the while holding fast to the confession; Jesus saves. He’s writing to instruct, encourage, and especially to remind them of the glorious riches found in their salvation that was bought with the precious blood of Christ.
When we understand the who, what, where, and why of any text we understand God’s purpose for his eternal and unchanging Word. Ultimately the purpose of any biblical text is to reveal how God the Father has uniquely revealed himself to man so that redemption can take place and mankind can be in a rightly restored relationship with God the Father through the Lord Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the redemptive-historical hermeneutic that properly tells of man’s total fall and how all of Scripture details God’s initiating, bringing and consummating redemption. These first two verses set the context and tone of this letter. They give us the story behind the story and show us that the most unlikely of people, whether they be enraged Christ haters or pagan Gentiles, can be saved and used by God to spread the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.