1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
My choice to study Ephesians next stems from the fact that our church’s mission statement is based on verses in Ephesians. I’ve always wanted to study this letter but it hasn’t been until now that it seemed to fit. How appropriate that our church is about to start connection groups that will end by focusing on our vision.
Before we get into the opening verses of this letter, let’s first understand what this letter is about. This letter is purportedly written by Paul when he was imprisoned by the Romans. Ephesus, it is noted in my study bible, is one of the first churches that Paul planted in Asia Minor. The style of writing and lack of specifics to the church itself indicates that his purpose for this letter was to be distributed. We know in other letters, like the ones to Thessalonica, were to address specific issues and questions within that church. This letter, however, does not reference specific issues or speak to certain individuals. Rather, it has a tone meant for the “church” as a whole. This letter is intended to discuss God’s purpose for establishing and increasing the Church
It is appropriate, then, that Paul’s opening specifies he is an apostle of Christ by the will of God. We must recognize God’s ultimate control over everything, even though it is hard for us to comprehend His omnipotence. Paul sets the tone here by recognizing that he is only who he is by God’s Will. This is not to be confused as arrogance, but rather the fact that he should not be heeded because of his own accord, but that he is an instrument of God.
The word saints refers to all believers. Sometimes we picture saints being only those who were believers but have died, however it makes no sense that Paul would be writing to dead people, does it? He better clarifies who the saints are: those who are faithful in Christ Jesus. Followers of Christ. That means you an me. We are saints.
Do we act as saints? We use the word “saint” as someone who is perfect in general conversation. We talk about people who are a “saint” in reference to how they act. Why is this? Well, if we are true and faithful followers of Christ, would not we act as Christ did? We mustn’t forget that this isn’t about salvation; it is about being a follower. We are not saved by acting “saintly,” rather we act “saintly” because we are saved! This is directly related to the verse we read in James that faith without action is dead. You see, if we are truly believers, our hearts will change and when our hearts change, our actions follow suit.
As we transform with God’s love that now dwells in us, we will act more as saints. Certainly, there will be opposition, since we are still sinful beings. “We are not human beings in a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings in a human experience.” Our human nature wars against our inner spiritual being. This is the choice that we have moment by moment, which side will we choose? If we truly love Christ for what He has done for us, then we will choose to follow His ways and rely on Him to help us do it.
How can you be more saintly today?