Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The greeting is simple, yet profound.
The letter is from Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus. The word apostle is formally defined as “a delegate; specially, an ambassador of the Gospel; officially a commissioner of Christ ("apostle") (with miraculous powers):- apostle, messenger, he that is sent” (God Rules[i]). The Apostles were those men chosen specifically by Jesus to carry out His message, the Gospel and do the work of spreading it around the world. Eleven were chosen by Jesus before He ascended to Heaven. They were Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John the Sons of Thunder, Phillip, Bartholomew also known as Nathanael, Jude also known as Thaddeus and Judas (not Iscariot), James, Matthew also called Levi, Phillip, Simon the Zealot, and Thomas also called Didymus. There was a twelfth, chosen by the disciples to replace Judas Iscariot after Jesus ascended but before the Holy Spirit was given to them, his name was Matthias (Acts 1:12-26). And then there was Paul chosen by Jesus Christ well after Jesus had ascended and gifted us the with Holy Spirit.
Paul began as a Pharisee named Saul devoted to the Law and to his religion. He hated the Christians who he thought were destroying Judaism. Acts 9:1-31 describe Saul’s remarkable conversion. There is no explanation in the Bible regarding why Saul chose after his conversion to go by the name Paul. Some experts believe that he chose his new name to relate more with the gentiles, to acknowledge his new nature and calling from the Lord. Regardless, the fact is that Paul was chosen by the will of God to be an apostle. He would have been the last man one would think Jesus would choose. He was persecuting the church, he unlike the other apostles had been raised to become a leader in the Jewish religion, a Pharisee, and he had spent no time with Jesus during Jesus’ walk on the earth. But he was chosen by the will of God to be an apostle, commissioned with the task of bringing Christianity to the gentiles.
Unlike the eleven apostles who chose Matthias to be the twelfth using the earthly means of lots to determine God’s will and elect a man, Jesus used the power of God to directly communicate with Paul. Matthias had been with the other disciples for everything and it was God’s will that he was chosen as an apostle. History tells us that he like all the others went on to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world and that he like the others he suffered, was imprisoned, and died defending Jesus as the Messiah.
But Paul was chosen when everyone thought no more apostles would be chosen, in a way that no one could have fathomed. You see, it is not what the world thinks that makes you eligible to be a Christian. It is God’s will. He chooses us, He calls us, He saves us. Most of the apostles’ lives are not shared with us in the Bible, but bits and pieces are recorded in history. For instance there is some evidence that Thomas too the Gospel to India and died there about 72 A.D. God used them, they performed miracles, they healed, they brought the Word of God to many many people. You too were chosen by the will of God for His own. You were commissioned to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:16-20). Maybe the world can not imagine you as a follower of Christ, but it is God who made you one. Maybe the world and the church does not recognize your walk with Christ as anything special, but Believer, it is God’s will that you are His. He redeemed you and He has given you gifts for the common good, to build up the church, and do good works.
1 Corinthians 12:7-11 reads,
To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
Ephesians 4:11-13 says,
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood] to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ
And Ephesians 2:8-10 reads,
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
None of the apostles followed Jesus to glorify themselves. They followed Jesus because He is the Christ and He is worthy of honor and glory and praise. They followed Him so that you and I could follow Him. They followed Him because it was the will of God that they follow Him just as it is His will that we follow Him.
I am a follower of Christ, chosen by the will of God. I am shy, currently an unpaid author, a single unemployed woman. But by the will of God I am a child of God, the Bride of Christ, gifted, beloved, and righteous. I am a writer for the Kingdom, an evangelist, prophetess, healer, and encourager.
The letter is written to the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful to Christ Jesus. It is written to believers, to those faithful. It is also to us, to those of us faithful enough to read it and seek to get know God better. The letters of the day though usually addressed to a single church were shared and read through as many of the churches who received them (Colossians 4:16, 1 Thessalonians 5:27, 2 Peter 3:15-16).
And finally, in his greeting, Paul prays grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Reading the scriptures and coming to know more about who God is does bring grace and peace. There is a multiple meaning for us. One is that Paul combined the common Greek and Hebrew salutations to include both gentile and Jew in his letters. But he also wanted to remind us of the wonderful undeserved merit and gifts of salvation through Christ and the peace we have with Him through salvation.
God does not save because we deserver to be saved, because we are pretty good and mean well, or because we work hard to be righteous. He saves because it is His will and He is rich in grace and mercy. Titus 3:3-7 says it this way,
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Believer, you are so much more than the world thinks you are. You are chosen by God the to be His. I look forward to continuing this book with you. If just the first few words of it can be so edifying, imagine what the rest of Ephesians will teach us.
[i]God Rules. (n.d.). God Rules. Retrieved from Strong's Concordance: Apostle: http://www.godrules.net/library/strongs2b/gre652.htm