The Book of EPHESIANS
James J. Barker
WHO HATH BLESSED US WITH ALL SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS
- Tonight we will begin a
new series on the book of Ephesians. The author is the apostle Paul (1:1).
The date was about AD 64 (Scofield).
- It was written from Rome
while Paul was imprisoned, and is the first of his four “Prison Epistles,” the
others being Colossians, Philippians, and Philemon.
- It was delivered to the
church at Ephesus by Tychicus (Eph. 6:21).
- Merrill Unger says that
Ephesians is “perhaps the sublimest of all the Pauline epistles.”
Scofield says “it contains the highest church truth.”
- Ephesus was the
principle city of Asia Minor, and probably of the entire eastern section of the
Roman Empire. It was one of the great cities of the world in Paul’s day.
- The temple of Diana in
Ephesus was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
It was the largest Greek temple ever constructed.
- The city of Ephesus was
destroyed by the Goths in AD 262, and never again rose to its former glory.
Today it is a small town in Turkey called Ayasaluk.
- The apostle Paul had an
exciting and fruitful ministry in the city of Ephesus (cf. I Cor. 16:8, 9).
- Ephesus was a wicked
city. In Shakespeare’s Comedy of
Errors, Antipholus says this about Ephesus:
“They say this town is full of cozenage,
As, nimble jugglers that
deceive the eye,
Dark-working sorcerers that change the mind,
witches that deform the body,
Disguised cheaters, prating mountebanks,
many such-like liberties of sin.”
- Paul’s “adversaries” (I Cor. 16:9) did not
want to see people saved because it was bad for their wicked business (Acts 19;
esp. vss. 23-41).
- When Paul departed from Ephesus, he warned
them that “grievous wolves” would enter in to the congregation (Acts
- Years later, our Lord commended the church at
Ephesus for keeping these “wolves” (false teachers) out of the church (Rev.
2:2). However, our Lord reproved
them by saying, “thou hast left thy first love” (Rev. 2:4).
Interestingly, “love” is mentioned nine
times in Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians, more than anywhere else in his
letters. The letter begins with
love and ends with love (1:4; 6:23, 24).
- The three key words in the epistle are sitting, walking, and standing. Because of our position in Christ, we
are seated with Him in heavenly places (2:6). Our duty and responsibility as
Christians is to “walk worthy” of our vocation. This walk includes warfare with the
devil and the demonic realm (6:11-17).
- “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye
may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph. 6:11).
- Paul starts out by saying, “Blessed be the God and Father of
our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places
in Christ” (Eph. 1:3).
- Tonight, let us count our blessings.
- THE SOURCE OF OUR BLESSINGS
- THE SPHERE OF OUR BLESSINGS
- THE SCOPE OF OUR BLESSINGS
THE SOURCE OF OUR BLESSINGS
- Obviously the source of
all blessings, both spiritual and material, is God (1:3).
- “Who hath blessed us
with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ.”
- It might not be
noticeable in our English translation, but Eph. 1:3-14 is really one long
sentence. It is a doxology of
praise – “to the praise of the glory of His grace” (1:6, 12, 14).
- We will not be able to
do more than scratch the surface tonight, but I would like for us to consider
the many blessings bestowed upon us by our gracious God.
- Some churches emphasize
a “second blessing.” But the Bible
teaches that there are much more than that – “who hath blessed us with all
- God is here referred to
as the “Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1:3). This concept of God is not taught in the
O.T. There He is revealed as the
Creator, Elohim; as the God of the
covenant, Jehovah; as the Lord, Adonai; as El, the Almighty; as El Shaddai, the gracious giver (“God
will provide”), and many other names, but not as the Father of the
- It was not until our
Lord came that God was revealed as Father.
“And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I
must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49).
- JW’s argue much about
the proper name of God, but “Father” is the name given God in the NT (cf. Matt.
6:8, 9, 14, 15, 18 etc.).
- We have no greater
example than our Lord Himself. In
Matthew 26:39, our Lord prayed, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this
cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”
- As He hung on the cross, He prayed, “Father,
forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
- And then shortly afterwards, “Father, into thy
hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46).
- After our Lord rose from the dead, He
said to His disciples, “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon
you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from
on high” (Luke 24:49).
- The only way to know God the Father is through
God the Son (John 14:6).
- The hymnwriter put it this way, “O come to the
Father, through Jesus the Son, And give Him the glory, great things He has done”
THE SPHERE OF OUR BLESSINGS (1:3b;
- The sphere of our
blessings is “in heavenly places (literally “in the heavenlies”) in
Christ” (1:3). Because our
sphere of blessing is in heaven, we are strangers and pilgrims here on this
- “We are not as yet in
heavenly places but in earthly places, though we may and ought to be in heavenly
states of mind, heart, and experience… While yet in the body and on
earth, the mind and heart may be in heaven; we ought to be essentially living on
a higher, celestial level. This is the grand possibility and privilege to which
the Holy Spirit turns our eyes” (AT Pierson).
- “If ye then be risen
with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the
right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the
earth. For ye are dead, and your
life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then
shall ye also appear with him in glory” (Col. 3:1-4).
- Many Bible teachers have
pointed out the similarities between the book of Joshua and the epistle to the
Ephesians (cf. Scofield, Introduction, p. 1249).
- Ephesians is the NT
counterpart of the book of Joshua.
Just as Israel’s blessings were found in Canaan, the promised land, so
ours are found in the “heavenly places.”
- Just as the Israelites
had to battle many enemies in Canaan in order to possess all that God had
promised them, so we have to battle Satan and his army in order to enter into
all that is ours in heavenly places.
- Just as Israel’s
inheritance in Canaan was fiercely contested by their enemies, so our
inheritance in the heavenlies is also strongly contested (cf. 6:12).
- Just as Joshua led the
Israelites into victory, the Lord Jesus Christ leads us (cf. 6:10).
- Our sphere of blessing
is not just “in heavenly places,” but also “in Christ” (1:3). This phrase “in Christ” is found often in
the epistle (cf. 1:1, 10, 20; 2:6, etc.).
This phrase denotes privilege and security (cf. 1:13). It is only in Christ that we ever could
have received these many blessings.
THE SCOPE OF OUR BLESSINGS (1:4,
- We have been “chosen” in
Him “before the foundation of the world” (1:4). The time of our election
was “before the foundation of the world.”
The purpose of our election was “that we should be holy and
without blame before Him in love” (1:4).
- God knew from all
eternity who would believe (I Peter 1:2), and provided a means whereby all our
sin and iniquity could be settled for, in order that we might be presented holy
and without blame before Him.
- That is why our Lord is
referred to as “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev.
- So the purpose of our
election is “that we should be holy.” Holiness of life is only made perfect in
and through love (1:4b; cf. I Thess. 3:12, 13). Holiness without love can be harsh, and
love without holiness can be worldly.
- Those that are saved are
“predestinated” (1:5). In the
Bible, predestination is always used in reference to God’s children, never to
- Romans 8:29 says, “For
whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image
of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (cf. Eph.
- Nowhere in the Bible is
it said that God predestinates unsaved people to hell.
- Election is “according
to the good pleasure of His will” (Eph. 1:5). It is not the good pleasure of God’s
will to send people to hell (II Peter 3:9).
- In 1808, they threw a
big birthday party for Haydn, the great Austrian composer, on the occasion of
his 76th birthday. His
famous composition, The Creation, was
performed in a music hall in Vienna by a group of celebrated singers and
- Mr. Haydn was carried
into the music hall in an armchair.
It was his last public appearance. He was in frail health and would be
dead in less than a year.
- Beethoven, who had been
a former student, knelt down and kissed his hands. As the performance proceeded, audience
enthusiasm gradually increased until, with a final burst of music at the
passage, “And there was light,” the people rose to pay tribute to the great
- Haydn struggled to his
feet and motioned for silence. Then
he lifted his hand toward heaven and cried out, “No! No! Not to me, but to God be the
- Then he fell back into his chair
exhausted. This is how it must
be. “Blessed be the God and Father
of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (1:3)… “to the praise of His glory”