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A meditation on Ephesians 1:1

When Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus he was aware that the contemporary culture was seething with alternate belief systems. Not only was the church surrounded by non-Christian religions, but also from within the church there was the danger of teaching that destroyed the purity and perfection of the gospel. In Acts 20 he had warned the elders of the Ephesian church against this danger from within. In Revelation 2:1-7 it is obvious that this perversion of the gospel from within the church had already arisen. Paul's letter fits historically between these two.

Because of this Paul affirms his authority: he is 'an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God.' The authenticity of his teaching is validated by the authenticity of his commission. As in other letters he defends his apostleship in order that the true gospel will be preserved.

In calling himself 'an apostle of Jesus Christ' he is affirming his commission by Christ. This commissioning is reported in Acts 9:10-19; 22:2-21; and 26:1-23. In stating that he is an apostle 'by the will of God' he is pointing out that he himself did not take this role upon himself; rather, this role is something imposed on him by God. He himself had actually, according to his own will, been totally opposed to the gospel of Christ, as reported in the above references and also in Galatians 1:11-23.

The Lord took a man bent on destroying the gospel and made him its foremost proponent and defender.

This man, Paul, knows the difference between the anti-gospel and the gospel, between the non-gospel and the gospel, between the false gospel and the gospel.

This man, Paul, knows the difference between a man-centred relationship with God, and a Christ-centred relationship with God; between the bondage of a performance-driven spirituality and the freedom of a grace-driven spirituality. [Read Romans 8:1; Galatians 2:21 and Philippians 3:1-10.]

So he begins his letter, [a letter in which he is about to affirm the powerful reality of the salvation every genuine believer already has in Christ, and in which he is about to describe the lifestyle appropriate for those who possess this grand salvation], with this strong and simple affirmation of his authentic apostleship.

He does this so that we will have every confidence that what he teaches, what we read here in this letter to the Ephesian Christians, is God's authentic truth.

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2006, 2010