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:Ephesians 1:1(NASB)
Like other apostles, Paul was a special messenger who was called, chosen, and authorised by God, to receive hidden revelation for the Church and to lay down foundational doctrine and godly principles for the Body of Christ. He met with the resurrected Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus, which was a biblical requirement for apostleship.
Paul was also unique among Christ's apostles, for unlike the others, he was not one who accompanied the Lord from the beginning of John the Baptist's ministry until the day He was taken up into heaven, as we read in Acts chapter 1.
Paul's authority came directly from God... not through men, which is why he so often referred to himself as Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus, called and chosen by the will of God - as he did in his introductory remark in Ephesians. "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God," he began, "to the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus."
He emphasised his authoritative credentials as Christ's chosen apostle in his opening salutation and added that it was by the direct authority and sovereign will of God. His words were not designed to exalt his person, position, or status, for his collective writings emphasise that our great salvation is only because of the amazing grace of God and His unfathomable mercy that saved us through faith in the sacrificial death and glorious resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In some of his writings, Paul had to stress his divinely appointed calling and apostleship because there were those that challenged his authority, but the Ephesian Christians were spiritual men and women whom Paul identified as, "faithful in Christ Jesus." These saints remained constant in their love and loyalty towards the Lord and were those who were maturing in the faith, growing in grace, and aware of their privileged position in Him.
Paul also addressed them as 'saints'. Like all born again believers, those in this city were saints - saved sinners who had been declared righteous by God and made spiritually alive through faith in Christ. It was not because of their goodness that they were called 'saints', but because of their great salvation through faith in Christ. Every sinner who is truly born again is a saint in God's eyes because of HIS goodness, because they have been cleansed by the blood of Christ.
As Paul progressed through his letter, he laid out our most wonderful birth-right, which is ours as a free gift of God's grace. We are positioned in Christ, have forgiveness of sins, and are redeemed through His blood. We are His inheritance, we are accepted in Him, and we are highly favoured in the Beloved One. We have obtained an inheritance and we have been blessed with the gift and pledge of the Holy Spirit. We are chosen in Christ, fellow heirs with Him, blessed with every spiritual blessing, and predestined to be conformed into the image and likeness of Christ.
In chapter 2, Paul tells us we have been saved by His grace, quickened and made alive by God, seated in heavenly places with Christ, and made nigh by the blood of the Lamb. Christ is our peace, we have access to the Father, we are sealed by God, and the Spirit of God dwells in each one of His children.
As we continue to read through Ephesians, we find we are a member of His Body, children of light and "light in in the Lord" and we are faultless in Him, partakers of His promise, and stones in His building. We are fellow citizens with the saints and have access to the whole armour of Christ and all the weapons we need to stand firm in the truth of His Word.
How privileged we are to have such ready access to the writings and instructions of Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God. May we recognise how immensely privileged we are each time we take the Bible in our hand - for it is the Word of God to us.
Heavenly Father, as I consider the Scriptures, the writings of Paul, the epistles of Christ's other apostles and the amazing truth that has been revealed to your people, I humbly thank You for the Bible. Help me to be increasingly diligent to read it regularly and reflect on all that it contains. Give me wisdom and understanding and keep me ever looking to Jesus. Thank You that my salvation does not rely on my goodness but on Your great goodness and grace in sending Your only begotten Son to pay the full penalty for my sin, so that in Him I am forgiven of all my sin and have received eternal life. Praise His holy name, AMEN.
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