The Apostle, Paul, wrote Ephesians from prison in AD 60-62 to the saints. While the letter certainly made it to Ephesus, it may have simply been written “to the saints,” because “at Ephesus” is missing from three early manuscripts. The tone of Ephesians is more generic than Paul’s other letters. The letter is about conversion, and what makes a true Christian different from worldly people. In it, Paul juxtaposes the old man and the new man in Christ. We are no longer what we were. We have been made new. Paul explains such conversion in this letter.
Paul introduces himself as an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God. Paul does not see his own position as a missionary something he earned or something he gained by his will. His calling is of God. God’s will has been done in Paul’s life. Paul was a persecutor of the church, and God stole him from the darkness on his way to Damascus in Acts 9.
Paul writes to the saints [who are at Ephesus]. This letter is generic and written for all believers. It may be addresses particularly to the saints at Ephesus or not since “at Ephesus” is not in three early manuscripts we know about at the time I am writing this. Who are the saints? Paul tells us in v. 4-6. The saints are those chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world that they would be holy and blameless before the Father. The saints are the people predestined to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself according to the kind intention of the Father’s will to the praise of the glory of His own grace. They are those upon whom the Father freely bestows His grace in Christ. So, “saint” does not refer to a particular classification of person or someone who has been canonized by a Roman church. “Saint” refers to each Christian. “Saints” refers to all Christians or a group of Christians. When we are in Christ, we are all made saints because of His will, not our actions.
Paul greets the saints, grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Such is the Christian greeting. When we come to one another, we come with blessing rather than cursing, grace rather than judgment, and peace rather than contention. These are of God and Christ.
Paul also blesses our God and Father of the Lord, Jesus Christ. God has blessed Christians with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. Such good news is as sure as our election and justification in Christ. Paul writes this letter from prison. He has given up status, wealth, and freedom for the purpose of the gospel. Yet, he writes that God has blessed all Christians with every spiritual blessing int he heavenly places in Christ. There is something we have that cannot be defined by material status or wealth or freedom. We learn something about God. He desires we have every blessing even though we cannot have every blessing on this earth because of sanctification. God is not stingy. We have every spiritual blessing, and they have not been withheld. Notice the past-tense, God has blessed us.
His spiritual blessings, which may include gifts and the fruits of the spirit (cf. Galatians 5:22-23) are as sure as salvation itself. He gives every spiritual blessing “…just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world.” Paul reveals, here, a truth about our election. The Father chose us in Christ. There is a sense in which we were converted, born of the Spirit, saw heaven and consequently chose Christ. But, Paul’s emphasis is upon God’s choosing us. He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world. That is, before the world had its foundation (cf. Genesis 1:1). We read that God created the heavens and the earth in the beginning. Therefore, God also chose each Christian in the beginning. This doctrinal truth makes God’s omniscience evident. He does not merely know all future possibilities but the future itself. At the beginning, He can see us and chooses us in Christ. He chooses us so that we will be holy and blameless before Him. He does not choose us so that we may become holy and blameless but, instead, so that we will be holy and blameless before Him. He accomplishes His work in those He chooses. When He chooses us from before the foundation of the world, He sets our destinies (long before we are even conceived). He sets our destinies so that we are adopted as sons through Jesus Christ to the Father. He will not fail to adopt those He has chosen. He will ensure that His work of election is fulfilled according to the kind intention of His will. God is under no obligation to act according to our wills, else we are gods and He is not. He does act according to His own will—and rightfully so. His will is not a cold, distant will. God’s will is defined by kind intentions. He has good, not evil, in mind. He desires to be good to people, not malicious or distant.
Finally, God chooses His people to the praise of the glory of His own grace. He chooses and justifies a people for His own glory—not the glory of man made religion or the exaltation of people or the elevation of the human will over his own but for His own glory. So that His grace may be known. He freely bestows that grace upon His chosen people in the Beloved, that is Christ. Because of election and predestination, it cannot be said that we earned God’s grace or salvation by any work or even by choosing Christ. God does not require any payment. He freely chooses. He accomplishes His work in His chosen people according to the kind intention of His will. So, it costs us nothing. We cannot earn it. We cannot boast because we are not better than anyone else. God receives all glory because of His amazing grace.