Grace and Peace
Ephesians Lesson #006
November 4, 2018
“Our Father, it’s such a great privilege to take time to be refreshed, encouraged, strengthened, and challenged by Your Word—to be reminded of these eternal truths that should be embedded within our souls, shaping our character, transforming our lives.
“Father, we recognize that as those who have been called to serve You in the body of Christ, we have a mission, and that mission involves our testimony to the world around us, both a nonverbal testimony and a verbal testimony, talking to others about the gospel, helping them to understand the truth of Christianity, challenging them to believe in Jesus Christ.
“Also in the impact of our own character and decisions, decisions in the voting booth, decisions as to how we work and how we conduct ourselves in our professional and business life. Father, we pray that we might reflect Your grace. Scripture says that we are to shine forth as lights, reflecting that light that has changed our lives, shining forth as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.
“Father, we pray also for this election, for the impact of believers applying Your Word accurately to their voting, that we may sustain a government that seeks to stick to the Constitution, preserve our freedoms, to enable us to preach the gospel without government interference, and to teach Your Word, not only within a local church, but to apply its principles in the workplace, in the public square without fear of government interference or business reprisals.
“Father, we pray for our courage that we may stand fast for the truth of Your Word in every area of life. Today as we study Your Word may we be reminded of the goodness and the riches of Your grace.
“We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”
Our study today is to continue in the salutation in Ephesians 1. Last week we just looked at the opening couple of phrases, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ,” coming to understand the power of God’s grace in the life of the Apostle Paul.
Paul was born Saul of Tarsus. He characterized himself in his pre-Christian life as the chief of sinners. He was responsible as a Pharisee who sought the destruction of this new Christian doctrine to destroy it, and as such he was responsible for the arrest and for the torture, for the incarceration, and for the death of untold numbers of Christians.
He’d been brought up in a devout Jewish home. Sometime in the past, his family had acquired Roman citizenship. So, he had that unique privilege which was part of God’s sovereign plan for his life, for it enabled him to do certain things later on in his ministry.
When he was young, sometime around his bar mitzvah, which was when he would turn 13, he moved to Jerusalem. He had a sister who was married and lived in Jerusalem, and he studied under one of the greatest of the Pharisees at that time, Gamaliel, and he was trained.
He says of himself in Philippians 3 that he was a Hebrew of the Hebrews, a Pharisee of the Pharisees, and according to zeal there was no one to match him. He was a zealous, passionate Pharisee who sought the establishment of his religious convictions at whatever cost, including that of the destruction of Christianity.
But when he was on a mission to arrest and to torture and to bring back to Jerusalem Christians in Damascus, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to him on the road to Damascus and challenged him with the question, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
It was in that illumination, in that revelation, that Paul understood the reality of the gospel and trusted in Jesus of Nazareth as the promised, prophesied Messiah of the Old Testament.
Up to that moment, any of us, if we had been trying to witness to Paul, would have thought that there was no way this man would ever become a Christian. You may have people like that in your life. I have people like that in my life.
I have people that I have witnessed to for 10, 15, 20, 30 years or more, and sometimes it has taken over 30 years for them to come to belief in Jesus. So we should never give up. We should never grow weary.
But the point that I was making last week was that grace is transformative, that grace changes people. Paul is a trophy of God’s grace as we all are.
In his salutation in Ephesians 1:1 he begins, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God …” This statement is rich with God’s grace, for in God’s undeserved merit Paul, who had persecuted the body of Christ, who had brought about the arrest and the death of numerous Christians, was transformed on the road to Damascus and was appointed at that time by God as an apostle to the Gentiles to carry the truth of the gospel to Jews, but especially to Gentiles.
As we began that study last time, we saw that as an apostle, he was brought into that elite group that had surrounded Jesus in His ministry on the earth. The 12 disciples who became the Twelve Apostles—minus one because Judas was not a believer and hung himself.
I believe that according to Revelation 21, that the foundation of the New Jerusalem is the Twelve Apostles; that it is Paul who replaces Judas as a member of that elite body, and that it is the Apostle Paul who was responsible for taking the gospel to the Gentiles.
We saw that there are two categories of apostles in the New Testament:
- Those that are of the Twelve; they were commissioned by Christ to take the gospel to the world, to establish the foundation of the gospel. As we’ll see when we get to Ephesians 2:20: the apostles and prophets are the foundation of the church, and that’s talking about New Testament prophets, not Old Testament prophets.
They are the foundation of the church, and it’s important to understand when the Scripture uses the term “apostle,” to look at who commissioned that person and to what were they commissioned. With the Twelve they are commissioned by Jesus Christ. They were witnesses of His resurrection, and they have a unique and distinct role in the body of Christ.
- There were others who are called apostle; this confuses people. Those who were leaders in the early church, like James, the brother of our Lord Jesus Christ or half-brother of His humanity. There’s James, there’s Barnabas, there’s a few others who were identified as apostles, but these were men that were commissioned by a local church to a specific task, and so they’re identified as what we might call “lowercase apostles.”
It was only the Twelve, based on Ephesians, that had the gift of apostleship—that spiritual gift that’s identified in Ephesians 4:10-12. Paul is one of those.
The next thing that he says about this is that his apostleship is “by the will of God,” as it’s translated in the New King James Version, or “through the will of God”. It is the Greek preposition DIA plus a genitive of the word THELEMA, which is the word for will.
Now the reason that’s important is because when you take the word DIA and you put it with an accusative case, it has a different sense. It has a sense of causation. When we get to a passage like Ephesians 2:8-9 which says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith …” It is DIA there plus a genitive.
It’s not a cause. It’s not because of faith—it’s not your faith that causes your salvation—faith is the means. That’s the same kind of grammar that you have here indicating that it is the Father who is the ultimate agent or means of giving Paul the gift of apostleship; it is by the will of God.
The word “will” is a word that is used a number of times in Scripture, but in the New Testament only 11 times does it refer to human desire or will. In 2 Timothy 2:26, it refers to the devil’s will, but the other occurrences refer to God’s will. It’s often translated just “the will of God,” but it emphasizes the fact that He has made a sovereign decision in eternity past.
God has set His plan in motion from before the Creation, so it should best be understood as “by the decision of God.” It is God’s decision that Paul becomes an apostle. What he is emphasizing is this isn’t his decision. It isn’t something he aspired to, something he wanted to do, or something that he made for himself. It is, in the same way, not something that was at the will of others.
He really emphasizes this in his opening salutation in Galatians. Part of the problem that Paul ran into from the Galatians, from the Corinthians and from others is that his credentials were attacked—that is his credentials as an apostle—because he wasn’t one of that original group of the Eleven that were witnesses of Christ’s ministry on the earth.
In Galatia, he had been challenged. This is sort of south-central of what we call Turkey today. It was the Roman province of Galatia, and the first churches he established on his first missionary journey were in that area at places like Lystra and Iconium and Derbe.
Subsequent to his going to those places, he was followed by what we call Judaizers. These were Jews who wanted, as Paul had before he was saved, to destroy Christianity on the one hand, and also some of them had become nominal, that means Christians in name only, because they didn’t have a true grace gospel.
That’s why Paul rebuked the Galatians a few verses later (Galatians 1:9), and he says there, “If anyone comes with another gospel …”—that is a gospel of another kind—in their gospel you not only have to believe in Jesus, but you also have to continue to obey the Mosaic Law.
Part of the way in which they insinuated themselves into these new churches was to attack the credentials of the Apostle Paul, so he emphasizes this specifically at the beginning of Galatians 1:1. He says. “Paul, an apostle,” and then he says, “(not from men nor through man,”—singular—“but through Jesus Christ and God the Father …)”
What’s interesting here is he shifts prepositions; he shifts from the plural of “men,” indicating a group of men, to a singular “man”. Then he shifts to talking about that it was actually through Jesus Christ, Who he states first, and then God the Father.
When he says, “not from men”—plural—he’s saying it’s not from the source of a group of men. The other apostles didn’t get together and appoint him. It wasn’t a group of elders at Antioch that had appointed him as an apostle. He was appointed an apostle by Jesus Christ and God the Father. It is not from a group of men that his apostleship derived.
Then he says, “nor through man.” Now in the Greek it doesn’t have an article, and that can indicate something that’s qualitative or it can indicate just a generic concept of mankind; that is, through a human channel. He rejects completely this idea that his apostleship was at the hands of either an elite group of men or from any human agency.
Then he states in contrast, “but through Jesus Christ,” and there he uses this same kind of construction that indicates means. It is through the means of Jesus Christ and His direct appearance to Paul on the road to Damascus, where Jesus directly commissioned him to be an apostle. Ultimately it comes from God the Father Who is the ultimate authority in the Trinity.
As we go into our main body of the first chapter, in Ephesians 1:3-14, it contains a series of praises to each Member of the Trinity. We’re going to take some time to break down the doctrine of the Trinity and to understand the authority structure and submission that is part of the inherent ontology—metaphysics or being—of eternal God, that authority isn’t something God created.
It has been at the core of the relationship of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for all of eternity. Ultimately it is God the Father who has the authority behind the appointment of apostleship.
In Romans 1:1, Paul identifies himself as an apostle, but he calls himself first, “a bondservant of Jesus”; this word would more accurately be translated as slave. It’s the Greek word DOULOS. It is more than just a servant. We think of a servant as someone who is hired and to carry out a set of domestic duties, but this is a slave in the Roman sense of the word.
He goes on to develop that concept, that we are to be slaves of righteousness, in Romans 6: that we are born slaves of sin, and when we are redeemed, we are bought with a price and paid for. We are bought out of the slave market of sin, and now we are in Christ, and we are to be slaves of righteousness.
He says he is a slave of Jesus Christ, called an apostle. Actually, the verb “to be” is not present in the text. Look at your Bible and it will be in italics, and that means that it is supplied by an English translator to make—what he thinks—is to make sense of the passage, but Paul isn’t stating that.
We will run into that again as we go forward in our study of what it means to be a saint. It is “called an apostle” or someone who’s identified as an apostle. When it says “called to be”, that in English indicates some sort of future potentiality, but he is called or identified an apostle by God.
In another salutation, in 1 Timothy 1:1, Paul expresses his commission as an apostle as a command from God, not just that he is a slave of God, not just that he has been appointed by Jesus Christ to carry out this mission, but this is a command.
1 Timothy 1:1, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ …” Note he puts the priority in this passage on God, and he identifies God the Father also as the Savior because He is the author of the plan of salvation.
In 1 Timothy 2:7 he expands on this just a little bit, “… for which”—that is, for the gospel—“I was appointed a preacher …”
That’s the word KERUX. It means someone who is announcing or proclaiming the gospel. Usually with KERUX as the noun or KERUSSO the verb, the object or the content of the proclamation relates to the gospel.
We think of a preacher as someone who gives a motivational message, gives a message of encouragement, sometimes it can be expository; but biblically the distinction is between someone who teaches the Word and explains it, and someone who proclaims the gospel or preaches the gospel. Modern language does not reflect biblical usage.
He says he was “… appointed a preacher—a proclaimer of the gospel—and an apostle (I speak the truth in Christ, I do not lie), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.”
Notice the emphasis there is on teaching, on explaining what the Scripture teaches. That is the primary role and function of a pastor-teacher as well.
Ephesians 1:1 goes on to say in the next clause, “… To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus:”
There are a couple things we should note as we look at this particular clause. There are some problems. First of all, there are some textual problems. I was putting myself to sleep several times yesterday reading extremely long discourses on all the details related to this.
I’m not going to put you to sleep with that this morning, but I do know that in some of your English Bibles, especially if you have a Revised Standard Version, that the phrase “in Ephesus” is not present. It’s left out. Most Bibles will put it there. Some might even, in the translation, put it in brackets, and so that is one textual variant.
The other textual variant is that you will notice, the way I’ve put it up here, in the New King James it has it as “faithful in Christ Jesus,”—Christ then Jesus. Maybe I took that from NASB. In the New American Standard and some other versions it’s Christ Jesus. But in the New King James and the King James it is Jesus Christ. First it’s Jesus, then Christ.
Some of the issues are the same, but I think the Majority Text is very clear that the word order is Jesus Christ, and that the words “in Ephesus” are clearly present.
The oldest of papyri we have is P46 but it has some problems. For example, in verse 3 of Ephesians 1, it deletes 10 words. There are numerous other places in that papyrus that are missing words and dropped out some things, so it’s not the most reliable, even if it’s the oldest copy that we have. It apparently was a copy of a previous manuscript that had some omissions and some problems.
P46 has as the heading of the epistle, the title, “To the Ephesians”, but then it leaves Ephesus out of the first verse. So that indicates that it was clearly understood that this was written to the Ephesians to begin with.
For the same reason that P46 is not a reliable witness to the early form of the text, the same is true for the word order—and I don’t think that is that significant—the word order that you have in the New King James and King James, which is in the Majority Text, as well as a number of other manuscripts, indicates a word order of “Jesus Christ”.
That gets rid of understanding some distinctions you may see in some of the translations that you have.
This clause addresses the recipients of the epistle. It is addressed “… To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus:”
There are basically three questions that we need to address:
1. The first is: what is a saint? We have all kinds of meanings to the word “saint.” For some of you, you may think of a television show that came out in the 50s or 60s, and then they made a movie out of it back in the 90s. Others of you think of it perhaps as a football team or someone who plays for that team. Others of you, if you come from a Roman Catholic or Orthodox background, think of it as a certain category of Christian. So we need to find biblically what a saint is.
2. Secondly, we need to ask, does this refer to all of those believers in Ephesus or just those who are faithful? Is he talking about two classes of people? In other words, the saints and then those who are faithful.
3. That brings up the third question which is: is the word “faithful” the best way to translate the Greek word here, which is the word PISTOS, ending with an -OS, not PISTIS, ending with an -IS, which is the word faith.
Let’s start by answering the question: what is a saint? Now here’s a definition. We will look to the Brits first because, of course, it was Brits that translated the King James Version and influenced many other versions. A saint is identified by the Oxford English Dictionary as “a person acknowledged as holy or virtuous and regarded in Christian faith as being in heaven after death.”
That’s not real clear. The emphasis there is it’s a certain kind of Christian, who is especially virtuous, emphasis on their morality.
It further states, “a person of exalted virtue who is canonized by the church—and by that they mean by the Roman Catholic Church—who is canonized by the church after death and who may be the object of veneration and prayers for intercession.”
That is not the meaning of the biblical term “saints,” so if you go to an English dictionary to determine what the word meaning is for saint, you’re going to be misled. I’ve pointed this out on a number of other biblical terms.
For the American usage we have the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, which says in their first meaning—the first meaning is the one that is most common, second is the second-most common, and so on. The first meaning is “one officially recognized, especially through canonization as preeminent for holiness.” Again, this emphasis on personal virtue and morality.
Second meaning is “one of the spirits of the departed in heaven, or an angel.” So that again has nothing to do with the biblical usage of the term.
The third meaning may come close, “one of God’s chosen and usually Christian people.” If it’s capitalized, then it’s part of certain Christian bodies, such as the Latter Day Saints, otherwise known as Mormons.
The fourth meaning is “one who is eminent for piety or virtue.”
They’ve pretty much missed the mark. So we have to take a look at what this word is and what it means.
The word translated “saints” in the plural here is the noun HAGIOS. We’ve studied this a lot in recent months on Tuesday night in our study of worship. This whole word group is very important and has a lot of significance for us. The Bauer, Danker, Arndt, and Gingrich Dictionary [A Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, (BDAG)], which is your primary Greek lexicon, states it is “pertinent to being dedicated or consecrated to the service of God; a sanctified person, someone set aside for a divine purpose.”
Now that hits the nail on the head. Notice nothing in there indicates their personal virtue, piety, or morality. Simply related to something or someone that has been dedicated to God’s service or something that has been consecrated to the service of God.
We’ve studied this a lot in terms of the Old Testament. It’s based on the Hebrew word—the verb is qadash, the noun is qodesh—and it has the same basic meaning as something that is set apart for the use of a deity. It doesn’t have anything to do with the inherent virtue or piety of something.
So in the Old Testament it talks about certain objects that become sanctified for use in the tabernacle or the temple. A bowl or a picture or candlestick does not have inherent virtue. They are amoral. They have neither morality nor immorality. They have no inherent virtue. They’re just simply set apart and distinct for the service of God.
Thus, as we studied this last Tuesday night, everything within the tabernacle was holy. It was set apart to the service of God, and it was distinct. The opposite of holy is not unrighteous or sinful. The opposite of holy is common or profane—that which is for everyday use. For example, in an Orthodox Jewish home, you will find that there are certain dishes that are set aside.
That’s the concept of being holy, set aside for the purpose of God. You have certain dishes that are used for Sabbath, you have certain dishes that are used for Passover, for holy days, and they are not used for everyday use. That’s the idea, the distinction between holy and profane.
The main idea of a saint is a person who’s set apart to the service of God. Also in the Old Testament there is a noun form of qodesh that is used to apply to priests. But it was applied not only to the priest of God, but also to the pagan priests who were serving the various idols that were worshipped in Israel.
Some of them were basically religious prostitutes, and so there’s no way that the word can have as part of its core meaning the idea of personal virtue when it applies to religious prostitutes as well. It’s simply the idea that they too are set aside for the purpose of serving their god.
This is the basic idea that we have in in the word HAGIOS.
But you also have a form of this word HAGIAZO, which we normally translate as sanctified, and that is just a verb form of HAGIOS, and it means to be set apart. We get an explanation from 1 Corinthians 1:2 showing how this relates to understanding the word “saint”:
Paul writes, “To the church of God which is at Corinth …” Now we all know that the church in Corinth was just the poster child of virtue, right? (A little sanctified sarcasm.) They were one of the most carnal, one of the most arrogant congregations of Christians in the ancient world. There was no sin that they weren’t proud of; and they are still called saints.
Paul addresses his epistle to them. “To those—in the church, meaning all of them—who are sanctified in Christ Jesus.” They are—all—set apart in Christ Jesus.
Then the text actually says, “… called saints …” In your translation, sometimes it will say, “called to be saints,” and that indicates something in the future in English, but the “to be” is not present there. They are called or identified as “saints”. So the term “saint” as a noun simply reflects the verb usage “to be set apart to the service of God.”
In Romans 1:7 Paul uses the same kind of language. He says, “To all who are in Rome—that’s inclusive of all believers—beloved of God, called—and again you see, and I’ve got it italicized in this verse on the screen—called saints—not called to be saints.” So just draw a line through the “to be” in your Bible.
We have to understand what this means because it relates to a very critical concept that we will be looking at throughout our study of Ephesians, and that is the concept of sanctification. These words are used with different senses, three different senses in fact, in the New Testament. We identify these as phase 1, phase 2 and phase 3; all are related to salvation.
The first phase occurs at the instant we understand the gospel and believe that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for our sins. At that instant, in that nanosecond, when God the Father knows in His omniscience that you have believed the gospel; you don’t have to pray it out loud, you don’t have to tell somebody, it’s an act of the intellectual process of your mind. You believe the gospel, you say to yourself, “That’s true.” You’re convinced it’s true. At that instant, there are a number of things that happen to you that are not experiential.
One of the things that happens to you is that you receive the righteousness of Jesus Christ. That’s called imputation. God imputes to every believer at the instant of faith in Christ the righteousness of Christ, so that we are declared righteous, not because of something internal to us, but because we possess the righteousness of Christ. This is known classically as the doctrine of justification by faith alone.
At that instant we are justified; simultaneously we are regenerated, we’re born again, we are given new life in Christ, we move from being spiritually dead to spiritually alive. A number of other things we will look at in a minute also take place at that time.
We are said, at that point, to be saved from the penalty of sin; that is, eternal condemnation, an eternal destiny in the Lake of Fire. We are saved from the penalty of sin. So when we talk about being saved, we have to understand what we’re being saved from.
If it’s phase 1, we’re being saved from the penalty of sin, and it’s by faith alone in Christ alone, understanding that He died on the Cross for our sins: that is birth. Birth is separated from life.
Birth is the beginning of life, but justification is not the same as experiential sanctification. It is what we call positional sanctification. We might also call this objective sanctification. We are identified with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection, so we are positionally set apart to the service of God. Now we are adopted into God’s royal family; we’re justified, we’re regenerated.
We are adopted into God’s royal family, and we are placed in Christ. That means we are positionally sanctified, but it doesn’t mean our sin nature is gone, and it doesn’t mean we’re any more moral or virtuous than we were five minutes earlier when we were sinners and unregenerate and under condemnation of eternal death.
Justification does not mean we will automatically grow as believers. That comes from a Calvinist doctrine called the perseverance of the saints—that anyone who has truly believed will inevitably grow spiritually in this life. They may have periods of disobedience and carnality, but inevitably they will grow. They have merged experiential sanctification with justification.
The same thing happens, but even more so, in Roman Catholic theology because in Roman Catholic theology, justification isn’t what happens in a moment in time, it is identical with experiential sanctification. The only way you’re justified is if your virtue is enhanced spiritually over time; at the same time that you are going to church and through all of the sacraments, you eventually reach a stage where you are said to be saved—but they can’t identify when that would be.
In our view, the biblical view: at the moment you trust in Christ, you are positionally sanctified, you’re set apart for the service of God and you’re saved from the penalty of sin.
The next issue is what are you going to do with this new life? Are you going to feed it and nourish it and let it grow and mature? Or are you going to let it just die out and shrivel up? You won’t lose your salvation, but it will not be nourished and will not grow. This is what we refer to as the spiritual life, growing in the spiritual life, growing by the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ; and it is progressive.
It takes our whole life. It doesn’t just happen in one shot. You can’t walk an aisle or raise your hand and dedicate your life in one event. It is a day-to-day, moment-by-moment decision to grow in our spiritual life. It is progressive, and it’s referred to as “progressive sanctification” or “experiential sanctification”. It means that we are saved from the power of sin more and more each day as we choose to live for the Lord and not to feed our sin nature.
When we die physically, we’re absent from the body and face-to-face with the Lord, then we are glorified and we are saved from the presence of sin. There’s no more sin nature, there’s no more sorrow, no more tears. All these things are passed away, and we are glorified.
The Bible uses the word “sanctified” to refer to, as I pointed out in 1 Corinthians 1:2, our position; our objective position in Christ—that we are sanctified from the moment we are saved. But it also uses it to refer to experiential sanctification or experiential holiness.
Holiness, as I keep pointing out, is one of those words that people are unsure about because we all have picked up this cultural understanding that it means personal piety or virtue. But when we understand it correctly, it is the experience of spiritual growth where we realize that we should be more and more set apart to the service of God from day to day, week to week, month to month, and year to year.
The word holiness, HAGIOS, is used to refer to this spiritual growth in places like Romans 12:1 where Paul says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy”—see, this is an ongoing thing: set apart to God—“holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”
Holiness, experiential holiness or sanctification, represents our ongoing and maturing service to God.
In Ephesians 1:4 we will see this used again, “… just as He—God the Father—chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy—that is His purpose—that we should be holy and blameless before him in love.”
This is talking about our experiential growth and application of the Word.
Colossians 1:22, “in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless,” It’s an echo of the same statement in Ephesians 1:4. Ephesians and Colossians were written very close to one another and have a lot of parallels and similarities.
In first Peter 1:15–16, which I talked about on Tuesday night, we are told in the New Testament, “… as He who called you is holy …” As God is unique and distinct and different from all of His creation; as He is unique and distinct, “… you also be unique and distinct in all of your conduct.”
Don’t live your lives like the pagans. Don’t live your lives like the people around you, who either do not know the gospel or do not know anything about biblical truth.
“because it is written,”—quoting from the Old Testament—“ ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’ ”
There we see that this Old Testament command is transferred to the New Testament and also is mandated of every Church Age believer.
“Be holy, for I am holy.” is not some legalistic piety. It simply means: as God is set apart and distinct, so our lives are to be set apart and distinct in the service of Him.
Let me use one other diagram familiar to many of you. At the Cross we trust in Christ as Savior. Acts 16:31 says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”
There are two aspects of this that we must understand. Many people get confused on this and they confuse these two aspects, and that’s how they get into a lot of legalism. They confuse the eternal realities of our objective position in Christ with temporal realities.
This leads many, one of the damaging things, it leads many to believe that they can lose their salvation.
At the instant that we trust in Christ, we become children of light, as Paul says in Ephesians 5. We are baptized by God the Holy Spirit and we are placed “in Christ”—a distinctive term we will study more as we go through Ephesians, and it’s important to understand in Ephesians.
As part of that objective reality and our position in Christ, we are reconciled.
Slides 19 through 27
- We are redeemed: we’ve been bought with a price.
- We’ve been regenerated: we have a new life, a spiritual life as we’ve been born again.
- We are adopted into God’s royal family.
- We become a new creation in Christ: all things are new, old things are passed away.
- We are freed from the dominion and tyranny of the sin nature.
- We have a new life, a spiritual life we must nourish, and it must grow.
- We are sealed by God the Holy Spirit, which we will study when we get to Ephesians 1:13-14.
- We are indwelt by God the Holy Spirit permanently; we cannot lose that indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
All of that is part of who we are; our identity in Christ. But experientially sometimes we fall far short of those realities. We are initially filled by means of God the Holy Spirit. He not only indwells us, but He is empowering us spiritually, but as soon as we sin that gets broken off until we recover. It is also identified by the phrase “walking by the Spirit,” indicating a moment-by-moment progress. This is part of, and is related to, our progressive sanctification.
But when we sin and the sin nature takes over, then we are out of fellowship, and we are walking in darkness. This is what Paul says to the Ephesians in Ephesians 5:7, “You are children of light, walk as children of light.” In other words, you’re probably not walking as children of light. You can walk as children of darkness, so you need to stop walking as children of darkness and walk as children of light.
So we confess sin, and we are restored to that place where we can enjoy our fellowship with God: we can worship Him, we can walk by the Spirit, walk in the light, and abide in Christ.
This is what it means to be a saint: a sanctified one, someone who is set apart to the service of God; and that relates to our positional identity in Christ.
The next phrase says that we are “faithful in Christ Jesus.”
This is really a translation problem and is one that is unfortunate. Every translation I checked, and I read a commentary which said, that every translation translates PISTOS here as “faithful”. The problem is that “faithful” relates to our subjective experience in walking with the Lord.
Lordship salvation is a view of the gospel that confuses justification with sanctification, so this would be in line with a Lordship view; that Paul is writing to saints because all saints are those who are “faithful”. Again, this is confusing.
The word PISTOS has an active meaning and a passive meaning, a passive sense. The passive sense is when you’re being faithful, you are trustworthy. It would be seen in a passage such as 1 Corinthians 4:2, “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.”
But it also refers to someone who believes or trusts in something or someone else. This is referred to as the state of believing—that is the idea that we have here. It should not be translated “faithful in Christ Jesus,” but it should be translated “believer in Christ Jesus”. It’s not emphasizing the passive sense of “reliable” or “trustworthy”, but the active sense of being a “believer in Christ Jesus”.
Here are some examples of how that is used:
2 Corinthians 6:15 is the clearest. Paul says, “And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?”
There he is using PISTOS. A believer is PISTOS; an unbeliever is APISTOS. The “a” is equivalent to the English “un”, so a PISTOS is a believer, an unbeliever is APISTOS.
Acts 10:45, “And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished,” It’s a participial form of PISTOS.
Galatians 3:9, “… believing Abraham” is PISTOS. So all of these passages emphasize being a believer.
It should be translated “to the saints who are in Ephesus.”
The “and” there is what’s technically called an ascensive KAI. It just means it should be translated “that is” or “namely.” It’s identifying this second noun with the first one, namely, believers in Jesus Christ. Even Calvin said, “all saints are believers and all believers are saints.” It’s very clear that’s the meaning here.
The next thing that we find that’s a bit of a problem—it doesn’t really change any theology or affect it—but when it’s understood correctly, I think it clears it up.
The first view is that “in Christ Jesus” applies to both saints and PISTOS, the believers: that the saints are in Christ Jesus and believers are in Christ Jesus. Of course, the phrase “in Christ” is critical in all of Ephesians.
But the problem with this is that when PISTOS is understood to be a believer, it makes more sense to understand that last phrase as expressing the “object of faith”. Besides, the Greek structure is convoluted, because if this phrase goes back to the word “saints,” then you have a lot of other words in between that make it very difficult to automatically make that connection.
It is better to understand this as expressing the “object” of the belief; they are believers “in Christ Jesus”.
Ephesians 1:2, and this [greeting] is rather simple to understand; Paul does something remarkable here. I remember hearing a Bible teacher when I was in high school say, “Well, in the Greek culture, they used a form of the word CHARIS. They usually used CHARIN or some other form to express a greeting. So, if you were a Greek and you were writing a letter or you were saying hello to somebody, you would use the word CHARIN, meaning grace. If you were Jewish and you would greet somebody, you would say, “Shalom!” Since Paul is writing to Jews and Greeks, he just uses the Greek form and the Jewish form and puts that together. In other words, this person was saying there’s no theological significance.
I have a problem with that because I believe that everything that is done in Scripture is under the inspiration of God and is spiritually significant, unless you can find a really clear reason for dismissing that within the text.
Paul doesn’t use the normal form in the greeting: CHARIN, CHAIRE or CHAIRETE. He uses CHARIS, and this emphasizes grace, which is not only a major theme in Ephesians, but in all of his epistles. What he is saying is that he wants the recipients of the letter to fully experience either the grace of God at salvation or the grace of God in their spiritual life and their spiritual growth.
The second thing he says, and he adopts this from a Jewish background, “… peace from God …” The Jewish greeting is Shalom, which means peace, but here he identifies it as not just generic peace, but peace “from God”. This is a God-given peace that is ours at the instant of salvation.
He’s giving a blessing, as it were, in this salutation, “May you experience grace and the peace that comes only from God.” These are two themes we will come back to again and again in our study of Ephesians.
For example, in Ephesians 2:8–9 we read, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
Paul is the premier apostle of grace and explaining grace, and he emphasizes that it is by grace that we are saved through faith alone.
A little later, in Ephesians 2:14–15, he talks about Christ as our peace. “For He Himself—talking about the Cross, that that broke down the barrier between Jew and Gentile, and the barrier between God and man, that Christ—is our peace, who has made both one,”—that is Jew and Gentile in the new body of Christ—“and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace.”
Peace is tied in 2 Corinthians 5 to reconciliation. This is the message of the gospel. We are ambassadors of Christ proclaiming reconciliation.
Peace is identified strongly by Paul in his closing benediction of Romans 15:13, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
“Our Father, we’re thankful for this opportunity to study Your Word, to reflect upon Your grace and Your goodness. Your grace transformed the Apostle Paul from the chief of sinners to the apostle of grace. And Your grace is still evident in our lives, transforming us from spiritually dead sinners to those who are spiritually alive, transforming and changing us from the inside out, changing us and conforming us to the image of Your Son.
“Father, we rejoice in the fact that we can learn so much more about Your grace, and that as a result of our trust in You, that this barrier has been broken down. We have peace with You, we are reconciled to You, and we can walk in harmony and fellowship with You.
“Father, we pray for those who are listening who may not understand how to have an eternal relationship with You, how to have eternal life. And we pray that it would be clear that it is from grace, from Your undeserved kindness, Your unmerited favor, that You have done everything through Christ on the Cross, that we don’t do anything, we bring nothing to salvation except trusting in You for eternal life through Jesus Christ our Savior.
“Father, we pray that You would challenge all of us, that we are to walk a life that is worthy of our calling, a life that is set apart to You in service to You, challenging us to grow spiritually and to make this the highest priority in our lives.
“We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”