Ephesians 1

Is it really Paul, or another ‘pseudo’? My answer will be not-Paul again, lest that one human writer be just weirdly confused and confusing…. Wait on it for the week, and see if you agree, and why or why not. At least, see what’s distinctive about this book, building on last week’s reminders of Colossians.

Is it really to the saints at Ephesus, or did the biblos roll of parchment keep fraying at the beginning and the end, and conventionally filled in with a bigger name town? Marcion claims it was originally directed to Laodicea, along the river form Colossae, the humbler towns along the Lycos in west Turkey.

As Calvinist, we like the givenness of our identity, viewed from heavenly places and beyond time and space. We are not accidental, but meant, and invited to live out of that gift – an attitude of gratitude. It’s a welcome corrective to the dominant culture of social Darwinism, and the myth of meritocracy. We do not ‘deserve’ the grace of God – that’s what makes it grace, and mercy.

Our fetish for ‘freedom’, skewed toward ‘freedom from’, in Isaiah Berlin’s terms, rather than ‘freedom for’, deafens us to this gospel. We affluent and privileged wish we could justify our fortune as just deserts. Imagine to whom, and in what circumstances, this might be better news.

As in Colossians, our place in the picture is already a given, by God. We can hear the promises and threats of the lesser powers with a grain of salt. That has been a powerful assurance for a long time – sealed by the Holy Spirit, and ruled by one God, and this Annointed, Jesus, the head of all, including this body.

Sure, that’s a devotional take, a pastoral perspective, and not an academic or a church management use of the text. Try it, to start the week.

Ephesians 1

Download audio of Hart translation

Text: NRSV

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus:

2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,

4just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.

5He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will,

6to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace

8that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight

9he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ,

10as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will,

12so that we , who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory.

13In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit;

14this is the pledge of our inheritance towards redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.

15 I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love towards all the saints, and for this reason

16I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers.

17I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him,

18so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints,

19and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power.

20God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,

1far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come.

22And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church,

23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.