By Luke Johnson | November 6, 2014
READ: Ephesians 1
First thoughts -- What caught your attention in Ephesians 1?
What name does Paul call the people at Ephesus? (1:1)
What comes to mind when you think of the word “saint”?
“Saint” literally means “holy ones” (ἁγίοι, hagioi).
What do you think it takes to be “holy”?
Why do you think Paul refers to the Ephesians as “holy ones”? What makes them holy?
Paul starts his letter with a long prayer of thanks to God. According to verses 3-14, what has God done to make Paul so thankful? (There are a lot of things!!)
What do these things tell you about God?
Eugene Peterson says, “God is actively at work among us for our good and our salvation; he is not passive. God is present and personal; he is not remote. God is totally involved in the cosmos; he is not indifferent. . . . We thought we were looking for God. No, God is seeking us.” (Practice Resurrection, 69-70)
Next, Paul turns his attention to the Ephesians. He says in verse 16, “I have never stopped giving thanks for you.”
Why is Paul so thankful for the Ephesian saints? (Look at verse 15)
(because: their faith in Jesus; their love for all the saints)
In vv. 17-19, Paul asks God to give the Ephesians 5 things. What are they?
- wisdom and revelation
- enlightened heart
- riches of his glorious inheritance
- immeasurable greatness of his power
Why do you think Paul asks God to give these things to the Ephesians?
Because these things already belong to them! “Saints” are holy because God made them holy -- they are people who follow after Jesus, who receive new life from him.
When God raised Jesus from the dead, something crazy happened to the universe. What does Paul say about it in vv. 19-23?
What do you think Paul is trying to tell the Ephesians by talking like this about Jesus’ resurrection?
Paul is trying to tell the Ephesians something important about themselves. (And something important about us, too!) They (and we) live in a world that has been rocked by God’s power. When God resurrected Jesus, God put the universe in Jesus’ hands. (If Jesus had a job title, it would be “The Center of the Universe.”)
The Message puts it like this:
God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence. (Eph 1:20-23)
So, with all this in the background, how do you think Paul would define “saint”?
How do you think Paul would want a “saint” to think about his/her own place in the world?
If you could look at the universe every day the way that Paul does, what might change for you?