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Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians 1: 1-14 (NIV)
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:
2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfilment – to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory.
The language of this doxology is evocative, its expression superlative! But let us consider three pronouns used by the Apostle Paul: “us”, “we” and “you”.
In verses 3 to 12, Paul has used “us” and “we” – but not to include his readers. “Us” and “we” refer to the people of Israel, the Jewish people. It was to them first (through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) that God bestowed his special grace. They were a chosen people – his people.
Former-Pharisee Paul had been taught that the special grace extended by God to the children of Israel included a promise to them of a Messiah of David’s line. Paul now recognised that this promised Messiah, this Christ, was Jesus of Nazareth, Son of God. Hence Paul was able to state, concerning the children of Israel, that:
- God blessed them “in Christ”,
- he chose them “in Christ”,
- he predestined them for adoption “through Christ”,
- his grace was freely given to them “in the One he loves”, and
- he redeemed them “through his blood”.
Then, in the last two verses of this doxology, Paul turned from referring to Israel to address his readers: Gentiles (some Jews as well). His “you also” (verse 13) reflects God’s remarkable revelation to him: it has been God’s deliberate intention all along to extend the blessings bestowed on the Jewish people to any and all Gentiles who “believed” in him (verse 13). Gentiles as well as Jews were marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit.
God has pledged to the Gentiles who, through Paul,“believed” – and to us – the redemption previously available only to Jews. Praise God!