STUDY 2: THE FOUNDATION OF PAUL'S APOSTLESHIP AND SALUTATION
Apostle Paul, the undisputed author of this epistle, introduces himself as "an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God... "(Eph.1:1), by identifying himself with Christ Jesus, as His official ambassador, and commissioned by the will of God. This, he did because of skeptics and misguided folks, who would doubt the message he was bringing from God, if his relationship with Christ is not well clarified. There have been people who have no personal relationship with Christ; strangers to the grace of God, and are not sent by God, but who run as if on a mission from God (Jer.23:16, 21-22; 14:14-15; 2Sam.18:19-23; Acts 19:13). The Scripture has prophesied that this end time will be particularly notorious for an upsurge of impostors, fraudsters and charlatans, claiming to be prophets and ministers of the Gospel, running ministries and churches, but not sent by God (Mat.24:4-5, 11, 24-26; Acts 20:17-20, 22, 29-30; I Tim.1:1-7; 2 Tim.4:3-4; 2 Pet.2:1).
It is very sad today to know that many people are in the ministry for a number of reasons and purposes, such as love of title, "Man of God, Papa, Prophet, Prophetess, Bishops, Apostles or General Overseer, etc. other reasons are desire for independence from authority, love of money, unbridled ambition to lord it over people, break away rebels (Absalom ministries), disloyalty to their leaders, or because of pursuit of pecuniary advantage or under satanic manipulation notwithstanding the signs, wonders and miracles being performed and "forensic prophecies". They have unwillingly- positioned themselves for eternal perdition (Num.16:1-35, 44-49; Mat.7:21-23; 15:13-14; 24:15; 2 Thess.2:9-12; Jude 8, 10-13).
We shall be considering two broad divisions in this study:
1. THE CALL AND COMMISSION OF THE GREAT CRUSADER (PAUL): Eph.1:1-2; I Cor.1:1; 2 Cor.1:1; Acts 9:1-25; 11:22-30; 13:1-5; 22:1-5; Ga1.1:11-21; I Tim.1:12-14.
No person apart from Jesus Himself; shaped the history of Christianity like the apostle Paul. Even before his conversion, his actions were significant. His frenzied persecution of Christian following Stephen's death got the church started in obeying Christ's final command to take the Gospel worldwide. Paul's personal encounter changed his life. He never lost his fierce intensity, but from then on, it was channeled for spreading the Good News. All Paul's efforts and intentions as a religious person were sincere (2 Tim.1:3). He was very religious. His training under Gamaliel was the finest available. He was a good Pharisee, knew the Bible and sincerely believed that the Christian movement was dangerous to Judaism. Thus, Paul hated the Christian faith and persecuted Christians without mercy.
Paul got permission to travel to Damascus to capture Christians and bring them back to Jerusalem. But God had other plans for him and stopped him in his hurried tracks on the Damascus road. Paul personally met Jesus Christ, and his life was never the same. Until Paul's conversion, little had been done about carrying the Gospel to non-Jews.
When Paul met Jesus, he found the One with the reason for living and dying, and he became totally sold out for Christ. God did not waste any part of Paul – his background, his training, his citizenship, his mind, or even his weaknesses. Until you allow God to have all that you are, you will never know all He can do with you!
Paul never relented his efforts in spreading the Good News, it was for this reason he was imprisoned. At the time of writing this epistle, Paul had been a Christian for nearly 30 years. He had taken three missionary trips and established churches all around the Mediterranean Sea. When he wrote Ephesians, he was under house arrest in Rome (Acts 28:16). Though a prisoner, he was free to have visitors and write letters.
Paul was destined to be an apostle. It was by the will of God. He was called to preach the Gospel, bringing men and women to the saving relationship with Christ. His goal was to bring people to Christ (Acts 16:31; 20:21), deliver them from Satan's power (Acts 26:18), establish them in Churches, mature them and make them discover their spiritual gifts to profit with (I Cor.12:14), transformed them within and without so that their lives can glorify their living Saviour (Eph.4:11-16; 5:25-27; I Thess.4:1-7), etc. Missionaries today should be devoted to the same kind of activity. Paul was faithful to his call and ministry to the very end (Acts 20:20-24; with 2 Tim.4:6-8).
2. THE CHARACTERISTICS AND CONDUCT OF GENUINE CHRSTIANS: Eph.1:2-2; Rom.1:7;
''.... to the saints, which are in Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus "(1 : 1).
"The Saints" — Holy ones, separated from sin, the world and its pollutions and consecrated unto God. It also means sacred. All genuine Christians are saints. We are called to be saints (Rom.1:7; Col.1:1). The city of Ephesus was very idolatrous, a great commercial centre of Asia Minor, yet they maintained a holy living. They were not defiled or corrupted by the pollutions around them — drunkenness, immorality, idolatry, etc (Eph.5:7- 13, 18-19).
They were called the "faithful in Christ Jesus'' — what an excellent reputation! What would it take for us to be characterized as faithful to Christ Jesus? Hold fast to our faith, faithfully WET— ing God, even in the details of life. Every faithful believer has life only "in Christ Jesus". The term "in Christ Jesus", "in the Lord", "in Him", etc. occur 160 times in Paul's writings (36 times in Ephesians). "In Christ" means that the believer now lives and acts in the sphere of Christ Jesus.
Having been redeemed, the believers now live in new environment, in Christ, having conscious communion with their Lord. Christ life in them — Personal Fellowship. It shows the contrast between our new life "in Christ" with our old unregenerated life "in Adam". Whereas the old life is characterized by disobedience, sin, condemnation and death, our new life "in Christ" is characterized by salvation, life in the Spirit, abundant grace, righteousness and eternal life.
Everything is only possible in Him, with Him, by Him and through Him. the believer is in Christ (1:1), in heavenly places in Christ )1:3), chosen in Him (1:4), adopted through Christ (1:5), in the beloved (1:6), redeemed in Him (1:7), given an inheritance in Him (1:11), given hope in Him (1:12), seated with Him (2:6), created in Christ Jesus (2:10), brought near by His Blood (2:13), growing in Christ (2:21), partaker of the promise in Christ (3:6), and given access through faith in Him (3:12). Even thou the cities where some of us live are not as bad as Ephesus, can we honestly be addressed as saints, considering the type of spiritual life we are living? For those Ephesian believers, their location neither defined nor defiled them; hence, they were called saints.
It is such saints which Apostle Paul saluted by pronouncing "Grace (which is the only foundation of true peace and wellspring of all blessings) be to you and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ' (Eph.1:2). While sinners are at war within themselves, with God, with the society, and with the universe, true believers have peace "which passeth all understanding...'', which prevents our hearts from being broken, keeps us from internal turmoil, gives us freedom from anxiety and a sweet repose of the soul in God (Isa.26:3; Philp.4:7; Jn.14:27; 16:33; Psa.4:8).