Paul, when he began this letter to the Ephesians, used an over-flow of words to try to describe the indescribable. The first ten verses are one long sentence in Greek. He was so overwhelmed by what he wanted to say, he couldn’t limit himself to short sentences. Every noun has beautiful adjectives. Every verb has supporting adverbs. He was overcome with the limitations of language to adequately express the truth.
Please take a few minutes and read this chapter out loud. Don’t try to untangle the deep meaning of the words. Don’t stumble over the complicated sentence structure. Just read it. It is like a painting of something real, but invisible. Allow yourself to feel Paul’s excitement and awe.
Now what stood out to you? It is like walking into a gallery full of masterpieces. There is too much to take in on a scan of the room. You simply walk to one picture because it sparkles. Then you look more closely and marvel its range of colors. Then your eye wanders to a tiny picture, not so shiny, but intricately painted. You can go back another time and enjoy seeing these treasures in a different light. You never tire of visiting this beautiful room. I think that is what Paul wanted to provide for his readers.
Chapter one is like scanning that room and taking in creation and God’s purpose for mankind in his plan. Paul wants us to see God’s desires and pleasures and his free and lavish sharing of everything he has for us. It is full of superlatives: glorious, lavish, immeasurable, great, far above, and every!
This chapter is all about God and his plan from before our world was even formed. It tells that even though he knew we would sin and break our relationship with him, he knew what he would do to provide a way for his plan to continue. He is not surprised by our failure. He knew that not everyone would want to be part of his plan, yet he still provided it.
Paul doesn’t end this scan with us here and now. He goes on to paint the picture of Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven. He reminds us that the point of all this plan is so we can inherit with all God’s people a place in the ages to come.
The central word in Ephesians is grace. Sadly, for many of us, grace means the few words we say before we eat a meal. Grace is often defined as unmerited favor. It is so much more than that. Mike defines it as, “All that God freely gives us so we can be fully transformed.” Another definition is: “The free, undeserved mercy in all its manifold forms and manifestations.” In verse 6 where Paul says, “To the praise of his glorious grace,” he is talking about the unlimited praise of God’s mercy fully displayed in all its beauty. We will come back to talk about grace more as we proceed through Ephesians. Just let the immensity of it capture your heart today.
Please don’t worry if this raises more questions than answers for you. Paul will lead us through what this redemption and inheritance will mean to us personally and in our relationships with others until the time for our step into eternity.