Lesson 1: Dear Ephesians (Ephesians series) Part 3 of 3
by John Lowe
“Peace” is the Old Testament’s “shalom”—not just a feeling of quiet, but the well-being of our whole lives. The word denotes wholeness, soundness, or prosperity, especially in spiritual things. True peace is peace with God because our sins are forgiven. Our sins can never be forgiven until we know something of the grace of God. In the bible peace is never a purely negative word; it never describes simply the absence of trouble. Shalom means everything which makes up man’s highest good. It is what Paul goes on to describe in the second half of Ephesians: reconciliation in Christ which creates unity-in-diversity in the new community of the church (4:1-16), transformation in the way we live (4:17-5:21), and strength to remain standing in the spiritual battle (6:10-20).
Christian peace is something quite independent of outward circumstances. A man might live in comfort and luxury and on the fat of the land, he might have the finest of houses and the biggest of bank accounts, and yet not have peace; on the other hand, a man might be starving in prison, or dying on the battlefield, or living a life from which all comfort has been removed, and be at perfect peace. The explanation is that there is only one source of peace in all the world, and that is doing the will of God. When we are doing something which we know we should not do or are evading something that we know we ought to do, there is always a haunting uneasiness at the back of our minds; but if we’re doing something very hard for us to do, even something we do not want to do, so long as we know that it is the right thing there is a certain contentment in our hearts. Our peace comes from being in His will.
When we become the recipients of God’s grace, then we have peace that passes all understanding; but apart from God’s grace there is no peace . . . There can be no peace. The statement “from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” is not just a tribute to the deity of the Son who is co-equal with God the Father. The statement sets before us the exalted position of Jesus with the Father “in the heavenlies.” This position is set forth and unfolded by the Holy Spirit throughout the Ephesians letter.
Please note that grace and peace are in Christ Jesus. There is no other place to find grace. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His Glory, the Glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:1 and 14).
It’s interesting that Paul’s conclusion (6:23-24) reverses the order of his introduction. There he wishes peace (6:23 and grace 6:24). Is this a hint that, between the two bookends of his letter, grace will lead to peace, and peace will always rest in grace? How marvelous!
“From God our Father and the
Lord Jesus Christ.”The grace and peace is from God our Father. In fact, He becomes our Father when we experience the grace of God and are regenerated by the Spirit of God. Grace and peace also come from the Lord Jesus Christ. Why didn’t Paul say they also came from the Holy Spirit? Doesn’t Paul believe in the Trinity? O, yes, but the Holy Spirit was already in Ephesus indwelling believers. The Lord Jesus was seated at God’s right hand in the heavens. We need to keep our geography straight when we study the Bible. A great many people get their theology wrong because they don’t have their geography right; and when we get that straightened out, it even helps our theology.
Let us not overlook the marvelous conjunction of the words “God our Father.” The word, God, taken by itself might convey the impression of One who is infinitely high and unapproachable. The name, Father, on the other hand, speaks of One who is intimately near and accessible. Join the two by the pronoun, our, and we have the staggering truth that the high and lofty God, who inhabits eternity, is the loving Father of everyone who has been born again through faith in the Lord Jesus.
The full title of our Savior is “Lord Jesus Christ.” As “Lord” He is our absolute Master, with full rights to all we are and have. As Jesus He is our Savior from sin. As Christ, He is our divinely anointed Prophet, Priest, and King. How much His name unfolds to every listening ear!
Note: “Grace . . . and peace comes from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul did not hesitate to put the Lord Jesus on the same level as God the Father; he honored the Son just as he honored the Father. So should we (John 5:23).
Those around you may be thinking what people in Ephesus were probably thinking about these young Christians: “They seem to belong somewhere else.”We do. No matter where Christians live, they ultimately belong in Christ. What this means Paul explains in the course of the six chapters that follow. We need to read on!
The epistle has been completed in Paul’s rented house at Rome. It has been carried safely over sea and land, and now it has traveled up from the Aegean shore, by the longship canal, and found its way to Ephesian hands.
The city of Ephesus was situated at the mouth of the Cayster River on the West Coast of what is now Asiatic Turkey. Ephesus had from very early times been a city of considerable significance, but it was during the days of the Roman Empire that it reached the height of its importance. The city covered a vast area, and its population likely was more than a third of a million. It was the center of the worship of Diana, the goddess of fertility. The temple of Diana, located about a mile outside of Ephesus and considered one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, was the chief glory of the city.