Ephesians 1:1-2 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. In the opening verses of Ephesians Paul deals with the matter of identity. How important is one’s identity? What can happen to a person if he loses sight of his identity?

When a person suffers a loss of identity there results a great deal of confusion in his life, he finds himself grasping in the dark. Furthermore, when one suffers the loss of identity he is very susceptible to being manipulated and controlled by other people—usually with sinister motives. These same things can happen to us as Christians if we lose sight of our spiritual identity. For our own assurance as well as our spiritual well-being, it is essential for us to know our Christian identity. As we approach the epistle to the Ephesians, we find that the apostle Paul at the very outset defines for the Ephesian Christians and for us our Christian identity.

2. How does Paul identify himself in Ephesians 1:1 (printed below?) What is the meaning of the term he uses to identify himself? Note John 13:16,20 (printed below)

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:1)

I tell you the truth, a servant is not greater than his master; neither is a messenger greater than the one who sent him… (20) I tell you the truth, whoever receives anyone whom I send is receiving me; and whoever receives me is receiving the one who sent me. (John 13:16,20)

Paul identifies himself as “an apostle.” That is to say, a special messenger or ambassador who has been commissioned to represent someone else and who is completely identified with the one whom he represents (note John 13:16,20). In the case of the New Testament apostles, they were commissioned by Christ and came as His personal representatives (note 2 Corinthians 12:19 and 13:3).

3. How does Paul identify the Ephesian Christians in verse 1 (printed above under question #2?) What do you think is the meaning of the term as it is used here by Paul?

The apostle Paul is writing to “the saints.” “Saints” are those who have been set apart to belong to God; in Ephesians 1:14 the redeemed are defined as “God’s possession.” Furthermore, “saints” are those who have been set apart to become like God in His character of love and holiness (note 1 Peter 2:9 and Titus 2:14). Paul is writing to “the saints who are in Ephesus;” those who have been set apart for God but still find themselves living in this present sinful world.

4. What does Paul say about these Christians in the latter part of verse 1 (printed above under question #2?)

The apostle Paul is writing to “the saints” whom he further identifies as those “who are faithful.” There is an intimate and unbreakable connection between belonging to God and being devoted to God. Let us be ever aware of the fact that as Christians, we are called to be faithful to God—let us especially remember this when we are confronted with a moral decision and are tempted to think that it does not matter what we do or how we live.

5. How would you explain the meaning of the statement that the Christian is “in Christ?”

Paul describes the saints, the faithful ones, as being “in Christ Jesus.” This identification of the Christian as being found “in Christ Jesus” occurs four times in the opening chapter of Ephesians (verses 1,3,4, 5-6). The designation of the Christian as being “in Christ” means that we have a most intimate relationship to Christ—our life is bound up with Him and we are identified with Him in the sight of God His Father. From all of eternity God has viewed the Christian “in Christ Jesus;” there has never been a moment when God did not identify you (as a Christian) in your relationship to Christ—as being in Christ (note Ephesians 1:4). In the course of time, God caused you to believe in Christ as your Savior and to personally enter into His life (note 2 Thessalonians 2:13a, 14a). It will only be at the return of Christ in glory that our amazing relationship to Christ shall be fully realized and revealed (note Colossians 3:3-4 and John 14:20).