John T. Willis

Saturday, April 17, 2010

To the Praise of God's Glory--Ephesians 1:1-14

Introduction: Scholars differ sharply about the author, date, and place of the little Book of Ephesians. One may learn much profitably from the works of Markus Barth, Ephesians 1-3, Anchor Bible 34, pages 10-52; Max Turner, "Ephesians, Letter to the," The New Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, Volume 2, pages 269-273, with extended bibliography.

This is not the place to go into great detail on these matters. Here are a few observations for thought:
1. 1:1 claims that "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus," is the author of this letter. Admittedly, a later "student" or "follower" of Paul actually wrote this at a later time, but there is nothing compelling to deny the claim in 1:1.
2. The composer of this epistle says he is sending Tychicus to Ephesus to receive this letter, and tell the Christians there how Paul and his associates are doing. 6:21-22.
3. Colossians 4:7-9 contains a message to Colossae concerning Tychicus, worded in language very similar to Ephesians 6:21-22.
4. The composer of Ephesians calls himself a "prisoner" in the Lord, an ambassador in "chains"--Ephesians 4:1; 6:20. This term agrees with Philemon 9; Colossians 4:18.
5. There is, therefore, good evidence to believe that Paul wrote the Book of Ephesians while Paul was in prison in Rome at the same time Paul wrote Philemon and Colossians. See Acts 28:11-31.

General Outline: One may view the Book of Ephesians as containing two major sections.
1. Theology. Ephesians 1-3.
2. Practical Teachings. Ephesians 4-6.
The general theme of Ephesians is the importance of unity among the people of God.

After the introduction in 1:1-2, the first paragraph is 1:3-14. The primary theme here is "to the praise of God's glory," which verses 6, 12, and 14 repeat this refrain. This blog attempts to emphasize some of the main thoughts in 1:1-14.

a. Paul declares he is an "apostle," not one of the original 12, but still an "spostle" of God through Jesus Christ directly chosen by God. See 1 Corinthians 15:8-10; Galatians 1:13-2:14.
b. Paul is an apostle by God's "will" or "decision," by God's free volition. The one God, who is living, personal, wise, and powerful, has chosen Paul to be an apostle.
c. Paul calls Christians "saints," that is, holy, separated by God through Jesus Christ (see Exodus 19:6; Deuteronomy 7:6; 1 Peter 1:13-16), and "faithful."

I. Ways God the Father has blessed his people. Ephesians 1:3-6. Paul states three ways God the Father has blessed us.
a. God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Note that these blessings are "complete" and "spiritual." Verse 3.
b. God has chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before God. "Election" does not have to do with "choosing" specific individuals to be saved or lost, but refers to those who are in Christ. Verse 4.
c. God has destined us for adoption as God's spiritual children. See Romans 8:14-17. All of this to "to the praise of God's glorious grace" which he freely bestowed on us in Jesus Christ. Verses 5-6.

II. Ways Jesus Christ the Son has blessed his people. Ephesians 1:7-12. Paul states four ways Jesus Christ the Son has blessed us.
a. God has given us redemption through the blood of Jesus Christ. Metaphorically or figuratively, God has "bought" us as a redemption through Jesus' blood shed on the cross. See 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Titus 2:14. Verse 7a.
b. God has given us the "forgiveness of our trespasses." See Acts 2:38; Matthew 6:12. Verses 7b-8.
c. God has made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Jesus Christ, as plan for the fulness of time, to gather up all things in heaven and on earth. Colossians 1:27 says this mystery is Christ in all you in the family of faith, and Colossians 2:2 says this mystery is Christ himself. Ephesians will elaborate on the meaning and significance of this mystery later in this epistle. Verses 9-10.
d. In Christ, we have received an inheritance in heaven [see 1 Peter 1:3-5] that we have set our hope in Christ that we might live "to the praise of his glory." Verses 11-12.

III. The ways God the Holy Spirit has blessed his people Ephesians 1:13-14. Paul states two ways the Holy Spirit has blessed us.
a. In Christ, we were marked with the "seal" of the promised Holy Spirit. With the gift of the Holy Spirit at baptism, God's people receive a "seal" or stamp of God's presence here on earth. See Ephesians 4:30; 2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5. Verse 13.
b. The Holy Spirit is a "pledge" of our inheritance toward redemption as God's own people "to the praise of his glory." A pledge is to be returned to the owner when the debt is paid in full. See Genesis 38:17-20. Verse 14.

The Book of Ephesians contains wonderful truths about God. Study this paragraph on your own. Pray fervently. Share YOUR ideas with others. Help me better understand and live by this text. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Charles Trevathan

One of my wonderful students at David Lipscomb University in the 1960s was Charles Trevathan. I also had his brother, Norman, who later became a teacher of history at Lipscomb, but came down with a serious disease and died at an early age.

Charles was always a bright, cooperative, cordial, engaging student. I thoroughly enjoyed being him in class and on campus. In time, Charles got into law, and had a significant law agency in Kentucky for several years.

In the 1980s, a poorly educated deviant assailant of ACU and a psychopathic transfer student attacked the university vehemently on the issue of "evolution". These individuals knew little or nothing about the real ideas of science and evolution, but they had much to say on such matters. When Charles Trevathan learned of this situation, he came to ACU and in short time single-handedly dealt with this issue on legal terms, and the assailants had to flee.

Charles proved to be a great teacher in Sociology. The students loved him. Charles would stay up deep into the night studying and reflecting. The administration and faculty and staff all appreciated Charles Trevathan and his wife greatly.

It was a great shock when Charles died suddenly in his office at ACU with a heart attack. Hundreds of people attended the funeral on the campus. Charles was relatively young when he died. We still miss him very much. I am honored that he was one of my students of the past.

John Willis