Our text from Ephesians chapter 1 verse 1 begins a letter written by the apostle
Paul. Who is this man Paul? He is Saul of Tarsus shaliach
to the nations;
to the people; to the Gentiles, (ammim
in Hebrew). He was a Hebrew of
the Hebrews, and GOD chose the one that was most essentially, the quintessential
Hebrew, to be the apostle to the nations. And it was a significant choice. He
was the most competent and the gifted exponent and exegete of the Tanakh. He
was the one that was most deeply trained so that all the concepts that we have
in this Letter here, are based and founded in the Tanakh. They are not new-fangled
beliefs. You'll find them at large in the writings of Moses and the prophets,
and in the writings, and what he has done through the enabling of the Holy Spirit,
he has distilled the teachings of Moses and the prophets and the writings, so
that what we have in this Letter to the Ephesians; to the Believers in the city
of Ephesus, is not some new-fangled doctrine; it is good Hebrew theology. We
have to bear that in mind, that the theology of the B'rit Hadashah
Hebrew theology, and, I'm afraid, very few expositors will admit that, or even
mention the fact. They talk as though he pulled his doctrines out of the air!
Nothing could be further from the truth! And we will see as we go through this
Letter that everything here is what GOD has already said, and he has, through
the Spirit, crystallized it for us.
He was now writing from a Roman prison. We find at the end of this Letter, in Chapter 6 and verse 20, he says,
'I am an ambassador in chains.' He was in Rome in chains. That's where he wrote his Letter from. There's validity to the view that if Shaul had not been put in prison, he wouldn't have had so much time to write all those Letters. GOD, as it were, put him aside and said, 'Now Paul, you can't do anything here, but you can write.'
It's happened before in history, that great men of GOD were so busy, they had no time to put into writing the great truths that they were teaching; and then, through a combination of circumstances, they found themselves in no position to continue going out to teach as they used to. Circumstances were against them. So what did they do? They sat down and they reduced to writing those great doctrines that they had been expounding. So we find that our adversities are actually our blessings in disguise.
And so Shaul found it; that these things that seemed to be hampering his ministry, actually promoted it, because we have these Letters, these valuable Letters. Who were the readers? They were members of the Synagogue at Ephesus, and of the Greek community. Let's go to the Book of Acts for this; Acts, Chapter 18, (we'll come back to Ephesians, Chapter 1); but let's look first of all at Acts, Chapter 18, verse 24. Paul wasn't there; well, I'll have to read from verse 19 actually: Acts 18, from verse 19:
'And Paul came to Ephesus and left them there; but he himself entered the Synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. When they asked him to stay a longer time with them, he did not consent, but took leave of them saying, 'I must, by all means, keep this coming Feast in Jerusalem. But I will return again to you, GOD willing.' And he sailed from Ephesus.' Verse 24:
'Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man had been instructed in the way of the LORD, and being fervent in Spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the LORD, though he knew only the baptism of John. So he began to speak boldly in the Synagogue. When Aquilla and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of GOD more accurately.'
So we find Shaul came to Ephesus, and he left his two friends, Aquilla and Priscilla, who are Jewish. He left them in the Synagogue, and when Apollos came, Apollos began to preach about the Messiah. And Aquilla and Priscilla, who had the benefit of learning from Shaul, took him aside and said, 'All you said is accurate, but you can still dot your i's; you can cross your t's'. And they said, 'You have been teaching accurately the things of GOD, but you stop at the baptism of John. We want to tell you that there has been further, there's further truth since then. Messiah has come, of Whom John spoke, and these are His teachings.' So they taught him the Way of the LORD, the Way of GOD, more accurately. They took him on from where he had reached.
In Chapter 19 of Acts, we find that Paul, again, is in the area of Ephesus.
'And it happened while Apollos was at Corinth,'(Acts 19, verse 1):
'that Paul, having passed through the upper region, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples, he said to them, 'Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?' And they said to him, 'We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.' And he said to them, 'Into what then were you baptized?' So they said, 'Into John's baptism.' Then Saul said, 'John indeed baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him, Who would come after him, that is, on Messiah YESHUA.' When they heard this, they were baptized in the Name of the LORD YESHUA. And when Shaul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues, and prophesied.'