Today we’re starting a new series through the Book of Ephesians to explore the great riches found in Christ. In the book, the apostle Paul uses the phrase “in Christ” some 8 times in the first chapter and 5 times in the second. Paul is shouting out to his listeners that you are rich in Christ and you don’t have to live like a poor pauper anymore.
In today’s lesson we’ll unpack Ephesians 1:3-14. In modern Bibles this section includes multiple sentences, but in the original Greek it was one sentence of 202 words – the longest sentence in the Bible. The focus of these verses is to praise God for the spiritual benefits that are available to all Christians everywhere. Those benefits can be divided into three sections, each focusing on a different Person of the Trinity.
The benefits from God the Father: chosen and adopted
Paul starts by listing two benefits that come directly from God the Father: that we are both chosen and adopted into the family of God.
Ephesians 1:4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.
That God would chose you before the creation of the world is almost unbelievable. But to know that he chose while knowing everything about you is the biggest surprise. God knew every ugly thought you would ever have, every mean word you would ever say, and every greedy action you would ever take. And yet, even with all that knowledge he chose you – long before you were born and even before he created the world. But the language of Ephesian 1 gets even more personal.
Ephesians 1:5 In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.
Paul is noting that God the Father adopted us into his family. He went out of his way to find us and he paid a heavy price to place us in his family – with all the rights and privileges of his other kids.
The benefits from God the Son: redeemed and forgiven
The apostle then transitions to the two benefits that come directly from God the Son: that we are both redeemed and forgiven. Redemption carries the idea that a price has been paid in order to possess someone. Jesus bought us and the price he was willing to pay was his life.
Ephesians 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.
The beautiful and life-changing result of Jesus paying the ransom price in order to set us free is that we are now forgiven. All of the shame and guilt of every bad thought, every disgusting action, every hurtful word is forgiven. Jesus let it go because he was willing to bear the cost on the cross.
The benefits from God the Spirit: sealed and secured
The apostle concludes this section with the two benefits that come directly from God the Holy Spirit: that we are both sealed and secured.
Ephesians 1:13-14 Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession.
In ancient times, a person announced his ownership of a thing by attaching his seal to his possessions. The seal of the Holy Spirit in your life is a down payment, a deposit guaranteeing your inheritance in the kingdom of God.
The apostle Paul begins the Book of Ephesians reminding us of the incredible benefits of those who are in Christ, available to us through all three Persons of the Trinity. The Admonition is to take advantage of all the Trinity has made available to you because of your relationship in Jesus.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you
- Have you heard about a person who was rich but lived like a miser? Explain
- Why do you think God decides to use such ordinary people throughout the Bible?
- Have you ever been chosen for something important? How did that affect you?
- Read Ephesians 1:4. Describe how powerful it is that God the Father chose people before the foundation of the world.
- Read Ephesians 1:5. Share what it means to be adopted into God’s forever family.
- Read 1 Peter 1:18-19. Why do you think Jesus not only had to die to bring forgiveness, but was willing to die?
- What do you think Jesus went through emotionally and spiritually to provide forgiveness for us?
- In the ancient world when someone put their seal on something it meant that person or thing belonged to the owner. Read Ephesians 1:13-14 and share how encouraging it is that God the Holy Spirit declares to us that we are God’s possession.
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.