God’s Renewing Word of Unity in Christ Jesus
Ephesians 1:1-14: We begin this new year with the reading of the letter to the Ephesians, which is attributed to the apostle Paul. Paul had been in Ephesus where he preached in the synagogue and also lectured in the hall of Tyrannus, a philosopher for whom the hall was named (see Acts 19:1-10). The letter to the Ephesians summarizes many of the important teachings found in Paul’s other letters. The opening chapter describes the unfolding of God’s plan and our relationship with God.
1 From Paul, who by God’s will is an apostle of Christ Jesus—
To God’s people in Ephesus, who are faithful in their life in union with Christ Jesus:
2May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
Spiritual Blessings in Christ
3Let us give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! For in our union with Christ he has blessed us by giving us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly world. 4Even before the world was made, God had already chosen us to be his through our union with Christ, so that we would be holy and without fault before him.
Because of his love 5God had already decided that through Jesus Christ he would make us his children—this was his pleasure and purpose. 6Let us praise God for his glorious grace, for the free gift he gave us in his dear Son! 7 For by the blood of Christ we are set free, that is, our sins are forgiven. How great is the grace of God, 8which he gave to us in such large measure!
In all his wisdom and insight 9God did what he had purposed, and made known to us the secret plan he had already decided to complete by means of Christ. 10This plan, which God will complete when the time is right, is to bring all creation together, everything in heaven and on earth, with Christ as head.
11All things are done according to God’s plan and decision; and God chose us to be his own people in union with Christ because of his own purpose, based on what he had decided from the very beginning. 12Let us, then, who were the first to hope in Christ, praise God’s glory!
13And you also became God’s people when you heard the true message, the Good News that brought you salvation. You believed in Christ, and God put his stamp of ownership on you by giving you the Holy Spirit he had promised. 14The Spirit is the guarantee that we shall receive what God has promised his people, and this assures us that God will give complete freedom to those who are his. Let us praise his glory!
Today’s Key Verse: Ephesians 1:6
Let us praise God for his glorious grace, for the free gift he gave us in his dear Son!
Verses 3-14 comprise a beatitude, or blessing, in which we read about God “giving us every spiritual blessing” (verse 3). In Greek, the language in which the letter was written, these verses are actually one sentence, constructed as a series of clauses that describe God as Creator who has redeemed us through Christ and bestowed on us the Holy Spirit. What blessings are recounted in these verses? How is our relationship with God described (verse 5)?
Holy God, source of every spiritual blessing, at the beginning of this new year, draw me close to you. Each day remind me of your grace which you have given me in such large measure. I praise you, Lord God, for your steadfast love and gift of glorious grace. Amen.
And now, join us in praying for those who seek to engage God’s Word. Gracious God, at the beginning of this new year we lift up those who seek to engage your Word and who are making a commitment to study and read the Bible every day. Bless all those who are partnering with American Bible Society in this endeavor and guide them each day in their faith journey. Amen.
Ephesians 1:15-23: The apostle Paul prays for the Ephesians