New Defender's Study Bible Notes
1:1 Ephesus. Unlike the other Pauline epistles, there are few, if any references to individuals or to local church problems in Ephesians. Nevertheless, strong confirmation exists in the ancient manuscripts and in writings of the church fathers that it was indeed addressed to the Ephesian church. In view of the fact that Paul visited Ephesus at least three times and once spent at least three years there teaching them night and day (Acts 20:31), he knew this church and its people better than any other, and no doubt felt they would be best equipped to receive, then circulate, this most doctrinal of all his epistles. It is significant that the letters to the seven churches in Asia (Revelation 2 and 3) begin with the letter to Ephesus, suggesting that Ephesus was the mother church of the seven. None of the others (Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea) apparently received a letter from Paul (although there is a possible reference to a Laodicean letter in Colossians 4:16). So it seems plausible that Paul wanted the Ephesian epistle to be read in all the churches of Asia. That could well be the reason why he included no personal references. The latter could have been conveyed by Tychicus (Ephesians 6:21), who carried the epistle from Rome to Ephesus, presumably also with the instruction to circulate it among the other churches.
1:3 in heavenly places. This fascinating phrase occurs five times in this epistle (Ephesians 1:3; 1:20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12). The phrase could read simply “in the heavenlies,” since “places” has been inferred, as is clear especially in Ephesians 1:20, where Christ is said to be seated at God’s “right hand in the heavenly [places].”
1:4 chosen us. God chose us by His own will (Ephesians 1:11), not because He could foresee our choice of Him. Jesus made this compellingly clear: “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you” (John 15:16). Nevertheless, from our human perspective, every believer has also made his own willing decision to receive Christ (John 1:12; 3:16; Romans 10:13; etc.).
1:4 foundation of the world. God in Christ was the Creator of the space/matter/time universe, but before He began the world, in some way beyond our comprehension, we were chosen in Him. Note also the other events that were planned, and (since God does not change) in effect all consummated before the world began: (1) love within the Godhead (John 17:5,24); (2) Lamb of God slain (I Peter 1:20); (3) names written in Book of Life (Revelation 13:8; 17:8); (4) chosen ones saved by grace (II Timothy 1:9); (5) saved ones given assurance of eternal life (Titus 1:2); (6) established hidden wisdom of God (I Corinthians 2:7); (7) all God’s works known and planned (Acts 15:18). Even though our finite minds cannot really comprehend such truths, we can believe them since God has revealed them to us. He did not say we must understand the full depths of His gospel to be saved; we just have to believe!
1:5 predestinated. The goals of God’s predestinating work are given in this chapter as: (1) producing holiness in those so chosen (Ephesians 1:4); (2) adopting them as His own sons and daughters (Ephesians 1:5); (3) assuring them of an inheritance in eternity (Ephesians 1:11). Its over-all purpose is to be “to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:6,12,14; note also 3:21). The word “predestinate” is also used in Acts 4:28 (there rendered “determined before”), Romans 8:29, 30 (see notes on these verses), and I Corinthians 2:7 (rendered as “ordained before”). The same Greek word, without the prefix, is found in Luke 22:22, Acts 17:26 (“determined”), and Acts 10:42; 17:31 (“ordained”), with essentially the same meaning. Since our minds are finite, we are unable to comprehend the infinite character of the plan and purpose of God, which is exactly the situation with regard to the clearly Biblical truth of predestination. In no way does this preclude the ability of God to plan also the paradoxical truth of human freedom and responsibility, which also are clearly Biblical (remember God’s ability is infinite!). We cannot fully comprehend with our minds, but can believe and rejoice with our hearts that God has known and chosen us believers for Himself even before the world began.
1:6 accepted. “Accepted” is translated “highly favored” in the angel’s message to Mary (Luke 1:28). The Greek word, charitoo, means “graced,” or “graciously honored.”
1:6 in the beloved. Although Christ is called God’s “beloved Son” seven times in the New Testament (each time directly by the Father Himself), this is the only time (except in Matthew 12:18, quoting Isaiah 42:1) where He is spoken of simply as “the beloved.”
1:7 riches. The attributes of God are characterized by this term of abundance. Note “the riches of His grace” in this verse, “the exceeding riches of His grace” (Ephesians 2:7), “the riches of the glory of His inheritance (Ephesians 1:18), His “unsearchable riches” (Ephesians 3:8), “the riches of His glory” (Ephesians 3:16; also Romans 9:23), “the riches of His goodness” (Romans 2:4), “the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God” (Romans 11:33), and His “riches in glory” (Philippians 4:19). No wonder men have suggested the familiar acrostic for GRACE to be “God’s riches at Christ’s expense!”
1:8 all wisdom. Since God in Christ has abounded toward us in all wisdom, there is no other true wisdom! Compare I Corinthians 3:19, Matthew 11:25.
1:10 dispensation. For a discussion on “dispensation,” see note on Ephesians 3:2.
1:10 he. Here, “He” refers to the Father, as also in Ephesians 1:6. The Father’s work of predestination is expounded in Ephesians 1:1-6, the Son’s work of redemption in Ephesians 1:7-12, and the Spirit’s work of sealing in Ephesians 1:13-14. This passage (Ephesians 1:3-14) is said to be the longest sentence in the Bible.
1:10 in Christ. Christ is both Creator and Consummator of all things (Colossians 1:16-20).
1:11 predestinated. On predestination, see notes on Romans 8:29-30 and Ephesians 1:5. Note the important assertion here that God did not base our predestination on His ability to foresee our decision to accept Christ, but simply according to “the counsel of His own will.” In fact, He works all things—even evil things(!)—according to His own will. If it were otherwise, He would not be omnipotent. The fact that He allows evil, when He could prevent it if He so chose, and the fact that He allows Satan and wicked men to perform and instigate evil actions, knowing when He created them that they would do this, yet creating them anyway, can only lead to the conclusion that God is the ultimate cause (though not the immediate cause) of evil, as well as good. This conclusion would seem to compromise His perfect holiness, but any other conclusion would lead to the still more unthinkable denial of His omnipotence, and thus deny that God is really God! We can partly harmonize this in our understanding by saying that God has allowed (or even caused, if we press our semantics) evil for a finite time in order to produce a greater good in eternity, when all the ills of this present world will be long forgotten. Compare Romans 9:18-23. We cannot fully comprehend or reconcile such matters in our finite minds, so must simply rest our hearts in the truth that whatever the Creator does is right, by definition, since He has created us as well as the very concept of right and wrong. Note again Acts 15:18.