Sermon: Ephesians 1:1-2: Grace To You And Peace From God Our Father And The Lord Jesus Christ

Old Testament Reading: Numbers 6:22–27 

“The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. ‘So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.’” (Numbers 6:22–27, ESV)

New Testament Reading: Ephesians 1:1-14

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:1–14, ESV).


[Please excuse any and all typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church, but without the benefit of proofreading.] 


If I were really pressed to answer the question, in general, what is your favorite book in the New Testament? I think I would have to say, the book of Ephesians. And as I say that, I’m hoping that I havn’t said the same thing about some other New Testament book in the past. Perhaps I have! It is possible that I have said something like that about 1 and 2 Timothy, for those letters do have a special place in my heart as well, but more so as a pastor and churchmen. Ephesians, for some time now, has been my favorite New Testament book, in general — that is to say, to me as a Christian man

Until recently, I don’t know that I ever stopped to think about why I love this book so much — I just knew that I loved it! On the surface, I find it to be rich in doctrine, uplifting in its prayers and praise, and deeply practical. But as I have been studying Ephesians in preparation for this sermon series, I think I have a better understanding of why this book is my favorite. And as it turns out, many others agree that this book is special. F.F. Bruce notes in his commentary on Ephesians that this letter “has been described, not unjustly, as ‘the quintessence [or epitome] of Paulinism’” given that “it sums up in large measure the leading themes of the Pauline writings, together with the central motif of Paul’s ministry as apostle to the Gentiles. But it does more than that: it carries the thought of the earlier letters forward to a new stage. An even better designation for it than ‘the quintessence of Paulinism’ would be, in C.H. Dodd’s words, ‘the crown of Paulinism’” (Bruce, NICONT, 229). I’ll have more to say on why Ephesians is the favorite of mine and many others later in this sermon.

Today we will be considering only verses 1 and 2 of chapter 1. These two verses are important in and of themselves, but they also provide an opportunity to make some introductory remarks concerning this letter.


A Letter From Paul, An Apostle Of Christ Jesus By The Will Of God

And perhaps the best place for us to start would be to recognize that what we have before us is a letter. We are accustom to refering to Ephesians as a book (and that is fine), but more precisely it is a letter, or an epistle

And who was the author of this letter? The opening line tells us that it was written by “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God…”

Paul was the one who wrote this letter. This is the Paul, who is also called Saul — the highly educated Jew who once devoted himself to persecuting Christians, before becoming one.

The story of his conversion is found in Acts chapter 9. There we read, “But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ And he said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do’” (Acts 9:1–6, ESV). In this encounter, and in subsequent events, Saul was brought to the conclusion that Jesus was in fact the Christ. He went from being a menace to the Way [which is what the early Christian movement was called — an  allusion, no doubt, to Isaiah 40 verse 3], to a member of it. The Christians did not trust Saul at first (understandably so), but in due time, and in large part due to the testimony of Barnabas, who was a leading figure within the church, he was received by the apostles  and other disciples of Christ. And more than being received, he became a leading missionary and leader within the church, with a special focus on gospel proclamation amongst the Gentiles. 

In fact, more than a missionary and leader within the early church, Paul was an apostle. He says  so in verse 1 of this epistle: “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God…” Paul often emphasized his apostles hip. The word apostle may be used in various ways. Most basically, it refers to one who is sent by another — a delegate, envoy or messenger. In a generic sense, all Christians are apostles. Together as the church we are all called to be a part of that process of going and making disciples of all nations. But when Paul calls himself an “apostle”, he has something else in mind. He was appointed to the office of apostle by Christ himself. He, like the other apostles  of Christ saw the risen Lord and received this appointment and commission directly from him. And the other apostles , along with the broader church community, came to recognize Paul’s apostleship. Paul wrote and spoke with a special kind of authority, therefore. As we will see in a moment, his  Apostolic authority was confirmed through miracles. 

Friends, it is important to recognize that there are no apostles in the church today. In fact, Paul was the last to be appointed as such. After him there were only evangelists, shepherd and teachers. Paul appointed elders in the churches that he planted. Never did he pass along his apostleship. This must be stated clearly, for all around us there are Pentecostal and Apostolic churches which make this fundamental error: they fail to recognize that the church was “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:20, ESV). But when a building is constructed, friends, the foundation is laid once, and not over and over again. Upon the foundation the building is constructed. And so it is  with the church. First there were apostles and prophets. Christ himself was the cornerstone. They revealed the word of God to us. But just as we do not expect there to be a continual succession of Christs’, neither do we expect a continual succession of apostles and prophets — all three are said to be foundational in Ephesians 2:20. Again, the church was “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:20, ESV). 

In the church today there are officers and members. The officers are called elders and deacons. And the elders (being also called bishops, pastors, shepherds and teachers) are to preach and teach the word that has been entrusted to them by the apostles. They are not given new revelations, nor do they produce new scriptures, for the Christ has come. He himself has spoken. And he spoke through his apostles and prophets. This transition from apostles to pastors took place in the days of Paul and Timothy. When the last apostle, who was commissioned by Christ himself and an eyewitness to his resurrection, died, the age of the apostles came to a conclusion. The foundation of the church was laid by them. And It was upon this foundation — the word delivered by the apostles and prophets — that the church was built. 

Paul was an apostle of Christ Jesus. He spoke and wrote on Christ’s behalf, as an official emissary or representative, and this by the will (or appointment) of God. More specifically, Paul was appointed to serve as the apostle to the Gentiles. 

This is something that we must remember as we study Ephesians. The church in Ephesus came into existence through Paul’s missionary efforts in that region. The church in Ephesus was made up primarily of Gentiles, this is to say, non Jewish Christians. A major emphasis of this epistle is that the Gentiles have been grafted into the kingdom of God. There is no distinction between Jew and Gentiles in Christ Jesus. Paul teaches that the middle wall of hostility which separated Jew and Gentile under the Old Mosaic Covenant, has been broken down in Christ Jesus, for in him the two are made one. In this epistle Paul refers to the inclusion of the Gentiles into God’s kingdom as a “mystery”, meaning that this was revealed in ages past, but much more clearly in Christ and under the New Covenant.   

You should know that in the past 100 years or so it has become popular for scholars in some circles to question if Paul really wrote this epistle. Before that time, very few questioned Pauline authorship. Sometimes it feels as if the trend in our day is simply to question anything and everything that is traditional. The reasons for questioning Pauline authorship seem to me to be very weak. The manuscript tradition — that is to say, the ancient copies of the text of Ephesians — consistently testify to Pauline authorship. There early church fathers also testify to it. It is has been the traditional view throughout church history, until very recently, as I have said. 

Those who question Pauline authorship do so primarily for two reasons. One, they notice that the tone and content of Ephesians is very general or generic. The letter lacks the personal tone that we find in Paul’s other letters. And this is strange given that Paul was so familiar with the church in Ephesus. He founded the church and spend a lot of time there  (more on that later). And two, the critics note that there are a large number of words and phrases that are unique to this letter when compared to Paul’s other writings. For these reasons some commentators have come to the conclusion that someone other than Paul must have written Ephesians, but in his name.

I will quickly make a few remarks about this. Stated simply, I think there are other and better explanations for these things than to take the extreme position of denying Pauline authorship. 

One, as we will see in just a moment, it is likely that Ephesians was written to function, not only as a letter to the Ephesians, but also as a letter to be distributed to churches throughout the region. This might explain the general and non-personal tone. 

Two, we should not make too much of the unique words and phrases found within Ephesians when compared to his other writings. Paul was an intelligent man and a gifted writer. Why is it so difficult to believe that one letter of Paul might use different vocabulary given the unique situation or purpose? 

Three, we should not ignore the fact that Paul’s custom was to write his letters through secretaries. This was common in Paul’s day. He did not have a computer, friends. These letters were hand written on very expensive parchments. He used secretaries or scribes. And these secretaries may have had some impact upon the final flavor of the letters of Paul. For an example of this, see Romans 16:22 which says, “I Tertius, who wrote this letter, greet you in the Lord” (Romans 16:22, ESV). Tertius identified himself as the secretary who wrote for Paul as he dictated. S.M. Baugh deals with this subject well in his commentary on the book of Ephesians.  

So my view is the rational view, that Paul wrote Ephesians, just as verse 1 says. 

When was Ephesians written? It was written in a.d. 62 during Paul’s imprisonment in Rome. Paul wrote Colossians and Philemon at roughly the same time.  

Again, Ephesians 1:1: “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God…”


To The Saints Who Were In Ephesus, And Were Faithful in Christ Jesus

Now we ask, to whom was this letter written? We read in the second half of verse 2 that this was a letter written “to the saints who [were] in Ephesus, and… faithful in Christ Jesus.”

Ephesus was the most important city in Asia Minor. If you are wondering where that is, think modern day Turkey. In the time that this letter was written there were probably 250,000 people living there — a large city especially by ancient standards. 

Ephesus was famous for its temple which was a shrine to the Roman goddess Diana (also called Artemis by the Greeks). The temple of Diana was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Originally, it was 425 feet long and 220 feet wide. It was constructed of 127 white marble columns, each of them being 62 feet high. Construction on the temple began in 550 BC. The marble temple took 120 years to complete. It was destroyed by fire in 356 BC, and rebuilt afterwards on a lesser scale. The temple was so popular among pagans that Ephesus emerged as the religious centre of all Asia. 

It is important to remember that Paul, years before he wrote this letter, spent a good amount of time ministering the gospel in Ephesus. He had much to do, therefore, with the founding of this important church. The account of Paul’s ministry in Ephesus is recorded for us in Acts 19. And I think it would be good for us to read a portion of that text so that we might, one, have a better understating of the culture in Ephesus; two, remember the trouble that Paul experienced there, along with the rest of the Christians in that place; and three, better appreciate the impact that the Christians had upon that pagan culture. And while you are turning to Acts 19 I should also point out that Timothy — The Timothy that Paul addressed in his letters now called 1 and 2 Timothy, was a Pastor in Ephesus. Paul wrote to him, saying, “As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith” (1 Timothy 1:3–4, ESV). I hope that you are beginning to see that this church was a very important church in those days.

Look now at Acts 19 verse 8. Here we find an account of Paul’s initial ministry in Ephesus. We read, “And he [Paul] entered the synagogue [a house of worship for the Jews] and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way  before the congregation [“the Way” being what the early Christian movement was called], he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus. This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks. And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, ‘I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.’ Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?’ And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver [More than $500,000 in todays currency!]. So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily. Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem, saying, ‘After I have been there, I must also see Rome.’ And having sent into Macedonia two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while. About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way. For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis [or Diana], brought no little business to the craftsmen. These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, ‘Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.” When they heard this they were enraged and were crying out, ‘Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!’ So the city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed together into the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul’s companions in travel. But when Paul wished to go in among the crowd, the disciples would not let him. And even some of the Asiarchs, who were friends of his, sent to him and were urging him not to venture into the theater. Now some cried out one thing, some another, for the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together. Some of the crowd prompted Alexander, whom the Jews had put forward. And Alexander, motioning with his hand, wanted to make a defense to the crowd. But when they recognized that he was a Jew, for about two hours they all cried out with one voice, ‘Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!’ And when the town clerk had quieted the crowd, he said, ‘Men of Ephesus, who is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple keeper of the great Artemis, and of the sacred stone that fell from the sky? Seeing then that these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rash. For you have brought these men here who are neither sacrilegious nor blasphemers of our goddess. If therefore Demetrius and the craftsmen with him have a complaint against anyone, the courts are open, and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another. But if you seek anything further, it shall be settled in the regular assembly. For we really are in danger of being charged with rioting today, since there is no cause that we can give to justify this commotion’”. (Acts 19:8–40, ESV)

I have read this passage to you because it helps us to understand the culture in Ephesus, religious and otherwise, in the days of Paul. 

As we return now to Ephesians 1, I ask, do you see how bold Paul was in his proclamation of the gospel in that place? Do you see how bold the companions of Paul were? Indeed, all of the Christians who lived in Ephesus were bold! They worshiped God through faith in Christ in the face of much opposition. Many from amongst the Jew’s opposed the Way. And the Greeks also took issue with the Christians, mainly because they threatened their livelihood. The Christians promoted the worship of the one true God, and thus discouraged the idolatry which was rampant in that place. This impacted their main industry. And notice how successful Paul’s ministry was in that region. Many believed, not only in Ephesus, but, through his ministry there, in all of Asia.   

[Application: Brothers and sisters, as we consider stories like these concerning the experiences of Paul and the other Apostles, along with the rest of the  early Christian church, it should help us to fight against the urge of thinking that things are worse now than they have ever been, or that our culture is somehow darker than those cultures that have preceded ours. Clearly, this is not the case. Paul ministered in a very difficult and hostile environment. So did the other Apostles. We should remember that most of them were martyred for their faith and unrelenting testimony concerning Jesus the Christ. The church in Ephesus was founded in a pagan environment, rampant with idolatry and hostility towards the gospel. And the church in Ephesus flourished in this environment. The pressures that we experience in our day as followers of the Way are not new, friends. They have been experienced by the faithful from the days of Able on to the present. In fact, one could argue that the pressures we face are very, very light when compared to the sufferings endured by our brethren in generations past, and even around the world today. The Christian faith is able to flourish in environments such as these because it is true, and because it provides a certain and unshakable hope that goes beyond the  grave. Indeed, in Christ we have “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding…” This peace “[guards our] hearts and… minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7, ESV)]

So, this letter was written by Paul to the church in Ephesus. Acts 19 helps us to better understand what life was like for the Christians living in Ephesus in the days when this letter was written. 

Was this letter really written to the Ephesians? 

Before I move on from the question, to whom was this letter written?, you should probably know that there is some debate amongst scholars over the question, was this letter in fact written to the church is Ephesus? Unlike the question concerning Pauline authorship, I can understand why some question the Ephesian audience. 

While most ancient manuscripts — that is to say, the manuscripts that are copies of the original written by Paul — contain the words, “in Ephesus”; and while the testimony of the early church Fathers — that is to say, those leaders within the church who ministered after the age of the Apostles — confirm that this letter was written to the Ephesians; there are a few very important and reliable manuscripts that lack the phrase, “in Ephesus”. In those few manuscripts verse 1 reads , “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints… faithful in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 1:1, ESV), the words “in Ephesus” being omitted. This has led some to wonder if this epistle was originally addressed to them. 

Many of those who deny that this epistle was written to the Ephesians are of the opinion that it was either written to some other church — perhaps a church that Paul was less familiar with — or that it was written as a general letter, meant to be distributed amongst many church.

Personally, I do not think that we need to choose between the view that this epistle was written to the church in Ephesus, and the view that the letter was written as a general letter, meant to be distributed widely amongst many churches. It seems to me that these two view can be held together if we consider the important and strategic role that Ephesus — both the city and the church therein — played within Asia Minor. Is it not possible that the letter was written, first to the Ephesians, with the understanding being that from there copies would be made to be distributed to the other churches in that region? 

This would help to explain three things:

One, it would explain the lack of the phrase, “in Ephesus” in some manuscripts. Perhaps that phrase was removed as the document was copied and distributed to others churches?

Two, it would explain the general or generic style of the letter. Remember that the generic style has led some to question if Paul was the author. Again, their reasoning is, if Paul was the author then this letter would be very, very personal given Paul’s history and personal connection with the Ephesian church — after all, he spent so much time there! But not if Paul’s intention was to write to the Ephesians, and then for the Ephesians to pass this letter on to the other churches in the region for their edification also. 

Three, it might also help to explain a mysterious little remark made by Paul in his letter to the Colossians in chapter 4 verse 16. There Paul says to the Colossians,  “And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea” (Colossians 4:16, ESV). Many have asked, what is this “letter from Laodicea” that Paul refers to here? As you know, there is no book of the Bible called “To The Laodiceans”. Many have assumed that Paul was refering to a letter that has been lost. But I wonder if this “letter from Laodicea” was not simply the letter written to the Ephesians  after it was distributed to the other churches in Asia Minor, ending in Laodicea. 

Brothers and sisters, do you remember our study of the book of Revelation? I hope that you do! And do you remember to whom the book of Revelation was addressed? It was addressed to seven churches in Asia Minor. And do you remember the order in which those churches were listed? Perhaps this map will help.   

Screenshot 2020-03-13 15.35.22.png

 John wrote from the island of Patmos and his letter was to be sent first to Ephesus. From there is was to be sent  to Smyrna then to Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and finally Laodicea. The order in which the seven churches were listed followed a familiar trade rout. And so I wonder if this letter, which was originally address to the Ephesians, was not distributed along the same trade rout, coming to rest in Laodicea, and then perhaps going to Colossae, which is located about 15 miles to the east, just as Paul suggested.

I cannot prove it, but I think this is a possible explanation for the generic tone of Ephesians, the lack of the phrase “in Ephesus” in some manuscripts, and also Paul’s mention of this mysterious “letter from Laodicea” in Colossians 4:16 — perhaps that was the letter to the Ephesians at the end of its intended route through the churches in Asia Minor?

Concerning the general or generic tone of the letter to the Ephesians — I think this might be one reason why I would call this my favorite, generally speaking. Many of Paul’s other letters were written with particular people or situations in mind. Even Colossians, which is very similar to Ephesians in some parts, seems to address particular theological troubles that existed in that congregation. Ephesians is more universal. It presents a wonderful summary of Paul’s teaching concerning God’s plan of salvation  from eternity past. It emphasizes the Christian’s unity in Christ Jesus. In Christ, Jew and Gentile are one. The practical application delivered in chapters 5 and 6 is universal, useful to Christians living in all times and places. 

All of that to say, though it be true that Paul wrote this letter originally to the church in Ephesus, it was written to also be distributed to other churches in the region, and perhaps it is because of its general tone that the letter is beloved by so many Christians to this present day. 

It should not be overlooked that Paul referred to the Christians in Ephesus as “Saints” and “faithful in Christ Jesus.”

No, fiends. Paul was not writing to some small faction within the church of Ephesus, namely, those supper Christians who were deserving of the designation “saints”. All Christians are called “saints” by Paul. This is true not only of the Christinas in Ephesus, but in other places also.  To the Romans he wrote, “To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints…” (Romans 1:7, ESV). And to the Corinthians he wrote, “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours…” (1 Corinthians 1:2, ESV). 

Why did Paul habitually address Christians as “saints” in his letters? 

Certainly, it  was not because all of them were mature, super-spiritual, and without blemish. We know for certain that this was not the case in Corinth!

Instead, Paul called them saints from the outset so as to remind them of who they were in Christ Jesus. They had been set  apart in Christ Jesus. They had been cleansed by his blood. They were pure in the eyes of God, therefore — not guilty of their sins. Paul was eager to remind them of this from the outset so that they might become what they already were and live according to they new condition in Christ Jesus. 

The Christians in Ephesus were  called “saints… and faithful in Christ Jesus.” These Christians were “saints” because they were believing.  Calvin has famously said concerning this phrase that “No man, therefore, is a believer who is not also a saint; and, on the other hand, no man is a saint who is not a believer.”


Who Had Received Grace And Peace From God Our Father And The Lord Jesus Christ

Lastly, let us consider Paul’s greeting to the Ephesians. To them he wrote, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:2, ESV).

As you might know, this was a Paul’s customary greeting to the churches. In this greeting Paul prays that God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ would grant grace and peace to his people.

Grace is unmerited or underserved favor. It is a gift.  And God’s grace is the source of all that is good. To have God’s grace bestowed upon you is to have the greatest of all blessings. To have God’s grace bestowed upon you is to have all that you need. Those who are partakers of God’s grace have been brought into a right relationship with the Father through faith in the Son. When Paul says to the Christian, “grace to you” it is an acknowledgement that God’s grace has already been given to them, and it is a prayer of blessing that God would give even more of  his grace to his people, to the nourishment and growth of their souls. “Grace to you, Paul says.”

Not only does Paul bless the church with grace, but also with peace. “Grace to you and peace”, he says. And of course these two things go together. To have God’s grace is to have peace also. 

By God’s grace we are made to be at peace with God through faith in Jesus the Christ. Paul will soon speak to this in his epistle. He will note that we were all “by nature children of wrath… But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—” (Ephesians 2:3–5, ESV). By grace we who were once enemies of God we made to be at peace with him. As Romans 5:1 says, “since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1–2, ESV)

By God’s grace we also enjoy peace with one another. Paul will soon speak to this in his epistle  with his emphasis that in Christ Jew and Gentile are one. The world is terribly divided, friends. It always has been. Men and women are divided over race, class, gender and culture. But Christ brings peace. In Christ we are one. This is a major theme in Paul’s teachings. In Galatians 3:26 he puts it this way: “for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26–28, ESV).

And by God’s grace we are also made to be at peace within ourselves. 

This subjective inner peace of which I now speak — this peace that the faithful experience in the heart and soul — is of course rooted in the objective reality that we are now at peace with God through the faith in the Christ who has kept the law for us and has atoned for our sins. Without this objective peace with God, there can be no true and lasting peace within the heart, for those who are in their sin will ever live with “a fearful expectation of judgment…” (Hebrews 10:27, ESV). If there is no actual peace with God, there can be no deep and lasting experience of peace within the heart of man.

Christ came, in part, to give us peace. The end of the Gospel of John testifies beautifully to this. In John 14:25 Jesus speaks to his disciples as he prepared them door his death, saying, “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:25–27, ESV). And then in 16:33 we hear our Lord again, saying, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, ESV). And after Christ’s death and resurrection he appeared to his disciples. Remember, they were afraid. And when he appeared to them he said to them again and again, “Peace be with you… peace be with you… peace be with you” (John 20:19, 20, 26).

Dear friends, God the Father, out his great love for us, has sent the Son and Spirit to give us peace. By his grace has reconciled us to himself through the blood of Christ. This peace — the peace that has been secured between God and man through the mediatorial work of Christ — is the root of all subjective experiences of peace within the heart of man. But in Christ and by the Spirit we have that too. As we believe upon God and rely upon his grace, we have peace in this world. 

[Application: Brothers and sisters, how important it is that we show this peace to the world. We must proclaim the message that peace with God is available through faith in Christ alone and by the grace of God alone. And we must also show the world that this peace with God has made us to be at peace with one  another, and even within our souls. 

Fear, brothers and sisters, is actually a natural and very good thing. God created us in such a way that we are able to experience the emotion of fear when we encounter certain things and perceive them to be a threat. Friends, the Christian is not called to suppress this natural gift from God. If a Christian is hiking in the woods and comes upon a mother bear with her cubs, he does not sin when he feels the emotion of fear. That emotion of fear helps us to act according to wisdom. But you and I know that our emotions can run out of control. Our thoughts can go astray. Those affactions that might be good and holy and well pleasing to the Lord when kept within their proper bounds can easily overflow their bounds, leading us to sin. Love can become lust. Righteous anger can turn to rage. And reasonable fear can easily turn to irrational and faithless fear. And this is the kind of fear that Christ forbids us from entertaining. He himself has said, “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:4–7, ESV).]



The point is this. By grace God the Father through the Son and by the Holy Spirit has given us peace. 

“Rejoice in the Lord always [therefore]; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4–7, ESV).


Comments are closed.

"Him we proclaim,
warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom,
that we may present everyone mature in Christ."
(Colossians 1:28, ESV)

© 2011-2022 Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church