Eph 1:1. Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God,…
The apostles were ambassadors of Christ (2Cor 5:20) who were eyewitnesses to the resurrection (Acts 1:21,22) and were personally guided by the Holy Spirit (John 16:33). All apostles were given unique gifts of the spirit to validate their positions of authority. Christ told the apostles they could cast out demons, heal the sick and even receive fatal snake bites but not die. These are not normal powers; they are unique to apostles.
I might note here that the apostles left no successors as the Mormon church (Quorum/council of twelve) and some other Christian sects might have you believe. Their role in the church was foundational, necessary to the establishment of the church (Eph 2:20) and as such, their work or function was temporary.
Paul also wanted those reading this letter to know that he was an apostle of Christ and by the will of God rather than of his own choosing. We have those in the ministry today who unfortunely cannot say this. Daddy called preachers, mama called preachers and even self-called preachers who have not been called (and more importantly, equipped) by God to do his work.
Although the letter is addressed “to the saints at Ephesus” there is question as to whether or not the letter was meant as a letter to be circulated between numerous churches. I will not go into that theological argument here (it’s above my paygrade) but will go with the Ephesians opinion.
To the saints at ephesus…
the word saints here simply means sacred, pure, blameless and consecrated or simply put – saved and set aside for God. Catholics believe they (the church) has the sole responsibility to create or ‘cannonize” saints. This could not be further from the truth. Nowhere in the bible is this even hinted at. Once a person is saved (has accepted Christ’s atoning work on the cross) they are baptized into the church of God and become ‘saints’ biblically speaking. Romans 1:7 says: “To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. ”
and to the faithful in Christ Jesus…
as mentioned earlier, it is thought by some that this letter may have been a letter meant to be read by numerous churches so Paul is addressing those churches that will be reading in addition to Ephesus. Others believe that a truer translation of the verse would read “who are” rather than “and to the.”
Eph 1:2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul wishes Grace & peace at a time when Christians were being slaughtered by Caesar. Mickelson defines the word grace as Charis (Khar’ -ece), Gods undeserved favor. Someone once described Grace as God giving us what we don’t deserve and Mercy as God not giving us what we do deserve. Rom. 3:24 tells us that we are “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” Can I get an AMEN! God, through Jesus has offered freely the gift of redemption. Salvation is ours for the taking. It is a gift, and we need not (nor can we) work for it.