The Apostle Paul is writing what he probably believes will be his last communication to the church in Ephesus, a church where he had spent nearly three years and for which he had risked his life.
He has much to tell them in this letter, but there are two things he must communicate to them first, two things that are foundational to the success of the church.
The first thing is to make sure the Christians in Ephesus understand their identity.
Paul tells them that as Christians they are:
1. Chosen (v. 4). Paul wanted them to know the Creator of the universe in His sovereignty chose them. This is not a source of pride because God’s choosing is not based on merit, but it would be a source of identity. You shouldn’t look back and ask why God chose you but you should look forward and ask that question. He didn’t chose you because you were holy; He chose you to be holy. (v. 4). And to the Ephesians, a small group, living in one of the largest, most important cities in the world, knowing they, among all the others in the city, had been chosen by God would have been a game-changer.
3. Adopted Sons of God (v. 5). Think of how much identity we draw from our earthly parents. Now consider that God has adopted you. We’ve heard this so much we almost don’t hear it, but the Ephesians came out of a pagan culture that worshipped gods who were capricious and impersonal. The idea that God had personally adopted them would have been a major paradigm shift and source of identity for them.
4. Redeemed (v. 7). To redeem means to buy back and restore. It cost the Lord to restore you to a position of right standing with Him. Paul wanted the Ephesians to know they were new creatures (2 Cor. 5:17), that they had been given a fresh start and new identity. They were no longer the lost pagans who had participated publicly in sexual immorality at the Temple of Artemis. Paul wanted them to know they were no longer what they were so they could become what they should be.
5. Forgiven (v. 7). It does no good to talk about being a new creature if you are still pursued by the guilt of your past. If you have believed on Jesus as your savior your sins have been forgiven. Paul wanted the Ephesian Christians to understand this so they could leave their past behind and go forward boldly to fulfill God’s destiny for them.
Paul wanted the Ephesian Christians to understand their identity in Christ, that they were chosen, adopted, redeemed and forgiven. And there was one other foundational thing he wanted them to know. More about that in Part III. GS