Ephesians: Prescript (1:1-2) – Paul the apostle.

Class Outline:

Friday August 17, 2018


The prescript (1:1-2)


EPH 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus, and who are faithful in Christ Jesus:


EPH 1:2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


There are no translation issues in these first two verses, except for the fact that in some of the earlier manuscripts “at Ephesus” is not found. We could spend a class or two looking at the Greek words and syntax and come up with the same translation.


Paul - the Gentile name of Saul of Tarsus. It was common for Hebrew families to give their sons a Gentile name as well as a Hebrew one.


Given the Jewish name Saul, he was likely the first-born son. He was born in Tarsus and born as a Roman citizen, which his father likely earned through service to Rome.


map of Tarsus


At that time Tarsus was the rival of Athens and Alexandria as a place of learning and philosophical research, but how much of Greek learning young Saul attained is unknown to us, yet he does quote Greek poets in his presentation of the gospel to the Athenians.


Paul, son of a Pharisee, was thoroughly trained in all elements of Rabbinical lore. He was indoctrinated with Pharisaic Judaism.


But whatever uncertainty may hang over the early studies of the apostle in the department of Greek learning, there can be no doubt that, being the son of a Pharisee, and destined, in all probability, from his infancy to the pursuits of a doctor of Jewish law, he would be carefully instructed from his earliest years in the elements of Rabbinical lore. He also likely learned his skill of tent making. There was a tradition among the Jews to teach every child a trade, for all were to have a means of making a living, and a Rabbi or Pharisee was no exception.


He was educated throughout his youth, from about ten years old, in Jerusalem.


ACT 22:3 "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated under Gamaliel, strictly according to the law of our fathers, being zealous for God, just as you all are today.”


A thorough training in the Scriptures and in the traditions of the elders under an acute and accomplished master must have done much to exercise the mind of Saul, and to make him feel at home in the subjects in which he was afterwards to be so intensely interested.


Thoroughly trained by a master, Saul became the most zealous persecutor of the church. Why? This is in contrast to his teacher.


Gamaliel said this in the Sanhedrin concerning the problem of the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem:


ACT 5:38 "And so in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action should be of men, it will be overthrown;


ACT 5:39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God."


Throughout his childhood, Paul was taught by this man, who was known for his learning, strictness, but level headedness.


One supposes that Paul may have had doubts within himself as a student progressing to greatness. Paul wrote how when he learned the law and was given the command not to covet that it produced in him all kinds of coveting.


Earnest persecutors are, oftener than not, men who have been tormented by inward struggles and perplexities.


ROM 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, "You shall not covet."


ROM 7:8 But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead.


ROM 7:9 And I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive, and I died;


ROM 7:10 and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me;


ROM 7:11 for sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, deceived me, and through it killed me.


ROM 7:12 So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.


ROM 7:13 Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.


We can scarcely imagine that conflicts were absent from the spiritual life of Paul before his conversion, but he doesn’t mention this. Yet he fits the profile of someone who did.


The sinner who wanted to be blameless and pure under the Law raged against a community of Jews who claimed to be blameless, pure, and no longer under the Law because of the crucifixion of another Jew who claimed to be the Messiah. “Don’t these idiots know that the Messiah of Israel could never be crucified?”


Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus is most profound and unique. Led as he was to the house of Ananias, Paul heard:


ACT 22:12 "And a certain Ananias, a man who was devout by the standard of the Law, and well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there,


ACT 22:13 came to me, and standing near said to me,' Brother Saul, receive your sight!' And at that very time I looked up at him.


ACT 22:14 "And he said, 'The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will, and to see the Righteous One, and to hear an utterance from His mouth.


ACT 22:15 'For you will be a witness for Him to all men of what you have seen and heard.


ACT 22:16 'And now why do you delay? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.’


When we look carefully at the words of Ananias, we find their thread in all of Paul’s epistles.


He is chosen to know God's will. That will is manifested in the Righteous One, the God/Man Jesus Christ.


Him Saul sees and hears, in order that he may be a witness of Him to all men. Saul did not actually see the Lord but heard Him. From this time forward, he will see and hear the Lord frequently through the revelation of His word.


Paul’s life will be all that Ananias states. Paul will learn the eternal will of the God of his fathers. So far he has been instructed in the way of Pharisaic Judaism, learning of the rabbinical additions to the Law as much as the Law itself and confusing the true heart of the Law.


Paul will learn how the person of the Father was revealed in the humanity of Jesus Christ. He will learn the gospel and love the gospel and he will testify of it to all he can.


All of these things will be taught by him, written by him, and exemplified in his life.


He is the only apostle not to have been involved in Christ’s earthly ministry. The resurrected Christ appeared to him and spoke with Him on at least three occasions.


It would be roughly 15 years between Paul’s conversion and his first missionary journey.


“When we look back, from the higher ground of Paul's apostolic activity, to the years that passed between his conversion and the first missionary journey, we cannot observe without reverence the patient humility with which Saul waited for his Master's time. He did not say for once only, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" Obedience to Christ was thenceforth his ruling principle.” [McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia]


The prescript follows Paul’s regular pattern. As with his letter to the Romans, his name is unaccompanied. In his other letters, one or more colleagues are associated with him.


As with most of his other letters, he identifies himself as an apostle of Christ, and as in 1 and 2 Corinthians, Colossians, and 2 Timothy, his apostleship is by the will of God.


Paul the apostle of Christ by the will of God. He makes it clear that he didn’t apply for the job.


Paul makes it clear that he didn’t apply for the job. If he did he would expect payment as if he and God made a contract. But only God made the contract.


1CO 9:16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.


1CO 9:17 For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me.


1CO 9:18 What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.