Ephesians: Prescript (1:1-2) – Who is an apostle?

Class Outline:

Wednesday August 22, 2018

Ephesians: Prescript (1:1-2) - Who is an apostle?  


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.


EPH 1:1 Paul, an apostle

“apostle” - a)po/stol$ (apostolos) = one sent forth with orders, a delegate, a messenger.


Can men change? Can an evil, sinful, and vicious heart be turned to a heart of soft wax that loves and knows the strength of true freedom and power in Christ?


Saul’s conversion is a story of mankind and his struggle to accept the truth about himself and his Creator. None of us are born into this world with any knowledge of God or our condition. We learn it over time and as the Holy Spirit reveals to us the truth when we reach the age of understanding, when our souls are stirred by the life-changing truth of the gospel, we each stand at a crossroad of life and death.


In Attic Greek the term is used to denote a fleet or naval armament.


Ocumenius states that it is even a custom among the Jews to call those who carry about circular letters from their rulers by the name of apostles.


GAL 1:1 Paul, an apostle (not sent from men, nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead),


To this use of the term Paul has been supposed to refer (GAL 1:1) when he asserts that he was "an apostle, not of men, neither by men" — an apostle not like those known among the Jews by that name, who derived their authority and received their mission from the chief priests or principal men of their nation.


Funny enough, Paul was on his way to Damascus with letters from the Sanhedrin, thus acting as an apostle of the high priest, to arrest Christians when he met the resurrected Lord.  


ACT 9:1 Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest,


“Now” is emphatic. It is better translated, “and yet.”


Saul is still heaving in his soul with menace and murder. “And yet,” implies that something happened just prior, and that event was the death of Steven.


Saul witnessed the remarkable death of Steven in which faith and joy accompanied him to the next world. And not just Steven alone, but Saul witnessed the faith of the Christians he persecuted in which they received his violence and returned only love and peace. It is impossible that these things did not have an impact on Saul’s soul.


“And yet,” Saul still breathed threats and murder.


One commentator pictures Saul 'deeply impressed with Stephen's joyful faith, remembering passages of the Old Testament confirmatory of the Messiahship of Jesus, and experiencing such a violent struggle as would inwardly prepare the way for the designs of God toward him.'


The months leading up to Saul’s conversion were filled with the witness of Christians who had seen the risen Christ and proclaimed Jesus in the OT scripture.


Saul’s conversion seems sudden, but what we are not told is the stirrings within his soul from witnessing the good works of the Christians, their joy in announcing forgiveness of sins through the truth that the Messiah had come and accomplished all that the prophets said. These early converts are almost all Jews who have been trained by the apostles to see the Lord Jesus Christ from Nazareth in the OT scriptures.


LUK 24:44 Now He said to them, "These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." 


LUK 24:45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,


LUK 24:46 and He said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day;


LUK 24:47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.


LUK 24:48 "You are witnesses of these things.


LUK 24:49 "And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high."


They were to remain in Jerusalem and the church would begin there. What the resurrected Christ showed them in the scriptures concerning Himself, they would have taught to all the converts to Christianity. Saul and his cronies would arrest them and his persecution would get more intense and violent, and so the Christians would flee from Jerusalem to the north, to Damascus and Antioch and begin churches there. This would not stop Saul. He would follow them and crush them, but within himself he would have to resolve or reconcile the strength of his victim’s faith with his own disbelief. It was obvious that their peace, joy, and love were not superficial, but genuine. Steven died in the most remarkable way, in a power of faith that Saul could never have dreamed of possessing.


And, added to the witness of their lives, the Christians even proclaimed Jesus in the Psalms, in Moses, and in the prophets; scriptures that Paul knew well. He still breathed murder, but his soul must have been teetering in conflict.


ACT 9:1 Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest,


Saul’s conversion, sudden as it seemed at last, had been long prepared. His conscience was probably ill at ease with itself; and in this perplexity and doubt it needed only that one blessed interposition of his merciful Lord to recall him to a sense of his better self.


It is interesting to ponder how God has done this with each man. Revealing Himself to each of us in ways that cause us discomfort with our erroneous worldview and preparing us for that final call when the gospel would become so clear and believable. Do those who reject the gospel have a history of rejecting God’s past revealing of Himself to them in the various ways that He can? We can only really answer that question for ourselves.


ACT 9:2 and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.


ACT 9:3 And it came about that as he journeyed, he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him;


ACT 9:4 and he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?"


He was acting as an apostle to the high priest and then ran into THE High Priest on the way and was made an apostle to Him.


The import of the word is strongly brought out in JOH 13:16, where it occurs along with its correlate, "The servant is not greater than his Lord, neither he who is sent (apostolos) greater than he who sent him." Apostles are sent by Christ and not by men.


The apostle must do the will of the One who sent him, who is greater than him.


JOH 13:12 And so when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments, and reclined at the table again, He said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you?


JOH 13:13 "You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am.


JOH 13:14 "If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.


JOH 13:15 "For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.


JOH 13:16 "Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master; neither is one who is sent [apostolos] greater than the one who sent him.


JOH 13:17 "If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.