Ephesians: Prescript (1:1-2) – Grace to you.

Class Outline:


Friday August 31, 2018


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:


Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are … and believers (those who have entrusted the salvation of their souls) in Christ Jesus.


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


Classical use of charis to Greek speakers:

Art: a thing that gives joy to the beholder.

Ethics: a favor done without thought of reward.

Noble: an act beyond expectation.


Charis was also used to describe an act that was beyond the ordinary course of what might be expected, and was therefore commendable.


I think it is important to note that non-Christians admired true beauty as well as selflessness. This means that the admiration of that which is good can be within an un-regenerated man, even though he himself is not righteous or holy by God’s reckoning. This is not to say that there is good in every man. God is clear in that we are all born in Adam as sons of disobedience.


EPH 2:1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,


EPH 2:2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.


Admiring good is not the same as being good. Desiring good for society is not the same as being good within.


We are to witness to the unbelievers in this world. In one way, we can look at them as clients. We should know our clients. They can admire beauty and sacrifice and still reject Christ.


As we progress in learning how the Greeks viewed the word charis we see that there was a limit to it, and with God there is no limit.


Just like grace within limits made sense to the world so does salvation by works. God has taken the words commonly used by the world and injected them with a new impress.


ROM 5:20 And the Law came in that the transgression might increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded [hupereperisseusen: superabounded] all the more,


ROM 5:21 that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Grace plowed right through all that sin and stood at every sinner’s door step with an invitation.


As God is limitless so is His love and His grace, but that does not imply that everyone accepts Him.  


The Bible uses charis in the classical way in several passages.


Luke uses it in the purely classical way for Jesus’ speaking.


LUK 4:22 And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, "Is this not Joseph's son?"


A pagan may say the same thing about a great orator or philosopher.


Both Luke and Paul use the word in its classical meaning of thankfulness.


ROM 6:17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed,


ROM 6:18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.


Peter uses it in its classical meaning of that which is beyond the ordinary course of what might be expected and is therefore commendable.


1PE 2:19 For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a man bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.


1PE 2:20 For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.


Yet, the commendable way that charis is used by Peter in reference to endurance would be applauded by the typical Greek speaker if it were directed towards a worthy object. Endurance in battle, in family, with colleagues, with friends, neighbors etc. would all have been looked upon with favor.


Yet, we know that Peter doesn’t only refer to these kinds of situations or people. We know that Peter means enemies as well.


From the Biblico-Theological Lexicon of New Testament Greek by Hermann Cremer, in the author’s preface he writes:


“Lexical works upon New Testament Greek have hitherto lacked a thorough appreciation of what Schleiermacher calls “the language-molding power of Christianity.” A language so highly elaborated and widely used as was Greek having been chosen as the organ of the Spirit of Christ, it necessarily followed that as Christianity fulfilled the aspirations of truth, the expressions of that language received a new meaning, and terms hackneyed and worn out by the current misuse of daily talk received a new impress and a fresh power. ‘We may,’ as Rothe says, ‘appropriately speak of a language of the Holy Spirit. For in the Bible it is evident that the Holy Spirit has been at work, molding for Himself a distinctively religious mode of expression out of the language of the country which He has chosen as His sphere, and transforming the linguistic elements which He found ready to hand, and even conceptions already existing, into a shape and form appropriate to Himself and all His own.”


He goes on to point out that the notions of theology that have lost their clear conceptions because they have been alienated from Scripture due to the words being again naturalized. What he means is that the Scriptures have been taken back to the common meaning of Greek that the Greeks had, having abandoned the meaning that the Holy Spirit elevated them to.


We may take this concept a bit further and wonder about ourselves as common people and the things in our lives that are all fairly common.


A common man who believed in Christ was regenerated by the Holy Spirit, and what did he become? He looks the same on the outside, just like the word charis written by Aristotle looks identical charis written in the Bible, but inwardly he is as different as can be, and so is the word charis.


A common thing, like a house, can be used by the transformed Christian in ways that a common man of the world would never do because the Christian is so changed and love and grace abound in his heart. Money, materials, time, energy, etc., all common, but so uncommon in the hands of a believer who knows who he is in Christ.


Common words become extraordinary by the Spirit’s pen, and so do common men.


MAT 5:47-48

“And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”


This is why we speak of context so often. Certain words, though they had a common meaning in the past, find only their real meaning in the context of God’s revelation in His word. Words like boat and sea and fish retain their common meanings, but words like agape (love), hagios (saint), charis (grace), eirene (peace), and many more, only find their reality in the context of the Bible.


1PE 2:19 For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a man bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.



We have patient endurance with loved ones and strangers, but also with enemies who seek to hurt us. This last sense is far outside the classical Greek usage of charis.


Peter is writing about enduring someone who is treating them unjustly. The pagan world would never use the word in this way. Hence, God takes the word to the heavens. 


Fallen man is still in the image of God. That is not to say that man is good, but that he has a conscience and he desires good, so far as it doesn’t interfere with good for himself. Most people understand that stealing from someone or hurting someone is bad. However, those same people, put in a situation where they will hurt if they don’t hurt someone else, will often put themselves first, and that was accepted in Greek culture as it has been in all cultures.  


Treading carefully, we may say that much of mankind knows instinctively what they ought to do.


Most people understand that they need some common sense, some level of self-control, fairness, and fortitude or courage. These are basic moralities that keep a society from destroying itself and most people know that.  


The world has been filled with God’s laws concerning life, liberty, and property and most people know not to violate those things for another simply because they realize that they would not like the same to be done to them.


In that statement we are saying that men realize that they have to get along with others or all of society causes harm to many people. This is right. But stopping there, the people might conclude that it doesn’t matter what they do as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. Yet this is wrong. Good societies are made up of good people. Eventually, the wrong we do to ourselves will impact others around us, and in a more devastating way than we ever imagined.


So, many people realize some basic good things that they must be as men so that things go well in the community of men, but stopping here still isn’t going far enough. Man is not alone, not evolved, not unaccountable. Man is created and so there is an accountability to the One who created him.


One then is obligated to ask, “What are the standards of my Creator?” And the only answer is in the life of Jesus Christ. This is such an earth-shattering answer that people go back to the simple morality and then make God a far away unconcerned landlord, at best, and nonexistent at worst.


The Greeks were content to take the word charis as far as they did and they commended themselves for the distance they traversed. God the Holy Spirit took the word and gave it its true meaning.