Lesson 1 – Ephesians 1: 1-14
Richly blessed in Christ Jesus
Ephesians presents a single logical argument for who we are and should be as Christians; but it dispenses with the long preliminary case for God’s plan of redemption that takes up about half of Romans. Instead, it begins with the blessings that the believers at Ephesus had already received and experienced, blessings that we can relate to.
When counting our blessings, Christians often think of things that meet their physical and emotional needs and desires. They’ll list good health or a loving family. At Thanksgiving we think of an abundance of food, comfortable homes and other forms of wealth. Often we count peace, at least peace within our borders, and the success of our nation. These things are certainly blessings and gifts from God, but they are not things that we’re promised in Christ. They’re also not the types of things that appear on Biblical lists of blessings.
Several times during his ministry, Jesus encouraged his disciples to seek the greater gifts. In I Corinthians 12, Paul lists the gifts of the spirit as wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, tongues and interpretation of tongues. He follows this up, of course, with the popular chapter 13, the love chapter. In II Peter chapter 1, Peter lists the gifts given to those who have attained faith through grace and peace as virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, kindness, charity and fruitfulness.
In Ephesians we see some overlap with these other lists; but the unique feature of Ephesians is Paul emphasizes that each of these gifts is ours in Christ. In Corinthians, they’re presented as gifts. Peter presents them as things to strive for. In Ephesians it’s clear that we already have these things in Christ. Outside of him, we don’t have them.
This phrase in Christ (or comparable phrases) is used throughout Ephesians. In the first 14 verses, it’s used 11 times and continues to be used frequently throughout the book. It is clearly one of the themes of this book and we see it repeated throughout the New Testament. In Revelation, we are judged in Christ. In the parable of the wedding feast, the man who didn’t put on the robe given to him by the king was thrown out of the feast. Our adoption as sons is in Christ; and so forth, everywhere that we look.
Yet we know in our own experience that we go back and forth between being in Christ and being in the world. Outside of Christ, we may be in ourselves, in our families, in our jobs, in the world. We’re told to be in the world but not of the world. Clearly, we are to live for the Lord in the world, but we are not to put on the world. We are to put off the old man and put on Christ; yet sometimes for a few hours, sometimes for long stretches, we put the old man back on.
Read verses 1 – 14. How many times is the word “in” used to refer directly or indirectly to being in Christ?
Now go back and reread the passage carefully, completing the table below as you do. Notice that there is a blessing associated with each use of the word “in”. Fill in the “in” phrase along with the blessing connected to it as you complete the table. (hint: you should find 10 blessings)
Verse “in” phrase Blessing