Ephesians Teaching Series

This beautifully constructed letter can best be understood by paying attention to its amazing structure.

1. Eph 1:1-14 The Epic Poem that Opens Ephesians

  • Ephesians opens with a single sentence, 12 verses long—an epic poem.
  • We explore the art, beauty and thoughts that build our joy.
  • We see the big picture which builds our interest.
  • The hint of mystery motivates us to read on and find out where this is going!

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Goal: To hear what God is saying to each one of us through these words he wrote to us

The Epic Poem that Opens Ephesians

  1. The Passage—Understanding and Enjoying it
  2. The Purpose for this Presentation
  3. The Practical implications for you and me today

1. The Passage—Understanding and Enjoying it

Ephesians 1:1–14

  1. Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus
through the will of God
To the holy ones in Ephesus
believers who are in Christ Jesus
  1. Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.

  1. Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us
    in every spiritual blessing,  in the heavenly places,  in Christ.
1. Past
  1. as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love.
  2. having predestined us to sonship through Jesus Christ to himself,
    according to the pleasure of his will,
  3. to the praise of the glory of his grace which he heaped graciously on us in the Beloved One,
  4. in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of transgressions,
according to the riches of his grace,
2. Present
  1. that he lavished on us in all wisdom and insight,
  2. having revealed to us the mystery of his will,
    according to his pleasure
    that he purposed in him,
  3. as a plan for the fullness of the times, ​to bring together under one head all things in Christ,
the things in heaven and things on earth in him.
3. Future
  1. in whom we have also received an inheritance,
having been predestined according to the purpose of the one who is working in all things
according to the council of his will,
  1. so that we might be to the praise of his glory who first put our hope in Christ,
  2. in whom you also, having heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation,
in whom you then believed, were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,
  1. who is the first deposit of our inheritance, until the redemption of the possession,
  to the praise of his glory.




God’s Choice on an Issue
His Plan for accomplishing this
according to his pleasure/will
to the praise of his glory
How as a Result, in Christ, this works out in practice

Translation and structure by Andrew Fountain

  1. Opening: From, To, Grace & Peace (Shalom) (Charis)
    • Paul has added some poetic styling to it
      • holy ones (what if you are not holy) —not about purity, but purpose: dedicated to God
  2. One long sentence, all the way to v.14!!
    • Exquisitely constructed jewel of a sentence
    • Poetic in its structure
      • Would have been read aloud as a public event
      • Sounds resonant in the Greek, with poetic echoes
    • I have tried to capture as much as I can of that in the translation
      • I have used color to draw our attention to some of the beauty of balance!
  • In Christ (or equiv, like in him, or in whom.) How many can you count? 12
    • Joined to him, connected with him, our very being united with him
  • in the heavenly places, not as simple as it sounds, because warfare can take place there (but more in later sermons)
  • Before we get into the meat, we need to deal with a controversial issue:


  • Two truths:
  1. Humans are responsible, accountable, and wrong choices can bring penalties.
  2. God is sovereign (the highest authority) and does not just predict the future but destines it.
  • These seem to be in contradiction, because our minds are finite, and God is outside time
  • We need to hold both A and B in tension. If we let go of one, we’ll be in error

Three Positions

  1. Hyper-Calvinist (no human choice)
    • Don’t need to preach the gospel because all the elect will get saved anyway.
  2. Arminian (no predestination)
    • God did his part and hopes the elect will choose him (he peeked into the future and they did)
    • You can constantly flip between being Christian and not
  3. Augustinian (African theologian) also called Calvinism
    • You have to hold both truths because the Bible teaches them.
    • Our finite minds can’t resolve the tension, we just trust!

Augustinian (balanced Calvinism)

  • Preach the Gospel assuming humans can and must make a choice, and we do our best to persuade them
  • Rest in the joy and security that you were loved and chosen before the foundation of the world and it does not depend on your constant faithfulness.
  • look at the bottom of the handout page

Three blocks

  • 1. Past, 2. Present and 3. Future
  • Each of them follows the same pattern
    • God’s Choice on an Issue
      • His Plan for accomplishing this
        according to his pleasure/will
        to the praise of his glory
        • How as a Result, in Christ, this works out in practice
  • First let us compare 1 and 3


  • Blessing and Praise to God
  • Art, beauty and thoughts build our joy
  • We see the big picture better and so can focus on the in-between
  • “Mystery” captures our attention
  • Builds interest and focus on the in-between
  • We are motivated to read on and find out where this is going
Last updated on 26 Mar 2023
Published on 26 Mar 2023