God’s Will (Ephesians #3)

Text: Ephesians 1:1

The letter to the Ephesian church, and all faithful saints, is Paul explaining God’s plan for the Gentiles from ages past as it was revealed to him.  The reason for the writing is to more thoroughly explain something he’d written briefly about earlier, but now in prison could spend a more time explaining (3:1-7).

God’s will for Paul

  • Apostle – That is Paul’s office in God’s household.
    • Apostleship had certain responsibilities and privileges (Ephesians 2:20, 3:5, 4:11 – these offices are in the body of Christ, not Old Testament Prophets, see 1 Corinthians 12:28)
    • In a company that title would come with certain responsibilities and certain benefits.  A Vice President of Operations may have more travel expenses than a Cashier.  Paul didn’t call himself an apostle or make himself an apostle, he was appointed an apostle by the Lord Jesus.
  • There were twelve apostles in Matthew 10:2.
    • There are only 12 apostolic offices.
    • Matthias becomes Judas’ replacement Acts 1:15-26 perhaps by the will of man.  Matthias is not God’s replacement for Judas, but Paul is.
    • Barnabas becomes James’ replacement in Acts 12:1-2, 13:2, 14:14.
    • There weren’t any other apostles besides these and God’s apostolic work ends with them
      • Revelation 2:2
      • There is no such thing as apostolic succession; the continuation of the work of the apostles through a series of bishops.  This heresy was started by a Roman leader named Leo around 400 AD.  This is a lie prevalent in the Catholic Church and among Charismatics.  The charismatics use it to prove that they have the apostolic sign gifts and the Catholics use it to prove that they have the authority over the Christian church.
  • He had the signs of an apostle 2 Corinthians 12:12.
  • Paul referred to himself as the least of the apostles and one born out of due time 1 Corinthians 15:8-9.
    • Paul doesn’t say least to sound humble, he believes it.
    • Born out of due time in Galatians 1:15-16; first birth and second birth

Goodness of God’s will

  • God’s will is a part of God’s goodness.  He wants good things.
    • Not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance – that’s a good thing.
    • God’s will that all men would be saved –  that’s good.
    • Other good things  a part of God’s will are in Ephesians 1:5, 9, 2:10, 4:28, 29, 6:7, 8.
  • Paul was not forced by an overcoming will of God to be an apostle
    • Some say that because of the way Paul was converted that Paul really didn’t have a choice in the matter.
    • He was called in Acts 9
    • He was enabled and put into the ministry by God 1 Timothy 1:12 (counting me faithful).
    • Paul could have messed it up.  1 Corinthians 9:27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
    • The Lord wanted Paul to go to Rome as a free man, but he ignored the Holy Spirit’s warning and ended up going as a prisoner of the Gentiles (Acts 21:8-14, 22:22 is where Paul is rejected, beaten, arrested after his preaching to Jews in Jerusalem.)  Note how the book of Acts ends with Paul preaching to a group of Jews in Rome (Acts 28:20-28)
    • Acts 28:30 Paul is where God wants him, doing what God wants him to do.  Paul will say he’s finished his course in 2 Timothy 4:6-7.

God’s will revealed

  • Saints – Notice saints are living people here.
    • The idea that saints are dead people who are special mediators between you and God is big in the Roman Catholic Church, but it didn’t start there.
    • See Job 5:1 for the idea of turning to saints way back in Job’s day, which was well before Moses time.
  • Ephesian church – the original open door, but with much opposition (1 Corinthians 16:8-9).
  • Faithful in Christ Jesus – This letter is directly aimed at you if you want to consider yourself faithful.  So there won’t be any allegory here, it will be direct instruction.