2004-08-03 - Grace and Peace
Ephesians 1:2, "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
Paul is using a greeting typical of many of his letters to the churches. It is a little more involved than the typical greeting used among the Jews of the time, Shalom, which means peace. He puts that peace in the context of it being from God the Father and Jesus Christ. When something is said, we can often learn much from what is not said. Paul, in asserting that peace comes from God, is also saying that lack of peace is from not being right with God. When we lack peace, we need to seek to understand it in the context of knowing that only true peace can come from God. We need also to note that Paul is starting this letter with what we might call a benediction. He could just as easily have also ended his letter with the same words, and to some extent, he does.
True grace and true peace only come from God, and as a zealous Jew, Paul would have agreed with this. However, he distinguishes himself from his past and makes it clear he has joined the Christian sect, by adding the phrase "the Lord Jesus Christ." Paul, as a Christian, adds Christ, the name above every name (Philippians 2:9). It is always interesting that so many people who call themselves Christians enjoy talking about God, but rarely speak of Jesus Christ. We must question why this is. Christ is central to our introduction into faith. He is the object of our faith as believers, but so many who claim to be of the Christian faith will take the socially acceptable route and talk freely of God, but rarely, if ever, of Christ.
We can notice that the grace given in salvation is called the grace of God (Ephesians 3:2), and the grace of Christ (Galatians 1:6). The peace which is found in salvation is called the peace of God (Philippians 4:7), and the peace of Christ (Colossians 3:15). It may also be of interest, as we begin to dive into Ephesians, that the first 12 verses of Chapter One are one sentence in the Greek.
It may seem like we are needlessly picking these two verses apart, when they seem so self-evident in their meaning. However, when we study the Bible, we must study every word of the Bible and discern what it means, and why it is there. How easy is it for us to simply read a few chapters of the Bible each day, and follow it with a prayer. If we take this approach, we will skip over parts of Scripture such as these two verses, and thus while we have read our Bible, we have not studied our Bible. In verse two, we have perhaps the most profound truth and doctrine that we can find anywhere in Scripture. Grace and peace are central aspects of our faith as Christians. We should probably spend a week each on the concepts of grace and peace found in this verse, but if we get too bogged down here, we will never make it through the book. Maybe we will come back to it.
In concluding these two verses, we might ask ourselves a couple of basic questions. Why do we need grace and peace from God? How do we obtain this grace and peace? What conclusions can we draw from Paul addressing this letter to the "saints" at Ephesus and not to one individual? What does this help us learn about the importance of the local church and the community of believers? Lastly, why does Paul address this letter specifically to the "faithful?" All of these are valid questions, and we could spend a lot of time considering them, but it is time to move on from these verses, so I leave that to you.
Soli Deo Gloria,