1:1 Paul: Paul, originally named Saul, was born into a Jewish family in Tarsus of Cilicia (modern southeastern Turkey). He came to faith in Jesus as the Messiah while traveling to Damascus to persecute Jewish believers in Jesus in that city. By the time he wrote this letter, he had already preached the gospel from Israel as far as Greece. But during a visit to Jerusalem, he was arrested by the Roman authorities. The charge brought against him by Jewish officials was that he had violated the sanctity of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. They claimed he had brought Gentiles into areas restricted to Jews (see 2:14 and note). During his trial, Paul appealed his case to Caesar (the Roman Emperor). As a result, he was taken as a prisoner to Rome. At the time of writing this letter, he was under house arrest in an apartment in Rome, awaiting trial before Caesar.
1:1 Apostle: From a Greek word meaning "someone sent on a mission." The Jewish Sanhedrin Council (the Jewish Supreme Court) sent word of its decisions to Jews living outside of Israel by means of apostles (or emissaries). The apostles of Jesus were sent with the gospel of salvation first to Jerusalem and nearby provinces (Judea and Samaria) and then "to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8).
1:1 Messiah: "The Anointed One." Pouring oil on the head (anointing) was a Hebrew custom to show that an individual was chosen and given the ability by God to fill a certain position. The Old Testament records the anointing of kings, priests, and prophets. Later, "the Anointed" was used as a title for the coming deliverer mentioned by the prophets. The anointing of Jesus was poured out by God at the time of his baptism, when the Holy Spirit descended on Him in the form of a dove (Matthew 3:16,17). For an explanation of the use of "Messiah" rather than the traditional "Christ," see the Introduction.
1:1 Jesus: This is a Greek form of the Hebrew name Yeshua (ye-SHU-ah), which means "salvation." Jesus' disciples knew him and referred to him by this Hebrew name.
1:1 The holy ones: Refers to those who have been "set apart" from the world (made holy) for the sake of Messiah—the calling of all true believers.
1:1 Ephesus: The chief city of the Roman province of Asia. The province of Asia included most of modern southwestern Turkey. Ephesus had been an important coastal city for hundreds of years. It was well known for its temple of the Greek goddess Aphrodite just north of the city. Her devotees once forced Paul to flee the city (Acts 20:1). Paul first visited Ephesus during his second missionary journey (Acts 18:19-21). A year or so later he returned to found a church, which he served as pastor for two years (Acts 19:10). This letter was written from prison in Rome about seven years later. Although the name "Ephesus" does not appear in all the ancient copies of this letter, this was the generally accepted destination according to early Christian writers.
1:1 In Messiah Jesus: Everyone who is "in Messiah" is a member of his spiritual body, just as a cell is part of a physical body. This is the Hebrew idea of collective personality. "Israel," for example, can refer either to the son of Isaac or the nation of his descendants. In the same way, "Messiah" can refer either to Jesus personally or to the community of those who believe in him, including himself as its head. Throughout this letter, "in Messiah" refers to this spiritual position of believers in the body of Messiah.
1:2 You#: Each pronoun in the second person is marked to indicate whether it is singular or plural in the original language. A pound sign (#) is used for plural, an asterisk (*) for singular.
1:2 Lord: In Greek, "Lord" (Kyrios) was used to translate the personal name of God (YHWH in Hebrew). By calling Jesus "Lord," Paul and other early Greek-speaking believers declared that Jesus shared the divinity of God, and was himself God. This is why confessing Jesus as Lord is essential to salvation: it is a confession that he is God (God the Son; Romans 10:9).
1:3 Blessed: Paul's introductory blessing is a single sentence from verse 3 to verse 14. The original structure has been preserved here and throughout the letter.
1:4 Foundation of the universe: The creation.
1:9 Mystery: The hidden will of God which has been disclosed through his prophets. This letter is itself largely the record of a revelation received by Paul of God's plan for the equal participation of both Jews and Gentiles in the body of Messiah (3:3-7).
1:10 Fullness of the times: This phrase describes the passage of time as a vessel filling with water (as in the water clocks of ancient times). When the vessel is full, the appointed time has come. The "fullness of the times" is therefore similar to the expression the "end times" or the "last days." God's plan for this final period is for the Messiah to rule over both the heavens and the earth. The reign of Messiah began with his ascension and enthronement (Acts 2:33-35) and will eventually bring all things into subjection to him (1 Cor. 15:25-28).
1:11 Jewish believers in Jesus: Although Paul does not state it here directly, the context clearly shows that "we" ("the first to hope in Messiah," 1:12) are Jewish believers in Jesus as the Messiah. At the time Paul was writing, the church was still mostly Jewish. There was much uncertainty as to how or if Gentiles should be included. In this letter, Paul explains God's plan for the inclusion of Gentile believers in the church (3:3,5,6).
1:11 Lot: A marked stick, bone, or other object that was thrown to determine the will of God. The answer was taken from the marking on the side facing up (Proverbs 16:33, 18:18; Matthew 27:35; Acts 1:26). Here Paul uses the lot to describe God's selection of the Jewish people, among whom Messiah was revealed, and from whom the first believers were chosen.
1:13 Gentile believers in Jesus: Non-Jewish believers. Paul clearly states that the "you" he addresses in this letter are Gentile believers in Jesus (2:11, 3:1). The church in Ephesus must have been largely if not entirely Gentile.
1:13 Sealed: The sealing of the Holy Spirit is the imparting of the Spirit into the life of the believer, which serves a sign (a mark or seal) of the believer's participation in the body of Messiah (2 Corinthians 1:22, Ephesians 4:30, Revelation 7:3).
1:13 Holy Spirit of promise: Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4, 2:33,39; Galatians 3:14.
1:14 Down payment: The Holy Spirit in us is a pledge of the eternal life to come—our "inheritance"—which will be revealed at our "redemption" when Messiah returns.
1:14 The possession: Refers to the special relationship between God and his chosen people (Exodus 19:6, 1 Peter 2:9). The "redemption of the possession" refers to the setting free of God's people from the afflictions of Satan and the world at Messiah's return (2 Thess. 1:7).
1:23 The fullness of the one filling all with all things: Since the body of Messiah is made up of believers, we are his "fullness" or completion (the body of Messiah would be empty without us). But at the same time, he is our "fullness," filling each of the members of the body with the wisdom, revelation, power, and other blessings that Paul has been talking about. (See 3:19 below.)