“Paul, an apostle fo Christ Jesus by the will of God,…” -Eph 1:1a
For those who read and do not know I am as student pastor in Pensacola, Fl. I will be continuously writing on this blog and using it as a staging ground for my sermons on Wednesday Nights and Sunday Mornings. As the summer is beginning I and my leadership team are embarking on a journey through the book of Ephesians, and attempting to teach its precepts to our student body of between 25 and 45 students.
This blog is the first in a series and was taught to my students last night as a intro and an encouragement in how Paul opens every one of his letters….The Reason We Speak.
When you write or speak to a group of people it is important to establish three basic things. The greek writers and speakers gave these basic points as follows:
Ethos – The establishment of who you are and why we should listen to you.
Logos – The logical argument that you are wanting to make.
Pathos – The state of mind in which you want your listener.
Paul would have grown up knowing these three traits. Because of this each letter he wrote begins in almost identical fashion. Without over spiritualizing we should look into how he opens up his letters so that we can know the reason he is writing.
1. Why Paul Wrote
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,…”
Every letter Paul wrote started with this simple phrase. Yet in this simple phrase is a vast depth of meaning when it is spoken with intent. Paul calls himself an apostle…in some translations a servant of Christ Jesus. He starts out immediately putting himself not as a figure head, but as a lower class a “bondslave” of the one who sent him.
Paul goes on to say not only is he not the master, but also that he is speaking only by the will of God. He says this not to prop himself up, but to make clear that he is nothing but a slave with a message from his master. He is here only to do the will of the one who sent him.
When we live our Christian lives we should likewise understand that we are “bondslaves” to our God. Anything we do and anything we speak should be only according to the will of our master. When we speak it is with the authority and reputation of God…let us not tarnish that reputation.
2. To Whom Paul Writes
“To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus…” -Eph 1:1b
The first part is clear. Paul is writing to the people of Ephesus that are relying on Jesus and are faithful to his word. It is this second part that I want to focus on because it allows this message to be reaching out to all of us who are “faithful in Christ Jesus”. This message in the book of Ephesians is a letter written not just to a time and place but actually meant to reach out past time and hit the hearts of the faithful here and now. The Word of God in the New Testament is written to encourage and equip the saints to do battle on behalf of God.
3. The State Paul Wants Readers
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” – Eph 1:2
The Bible states that God has heaped on us every blessing we could want or need. Anything that we desire the Bible says God has already provided for us and it is ours to claim. All we have to do is ask!
Paul is doing this with each and every letter he begins. He is calling out and asking for the blessing of peace and grace that has already been given and now sits waiting on our request. Paul wants each of the people reading this letter, us included, to have the peace of God so that we may accept what he is saying.
How often do we as Christians call out for our blessings? How often do we toil in frustration all because we are too proud to ask for help?
There is an old preachers story about a boy in a sandbox trying to build a city. He spends hours on getting it just right but as he gets to the middle there is a large rock he has to move. He pushes and he pulls, but the rock won’t budge. Defeated he sits down and begins to cry. At this point the boy’s father comes out and asks him what is wrong. As the boy explains the problem he cry out to the father that there is nothing that can be done because he has already tried everything. With a smile and a sympathetic tone the father simply says “You haven’t asked me”.
This is what Paul does when he calls down this blessing. He knows that on our own power we will never understand what God is saying in this letter. So he cry out to an understanding and giving father to ask for grace and peace as we hear His word.
Paul speaks with the authority of God, to all who are faithful, with the blessings of God raining down.
When we speak and teach we should do likewise.