Viewing: chapter 1 - View all posts

A Taste of our Inheritance to come - Ephesians chapter 1 verse 18 - J Stewart Gillespie  

Noticed already how we can divide Ephesians: 

Chapters 1 to 3 – Doctrine 

Chapters 4 to 6 – Practice 

Practice is built upon our doctrine 

What we believe determines how we live 

We have seen some dramatic examples of this over the last century: 

  • Camp Davidians – mass suicide to enter into some gate in heaven 
  • Holocaust – believing Jews and others were sub human 
  • Islam – belief in Mohammed and Koran, Jihad and Muslim lands resulted in terrorism, oppression and murder. 

What we believe determines how I live 

See that here in Ephesians 4:1; 20-22 

Doctrine affects practice 

The WORD determines the WALK 

What we saw, as the WORD was misrepresented the WALK was unrecognisable. 

Let us be careful, doctrine determines practice

We noted too a further:

Pattern or Template: 

The journey of Israel from Egypt to Canaan, under Moses and then under Joshua:

  1. Redemption – Exodus 12 
  2. Sanctification 
  3. Construction of Tabernacle 
  4. Dimensions of Divine Love 
  5. Service in the tabernacle (Ephesians 4:1ff)
  6. Walk / Journey – chapters 4 and 5 
  7. Battle (chapter 6) 

We could see the structure of the epistle through the pattern of the 3 prayers of Ephesians:

  1. WHY God saved you – Reason for our salvation – following after the doctrines of election, predestination, adoption, inheritance, redemption 
  2. WHAT our redemption is all about – Preparation for the Christian walk, the heart of the Christian experience 
  3. HOW we succeed – the Victory in our walk 

Or consider:

  2. DEVOTION – Our RELATIONSHIP with Christ 
  3. DISCIPLESHIP / DUTY – The REALITY of faith and victory 

Hope (v18) 

Keep your hope before you! 

If you lose your hope you lose your way! 

‘A man who has a reason why to live can deal with almost any how.’ (Friedrich Nietzsche)

Hope – do we have hope? 

A hope set before us??

Was it not:

Hope that sustained Noah through 40 days of rain

Hope that sustained Moses and Israel through 40 years in the wilderness

Hope that sustained Job through 40 chapters of suffering 

Hope sustained Paul (Phil 1:21) in His lifelong service for Christ 

Hope sustained men and women of faith in their race in the midst of persecution and trial (Hebrews 12:1) 

Hope sustained great men and women of faith (Hebrews 11)

That Hope is: “the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (v18) 

This is a strange and difficult phrase, could mean one of 2 things:

  1. God has an inheritance in or amongst the saints, ie that the saints are God’s inheritance. This is of course true but maybe doesn’t fit too well with the context in 1:11, 14, rather than what God gets. 
  2. The inheritance belonging to and from God, shared amongst the saints, ie not what God gets but what we get. This is similar to 
    1. “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.” Acts 20:32 and 
    2. “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” Acts 26:18 

It is our inheritance ie what we get rather than what God gets that has been the theme so far of Ephesians chapter 1 and it is to our inheritance, ie what we get that the Ephesian letter will lead us into in chapter 6, ready and equipped for battle to cease our inheritance in Christ.

Surely verse 18 could have been clearer? 

As a consequence of this we are presented with a fascinating truth which is infused through the rest of Ephesians, that the inheritance of God’s people is collective!

God’s people were not designed to go it alone! 

Salvation is an individual and personal encounter and experience! The Christian life begins with an individual experience but it does not continue as such! We will forever share in a collective experience of Christ and a collective inheritance. 

This thought leads me into the truth of the church “His body” (1:23) 

Eternally our inheritance is among the saints! 

Presently God has placed us among the saints (v23) 

It is amongst the saints that we receive a foretaste of this inheritance. It is amongst the saints we find: 

  • The Presence of Christ with His people (1:23) 
  • The Privilege of access (2:13-16,18) 
  • The Presence of Christ in His people (3:14ff) 
  • The Revelation of Christ in the Church (chapter 4) 


  1. Revelation (chp 1) 
  2. Relationship (chp 3) 
  3. Reality (chp 6) 

We find a taste of that in the church 

In the church the tremendous multiplicity of gift (Ephesians 4:10 ff) brings a great revelation of Christ to His people. 

We don’t believe in one man ministry:

  • Pastors are in the plural 
  • No NT precedent for one teaching elder or pastor – elders plural (when they can be) 
  • Gifts are plural, all believers are gifted and the expectation is that we will use those gifts 

Here in Ephesians chapter 4 we see the reason for this. The use of this diversity of gift amongst God’s people is needed to reflect the full glory of Christ in order that His people may be brought to Christ likeness! 

That you may know what is the hope of His calling and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints. Ephesians chapter 1 verse 18 points the Christian to the present experience of the future expectation of his inheritance. The inheritance God has for His people will be forever shared collectively amongst His people. This experience we taste of today in His Church, the body, building and bride of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is in the church that the full variety and diversity of spiritual gifts are given to glorify and reveal Jesus and build up the Christian, transforming and conforming them to the image of Jesus! 

God indeed is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied with Him! 

Dr J Stewart Gillespie

The 3 Prayers of Ephesians - Feeding Filling and Fighting - Ephesians chapter 1 verses 15 to 23 - JS Gillespie  


Prayer, a priority to Paul, is a priority to the Christian and appropriately commences, concludes and forms the centre of the letter to the Ephesians. The letter to the Ephesians opens with a prayer of priority, a prayer that the Christians in effect may feed upon the Lord Jesus, that they might encounter the Spirit of Wisdom, and revelation in the knowledge of Him. The priority in the work of Holy Spirit is in the revelation of a Person, that is Jesus, and thus the purpose He has for us and the power which flows flows from Him. Never underestimate the power of Jesus in the life of the Christian. This power is of the same quality and is measured according to the resurrecting power seen in Jesus Christ! This is the power which raised Lazarus, liberated Israel, rebuilt Jerusalem and instated a Shepherd as a Sovereign! We may be down and week but with God we are not out! 

The Christian life in Ephesians hangs on 3 prayers:

  1. Feeding (1:15-23)
  2. Filling (3:14-21)
  3. Fighting (6:18)

We seen at least 2 previous ways we could divide up the letter:

  1. Chapters 1 to 3 – Doctrine – why we do it
  2. Chapters 4 to 6 – Practice – what we do 

Suggested that we could take the template from the OT of Israel, led by Moses and then Joshua from the Exodus to the promised land. That journey would encapsulate:

  1. Redemption – Exodus 12 – Ephesians chp 1 
  2. Sanctification – leaving the world and Satan behind (2:1-4) and moving up the mountain (Exodus 20) and into the heavenly places in Christ (Eph 2:5-10)
  3. Fellowship in the tabernacle (Exodus 25ff) which is the church of Ephesians 2:11ff – a place where God dwells (Ephesians 2:22), where we meet with God (2:18).
  4. Dimensions of Divine love – the ark of the covenant records it as 2 ½ cubits by 1 ½ cubits by 1 ½ cubits, here we have it in Ephesians 3:14-21. 
  5. The walk of God’s people (Ephesians chapter 4 and 5) – the wilderness journey 
  6. Battle and victory (Ephesians 6:10ff) 

These 3 prayers are not simply random prayers punctuating the epistle but they do reflect the structure of the letter and the pattern of the Christian life. 

The first prayer concludes the section on:

  • Election 
  • Predestination 
  • Adoption
  • Redemption 
  • Inheritance 
  • Sealed with the Spirit

With a prayer that we might appreciate what the purpose of all of this is! 

A very apt prayer! 

It is a prayer which draws us to:

  1. A Person 
  2. God’s Purpose 
  3. God’s Power 

The first ministry here in Ephesians after the Spirit of God seals me is the Revelation of God, which is of course through Christ:

  • “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:” (John 15:26)
  • “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you.” (John 16:13ff)
  • “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3)
  • “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Co 4:6) 

The first priority to know Him! 

  • “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;” (Phil 3:10)


His Power (1:19)

The power available to us as God’s people is a power after the same type, the same kind as that which raised up Christ from the dead! (Ephesians 1:2) 

His power is a resurrecting power.

This is a power after the fashion of the power which:

  • Regenerated a lost world with 8 people
  • Made of Abraham a great nation
  • Promoted a slave and prisoner to second in command in Egypt 
  • Turned a slave and fugitive to Saviour of Israel
  • Brought water from the rock 
  • Turned a shepherd to a sovereign 
  • Raised up a ruined Jerusalem from the ashes in the days of Nehemiah
  • Rebuilt a destroyed temple in the days of Ezra 
  • Restored a lost kingdom and nation to Israel 
  • Raised Lazarus from the dead
  • Restored Onesimus from uselessness to usefulness


In Ephesians 3:14-21 the experience and reality of this power arises from the experience of the indwelling presence of Christ (3:17), His filling comes from us being “rooted and grounded in love” (3:17;19) it is that trust in Christ, in His love that brings me to surrender to Him, understanding that He can be utterly trusted and that I can safely surrender to Him (Ephesians 3:19). 

It was the experience of this love that:

  • Brought Zacchaeus to surrender half of his goods
  • Brought Paul to present his life on the alter 
  • Brought the servant to total surrender and commitment (Exodus 21:6)
  • Brought Mary to anoint Jesus 

Dr J Stewart Gillespie

Spirit Lead me from Redemption to Redemption - Ephesians chapter 1 verses 13 to 14 - J Stewart Gillespie  

“The Holy Spirit of Promise”

Consider the Spirit of God, such a vast subject! 

The actions and manifestation of the Holy Spirit, are the actions and manifestations of God! 

The subject is immense!

  1. His role in Creation (Genesis chp 1) 
  2. His role in inspiration (2 Peter 1:20ff) 
  3. His role in the Incarnation (Luke 1:35) 
  4. His role in spiritual gifts and the Gift of prophecy 
  5. His role in Sanctification 
  6. His role in Consecration 
  7. His role in the Conviction of sin (John 16:8)
  8. His role in Conversion
  9. His role in Regeneration (John 3) 
  10. His role in Comfort and consolation (John 14)
  11. His role in Education (John 14:26; 1 John 2:27) 
  12. His role in the Ministry of Christ (John 14) 
  13. His role in Spiritual gifts (1 Co12) 
  14. His role in Prayer (Romans 8) 
  15. His role in Leading and guiding (Romans 8)
  16. His role in the transformation of character – fruit of the Spirit (2 Co 3:17-18)

The Spirit of God has many and varied roles and is active wherever God is active. To fully understand or systematise the Spirit of God we would have to fully understand God! 

What we have in Ephesians is something a bit more focused however. 

The Spirit of God is the believer’s:

  1. Pledge
  2. Proof 
  3. Person

He is our:

  1. Guide 
  2. Guardian 
  3. Guarantee

The ministry of the Spirit of God in the life of the Christian is a ministry from: 

Redemption (Ephesians 1:7) 


Redemption (Ephesians 1:13-14)

We are redeemed (Ephesians 1:7) 

We are to be redeemed (Ephesians 1:14) 

Redemption has 2 aspects:

  • What we are redeemed from – Egypt – slaves to pharaoh 
  • What we are redeemed to – The promised land – servants of the Lord 

In redemption there is an out and there is an in! 

Out of Egypt and into the promised land. 

Out of slavery to Pharoah and into the service of the Lord 

The ministry of God’s Holy Spirit thus runs:

  • From redemption (1:7) to redemption (1:14) 
  • From time to eternity 
  • From earth to heaven 

“The Holy Spirit of God whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Eph 4:30). He is with us all that journey through! 

He is the "Holy Spirit of promise" (1:13)

Certainly He is the promised Holy Spirit: 

  • John 14:16
  • John 15:26
  • John 16:13
  • Luke 24:49
  • Acts 19:1ff 

But in the context of Ephesians chapter 1 He is more than the promised Holy Spirit. He is the guarantor of God’s promises:

  • earnest” – ‘arrabon’ – engagement ring 
  • He is the promised guarantee that the leaving we have endured will lead to an entering in to an inheritance which we can expect.
  • He takes us from redemption to redemption

That path guided by the Holy Spirit for the Christian is a picture which we see over in Genesis chapter 24, in the unnamed servant who leads Rebekah from Haran / Nahor to Canaan.

The Holy Spirit will lead us through too. 

  1. Salvation 

Set apart unto salvation – 2 Thess 2:13 

Conviction of sin (John 16:8)

Regeneration (John 3)

  1. Revelation of Jesus Christ (John 16:15; 14:26)
  2. Sanctification 

Sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit (1 Co 6:11)

Leave the world, the flesh and the Devil behind and drawn into the presence of Christ 

  1. Relationship 

Romans chapter 8

Prayer (Romans 8:26) 

  1. Consecration and transformation 

The inner working of the Spirit of God 

“The Spirit of ... power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim 1:7) 

Power – Ephesians 3:16 

Love – Ephesians 3:17 

Sound mind – Ephesians 3:18 

Consider 2 Corinthians 3:16ff – conformed to the image of Christ 

  1. Gifts of the Spirit for the Church 

Cf. 1 Corinthians 12:1ff 

The Spirit of God operative in the church, drawing believers together in the community of the church.


  1. Character moulded 

The transformation of the believers character 

The conformation of the Christian to Jesus 

The victory over the flesh (Romans 8:13) 

Cf. The fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22)

  1. Conduct shaped 

The transformation of conduct 

Led by the Spirit (Romans 8:1ff)

Filled by the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18ff) 

  1. Spiritual warfare 

Spiritual battle – conflict and warfare 

  1. Illuminating the Word of God 

A fairly extensive list of the ministry of the Holy Spirit 

That list of the working of the Holy Spirit is effectively an outline of the entire letter of the Ephesians! 

The Holy Spirit will lead us through too. 

  1. Salvation and sealing (Ephesians 1:13)
  2. Revelation of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:17) 
  3. Sanctification (Ephesians 2: 1-10)
  4. Relationship and prayer (Ephesians 2:11-3:13 )
  5. Consecration and transformation (Ephesians 3:14-21)
  6. Gifts of the Spirit for the Church (Ephesians 4:1-16)
  7. Transformation of Character (4:17-31)
  8. Transformation of Conduct (5:1-20)
  9. Spiritual warfare (6:10-20)
  10. Illuminating the Word of God (6:17) 

The Spirit of God leads us in Ephesians to lay hold of our blessings in Christ. 

Let us impose a template on the Ephesian letter – take it from the life of Moses, the journey of the nation of Israel: 

  • Redemption from Egypt – Ephesians chp 1 
  • Sanctification from Egypt and Pharaoh – Ephesians chp 2 
  • Building a sanctuary – Ephesians chp 2 
  • Inner Holy of Holies – a place of 
  • Walk through the wilderness – battling Amalek chapters 4 + 5 
  • The final victory in spiritual battle and taking the land  (Ephesians 6)

What do I take from this? 

  • Without God’s Spirit I can do nothing 
  • The first work of the Spirit of God after salvation and sealing is the revelation of Christ 
  • There are no shortcuts 
  • I cannot move from salvation to victory without sanctification, fellowship, relationship, transformation and a walk consistent with my profession!




Ephesians chapter 1 vs 11 to 18 - An Inheritance with Guarantees - JS Gillespie  


The Christian is in possession of a glorious inheritance in the Lord Jesus. This inheritance in Christ in Ephesians chapter 1 comes with a promise, a pledge, an earnest or even an engagement ring! Our inheritance in Christ comes with a promised guarantee, sealed by the Holy Spirit. We see a typical picture of this story in Genesis chapter 24 as the unnamed servant of Abraham goes to Mesopotamia to find a bride for Isaac. 

Dr J Stewart Gillespie 


Ephesians chp 1 vs 11 - Treasuring Your Inheritance - 5 Girls who Changed the World - JS Gillespie - 19th Dec 2023  


It is amazing the impact on individual lifes, the history of nations, the record of the bible and the plan and storyof redemption that valuing our inheritance can have! Naboth knew the true cost of holding onto his inheritance and refusing to surrender, swap or sell his vineyard! It cost him his life. The 5 daughters of Zelophehad so cherished their inhetitance that they forced a change in Old Testament Law with unexpected and almost unbelievable consequences. The presidence they set in Numbers chapter 27 and Numbers chapter 36 became a decisive factor in cementing the relationship between Ruth and Boaz in Ruth chapter 4 and from that relationship not only came the King of Israel David but so too the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us as Christians hold onto, value and treasure our inheritance in Christ, refusing to devalue, despise, or disregard that inheritance for a world that disappoints and material prosperity that disappears. 

Ephesians chp 1 vs 11 – Living in the Light of Our Inheritance

Heading somewhere, heading home.

We are heirs of God, let us live like it! 

Living from the gutter to Glory!

There was a latin phrase which caught on a number of years ago after the film ‘The Dead Poets Society’ – Carpe Diem – seize the day! The modern equivalent of which YOLO – you only live once! 

The believer in Ephesians chapter 1 is encouraged not simply to seize the day or live for the moment, as if you only live once but rather to:

‘Lay hold of eternity’!

We noted previously in the context of redemption the importance of our inheritance! The theme of inheritance runs through the whole bible and the importance of it.

Inheritance is linked to:

  • Identity
  • Purpose 

Bible maps, and biblical maps of the promised land are divided up:

  • Not by states
  • Not by shires

But by:

  • Tribes

Ie according to the tribes or families of the nation of Israel.

The land was their inheritance! 

The land was their inheritance, and by the way it was their inheritance in perpetuity! There was provision for this in Leviticus chapter 25, for redemption and for the return of the land as an inheritance in perpetuity to the tribes of Israel at the year of Jubilee. 

These Old Testatment land laws and registers, strangely included in the Word of God, when perhaps other material could not be so included 

“And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.” (John 21:25)

All of this material recorded and included in the scriptures regarding land laws, inheritance laws, redemption rights and the year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25:10,13), impresses upon us as New Testament believers that when God gives an inheritance, it is forever! That is a good lesson to learn! 

Our inheritance in Christ is the next step in the flow of truth here in chapter 1:

  • Chosen – verse 4 
  • Predestined for adoption – verse 5 
  • Redeemed – verse 7 
  • Wisdom of God’s purpose worked out not as a photo but as a film! In 4 dimensions and not only 3! Wisdom projected from the Divine mind onto the canvas of time (vs 9 to 10). To gather all things in Christ, the church is the first glimpse of the new world and of this purpose (Ephesians 1:10). 


We have been chosen, predestinated, adopted, and redeemed for a purpose (Ephesians 1:11). From our perspective that purpose is our “inheritance” (Eph 1:11)

All of this of course flows from God:

  • Election 
  • Predestination to adoption 
  • Redemption 
  • Inheritance 


  1. “Chosen in Him”

Chosen not for good in me! 

God cannot chose between men for salvation the way we chose! When it comes to human choice we tend to chose the best option! The best room in the house, the best cake on display in the bakers window, the best job. When it comes to God choosing the sinner, the situation is clear (Romans 3:9ff). Just as when God formed Adam of the dust of the ground, it wasn’t that one handful of dust was any less dirty than another handful of dust! It was because of what could do with that handful of dust! 

  1. Adopted

The Old Testament is bookended by adoption! 

The Old Testament year, and redemptive calendar begins on:

  • 14th day of the 1st month Abib / Nissan with Passover 

The Old Testament calendar ends on:

  • 14th day of the last month Adar with Purim 

The first feast celebrates the nations release from a place – Egypt. 

The last feast celebrates the nations release from a person – Hamman.

With both of these feasts there is connected a prominent OT character:

  1. Purim – Esther 

Interestingly both Moses and Esther are adopted! 

The whole of the redemptive history of the Old Testament is bookended by adoption! 

  1. Redeemed

Redemption encompassing:

  1. Ransom
  2. Release
  3. Relationship 

Not purely a negative phenomenon, but redeemed for a purpose! Most clearly seen perhaps with the redemption of the nation from Egypt, seen too with Ruth and perhaps in picture form with Rebekah! 

There are some great examples of those who held fast to their inheritance! They weren’t for letting it go! 

Individual lifes, the story of the bible, the destiny of nations and the course of history was shaped by those who had an appreciation of their inheritance, so too for us. My inheritance: what I have in Christ and where I am going with the Christian faith. 

  1. Naboth – the cost of his inheritance 
  2. Daughters of Zelophehad – the commitment to their inheritance 
  3. Ruth – the consequences of holding onto that inheritance 

They will be encouraged to:

  • Deny
  • Despise
  • Disregard
  • Devalue 

Their inheritance but they didn’t and neither must I!

Live your life in the light of that inheritance. 

The believers inheritance permeates the whole of the Ephesian epistle: 

  1. Privileges of that inheritance (Ephesians 2) 
  • Prayer
  • Praise
  1. Practices of that inheritance (Ephesians 3+4) 
  • Preeminence of Christ 
  • Perfecting of the saints
  • Preaching of the word of God 
  • Practice of gifts
  1. Prospect of that inheritance (Ephesians 5)
  • Relationship
  • Resemblance

In living out our life as Christians in the light of our inheritance we can make an unexpected impact for Christ!

  1. Naboth
  • 1 Kings chp 21 
  • Naboth valued his inheritance – it wasn’t just a vineyard or a business, it was his inheritance (21:1). He wouldn’t give it up to be turned into a lawn! 
  • Naboth was encouraged to devalue his inheritance:

Naboth valued it with his life

  1. Daughters of Zelophehad
  • Numbers chapter 27 and 36 
  • The 5 daughters of Zelophehad, petition Moses as the land is about to be divided up, they too want their portion and their inheritance. 
  • In the first half of Numbers many did not value, were not prepared to fight for their inheritance in the land eg the 10 out of the 12 spies who were sent doen to spie out the land. 
  • These daughters forced a change in case law and received their right to inherit from their father in the absence of a son. 
  • They really valued their inheritance!
  • This had an unexpected consequence which arises in Numbers chapter 36. Having inherited their fathers land they are restricted to marry within the tribe. 
  • I f I were to tell you that your salvation depended on the passion and pursuit of their inheritance would you believe me? Their conviction and passion for their inheritance was used by God to direct subsequent events that lead us ultimately to the birth of Jesus Christ! 


  1. Ruth
  • Ruth chapter 4
  • What is happening here? 

Probably not as a consequence of the levirate laws of marriage in Deuteronomy 25 which applies to:

  • Brothers (Lev 25:5) and the widows “brother in law” (Lev 25:5)
  • Who “dwell together” (Lev 25:5) – taken by the Rabbis as indicating brothers with inheritance rights to the same father, ie living on the family land.
  • The child born as a result is credited to the deceased brother (Deut 25:6) 

This was not what transpired in the book of Ruth:

  • Boaz was a near kinsmen (Ruth 3:12,13), not a brother and Naomi perceived no levirate right per se of redemption by Boaz. 
  • Naomi seems quite clear regarding levirate marriage in Ruth 1:11ff this would depend upon her having another son. 
  • Boaz credits the choice of Ruth as the cause of the union rather than legal rights per se “Let it even be established, that thy name may be magnified forever, saying, The LORD of hosts is the God of Israel, even a God to Israel: and let the house of David thy servant be established before thee.” (Ruth 3:10)
  • Once the son is born he is credited to Boaz (Ruth 4:21) and not Mahlon

This does not fulfil the criteria we know of for levirate but rather fits better with the legislation given as a consequence of the problems raised by the daughters of Zelophehad in Numbers 27 and 36.

It appears to have been their faithfulness and commitment to ensuring their inheritance in Numbers chapter 27 and the subsequent issues which arose in Numbers 36 with legislation that committed the daughter who inherits her fathers property to marry within the tribe. The faithfulness of the daughters of Zelophehad had unexpected consequences, reaching far beyond the daughters of Zelophehad! Their faithfulness in a sense turned the course of history, bringing to pass the marriage of Ruth and Boaz and thus the line of David and of Messiah! 

Bible teaching from Ephesians chapter 1 

Dr J Stewart Gillespie

Ephesians chapter 1 vs 8 - The Wisdom of God   

It is a great mistake to judge the wisdom of God simply by considering a snap shot or a picture of a moment in time. The wisdom of God cannot be seen in the imprisonment of Joseph, in the punishment of Daniel, in the death of Lazarus nor in the suffering of the man born blind. Take a step back and consider the way God works over time and through the generations, intertwinning the stories of patriachs, kings and prophets, in bringing to pass His appointed purpose in Christ and then we grasp His wisdom. This is a wisdom dispensed and worked out in the fullness of time (Ephesians chp 1 vs 10). 

“Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence” Ephesians 1:8

An interesting and practical verse 

Over the years a distinction has been drawn between:

  • Wisdom
  • Knowledge

Distinction emphasised:

  • Wisdom is knowledge applied 

Knowledge – what truth is 

Wisdom – what we do with that knowledge / truth. How we use that knowledge. 

In the OT we do see that distinction:

  • Knowledge is the raw material of wisdom the substrate of wisdom (Proverbs 18:15; Proverbs 15:2, 14) 
  • Wisdom is the application and use of that knowledge (2 Chronicles 1:10ff; 1 Kings 3:16ff)

Knowledge – what truth is

Wisdom – how we use that knowledge 

Knowledge is 3 dimensional in Ephesians chapter 3 

That knowledge is applied and expressed over time (v10) by God displaying His wisdom. 

We may perceive the knowledge of God in a snap shot of time but whilst knowledge is 3 dimensional (Ephesians 3:18-19); the wisdom of God is perceived over time, a 4th dimension (Ephesians 1:8-10).

  • Knowledge – a picture 
  • Wisdom – a video 

10 That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, …” Ephesians 1:10

“As a plan for the fullness of time” – ESV

“The ordering of the times when they are complete”  - BBE

As God works out His knowledge in time we begin to perceive His wisdom! That is a very practical thing! 

Perhaps this is one of the most practical thoughts we have in Ephesians!

If you want to see the ‘knowledge’ of God you can glimpse that in creation: Psalm 19:1-2; Romans 1:19.

If you want to get a glimpse of the ‘knowledge of God’ – see that in Creation.

If you wish to perceive the ‘wisdom’ of God that will be seen in the story of redemption! 

Johannes Kepler once famously desired to “think God’s thoughts after Him.” To think God’s thoughts after Him we will need to look at more than creation, we will need to consider the story of redemption!

We can gain a glimpse into the knowledge of God from Creation; the “eternal power and Godhead” of God – Romans chapter 1. 


5 grams of sugar = 1.5 X 10 power of 62 joules 

1 megaton nuclear bomb 10 to 15 joules 

More than enough power to wipe out the whole earth 

In creation we glimpse the raw power, the eternal power and Godhead of God! 

It is in redemption we see more than the raw power and knowledge of God; we see the wisdom of God. 

God’s wisdom is perceived over time.

God’s wisdom is worked out according to His good pleasure (v9); for His purpose, His pleasure, and not for mine! 

Mary and Martha

“If you had been here my brother had not died” 

Don’t judge God by that snapshot! 

See the wisdom working out over time! 

In delaying His coming the Lord would demonstrate something far more glorious than His power to heal the sick. Through these events we would see the power of Jesus to raise the dead. This brought blessing not only to Mary, Martha and Lazarus in John 11 but to all believers of all ages!

Scattering of the Jerusalem church

Why the scattering and persecution, suffering, death and martyrdom?

If you just assessed that story by a snapshot in time you would miss what God was actually doing! The seed of the Gospel, was being scattered throughout the whole world! 


The man born blind (John 9:3)

You may well question the wisdom of God if you just look at that snap shot of the man born blind in John chapter 9!

“but that the work of God should be made manifest in him” 


John on the Isle of Patmos

You may well question the wisdom of God in constraining John to the Isle of Patmos and yet it is in that seclusion that the greatest prophetic revelation ever is given! 

Daniel in the Lion’s Den – Question the wisdom of God?

You may question the wisdom of God in putting Daniel, faithful, prayerful, righteous Daniel in the den of lions! Look at the whole story however! 

  • Daniel becomes a glorious type of Christ. 
  • Evidence that God’s pleasure in His people is not limited to the provision of favourable nor easy circumstances!
  • God’s name is glorified and His purposes fulfilled as the Lord’s servant places himself upon the altar for Christ! (Romans 12:1ff)
  • For God to increase I must decrease! God is glorified when my life is placed on the altar to Him! 


The Cross of Calvary – Question the wisdom of God? 

The 2 on the road to Emmaus certainly did! 

Esther in Babylon – Question the wisdom of God? 

Taken captive in Babylon and then ends up in the harem of Ahasuerus, yet God has a role uniquely to be fulfilled by Esther.


We can see the wisdom of God in the plan of redemption worked out down through the ages in the:

  • Pictures 
  • Patterns
  • Prophecies 

Through the whole of the OT scriptures. 

See the pieces coming together:

  • Tree of life 
  • Ark of Noah pitched within and without with pitch 
  • Lamb of Isaac
  • Types of Joseph 
  • Passover 
  • Types of tabernacle
  • Feasts of Jehovah 
  • Types of Elijah 
  • Slaying of Goliath

In the prophecies of:

  • Psalms
  • Isaiah
  • Micah
  • Zechariah 

Here is the practical impact; I can look at my life and see the problems, the difficulties; discouragements; and obstacles and fail to perceive the wisdom of God from that single picture! I need to consider the whole story, over time before I can truly see that wisdom! 


David and Svea Flood and their 2 year old son left Sweden to go to the Belgian Congo in 1921. 

Met up with the Ericksons and then headed inland to Ndolera 

They found themselves forbidden to enter the village by the chief, in fear of offending the tribal gods! 

The Floods had only 1 regular contact from the village, a delivery bow who brought chickens and eggs 

Svea spoke to him about Christ 

The Ericksons left 

Svea died aged 27 giving birth to Aggie 

David Flood left the station, his calling and the faith “I’m going back to Sweden, I’ve lost my wife and I obviously can’t take care of this baby. God has ruined my life.”

He gave the baby Aggie to the Ericksons, they died and she was adopted by a couple who returned to USA> 

Aggie attended a missionary conference in London years later, the speaker was from Zaire. He had been the young lad with whom Svea had shared Christ. He became a teacher and lead most of his pupils to Christ. There were now > 600 believers in the town and he represented a church of > 100, 000 believers. 

We need to perceive the wisdom of God over time, through the years, centuries and generations, it is not just a snap shot nor a picture but the entire panoramic view of what God is doing that portrays the wisdom of God.

Dr J Stewart Gillespie 


Ephesians chapter 1 verse 7 - Redemption - JS Gillespie  

The theme of Redemption runs through the whole of the bible. In Leviticus chapter 25 people, places, possessions and property could be redeemed, Generally in the Old Testament redemption came by money or by silver and occasionally, by blood. Redemption teaches the truths of ransom, release and relationship. These truths we see worked out in the bible stories of Rebekah in Genesis chapter 24, Ruth and the nation of Israel in Exodus chapter 12. In the New Testament, redemption has a powerful message for us as believers, freedom from sin and judgment is purchased at an unestimable cost to secure my release into a glorious relationship with Christ, like Ruth and like Rebekah that redemption has bought for Christ a bride, ransomed, released and now in an eternal relationship with Jesus Christ.

There is running through the pages of Old Testament scripture the truth of Redemption:

  • Sometimes in picture
  • Sometimes in practice 
  • Sometimes in word
  • Sometimes in work

Redemption often begins with a:

  • Debt
  • Bondage 
  • Obligation 
  • Responsibility 


  1. The Plan of Salvation – chps 1 to 2 
  2. The Privileges of Salvation – chps 2 to 3 
  3. The Practice of Salvation – chps 4 to 6 

Over each section is Christ 

It is the Lord Jesus who brings to effect the Plan of Salvation 

V4 – Chosen in Christ 

V5 – Adopted by Jesus Christ 

V7 – Redemption by the blood of Christ

V15 – Faith in the Lord Jesus 

Privileges of Adoption:

All of these are ours because of Jesus Christ: 

  • Brought near by the blood of Christ (2:13) 
  • Broken down the middle wall of partition (2:14) 
  • Reconciled to God (2:15-16) 
  • Built on Christ the chief corner stone (2:20)
  • Part of the church (3:6) 
  • Indwelt by Christ (3:17)

Practice of Adoption 

Christ is supreme here too

  • Source of gifts – Christ (4:8) 
  • Secret of life – Christ (4:22,24)
  • Supreme pattern for marriage (5:25ff)

In the Old Testament, redemption applied to:

  • Possessions (Lev 25:24)
  • Property (Lev 25:29ff)
  • Places -land (Lev 25:23ff; Jer 32:6-7)
  • People (Lev 25:48ff, Numb 3:45; Exodus 21:8). The firstborn were to be redeemed by 5 shekels of silver. 

Note that we cannot redeem what already belongs to God (Lev 27:28ff) 

In the New Testament redemption is uniquely applied to People! (Ephesians 1:14)

In the New Testament Redemption is uniquely from sin! (Ephesians 1:7; Col 1:14; Hebrews 9:15)

In the old redemption could be effected by:

  • Silver
  • Money
  • Blood

In the New Testament Redemption is effected uniquely by means of blood. (1 Peter 1:18)

Redemption included 3 aspects of truth: 

  1. Ransom
  2. Release

The truth of redemption answers one of the commonest criticism of the gospel; ‘you mean you can ask God to forgive your sin and get out of jail free?’

You mean it doesn’t matter how you live your life? 

Is the gospel merely a thumbs up to hedonism or libertinism?

This was an accusation thrown at Paul (Romans 6:1; 3:8) 

You can do as you please and go to heaven since salvation does not depend upon works? 

Justification is to be declared righteous and is part of Redemption! (Romans 3:25) 

The Lord Jesus declares you righteous, the same time He purchases you and I.

Good works are not the cause of salvation

Good works are the consequence of salvation.

God does not save us to leave us where we are nor to leave us as what we were! God justifies those He redeemed. 

We cannot be justified without being redeemed! 

We are not justified in our sin.

We are justified from our sin. 

Redemption is found in the Old Testament 

It is a legal phenomenon and encompasses 3 truths:

  • Ransom 
  • Release 
  • Relationship 

3 great examples of redemption: 

  1. Rebekah by Abraham and his servant 
  2. Israel from Egypt 
  3. Ruth by Boaz


  1. Rebekah by Abraham and his servant 

For Rebekah there was a price paid (Genesis 24:22) 

A half shekel compare the redemption price of Exodus 30

Genesis 24:53 – a down payment, a promise from a wealthy master.

That price and redemption comes in in Ephesians 1:14 


  1. Israel from Egypt 

Uniquely redeemed by blood, the blood of the lamb

Redeemed from slavery in Egypt 

Brought out not only to break their bondage in Egypt but to bring them into service with God.

Ransom – Release – Relationship 

Not only a case of what they were brought out from but what they are brought into! 

Exodus 15:13 “Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation.”

1 Chron 17:21 “to be His own people” 

From them God would build a “house” : 

“Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation.” (1 Chron 17:24) 

  1. Ruth by Boaz

Ruth chapter 4 

Boaz is a close kinsman – redeemed by a person, a close relative.

Redemption here is both of:


  1. Property – as per Leviticus 25
  2. Person – Ruth herself, probably not as a consequence of the levirate laws of marriage in Deuteronomy 25 which applies to:

This was not what transpired in the book of Ruth:

  • Boaz was a near kinsmen (Ruth 3:12,13), not a brother and Naomi perceived no levirate right per se of redemption by Boaz. 
  • Naomi seems quite clear regarding levirate marriage in Ruth 1:11ff this would depend upon her having another son. 
  • Boaz credits the choice of Ruth as the cause of the union rather than legal rights per se “Let it even be established, that thy name may be magnified forever, saying, The LORD of hosts is the God of Israel, even a God to Israel: and let the house of David thy servant be established before thee.” (Ruth 3:10)
  • Once the son is born he is credited to Boaz (Ruth 4:21) and not Mahlon

This does not fulfil the criteria we know of for levirate but rather fits better with the legislation given as a consequence of the problems raised by the daughters of Zelophehad in Numbers 27 and 36.

It appears to have been their faithfulness and commitment to ensuring their inheritance in Numbers chapter 27 and the subsequent issues which arose in Numbers 36 with legislation that committed the daughter who inherits her fathers property to marry within the tribe. The faithfulness of the daughters of Zelophehad had unexpected consequences, reaching far beyond the daughters of Zelophehad! Their faithfulness in a sense turned the course of history, bringing to pass the marriage of Ruth and Boaz and thus the line of David and of Messiah! 

Boaz contributed to “building the house of Israel” (Ruth 4:6) 

In the Old Testament we see the redemption of:

  • People
  • Places – land 
  • Property – houses
  • Possessions 

There is a transfer of ownership, release by ransom

In NT redemption is uniquely of people

Redemption in the OT:

  • By silver 
  • By money 
  • By blood 

Redemption in the NT – uniquely by blood 

Redemption is a legal phenomenon 

Redemption; released from:

Satan – cf Pharaoh 

System – world 




Released from that which has power and authority over me 

In Ephesians we have the substance of the type and picture:

  1. Ransom – by blood
  2. Release – forgiveness of sins 
  3. Relationship established (Ephesians 1:5-6)

It is from sin and it’s power we have been redeemed

  • Galatians 3:13
  • 1 Peter 1:18 
  • Romans 3:24 
  • Ephesians 1:7 
  • Colossians 1:14 
  • Hebrews 9:12

Ephesians 2:1ff

Practical challenge: 

My salvation is part of redemption 

As a Christian maybe I am happy to accept justification, but what of redemption? 

Are there things I must leave behind? 

  • Satan 
  • Sin 
  • Self 
  • System 

What holds me back? 

  • Ananias and Sapphira – wealth
  • Demas – world 
  • Rich young man – wealth and self 
  • Corinth – Satan and idols 
  • Colossae – spirits and false Gods


Practical consequences of my redemption:

  1. I have been bought out from the power of sin – PAST, I was not purchased to be left in the old life but brought out of Egypt, Moab, Haran. 
  2. This answers one of the great questions thrown at the gospel; am I saying that simply by professing faith I can be saved? I can receive salvation and just live as I please? Justification is part of redemption (Romans 3:26) 
  3. Purpose and prospect – the best is yet to come (Ephesians 1:14) 

Consider Ruth and her redemption

  • Redemption of a person
  • Redeemed by a near kinsman – Boaz
  • Redeemed to become a bride.



Dr J Stewart Gillespie

Ephesians chp 1 verse 4 - The Love we Know is the Love we Show  

Ephesians chapter 1 verse 4 "according as he has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy without blame before Him in love" Love is the 3rd purpose in God's election of the believer in Ephesians chapter 1. This is a love we experience, know and show in our lives through an encounter with the grace of God in preserving, restoring, saving, sustaining and strengthening the Christian day by day. Encountering the love of God in Christ allows us to express that love to others. 

Jacob was saved by that love

Moses and Israel was sustained by that love

Elijah's left was kept and he did not die because of that love

David was restored by that love

Peter recovered by that love

Lazarus arose from the dead by that love

“that we should be holy, without blame before Him in love” 

It is according to some scholars and translations legitimate to attach the “in love” with the beginning of verse 5 as an alternative, a translation used in the HCSB: 

“For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will,” (Ephesians 1:1-4)

The “in love” could be linked with “He predestined” and that as I am sure you would see would be very understandable. 

I do prefer the AV translation, maybe out of personal prejudice / tradition, yet “in love” as the object and purpose of our election fits very well with one of the big sub themes of Ephesians.

The believer in Ephesians is:

  • Chosen
  • Predestinated 
  • Saved 
  • Redeemed
  • Under new management (2:1ff)
  • Sealed (1:13) and indwelt by the Spirit of God 
  • Transformed by the work of God’s Holy Spirit into the character of Jesus Christ (Eph 2:10)
  • Living out the Christian life in the power of the Person of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit, by putting off the old man and putting on the new (Eph 4:22ff)
  • At the core of that aspiration for the Christian lies the prayer of the apostle in Ephesians 3:14ff that the believer, the adopted child of God might be:

Thus to be “holy, without blame before Him in love” is a purpose for the Christian echoed throughout the epistle. 

It is the purpose and plan of God that we might both:

  1. Experience that love
  2. Express that love

It is that love encountered in Christ by the believer (Eph 3:19) that is then worked out through life in:

  • Church
  • Marriage (Ephesians 5:25ff)
  • Family 
  • Work 

That “love” which fills the believer is the product of an encounter with that love, it is the consequence of “experience” of that love Ephesians 3:16,19.

As I wander through the wilderness for 40 years, through a dry barren place, a desert, going round in circles and ask; why is it I have not starved to death or died of thirst in this barren place of lost souls and fallen carcases? Why is it I am still alive? Did I not:

  • Construct and worship an idolatorous golden calf? 
  • Grumble and murmur against Moses, God’s appointed leader? 
  • Complain in my heart and to God?
  • Desire a return to my bondage in Egypt because the food was better back then? 

And yet here I am, sustained in the wilderness!

Why am I still alive?

Why does bread fall from heaven? 

Why am I sustained with water from the rock? 

Why do my shoes not wear done? 

The only answer I receive “But because the LORD loved -- you, and because he would keep -- the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt” (Deut 7:8)

Those 40 years were an encounter, an experience, a knowledge of the love of God! 

Why do I hear a voice, an echo from beyond the stony wall of the tomb “Lazarus come forth”? Because “behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.” (John 11:3) 

Why is it not enough when I pray “it is enough”:

But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested -- for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.” (1 Kings 19:4) 

Why does God not just let me die? 

Why is there a cake baked on the coals to sustain me? 

Why does God still speak to me? 

Why does God not just give up on me? 

I’ve had enough! Does He not see it? 

My life is a failure, my mission unsuccessful, I’ve preached and prayed and demonstrated the power of God on mount Carmel, performed miracles and yet no revival, just rejection and a people who do not listen nor respond. I’ve had enough! Why doesn’t God just leave me alone? 

Why are there cakes cooked on the coals (1Kings 19:6)? 

Why that touch from the angel (1Kings 19:5)? 

Why do I hear again the sound of the still small voice (1Kings 19:12)?

Why does God not just give up? Because Elijah is “His servant Elijah” 

God did not give up on Elijah because God loved Elijah, this strengthening of His servant was because God loved His servant! This was a personal experience of the love of God in His life. 

I’ve gone back to the fishing, leave me alone! 

The Lord finds Peter and restores Peter to useful and effective service, Peter experiences the Love of Christ in His life. 

It is by the experience of that love:

  • In sustaining
  • In restoring
  • In forgiving
  • In fitting for service 

That we know and experience the love of God 


Dr J Stewart Gillespie

Ephesians chapter 1 verse 5 - Adoption - JS Gillespie  


Adoption is not only a New Testament truth but we see it pictured book ending the Old Testament festivals and story of redemption. This is the story of adoption in the Old Testament and its meaning for Christians today. 

“Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will”

It is interesting to reflect on the Old Testament: 

  1. Annual calendar 
  2. Annual cycle of feasts 
  3. Story of redemption

It is interesting to note that the annual cycle of feasts begins and ends with:

A deliverance:

  • Passover at the beginning – 14 th day of the 1st month – Abib / Nissan 
  • Purim marks the end of the year of feasts – 14th day of the final month Adar 

With both of these festivals, at the beginning and at the end of the year are marked by 2 noteable individuals:

  • Moses
  • Esther 

It is remarkable, that whilst in the Old Testament story, adoption is unusual, that both Moses and Esther are adopted.

  • Moses adopted by Pharoah’s daughter (Exodus 2:10)
  • Esther adopted by her cousin Mordecai (Esther 2:7); “And he brought up -- Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle’s daughter: for she had neither father nor mother, and the maid was fair and beautiful; whom Mordecai, when her father and mother were dead, took for his own daughter.”

The whole of the Old Testament calendar, annual cycle of religious feasts and the whole of the old testament story of redemption are thus bookended by the theme of adoption.

It is interesting to note that:

  • Moses delivered from a place – from Egypt 
  • Esther delivered from a person – Haman, recall what the book of Esther says about  “And Esther said, The adversary and enemy is this wicked Haman” (Esther 7:6). It was that Haman who devised a plan for the genocide of the Jews and who particulary constructed the “gallows” or “tree” (Heb) for the destruction of righteous Mordecai. By a twist of providence it was by his own designed means of death that he died! "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;” (Heb 2:14)

Perhaps we need not reflect too hard on these to see a picture of our own adoption: 

  • From a PLACE – the world
  • From a PERSON – Satan 

To complete the picture, perhaps we can note a third individual in the Old Testament system who was adopted: Samuel. It was the task of Samuel not to deliver from a:

  • Place – Egypt
  • Person – Haman 

But rather from a:

  • Principle – Flesh (1 Samuel 2:13ff) – consider the condition of the nation in those days, even amongst those who ought to be leading God’s people, they were very much controlled by the flesh.

It is from these 3 that God’s people are delivered in New Testament days too:

"And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” (Ephesians 2:1-3)

It is interesting to see that in the OT with adoption, with the privilege there came great responsibility.

  1. Moses – Dignity of Sonship – as the son of Pharoah’s daughter he no longer spent his days in the dirt making bricks and behaving as a slave! 
  2. Samuel – Service marked his adoption in the temple 
  3. Esther – Responsibility was integral to her adoption! Esther had opportunity of access to the King and grasped it for the salvation of her people! 

Old Testament adoption is a picture of what God has for His people here in Ephesians 1:5. 

Even in the Old Testament days, the entire workings of God were under the umbrella of grace and adoption. God did not have to deliver fallen humanity, an enslaved people nor the Jews from Haman in Babylon, but He did. 

In the principle of adoption we have to the fore the thoughts of:

  1. Grace as the motive behind salvation 
  2. Gratitude as the response to that salvation

In response to God’s salvation the challenge is to live to make our Father proud, to live to the “praise of the Glory of His Grace.”

In the spiritual reality of adoption we have something that goes beyond the human equivalent of adoption. In the case of human adoption the issue is one of NURTURE, ie one fallen human being adopts and cares for another fallen human being. When God adopts us it is the Divine adopting one who was fallen and sinful. For this adoption there must be a change in our NATURE. Christian adoption is a matter of:

  1. Nurture
  2. Nature

Adoption forms a major sub theme in the Ephesian epistle:

  1. Chapters 1 to 2 – God’s PLAN of adoption / salvation 
  2. Chapters 2 to 3 – The PRIVELAGES of adoption / salvation 
  3. Chapters 4 to 6 – The PRACTICE of adoption


In each and every step it is to the “praise of His Glory”


Dr J Stewart Gillespie

What God will do with a Handful of Dust - Ephesians chapter 1 verse 4  


The Christian is "chosen in Him before the foundation of the world" with a Divine sovereign, personal and particular election which infuses purpose and meaning into the Christian life.

 Just as God's choice and election is personal and particular of each believer so too His purpose is personal and particular. God's electing Grace is not corporate, God not only chooses the means of salvation, but just as God personally chose Jeremiah, John the baptist and the apostle Paul in Acts 9, by His sovereign will so too God choses the believer today. This infuses meaning and purpose into the Christian life. 

Allow me to remind you of what God can do with a handful of dust! 

From a handful of dust God brought:

  • Abraham – the father of the faithful 
  • Solomon – the wisest man on the earth 
  • Samson – the mightiest man 
  • Kings, prophets, poets
  • Men of science and understanding 

From that handful of dust emerged a:

  • Saviour – Joseph
  • Deliverer – Moses 
  • Wise man – Solomon 
  • King – David 

Men who turned the world upside down! 

In the secular sphere from that handful of dust came men whose mind penetrated the depths of the universe – Einstein and the details of the cell – Kreb, the miracle of life - Watson and Crick, the physics of the creation – Newton, Farraday.

A flavour of what God can do with a handful of dust! 

Yet all of that pales into relative insignificance with what God WILL do with a handful of dust!

“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:” Ephesians 1:4

What God has done with a handful of dust is nothing compared to what God will do with a handful of dust! 

In Ephesians chapter 1 verse 4 we see that for the believer the Christian life comes with purpose built it! The Christian life is better by design! The Christian life has destiny built in! 

It is today part of secular ideology to encourage men and women to find a purpose or a meaning for their life, to set out a route to get there. It is different for the believer! 

Ephesians 1:4 “chosen … that

Chosen with a purpose. The purpose of the believer precedes their conscience, life and capacity. The believer is not a life looking for a purpose, the believer is a purpose looking for a life! As believers we come with purpose built in! 

Believers are men and women with a sense of purpose, we see this so often in the pages of scripture; people who fit like a jigsaw piece into the great:

  • Drama of redemption 
  • Story of the bible 
  • Pages of history

Men and women like:

  • Abraham
  • Sarah
  • Isaac
  • Rebekah
  • Joseph
  • Moses 
  • Rahab
  • Ruth 
  • Esther
  • Joshua
  • David
  • Samuel
  • Mary 
  • John baptist
  • Paul 
  • Apostles 

He hath chosen us in Him” (Ephesians 1:4

A text misunderstood or perhaps misrepresented! 

Misunderstood to perhaps indicate that as believers we were not actually personally chosen at all! Some have used a text like this to teach ‘corporate election’ that God appoints merely the means of salvation ie the Lord Jesus and we find our way to Christ! 

This idea of group or corporate election, or election of the means of salvation rather than personal, individual and sovereign election to salvation is quite false and of course fails to resolve the problem which it sets out to tackle ie the perceived unfairness of God sovereignly choosing men to salvation, instead it abandons men to the luck of the draw, the capriciousness of circumstances, the opportunities of life and temperament. 

We don’t need the whole of the bible to see the fallacy of this idea, we only need:

  • One book – Ephesians

No only

  • One chapter – chapter 1

No infact only

  • One verse Ephesians chapter 1 verse 1 

“Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:1) 

Did Paul find his own way to the means of salvation?

Is that seriously your understanding of Acts chapter 9? 

What is your testimony Paul? 

“Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ by the WILL of God” (Ephesians 1:4)

Paul’s conversion to Christ was whilst he was spiritually going in the opposite direction, actively attacking persecuting Christ and Christians, attacking the gospel and the church! His conversion was Divine, sovereign, and personal!

Consider also the sovereign hand of God on:

  • John the Baptist (Luke 1:15) 
  • Jeremiah (Jer 1:5) 
  • Esau and Jacob (Rom 9:11) 

What does it mean to be “chosen in Him” (Eph 1:4)?

This is the only way God could chose you or I. How else would God make that choice? Would it be the same way that you and I make choices in life? 

Is that the way God chooses? Does He choose the better option? 

9 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;
10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one” Romans 3:9-10

God choses us for the only reason He can choose us, not because of the raw material but because of the finished product! It wasn’t that the handful of dust from which God formed Adam was any less dirty than any other handful of dirt! 

It is not because of what we are but rather it is because of what God can do with us! It is not that one handful of dust is any better than any other handful of dust!

We are chosen with a purpose (Ephesians 1:4).

It is important to appreciate that God’s choice is personal in the first half of this verse, so that we might appreciate that God’s purpose in the second half of this verse is also personal! If His choice is personal, then His purpose is personal! Holiness, blamelessness, and love are not simply general aspirations for all believers. These are personal, particular and tailored destinies. The path for my life is different from the path which another believer will travel, that path is different by design! That path to:

  • Holiness
  • Blamelessness
  • Love 

Is particular, tailored and personal for you and I. It is not valid for me to look at the life of another believer and ask the question, why is my life, my path not easier? Why can I not have fewer problems, less of a challenge and lighter burdens? We cannot compare and we cannot complain! To achieve these goals of:

  • Holiness
  • Harmlessness 
  • Love 

God has a path uniquely tailored for my life and yours. That path may not be easy but it is designed to bring us to the intended destination, wither that be by means of:

  • 40 days in the ark
  • 40 years in the wilderness
  • 400 years in captivity
  • 40 chapters of suffering  for Job 

Love isn’t easy, love grows in adversity!

Love is that ‘together glue of perfectness’ (Col 3:14) – the most succinct description of love in bible. 

For the disciples that love grows in adversity (John 6:66ff), Peter and the disciples stay with the Lord!


Bible teaching from the book of Ephesians Ephesians chapter 1 verse 4. 

Dr J Stewart Gillespie

The Secret of Satisfaction - Ephesians chapter 1 verse 3 - Dr J Stewart Gillespie  

The Christian is blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians chapter 1 verse 3). This means that Christian satisfaction arises from the same source and comes by the same means as salvation. Satisfaction, sanctification and salvation all come from Christ and all come by faith in Christ. Our blessings and rescources are no more the product of our own effort and striving than is our salvation! These blessings in heavenly places in Christ are ours by reason of our relationship with Jesus. Those blessings are in heaven (Ephesians 1:3), Jesus is in heaven (Ephesians 1:20) and we are in Jesus (Ephesians 2:6). From this our blessings flow and over flow. It is through Divine strengthening, Divine gift, personal exercise in trials, tests and afflictions and in our daily spiritual battles, that we begin to tap into these blessings. These blessings become experience in the testings of life. 

The Flor de la Mar, sunk in 1511 off the coast of Malayasia with the largest as yet undiscovered treasure of any sunkken vessel, approximately £2 billion of gold, silver and precious stones, taken from the Sultan of Malacca by the Portuguese. It’s yours for the taking, if you can find it! 

Ephesians presents the believer with a rich treasure trove of spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3). There does initially appear to be a catch. These blessings are in heavenly places! They are as high as the treasure of the Flor de la Mar is deep and maybe as inaccessible too!

These blessings are not only in heavenly place (v3) – PLACE which may seem out of reach but they are also:

In a PERSON (v3) – In Christ 

Just as our salvation and justification is in a person (Romans 10:6-8) so too is our sanctification and spiritual growth in a person (Eph 1:3-4).

We would be aghast if the preacher on Sunday in the gospel service got up and informed the audience that the good news of the gospel was that salvation was possible so long as you just follow the:

  • Rules 
  • Regulations 
  • Join the church
  • Get baptised 

And earn your way to heaven 

We would rightly regard that as absurd.

We rejoice in the truth of the gospel.

  1. Christ brought down righteousness in His Person (Romans 8:6)
  2. Christ raised up righteousness after His finished work at Calvary evidenced by His resurrection (Romans 8:7)

Christ brought down righteousness in the holiness and uniqueness of His Person and character.

Christ raised up righteousness in His saving work.

Here is maybe a problem in the Christian life I stumble over, that just as salvation is uniquely found in the person and work of Christ so too is:

  • Satisfaction 
  • Sanctification 
  • Sustenance 

All found here, our blessings are all found here! 

Would it be possible to forget this? The apostle speaks of this in a later letter to the Ephesians  (1 Timothy 5:11). They forgot where the true source of satisfaction lay, it lies in the same place as the true source of our salvation; in Christ! 

There seems to be a problem however! These blessings are in “heavenly places”, in a PLACE inaccessible? 

These blessings are also in a PERSON, in Christ (v3). 

That PERSON is also in the PLACE (Ephesians


Dr J Stewart Gillespie Systematic bible teaching from Ephesians

Ephesians chp 1 vs 1 to 3 - Tapping into our Treasure Trove in Christ, An Introduction to Ephesians - JS Gillespie  

An introduction to Paul's letter to the Ephesians. We consider an outline of the epistle, the main themes of the letter to the Ephesians and the structure of the letter. We note the division of the letter into doctrinal and practical sections and the the rich treasure trove of blessings which are ours as 'blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.' Part of our systematic study through the letter to the Ephesians. 

Notes on Ephesians chapter 1 verses 1 to 3:

Ephesians – Ephesus from a natural perspective was a strange place to send this letter to!

Ephesus was a place of:

  • Pagan Temples 
  • Pagan gods
  • Pagan statues 
  • Artemis 
  • Cult of Caesar 
  • Physical altars and temples 

The letter to the Ephesians was spiritual:

  • His people become His temple / building. 
  • God indwells His people!

This new way was not so much a RELIGION as a RELATIONSHIP with the one true and living God and that was counterculture and revolutionary!

Such was the impact of the gospel at Ephesus! 

  1. Chapters 1 to 3 – Doctrinal 
  2. Chapters 4 to 6 – Practical:

These 2 main sections are joined together by the prayer of 3:14-21, the keystone of the Ephesian letter.


Some of the old preachers used to remind us that practice is dependant upon doctrine. There is probably nowhere else that this is so clearly seen as in the letter to the Ephesians. It is evident in the very structure of the epistle. The concluding three chapters of practice rest in the first 3 verses of doctrine.

4:1 – illustrates the connection between doctrine and practice quite clearly! 



  1. God’s Plan of Adoption – chps 1 to 2
  2. The Privileges of Adoption – chps 2 to 3 
  3. The Practice of Adoption and Salvation – chps 4 to 6

No nation rises higher than its gods! 

If your god commits:

  • Murder
  • Incest
  • Theft
  • Adultery
  • Drunkenness
  • Capricious 
  • Cruelty
  • War 

If these are your gods, then you really don’t have much to walk worthy of, your standards aren’t very high. 

Bring that to a contemporary setting; if you believe that life has no meaning, no purpose, no destiny and that no one is in control, that we are but the random products of a million chemical reactions and accidents, you may rightly as the question; ‘what is the point to it all?’ From thence it is but a small step to despair and oblivion! 

“Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ” (1:1) 

Some struggle with the teaching of Ephesians chapter 1:

  • Election 
  • Predestination 
  • God’s choice to salvation 

Some do their best to evade the clear and simple teaching of this chapter:

  • Arminianism – God chooses those whom He foreknows would choose Him!
  • Corporate election – God chooses the means of salvation, ie Christ but not those who are to be saved. God chooses Christ and we choose to be in Christ. 

We really don’t need the whole bible to disprove these ideas and establish the principle of Divine, sovereign, personal, individual election to salvation. 

We just need one book – Ephesians.

We just need one chapter – Ephesians chapter 1.

We just need one verse – Ephesians chapter 1 verse 1!

God clearly did not choose Paul because Saul would choose God!

God did not clearly appoint the means of salvation and leave Saul of Tarsus to find Christ! That is a million miles away from the events recorded in Acts 9. Not only did Saul ‘not seek after God’ (Romans 3:11) but Saul actively rebelled against God and rejected Christ (Acts 9:13). 

Paul’s apostleship is “by the will of God” as all salvation and calling is “by the will of God”.

“to the saints, to the faithful in Christ Jesus” (v1) 

“The Saints” 

  • Holy ones – set apart for God 
  • What God makes us 
  • We do not make ourselves saints 
  • God does that 
  • What God does for me!

“To the faithful” 

  • What we do for God 

Consider John chapter 6 “will you also go away?”

Consider Luke chapter 17 and the 10 lepers and only 1 returns.

There were many faithful in the New Testament:

  • Timothy
  • Epaphroditus
  • Paul
  • John 
  • Priscilla and Aquila

I believe it is a terrible tragedy when we claim what God did for us as Saints and then deny and reject what we are to do for God as “faithful”.

In Ephesians faithfulness to God in Christ is very much with the setting of the church:

  • Playing our part in His body as members 
  • Being part of the temple in worship 
  • Gifts God has given to us (4:1-16) 
  • Walk in chapters 4 to 6 


Verse 3: “blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” 

Consider the Flor del la Mar, sunk in 1511 off of the coast of Malaysia, full of stolen treasure from the Sultan of Malaca. It contained gold, silver, precious stones valued today at about £2 billion. It is yours for the taking. Problem is, that treasure is as far down as our treasure is up! How do we get to it? 


Dr J Stewart Gillespie

Ephesians chapter 1 verses 3 to 14 - The Privilege and Purpose of the Believer - JS Gillespie  

The believer is a man with a PURPOSE 
One of the key words in the chapter (1:9,11) 
Epistle to the Ephesians, like all other epistles, an Epistle with a PURPOSE, unlike all other’s an Epistle about a PURPOSE:  

1.    God’s PURPOSE for believers 
2.    God’s PURPOSE for His SON 
3.    God’s PURPOSE for believers & His Son together. 
Says Paul: “The church is like:” 

1.    A Building – but Christ is the chief corner stone (Eph2:20) 
2.    A Body – but Christ is the Head (Eph4:15, 5:23) 
3.    A Bride – one day to be united with Christ (Eph 5:32) 

Ephesians 1: 1-14 Introduction 

3 Sections each ending with an Exclamation of Praise: 

1)    God the Father (v3-6) 
2)    God the Son (v7-12) 
3)    God the Spirit (v13-14) 

The believer is a man greatly blessed, by all 3 persons of the Godhead! 

Overview of our Blessings in Christ: 
“blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places” (v2) 

1)    Election (v4) 
2)    Sanctification (v4) 
3)    Predestination (v5) 
4)    Adoption (v5) 
5)    Redemption (v7) 
6)    Absolution (v7) 
7)    Wisdom & Understanding (v8) 
8)    Revelation (v9) 
9)    Consummation (v10) 
10)    Worship & Adoration (v6, v12, v14) 
11)    Reception of the Holy Spirit (v13-14) 

A Purpose which: 

1)    PREDATES this world (v4) 
2)    SEPARATES us from the world (v4) 
3)    PREDESTINATES us out of this world (v5) 
4)    INSTATES us as Sons (v5) 
6)    CONSUMMATES with everything under the headship of Christ (v10) 
7)    GENERATES praise & worship forever (v6, v12, v14) 
8)    ANTICIPATES the fulfillment of the Divine Promise (v13-14) 

Overview of our Blessings in Christ:  (v3) 
As we consider our blessings, “in Christ,” – ought to have an effect upon us: 
“Blessed be…” (v3): describing what God is, “inherently worthy to be praised.” 
 “Hath blessed us…” (v3):  
As we appreciate what God has done for us, our hearts return in praise & worship to Him. How is our worship? How is our appreciation of our blessings in Christ? By the end of our study in Ephesians chp1 our heart ought to be lifted up in worship to God. 

1)    The SOURCE of blessings, “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Blessings come from God & worship returns to God 

2)    The SCOPE of blessings, “all spiritual blessings” If I were to say that we had “a lot” of spiritual blessings in Christ, tell me I’m talking nonsense, don’t have a lot, have “all” or “every” spiritual blessing. 

3)    The SPHERE of blessings, “in heavenly places,” To begin to appreciate what we have in Christ , have to move into the heavenly sphere. Let go of the earthly & mundane, work & worries etc, move into the heavenlies.  

1)    Election & Sanctification (v4) 
“he hath chosen us in him” – Strange phrase, now we’re saved we’re, “in Him.” But here we are chosen, “in Him before the foundation of the world.” 
God chose us not because of what we were before we were saved but because of what God would make us after we were saved. 
ELECTION excludes PRIDE & SELF-WORTH. God’s sovereign Grace. 
Paul deals with ELECTION Practically, not like the theologians. Doesn’t debate Divine sovereignty & Human responsibility, or explain the how & the wherefores: 
1.    With respect to SANCTIFICATION (Eph1:4). God has chosen you. There must be some purpose to Divine chose. God must have something for you that is: SANCTIFICATION.  
Rom12:1-2: Biblical double definition of holiness! 

2.    With respect to SECURITY (Rom8:29,33ff). God has chosen me; therefore my salvation doesn’t depend upon me! Not upon my grasp of Him but upon His eternal PURPOSES & COUNSELS. Plagued with doubts about your salvation? Am I good enough? Probably not! Am I trying hard enough? Probably not! Is my faith strong enough? Probably not! But for the purposes of eternal security it matters not one whit! (May affect reward of course). 

 “Holy” – POSITIVE & “Without blame” – NEGATIVE 

 “In love” – the whole issue of election is encompassed in an atmosphere of perfect love. 

2)    Predestination & Adoption (v5) 
v4 – Show the family likeness. v5 – Adopted into the family (Heb2:11) 

Adoption unknown in the OT. In Roman law the adopted son has the same rights as the natural son. 

3)    Worship & Adoration (v6, v12, v14) 

God’s ultimate purpose, to have a people who will both worship Him & cause Him to be worshiped for ever. 

Worship & Adoration, begins in time & perfected in eternity 
4)    Redemption & Absolution (v7) 

Purchased at a great cost (1Pet1:18). Redemption – Bought from something: 
1.    Freedom from the Guilt of Sin: Rom3:24 
2.    Freedom from Presence of Sin: Rom8:23 
3.    Freedom from Penalty or Punishment of Sin: Eph1:7, redemption is seen here as synonymous with forgiveness. 

Redemption ; therefore we are not our own.  

5)    Wisdom & Understanding (v8) 
God has given us all of these blessings, & with them the ability to understand/appreciate them. 
Sometimes wonder how folks can sit under gospel preaching & remain oblivious. Wisdom & understanding – a Divine gift.     

6)    Revelation (v9) 

Something hidden & now revealed – “a mystery” 

7)    Consummation (v10-11) 

 “Dispensation”: originally referred to the management of a household. This is the Divine management of the universe.     
All things headed up in Christ. 
 “We have obtained an inheritance,” – really The inheritance which we are, rather than the inheritance which we have: 
1.    The context emphasises us as God’s portion (1:4,5) 
2.    “Have obtained an inheritance,” is in the passive voice (Bruce) 
3.    OT background, Israel as God’s inheritance (Deut32:8-9;Ps33:12) “Then all the “seasons,” of the story of redemption will attain their “fullness,” will be fulfilled, accomplished, so that the actual result shall correspond to the Divine ideal.” (HCG Moule) 

1)    Reception of the Holy Spirit (v13-14) 

Hear ,  Believe ,  Receive (v13)– Note the order. The Spirit is a first blessing, not a second blessing. 
The Holy Spirit:  
God’s Seal Upon us: Property & slaves had a seal upon them. 

God’s Promise to us: The Holy Spirit which was promised? (Jo15:26, 16:7, Acts1:4). More to it than that. This is the Spirit who leads us into & guarantees for us, our blessings & purposes in Christ (Eph1:14; 4:30). Here at the end of all our blessings in Christ, we have ministry on the Spirit of God. No coincidence. The abiding work of the Spirit, cf. Jo16:15. Not tongues (1Co13:8), not healings (IITim4:20). 

God’s Pledge for us: “Earnest”: a guarantee, pledge, deposit payed by the buyer until purchase price paid in full, compare the modern Greek: an engagement ring. 

Bible teaching from Paul's letter to the Ephesians chapter 1. A message from our systematic bible study in the Ephesian epistle. Join us as we preach and study through the New Testament, in this expository verse by verse Bible Teaching series. Yours by Grace in Christ, Dr J Stewart Gillespie.