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D. A. Carson & Douglas J. Moo
An Introduction to the New Testament
The letter begins with a section putting strong emphasis on the divine action in bringing salvation. Paul refers to the spiritual blessings in Christ that believers enjoy and goes on to speak of God as having chosen them before the creation of the world (Eph. 1:4; see also v. 11). Their salvation did not take place because they earned it but because God planned it, a truth that is otherwise expressed in terms of predestination that is linked with God’s will and pleasure (1:5) and again with his plan (1:11). This opening also includes references to sonship through Christ, redemption through his blood, and sealing with the Holy Spirit (1:5, 7, 13). This massive emphasis on the place of the divine is expanded with continuing references to grace.
Christ’s saving work is stressed in the opening, a work that has significant implications for Christology. This emphasis persists throughout the letter: it is plain everywhere that who Christ is and what he does is at the heart of the Christian way. It is he who brings about the reconciliation of Jew and Gentile in the church, in the notable section on the breaking down of hostility and the making of peace between them (Eph. 2:11-22). Christ “himself is our peace” (2:14). This is more than the overcoming of human hostility. Part of Christ’s work is “to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ” (1:10). The powers in the heavenlies are to know “the manifold wisdom of God” through the church (3:10). There is an importance in Christ’s saving work that we cannot fathom, and there is an importance in the very existence of the church that we are not able to comprehend. read more...