“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” – Ephesians 1:1-2
Paul confidently identified himself not by who he was “in his flesh,” but who he was “in Christ” (Philippians 3:3).
He didn’t walk in a false humility, un-confident in what God thought about him, or what God had called him to be or to do, but boldly and “believeingly” spoke the truth about himself and then walked it out.
Because Paul had been united to Jesus by faith, God changed his name from “Saul” to “Paul” – an expression that God no longer viewed “Saul” or related to him based on his own lack of righteousness and strength or based on his horrible failures and past sins. God now related to Saul based on who he was in union with Jesus, and so he expressed that by changing his name to Paul – a sign that he was a “new creation”, no longer defined by who he was in and of himself – his own righteousness (or lack of) – but by Jesus’ righteousness.
It was an act of faith for “Paul” to continually say about himself what God said, and to believe it even when what he could see with his eyes contradicted it.
It was confidence in God’s grace in Christ that enabled Paul to say about himself – “PAUL, an APOSTLE OF CHRIST JESUS, BY THE WILL OF GOD.”
In this greeting of Paul in the letter to the Ephesians, we can see that he lived a life of faith and boldness in three things…
1. HIS NEW NAME “Paul” not “Saul” – he didn’t identify himself based on his past sins or present weaknesses…
2. HIS CALLING/PURPOSE/WORK FROM GOD He boldly titled himself “AN APOSTLE” – and didn’t shrink away from that based on his awareness of his own lack of qualifications or worthiness of that title. He called himself “an apostle” because God called him that first (1 John 4:19).
3. HIS MOTIVATION …because it was “GOD’S WILL.” He didn’t live in insecurity about what was motivating him and knew that it was ultimately not his own selfish ambition but that as his eyes were fixed on Jesus, it was God’s ambition working through him by the Spirit.“It was an act of faith for “Paul” to continually say about himself what God said ad to believe it even when what he could see with his eyes contradicted it
“It was an act of faith for Paul to continually say about himself what God said and to believe it even when what he could see with his eyes contradicted it.”
FAITH WORKING THROUGH LOVE
The faith of Paul in his identity and security in Christ produced in him a confident hope in God, which in turn gave birth to love for his brothers and sisters in Christ. He was enabled to fulfill his statement in 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 – to not relate to anyone according to who they are in their own sin and weakness (their flesh), but rather to relate to them in love, knowing the hope of who God made them to be in Christ.
“…to THE SAINTS…. FAITHFUL in Christ Jesus.” – Ephesians 1:1
His viewing of himself through the lens of God’s grace enabled him to also view others through that same lens. He addressed the church as “SAINTS” and “FAITHFUL” in Christ Jesus. His awareness of God’s love empowered him to define others by who Jesus was in them and not based on who they were in themselves.
This has great application for all of us. Like Saul, God has also given us NEW NAMES (2 Corinthians 5:17) because of our union with Christ. His desire is that we would live by faith and relate to ourselves and to others based on HIS truth and HIS promises to us and not based on our own weakness.
In verse 2 he explains what makes this all possible… because there is “GRACE to us and “PEACE” from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”