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 ESV)
Paul concludes his greeting to the Ephesians in his standard way: by offering them a blessing of both God’s grace and peace.
The word grace is χηαρισ (pronounced: khar’-ece) in Greek and it means “a kindness that is undeserving”. The word peace is ειρενε (pronounced: i-ray’-nay) which means “harmony between two parties”. This word is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word “shalom” (שָׁלוֹם).
Human beings are sinners. Really, really bad sinners. We are messed up more than we can imagine. As a result of this inherent sin every one of us is born separated from God. We are born spiritually “dead” [Colossians 2:13; Ephesians 2:1,5 et. al]. In fact, by our very nature we are enemies of God [Colossians 1:21; Romans 5:10] who are not the least bit interested in having a relationship with Him.
But God is interested in having a relationship with us. So He took it upon Himself to offer us reconciliation. He did this through His son, Jesus, who paid the penalty for our sins by dying an underserved death on the cross. This payment created a way for us to have our sins removed which is the prerequisite to having peace with God.
Notice the order of the words in this verse. Grace from God leads to peace with God. There is no other way to have peace with God. Peace with God can only be experienced through His grace. Many religions claim that one can appease God and therefore have peace with Him by doing certain things (praying the rosary, killing infidels, living a moral life, etc). But this is not true. The only way to have peace with God is by His grace.
In other words, there is nothing man can do to achieve this peace. God had to take the initiative which He did by sending His Son to the cross. The only way to experience peace with God is through His son [John 14:6] who, by His grace towards us, He sent to the cross to pay our sin penalty.
None of us deserved this. None of us were owed this. God did not have to do this. But He did it anyway because He wanted to. He did it out of His grace (“a kindness that is underserved”). The result is an eternal peace with God [Philippians 4:7].
Having God’s grace and peace is not a one-time experience. We continue to need them in our lives after we believe. That is why Paul is offering this blessing to the believers in Ephesus: they needed (and we need) a constant stream of grace and peace.
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