I have to read and grade a lot of college term papers. One common grammatical problem is the run-on sentence. However, I’ve never seen a college student create a sentence half as long as the one Paul wrote in Ephesians 1. In the Greek, Paul’s sentence goes from verse 3 to verse 14. In that one sentence, Paul covers the entire scope of salvation history from before God created the earth until the future when all things are brought together under the headship of Jesus. We just finished a sermon series on “The Story” of the Bible. This is Paul’s “nutshell” version of “The Story.”
Highlighted in the one sentence are at least four critical stages of salvation.
First, we learn that “before the creation of the world” God chose us and predestined us to be adopted as his children. Our salvation began even before God said, “Let there be…”
Second, we see that our redemption is rooted in Christ’s saving act on the cross. It is only “through his blood” that we have “the forgiveness of sins.” Without Christ’s sinless life, substitutionary death, and bodily resurrection, there is no salvation.
Third, there is the individual’s response of faith. In order to be “included in Christ” one must hear the gospel and then choose to believe it (v. 13). Part of being included in Christ is the gift of the Holy Spirit–God’s very presence in our lives to transform us. This work will continue until the fourth and final stage of salvation happens.
Fourth, Paul talks about “redemption” in a future sense (v. 14). This is when Christ returns and we enter into the fullness and completeness of our salvation. Then, when we are glorified and perfected, we will live eternally for the praise of God’s glory under the rulership of Christ.
This whole process of salvation, from beginning to end, is overseen by the One “who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.”
Paul said all of this in one sentence. It is a sentence worth remembering or even memorizing.