By Stan Brown
Ephesians 1:15 For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you, and your love for all the saints.
Paul finishes one exceedingly long sentence (1:3-14) about every spiritual blessing that has been given to us and immediately begins another long single sentence (1:15-23) as he describes his prayer for them and us. This prayer is that we will know God, personally and intimately. In chapter two he will discuss our movement from being spiritually dead to spiritually alive. If I had been writing this, I think I would have started with the description of our salvation and moved on to the personal and intimate relationship that it offers. Paul begins with the magnificent blessings that God bestows and moves to the relationship that is available. Paul begins the discussion with God in view while I would begin the discussion with me in view (Hmm, God’s way seems better). (Yes, I know that God is the one who takes me from being spiritually dead to being spiritually alive in chapter two.) Anyway, Paul starts with God and moves quickly to that relationship that we may have with Him. In John’s epistle (I John) this intimate relationship is also front and center just as it is throughout Scripture. God wants to have a personal relationship with me and He provides the means.
Paul begins this sentence by mentioning the two fundamental relationships of Scripture. He begins with the vertical relationship with God that begins with faith in the Lord Jesus. He has just said having also believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit (1:13). He will soon say in the notable passage in chapter two, For by grace you have been saved through faith (2:8). God has blessed us with the blessings that we have received through faith. Paul speaks of this faith ten times in this letter. The intimate relationship we have with Him is always related to faith. It begins through faith and we live by faith. This vertical relationship is emphasized in the first tablet of the Law (Commandments one through four of the Ten Commandments) which Jesus summarizes with the words And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind (Matt. 22:37).’ Paul has heard of their faith. It makes me pause to wonder; ‘how many people have heard of my faith?’.
Paul continues with mention of the horizontal relationships described with the phrase your love for all the saints. This horizontal relationship is emphasized in the second tablet of the Law (Commandments five through ten of the Ten Commandments) which Jesus summarizes with the words “The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:39).’ Paul will include the words love with faith in the final two verses of this letter. Paul has also heard of their love. It makes me pause to think; I am perfectly comfortable sitting here attempting to understand God’s word, yet ‘How much is my love for the saints evident in what I do?’. Let us pursue our relationships with God and His people fervently.