Buried treasure! All sorts of stories abound. One such legend is the tale of the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine which supposedly lies somewhere hidden in the Superstition Mountains of Southern Arizona. When I was a student at the Arizona College of the Bible years ago, it was a story that was repeated again and again. It was not difficult for me to daydream about what it would be like to make its discovery. Can you imagine the excitement? What would it be like to have such incredible riches at your disposal? Just think of the changes it would make in your life.
The truth is, The Apostle Paul has made a discovery, through the revelation of the Mystery, that far exceeds any riches of this world. He calls it “the riches of His grace.” We shall call it “God’s Grace Gold Mine.”
PAUL’S INTRODUCTION (1:1a)
A. “Paul” – Here “Saul’s” name is changed to “Paul.” This is a very important signal of a dispensational change similar to the change that took place when God changed Abram’s name to Abraham (compare Acts 13:4-13 with Gen. 13-17:5). Abraham’s name change took place right at the time when God “gave up” the Gentiles (Rom. 1:18-28), and also with the Apostle Paul. Paul’s name was changed right at the time when he “turned to the Gentiles.”
B. “The Apostle” – This is an ancient mariner’s title for the admiral (apostolos—Gk). The admiral was the commander of the fleet who was sent with the battle plans and had absolute authority to lead the fleet into battle victory.
C. “By the will of God” – This means more than God’s desire; rather, it must be understood to include the whole of God’s dispensational plan with a specific emphasis upon how Paul fits into the plan.
PAUL’S SALUTATION (1:1B-2)
A. “To the saints” and “faithful.”
B. “Grace” and “Peace” – Note: the order is never reversed.
1. “Grace” – is God’s spontaneous generosity: expecting nothing in return. Grace is every thing for free! Grace is God doing for the undeserving sinner what he could never do for himself.
2. “Peace” – is a medical term for setting of broken bones (eirane—Gk).The unsaved man’s spiritual bones are out of joint and only God’s grace can give rest from the pain.
PAUL’S PRAISE (1:3a)
A. The Object of Praise is God the Father. God the Father is the greatest giver in all the universe, thus, prompting Paul to eulogize Him or “speak well” of Him (“blessed” / eulogetos—Gk.).
B. The Reason for Praise is that God the Father has “blessed us” with “all spiritual blessings.” Paul praises God as the source of these riches.
1. Spiritual blessings are to be understood and appreciated in bold contrast to the physical and material blessings prom ised to Israel in the Gospel of the Kingdom.
2. Spiritual blessings are called “riches of His grace” (1:7-18; 2:4, 7; 3:8, 16; cf., words like fullness and inheritance).
PAUL’S GRACE GOLD MINE (1:3b)
…This is the Mother Lode of grace!
A. Where is the location?
1. “In the Heavenlies” – mentioned four times (1:3, 20; 2:6; 3:10). Where is Christ? In the Heavenlies and we are enthroned with Him! Our citizenship is in Heaven (Phil. 3:20). Praise God!
2. “In Christ” (or equivalent) is mentioned twelve times in the first chapter and twenty-seven times in the book. This is the most important place to be! This is all accomplished by the grace of God and the baptizing work of God the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:12-13).
B. Who does it belong to?
1. “Us” – The “Church which is His Body” (1:17-23).
2. Note: “We have obtained an inheritance (1:11), and it is “our inheritance” (1:13-18).
C. How was it done? – By the WILL of the Father (1:3-6), by the WORK of the Son (1:7-12), and by the WITNESS of the Spirit (1:13-18).
1. “According to” His sovereignty (1:4).
2. “According to” His grace (1:7; 4:7). “He spared not His own Son” (Rom. 8:32), and “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus” (2 Cor. 8:9).
3. “According to” His omnipotence (1:19; Rom. 9:20-24).
4. “According to” His omnipresence. (Note: the “glory” of His presence, i.e., the indwelling Holy Spirit: 3:16).
D. Why was it done?
1. Because God is love (1 Jn. 4:8, 16; Eph. 1:4b; 2:4).
2. Because God wanted to! It was His “good pleasure” (1:5, 9)!
3. Because God wanted to praise and glorify His amazing grace (1:5-6)!
4. Because God had an eternal, secret purpose for the Body of Christ. This plan was totally unannounced and unanticipated by any man or angel until placed in the capable hands of the “wise masterbuilder,” Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles (1:9; 3:11).