God’s holy people in ______

Read Ephesians 1:1-2.

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,

To God’s holy people _________ who are also faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

That’s probably not the way Ephesians 1:1-2 reads in your Bible, but that is essentially what appears in the best and earliest manuscript evidence for the letter we know today as “Ephesians.” Your Bible most likely has a footnote to that effect, much like that found in the NIV and TNIV:

“Some early manuscripts do not have ‘in Ephesus.'”

In other words, the apostle Paul probably did not write the letter we know today as “Ephesians” specifically, or exclusively, with the Christians in the city of Ephesus in mind. Most likely this letter was the ancient equivalent of what we would call a “circular” or “form” letter. As the great, late, conservative Pauline scholar F.F. Bruce observed:

“The weight of the documentary evidence indicates that the phrase ‘at Ephesus’ is not part of the original wording. This is consistent with the internal evidence of the letter: there is nothing in the contents to suggest that it was written to the church in a city where Paul had spent the best part of three years. There are no references to individuals or groups among the people addressed; there are no allusions to features or problems in a local situation. Even the letter to the Colossians, sent to a church with which Paul was not personally acquainted, is more personal from this point of view than Ephesians.”

Now whether this tidbit of scholarly information fascinates you or bores you, it might be easy to overlook the fact that it speaks eloquently of one of the great truths of Christian faith, namely that what’s good for Christians in one place is good for Christians everywhere. That is to say – in strong contradiction to the surround world, I might add! – Christians believe there is such a thing as objective truth.

Now many claim truth is a relative thing, that truth is completely pliable, totally dependent on how that individual perceives reality, etc. Nevertheless, Christians believe quite the opposite. So much so that you could, as it were, write a letter to a group of Christians in a place long, long ago in a place far, far away and yet find that same letter to be still totally relevant to an entirely different set of Christians many ages later on the other side of of the globe.

This comes as no surprise to Christians, for this is a given of our faith. We profess it each we would agree with a statement something like the following, something like the first two verses of the “Ephesian” letter – “the Lord Jesus Christ,” the dispenser of “grace and peace” from “God our Father,” is Lord over all the earth, throughout all the ages.

In the name Jesus Christ my Lord, I pray to you today, Heavenly Father. I marvel at how you remain true throughout the ages, the One Constant amidst eons of change and billions of beings. Your reassurance that I am not alone in my faith in you, but a part of a great host of witnesses to you, the True One, does my mind and heart good. May the life today be true to your word and may Your Word be the truth that leads me today, I pray. Amen.

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