1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus:
who [saints] are in Ephesus,
The epistle of Ephesians was addressed to churches in the region of Ephesus (western coast of Turkey today). Some manuscripts omit “in Ephesus”; however, other evidence supports its inclusion in this epistle.
Paul established the church on his second missionary enterprise. He went to Ephesus with Aquila and Pricilla from Corinth on his way to Jerusalem. Paul left Aquila and Pricilla in Ephesus (Acts 18:19–22).
Paul came again to Ephesus on his third missionary enterprise in A.D. 57. It was upon this visit that Paul asked Aquila and Pricilla to correct Apollos’s doctrine of resting his beliefs on John the Baptist and change it to the new economy of grace. Twelve others followed Apollos in this.
Ephesians was a circular letter intended for a number of churches in the Ephesus region. Paul probably sent the letter to Laodicea and other cities in the region.
The message of Paul fell on fertile soil in Ephesus, so Paul made that city a center of evangelism for three years (Ac 19:10).
Paul left Timothy in change of the Ephesian church after his three-year ministry there (Acts 20:31). Timothy faced doctrinal problems with Hymenaeus and Alexander in Ephesus (1 Ti 1:3-7, 20; 4:7).
On Paul’s return from his third missionary enterprise, he stopped in Ephesus to bid farewell to the Ephesian elders at the city of Miletus (Ac 20:13-35). That event was the last time he saw them (20:36-38).
John also made Ephesus the center of his labors (Re 2:1-7).
Priscilla and Aquila probably brought the gospel of John to Ephesus.
The church of Ephesus was the first of the seven churches mentioned in Revelation (1:11; 2:1-7). It needed a warning from God.
Paul also called the Ephesian church “the faithful in Christ Jesus.” This church faced adverse situation, yet Paul described them as faithful. They were dependable; God could count on them to remain true to truth. They were full of faith.
in Christ Jesus
“In Ephesus” refers to the physical address of the church in Asia Minor. “In Christ Jesus” refers to their spiritual address.
The phrase “in Christ Jesus” is a key phrase in the book of Ephesians and elsewhere in the New Testament. The phrase occurs 164 times in various forms, such as “in Christ” or “in Him.” Paul used this concept nine times in 1:1-14 and 25 times in Ephesians. It also occurs 130 times in the New Testament.
The phrase “in Christ” carries the idea of positional truth. Positional truth is true whether we experience it or not. It is a status that God gives us at the point of salvation.
The Christian holds a status before God that is equal to that of Jesus Christ—perfect.
We will see the idea of positional truth throughout the book of Ephesians. Note just a few occurrences of this in Ephesians 1:3, 6; 2:6.
Those who are not Christians are “in Adam.” They have only a human nature, not a divine capacity. We are either in Christ or in Adam. Those are the only two options found in the Bible. Those in Christ will never face condemnation from God
Ro 8: 1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
The person “in Christ” is a “new creation” in Christ,
2 Co 5: 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.