Let’s start with the first one: “the hope of his calling.” By the end of chapter 3, Paul prays again that God would grant his listeners to understand with all the saints the full dimensions of God’s love in Christ—as if, they are now in a better position to understand. After its introduction in 1:18, the word “calling” is not used again until the beginning of chapter 4, where, with multiple repetitions of the word, Paul exhorts them to live up to the calling with which they have been called. Again, the implication is that the first theme—the hope of his calling—has been developed by the beginning of chapter 4. How can they live up to what they don’t understand? So it would appear that the “the hope of his calling” has been discussed somewhere between 1:23 and 3:14.
So let me just ask you, what does it mean to be called by God? And what are the riches of his inheritance among the saints? (We’ll look into the 3rd theme of the greatness of his power next time.)
In the opening prayer passage (1:3-14), Paul enumerates some of the blessings of God poured out on “those who were the first to hope in Christ” in two major sections: (1) “adoption as sons . . . redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses” (1:5-8) and (2) the revelation of the mystery to sum up all things in Christ . . . having “obtained an inheritance” (1:9-12). Paul then moves to the audience who also had (1) heard and believed the gospel of salvation and (2) had been sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, the guarantee of the inheritance. Beginning to see a pattern? Grace as adoption/redemption/forgiveness and grace as inheritance/Spirit/gifting? (These are the 2 basic meanings of “grace” in the Bible: grace as pardon and grace as power.)
Calling . . . inheritance.
Okay. In the spirit of this progression, check out Eph 2:1-10 and then Eph 2:11-22. Think “hope of his calling” while you read 2:1-10. Does it fit? Let’s approach it from the other side. What do you have if you don’t have “the hope of his calling”? Eph 2:1-10: “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked . . . . good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” And what if you don’t have “the riches of his inheritance among the saints”? Eph 2:11-22: “Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles . . . were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise . . .” But now, those who were far had been brought near in Christ—with all the trimmings. They are now “no longer strangers and aliens, but . . . fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” Or as Paul says in 3:6, they had become “fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel,” described as “the unsearchable riches of Christ” in 3:9. In other words, they are full members of God’s house and partakers of the riches of his inheritance.
There’s a lot more to be said about these subjects, but as you study 2:1-22 this week, see if this section (in 2 parts) doesn’t “open the eyes of our hearts” to “the hope of his calling” and “the glorious riches of his inheritance among the saints.” And note that they are among the saints.