Ephesians 1:1-2, NIV
"Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
In every epistle (or letter) that Paul wrote, he addressed his readers first by stating clearly who he was in Christ. Early on in Paul's ministry there were many who questioned his status as an apostle because he did not start out as the other 12 disciples who walked closely alongside Jesus during His earthly ministry. Paul became an apostle later under rather precarious circumstances. While on his way to persecute Jesus followers, he was struck by a bright light, blinded and was spoken to by our Lord convincing him of his wrong behavior. Although he immediately turned his life around, I'm sure others weren't always convinced of his change of heart and still feared a little for their lives. As time went on, however, he became more well known for his actions as a Jesus follower instead of a Jesus persecutor. But, you and I both know how the enemy likes to drag up our past life with all its past mistakes and find new ways to torture us. I'm sure Paul woke up every morning having to come to terms with his past sin of persecuting his fellow believers. I know I would.
Beginning each letter in this way not only reminded his readers of his status as a true apostle but solidified in his own heart each time he wrote it out who he was in Christ. And, in that same vein, he addresses his readers as "saints" and "faithful," reminding them of who they are in Christ! Paul does this in every letter he writes in some fashion or another. Here's something to think about: what if every time you introduced yourself to someone you added something that spoke to who you are in Christ; and, every time you met someone new you referred to them as someone with whom God is interested? Like this: "Hi! My name is Kerry, servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace and peace to you, _________________, loved by God." Saying all of that would be awkward for sure, but you can still think it!
"Grace and peace" was a common way to address someone at the time, but the Apostle Paul made sure that there was a spiritual component to this most common greeting: ". . . from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." Basically, Paul is saying let there be no mistake! It is from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ that I come as I do, and it is from God alone that I speak and ". . . live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28, NIV) Let there be no mistake, readers! If you consider yourself a Jesus follower, then you are an apostle, a servant, a prisoner, a saint, and one of the faithful in Christ Jesus -- no matter your past!
Grace and peace,