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Thanksgiving: Gratitude for Faith and Strength


Prison isn’t exactly the place you would expect to hear songs of praise and thanksgiving, but that’s what we find in Ephesians 1. We don’t know exactly where Paul was when he wrote this letter to the church at Ephesus—under house arrest in Rome seems to be the general consensus—but we do know that jail didn’t diminish his desire to praise God. In fact, imprisonment often had a way of clarifying and amplifying Paul’s commitment to the gospel.

Like a child so eager to tell a story he can’t stop for breath, verses 3 through 14 are one long sentence in the original Greek, the structure of the words affirming their intense emotion. Paul’s song can be broken down into three sections: we praise God for choosing us (vv. 4–6); for redeeming us in Christ and giving us wisdom to understand His plan (vv. 7–12); and for sealing us with the Holy Spirit (vv. 13–14). This three-fold division underscores the role of the Trinity, highlighting the work of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in making us His people.

Paul circled back to the phrase, “tothe praise of his glory” three times (vv. 6, 12, 14). In verse 15 he shifted gears, telling the Ephesians that the stories of their faith had been a source of encouragement to him. Paul had given thanks for them. And his desire for these believers was that they would know this praiseworthy God for themselves.

Paul was anxious for the Ephesians to grasp the great power made evident in Christ’s resurrection, ascension into heaven, and dominion over the earth (vv. 19–22). Like a good teacher who is captivated by his subject, Paul urged his students to share his passion for the living, triune God who is worthy of our praise.

Apply the Word

Have you been encouraged by a story you’ve heard of another person’s faith? Perhaps you heard of a friend going through a difficult experience with a Christ-focused perseverance. Maybe the story of a new convert in a missionary’s report heartened you. Think of one person whose faith has encouraged you and thank God for blessing you through them.

BY Lisa Ann Cockrel

Lisa Ann Cockrel graduated from Moody Bible Institute in 2000. She has worked in publishing with Christian magazines, including MOODY magazine and Today's Christian Woman, and now works as an editor for Brazos Press and Baker Academic, part of the Baker Publishing Group. She lives in Grand Rapids, Mich., where she is actively involved with faith and culture projects. Her writing has been published in Christianity Today, Outreach, and Faithful Reader, among others.

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