Knowing who the Bible was written to is essential to understanding how to interpret it. And there is one section of Ephesians that I feel like I misunderstood for a long time because I wasn’t thinking about who the intended readers were.
We all know Ephesians 2:8-9:
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; cit is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
but do you know Ephesians 2:10?
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
This is a wonderful verse that really helps put 8 and 9 in perspective, and it contains this great phrase “we are God’s workmanship.” That word workmanship means literally God’s poem.
What a beautiful thought, that we are God’s delicately crafted, beautifully written poem!
For many years, I had understood this to mean that individual people are God’s poem. That ach person is a uniquely designed poem of the Divine Creator. And while there is truth to this, we are very special in the eyes of God, for He created us in His image, this is not what Paul is saying.
Ephesians was not written with individuals in mind. It was written to the church. This is made clear just a few verses down when Paul says that we are:
20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
Individuals are precious in the eyes of God, but His church collectively, the gathering of Saints before the throne of God, is the crown of His creation. Paul says that WE are God’s poem. We together make up the stanzas and verses and lyrical devices and rhyme schemes and meter.
The church of God is God’s great masterpiece.
Shouldn’t that change the way we look at our local churches? Sure, they’re flawed and full of messed up people, but they are beautiful in the sight of God because they represent every saint that is called into God’s kingdom.
The culmination of this idea comes in chapter 3, when Paul says that God’s eternal purpose, His plan from eternity past was that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
What does that mean?
Nothing less than that God shows the unfolding glory of His wisdom to the angels and creatures in heaven through His great poem, the church. It means that the beings who have the most access to God see His power and wisdom most clearly through us! It means that the church is such a marvelously crafted thing of beauty that it radiates the glorious creative might of God Himself.
We are on display for all to see. God is showing off His master poem. We together, who trust in Christ, are the poem of God, crafted to display his glory in a way that nothing else can.
God loves His church. Shouldn’t we?