|Library of Celsius in Ephesus (or what is left of it)|
A great change had taken place in the lives of these people. Before the gospel had come to Ephesus the Gentiles living there had been worshippers of Diana, with her temple being one of the wonders of the world. They had practised magic and other forms of evil. There was also a large number of Jews living in the city. Converts from both groups formed the church.
Now Paul calls them saints. The word ‘saint’ in common usage refers to a person of outstanding devotion who shows dedication in some form of social activity. But that is not the biblical meaning of the term. Biblically, a saint is a person set apart to God. An interesting feature of the word is that in the New Testament when used of believers it always occurs in the plural, pointing to the fact that Christians are saints in a community. They were set apart to God when the Holy Spirit came to indwell them after they believed in Jesus.
The readers are also described as the faithful. The meaning of this word includes both the ideas of trust in Christ and loyalty to Christ. They depended on Jesus and they were devoted to him.
Paul’s description also indicates that the readers lived in two worlds simultaneously: they were in Ephesus and they were in Christ. The first describes their physical location, from which God has separated them, and the second is their spiritual location into which God has placed them. Everyone who is a Christian lives in two locations: one is at times hostile to him but the other offers him riches beyond calculation.
The latter phrase, ‘in Christ Jesus,’ indicates union with Jesus Christ. In Christ, we are given everything that belongs to him including eternal life and acceptance with God. In a sense, the entire letter is an explanation of what it means to be in Christ.