Ephesians 1:1–14 (ESV)
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are
faithful in Christ Jesus:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Spiritual Blessings in Christ
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has
blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption
to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness
of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as
a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
11 In him we have obtained
an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In
him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to
the praise of his glory.
Paul directs the Ephesians away from themselves, teaching them to trust in God’s promises in Christ. Pride tempts us to trust in our commitment
to God; doubt makes us worry that we are not committed enough. Jesus blesses us spiritually by leading us to repent of sinful pride by the Law and calming our worried hearts through the Gospel.
I pray: Father, forgive my self-centeredness, and teach me to rely on Your loving plan for me; through Jesus Christ. Amen.
Edward A. Engelbrecht, The Lutheran Study Bible (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2009), 2018.
Galatians 6:11–18 (ESV)
Final Warning and Benediction
11 See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. 12 It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force
you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast
in your flesh. 14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither circumcision counts
for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.
17 From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.
grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.
In a handwritten postscript, Paul leaves us with an interpretive lens through which to evaluate all Christian
teaching and life: the message of the cross. Against all self-righteous pride in spiritual accomplishments, the cross speaks a word of judgment. Yet to those who believe, the cross is God’s power to make all things new.
I pray: Lord, in Baptism, You put my old nature to death. By Your grace, dear Lord Jesus, continue to renew me. I already am a new creation in You. Amen.
Edward A. Engelbrecht, The Lutheran Study Bible (St. Louis, MO: Concordia
Publishing House, 2009), 2013.
Galatians 6:1–10 (ESV)
Bear One Another’s Burdens
6 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But
let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. 5 For each will have to bear his own load.
6 Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. 7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows,
that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not
grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Members of God’s family restore the erring, bear one another’s burdens, support their teachers, and do good to all—especially to fellow Christians. An attitude of moral superiority closes the heart
against the brother or sister in need (cf 1 Jn 3:17). The Son of God “loved me and gave Himself for me” (2:20), that I may be free to serve Him and my neighbor in need.
I pray: Teach me to be patient with others, Lord, so I may not grow tired of doing good. Restore me with unfailing mercy. Amen.
A. Engelbrecht, The Lutheran Study Bible (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing
House, 2009), 2012.
Galatians 5:16–26 (ESV)
Keep in Step with the Spirit
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and
the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now
the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness,
orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Christian freedom means walking, conducting oneself, by the Holy Spirit’s power and leading. Our sinful flesh, consumed by self-importance, instinctively looks down on others and inevitably
causes interpersonal tensions. At Baptism, we were united with Christ, who died to set us free from sin and the way of the Law.
I pray: O Holy Spirit, give us daily victories
over sin in our personal life and, above all, the power to love one another. Amen.
Edward A. Engelbrecht, The Lutheran Study Bible (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2009), 2011.
Galatians 5:1–15 (ESV)
Christ Has Set Us Free
5 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
2 Look: I,
Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You
are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For
in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.
7 You were running well. Who hindered you
from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion is not from him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in the Lord that you
will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. 11 But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been
removed. 12 I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!
13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do
not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But
if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
Paul specifically argues that the acceptance of circumcision in principle violates Christian freedom and endangers a person’s
relationship to Christ. Congregational strife often arises when issues in the area of Christian freedom are elevated to the level of biblical doctrine. Christ Jesus loved us to the end so that He might lift the burden of guilt that troubles our consciences.
I pray: Lord, as we eagerly await Your coming, free us from pettiness and self-indulgence so that we may love one another. Amen.
A. Engelbrecht, The Lutheran Study Bible (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House,