The seemingly obvious answer would be, “The Ephesians of course.” The next question should be, “Who were the Christians living at Ephesus?” Paul does not make us guess. Here is how we know and this can be done with almost every New Testament book.
Ephesians 1:1 “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:”
The first thing to do is to look at the meanings of the words used in any verse. Who are the “saints” mentioned in verse one. We have all been given a definition by the churches. You can go look them up, but who does the scripture say are the saints? Sacred and to be clean are the meanings of the word concerning this people. Reading further we find several key words.
Ephesians 1:5 “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
Predestined means to determine before hand. Adoption in scripture is a coming of age ceremony, a placement of one who is and has been a son.
Romans 8:29-30 “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”
Whom did God foreknow?
Romans 11:2a “God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew.”
So those who are predestined and were foreknown by God are Israel. Romans 8:29-30 mentions some who are Called.
Isaiah 48:12 “Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last.”
So we know that those “Predestined”, those “Foreknown” and “The Called” are Israel. What about the adopted mentioned in Ephesians 1:5?
Romans 9:4 “Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises”.
Paul says they are Israelites. No other people are ever said to be adopted by scripture. Paul gave us the definition of who are adopted. Therefore any verse using the word adopted must be understood that way. The churches teach differently. Who do you believe? Finally for this article the word redemption.
Ephesians 1:7 “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;”
According to the Law of the Kinsman redeemer one must be related by blood for one to be redeemed or to redeem another from bondage. Paul also talks about bondage in Romans 8:15 and 8:21. The scripture went to great lengths to show that the Christ is related by blood to Israel.
This is how one improves understanding of scripture. There are many verses in scripture that we have been taught to read in the broad sense of everyone, everywhere. One must use scripture’s definitions. There is more in Ephesians. The word aliens in Ephesians 2:12 is a verb. Who was alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and became far off as opposed to near? Who became known as Nations (Gentiles) as is explained elsewhere? In the Old Testament what people became divided and then were promised in Hosea to reunite under Christ as is shown in Ephesians? Israel. The two houses of Israel, the House of Israel, the Ten Tribes, and the House of Judah, the two tribes. Ephesians is the answer to prophecy concerning Israel and only Israel.
By the way, in Ephesians 1:5 the word children is not found. Christ himself defined the word children as Israelites. In Matthew 15:24-26 Christ tells us his purpose and in John 8 who are the children.
The words Jew and Gentile are never once found in the Hebrew or Greek text. The modern day Jews are not Israelites. Who is Israel? Who do the prophets of God say? Israel was prophesied to do many things among which were the spreading of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God while forming many Christian nations. Only one people have accomplished this task. True physical Israel is found in the Anglo-Saxon, Germanic, Scandinavian, Celtic and related peoples.