Ephesians

Ephesians

Εφεσίους

Reading 0,20 - 6 Chapters - 155 verses - 3,039 words

Vital Statistics

Author, Date and Place of Writing

The author identifies himself as Paul (1:1; 3:1; cf 3:7,13; 4:1; 6:19-20). Some have taken the absence of the usual personal greetings and the verbal similarity of many parts to Colossians, among other reasons, as grounds for doubting authorship by the apostle Paul. However, this was probably a circular letter, intended for other churches in addition to the one in Ephesus (1:1,15; 6:21-23). Paul may have written it about the same time as Colossians, C. A.D. 60, while he was in prison at Rome (3:1; 4:1; 6:20).

The City of Ephesus

Ephesus was the most important city in western Asia Minor (now Turkey). It had a harbor that at that time opened into the Cayster River, which in turn emptied into the Aegean. Because it was also at an intersection of major trade routes, Ephesus became a commercial center. It boasted a pagan temple dedicated to the Roman goddess Diana (Greek Artemis); cf. Ac 19:23-31. Paul made Ephesus a center for evangelism for about three years (Ac 19:10), and church there apparently flourished for some time, but later needed the warning of Rev 2:1-7.

Theological Message

Unlike several of the other letters Paul wrote, Ephesians does not address any particular error or heresy. Paul wrote to expand the horizons of his readers, so that they might understand better the dimensions of God's eternal purpose and grace and come to appreciate the high goals God has for the church.

The letter opens with a sequence of statements about God's blessings, which are interspersed with a remarkable variety of expressions drawing attention to God's wisdom, forethought and purpose. Paul emphasizes that we have been saved, not only for our personal benefit, but also to bring praise and glory to God. The climax of God's purpose, "when the times will have reached their fulfillment," is to bring all things in the universe together under Christ (1:10). It is crucially important that Christians realize this, so in 1:15-23 Paul prays for their understanding (a second prayer occurs in 3:14-21).

Having explained God's great goals for the church, Paul proceeds to show the steps toward their fulfillment. First, God has reconciled individuals to himself as an act of grace (2:1-10). Second, God has reconciled these saved individuals to each other, Christ having broken down the barriers through his own death (2:11-22). But God has done something even beyond this: He has united these reconciled individuals in one body, the church. This is a "mystery" not fully known until it was revealed to Paul (3:1-6). Now Paul is able to state even more clearly what God has intended for the church, namely, that it be the means by which he displays his "manifold wisdom" to the "rules and authorities in the heavenly realms" (3:7-13). It is clear through the repetition of "heavenly realms" (1:3,20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12) that Christian existence is not merely on an earthly plane. It receives its meaning and significance from heaven, where Christ is exalted at the right hand of God (1:20).

Nevertheless, that life is lived out on earth, where the practical daily life of the believer continues to work out the purposes of God. The ascended Lord gave "gifts" to the members of his church to enable them to minister to one another and so promote unity and maturity (4:1-16). The unity of the church under the headship of Christ foreshadows the uniting of "all things in heaven and on earth" under Christ (1:10). The new life of purity and mutual deference stands in contrast to the old way of life without Christ (4:17-6:9). Those who are "strong in the Lord" have victory over the evil one in the great spiritual conflict, especially through the power of prayer (6:10-20; 1:3).

How to read Ephesians

Satisfying our thirst for identity and fulfillment is not found in the adventure of an exotic safari, the success of a booming business venture, or the passion of a romantic relationship with that perfect someone. Rather it occurs as we discover the purpose for our lives. This letter answers the question men and women have asked throughout all time, “Why am I here?” The answer may astound you. Interested? Read on. Our journey with God is only beginning, and it promises to get better and better!

Paul uses the biggest, most extravagant words to paint the picture of how incredible it is to discover our identity and purpose as God’s beloved. Don’t rush through this superlative-laden description of the indescribable riches of God’s redemptive acts! Take time to savor each nuance of meaning as Paul reveals who God is and his measureless love for you (Eph 1:17-23; 3:15-21). Join Paul in worshiping God for the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph 3:8) because of his incomparable sacrifice on the cross!

This letter divides into three parts: Chapters 1-3 speak of the Christian’s wealth in Christ; Eph 4:1-6:9 of the Christian’s walk; Eph 6:10-24 of the Christian’s warfare. As you study this book, you’ll learn about God’s intentions for his people, and you will gain insight into the nature of the church. Notice how Paul uses various word pictures to stress the unity of all believers.

Ephesians Interpretive Challenges

The general theology of Ephesians is direct and unambiguous, presenting no ideas or interpretations whose meaning are seriously contended. There are, however, some texts that require careful thought to rightly interpret, namely:

    1. 2:8, in which one must decide if the salvation or the faith is the gift.

    2. 4:5, in which the type of baptism must be discerned.

    3. 4:8, in its relationship to Ps 68:18.

Outline

Ephesians Horizontal

God's character in Ephesians

  1. God is accessible - 2:13, 18; 3:12

  2. God is glorious - 1:12; 3:16

  3. God is kind - 2:7

  4. God is loving - 2:4-5

  5. God is merciful - 2:4

  6. God is powerful - 1:19; 3:7, 20; 6:10

  7. God is a promise keeper - 1:13; 2:12; 3:6

  8. God is reconciling - 2:14, 17

  9. God is unified - 4:6

  10. God is wise - 1:8; 3:10

  11. God is wrathful - 5:6

Christ in Ephesians

In the book of Ephesians, Paul explains the unique relationship between Jesus and the church as His body. Christ is the head of the church uniting believers together and strengthening the body (4:15, 16). Paul also focuses ion the believer's position as being "in Christ" (1:1, 3-7, 11-13; 2:5-6, 10,13, 21; 3:6, 12).

Notes