Paul wrote this letter to the Ephesians while he was imprisoned in Rome about 60 A.D. He did not write this epistle to confront heresy or a problem in the church at Ephesus. Paul’s major concern was to encourage the Ephesians and believers everywhere. The apostle sought to strengthen believers in their Christian faith by explaining the nature and purpose of the church, the body of Christ. He challenges believers to function as the living body of Jesus on earth. Paul’s blueprint is to show unity in Christ and unity in the body of Christ.
The nature of the church is simple. Believers in Christ have been showered with God’s kindness, chosen for greatness, marked with the Holy Spirit, filled with the Spirit’s power, freed from sin’s curse and bondage and brought near to God. As part of the “household” of God, we stand with the apostles, prophets, Jews, Gentiles and Christ. Paul challenges the Ephesians and, by extension, all believers in Christ to live close to Jesus.
Paul points out the implications of being in the body of Christ, the church. Disciples should be unified in their commitment to Christ and their use of spiritual gifts. They should have the highest moral standards. Individuals should reject all pagan practices and families should have mutual submission and love. As a reminder, Paul states the church is in a continual battle against the forces of darkness and they should use every spiritual weapon at their disposal.
In his greeting to the Ephesians, Paul used similar wording in Romans 1:1, Galatians 1:1, 1 Corinthians 1:1 and 2 Corinthians 1:1. In his closing comments, he mentions Tychicus in Titus 3:12 and his purpose of using Tychicus in Colossians 4:8. There are many more examples of Paul referencing people, thoughts and suggestions throughout the letter. In my limited space, I will address more of them at a later date.
I have come to the conclusion, for the moment, there is not as much of a doctrinal view as it is thematic. Paul is trying to encourage the Ephesians. Paul seems to believe there are not any major problems in the church at Ephesus. Paul wants the church to be unified in Christ and in the body of Christ. As a result, his letter has five underlying themes to address unity. In this uplifting letter, Paul addresses God’s purpose, Christ the center of everything, the living church, the new family and Christian conduct. He even gives us the formula for success in fighting the forces of darkness by explaining the armor of God.
This encouraging communication is filled with practicality, especially in chapters four through six. Paul tells us how we can be unified in the body of Christ in the first part of chapter four. He concludes the chapter by describing how to live as children of the Light. He continues in chapter five to address our moral standards. He then discusses wives and husbands, children and parents and slaves and masters. He finishes with his explanation of the armor of God.
The letter to the Ephesians has held a special place in my heart for a very long time, even before I was reborn. My favorite verse is Ephesians 4:29 which has helped me to curb my tongue most of the time. My limited study of this book has given me an insight into Christian living. As I dive deeper into the waters of this wonderful correspondence to the Ephesians, I can feel my life changing for eternity’s sake. Come aboard with me as I sail the ocean of insight contained within this letter written so long ago.