Friday, March 02, 2012

The Christian Path ~ An Overview of Ephesians One

Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians is different than any of his other writings. It is quite impersonal in comparison. Ephesians is reflective in tone and theme. It wasn’t written to answer a problem in a church like the heresy in the Colossian church. The book was written to give Paul’s thoughts on the highest church truth. Ephesians contains three lines of truth within the six chapters. They are the believer's elevated position through grace; the truth concerning the body of Christ; and a walk in accordance with that position. Chapter one teaches us all the spiritual blessings of God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ having chosen us in Him before He created the world.

In verse one Paul mentions God’s will; he used the similar phrase “His will” in verse nine. The apostle cites Ephesus in his greeting and in 1 Corinthians 15:32. In verse three, Paul uses the phrase in the heavens for the first of five times in Ephesians according to the Holman translation. The other verses are in Ephesians 1:20, 2:6, 3:10 and 6:12.

When the future Saint Paul utilizes grace in verse six, he discusses grace in Romans 5:2 and 2 Corinthians 4:15 also. In using “the Beloved” in verse six, he used a similar expression, “the Son He loves” in Colossians 1:13. Redemption, in verse seven, is stated similarly in Hebrews 9:12. In verse nine, Paul remarks about the mystery of God’s will. Paul commented on this mystery in Romans 11:25, 16:25, Ephesians 3:3 and Colossians 1:27.

The disciple Paul references hope in verse twelve and in 1 Thessalonians 1:3. “The message of truth” in verse thirteen is declared in Colossians 1:5 and 2 Thessalonians 2:10. The faithful Paul reveals his thoughts on the Holy Spirit in verse thirteen and in Romans 8:9, Galatians 5:25 and Titus 3:5. In verse twenty three Paul notes Christ’s body. He had a parallel statement in Ephesians 4:4. The apostle had other words and phrases which he used in Ephesians one and referenced in other writings.

Ephesians one is a lesson in grace. When we accept, believe and walk in the spirit, we start our journey toward Christ-likeness. By being faithful to the commands of God and loving God and others, we are adopted into the family of God. While true we are adopted into the family of God at our rebirth, we get more acclimated to our new position as we obey God as we live our lives to serve Him. It is this new beginning which Paul addresses in the first chapter and continues through the end of chapter three.

Robert Dodson
Ephesians ~ An Overview
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.

Robert Dodson