The epistle of Paul to the Ephesians was written to the churches at Ephesus, located in modern day Turkey. Paul wrote in A.D. 62 while in prison. The central theme of his letter is that Christ has reconciled all creation to himself and to God. The global church is being united to each other and to Christ, the head, by grace through faith. From this perspective, the apostle Paul encourages us to live lives characterized by righteousness, holiness and thanksgiving to God.
Ephesus was an important port city and contained the temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. The city was a bustling metropolis with a stadium, gymnasium, athletic field, agora, theater, temple and of course new Christian churches! Although followers of Christ were gathering together and forming churches, the city of Ephesus had a particular fascination with magic and the occult. In his letter to the churches at Ephesus, St Paul emphasizes the eternal reality of the supreme power of Christ, both in the world and in our lives.
GOD HAS CALLED YOU TO BECOME PART OF HIS ROYAL PEOPLE
Paul begins his letter by affirming his calling as an apostle of Christ Jesus, according to the will of God. Likewise, if you believe in the name of Jesus Christ the Son of God, and repent of your sins, God has called you to become part of his chosen race, royal priesthood and holy nation, a people for his own possession. What a remarkable gift we have from God!
Passage for Scripture memory:
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9
Indeed, God has blessed us in Christ with all spiritual blessings in heaven. Although we do not yet see every blessing, they are ours, and we live by faith not by sight. By faith we know that God, in his abundant mercy, planned to redeem us and call us his children.
BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD
Even before the foundation of the world, God predestined us for adoption and chose us to be holy and blameless. Out of his great love, we are sons of God and we worship him for who his is and what he’s done.
God opened our ears to hear the word of truth, the gospel, and when we believed by grace through faith, we were given the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit now works in each of us to convict of sin, strengthen in weakness, speak the truth, confirm salvation, and protect us as God’s possession.
God reconciled us to himself by forgiving our sins and saving us from death, through the blood of Jesus his Son. According to the council of God’s will, he not only saved us from death, which resulted from sin, but he has given us an inheritance of the saints.
And finally, in these last days, God has shown us his purpose in Christ Jesus. Paul teaches that God is uniting all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
As you can see, we have much to be thankful for! Our Savior is matchless in rank, peerless in authority, unrivaled in power and dominion and his name is above all names. Christ is the head over all.
WE ARE SAVED BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH IN JESUS ALONE
Even when we were children of wrath and dead in our lawless deeds, God loved us greatly and breathed life back into our hearts and minds. According to his cosmic purpose, God will show his immeasurable grace and kindness and love. I suppose the sanctified saints would be “exhibit A” of God’s purpose, grace, forbearance, forgiveness and love. We have a lot to look forward to!
Paul reaffirms that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus alone. He follows with a statement that is hard to believe - but true. God created us in Christ Jesus to do good works, which he prepared ahead of time, that we should walk in them!
To close the thought, the the apostle re-emphasizes unity among all those who believe, stating that we are one body in Christ and God is our peace. We are members of the household of God and Jesus is the foundation. This household of God is growing into a marvelous, beautiful temple of praise and worship and glory to God.
A BONDSERVANT OF GOD
Paul was many things to many people, but most of all he was a bondservant of God. He was an apostle and teacher and steward of the gospel of God, and it was revealed to him that the Gentiles are fellow heirs of the kingdom of heaven along with the Jews who believe in God’s saving grace through Christ the messiah. One of Paul’s assignments was to give light to the mystery of God’s plan, so that through the church the rulers and authorities in heavenly places would know the manifold wisdom of God!
Sometimes, I individualize the gospel to a point where I erroneously assume everything revolves around me. Instead, when we look at the entire counsel of God as revealed in Scripture, we better understand that God’s eternal plan and purpose is manifold in richness, wisdom, scope and range.
Although we are servants of God, we should have boldness to approach the Creator of the ends of the earth. Following Paul’s example, we should pray for one another that we be strengthened by the Holy Spirit with power, to live lives worthy of our calling and to comprehend the dimensions of the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. To God be all glory.
PURSUE GODLINESS IN THE NEW SELF
Upon these truths, Paul exhorts us to direct our ways and words in a manner worthy of the upward calling to the celestial city. We ought to be humble, gentle, patient, loving and committed to unity. Quoting from Psalm 68:18, Paul reminds us that Christ has not only ascended into heaven but he has given gifts to his children.
The supernatural, spiritual gifts that Jesus has given us are for the explicit purpose of building up the body of Christ and when they are exercised in love, the whole organism grows up into him who is the head, into Christ.
Our calling in Christ and in God mandates that we abstain from immorality and pursue godliness in the new self. Our new self was created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Our new self is manifested in a renewed spirit of the mind, and must be truthful, kind, tenderhearted and forgiving. When we are renewed in the spirit of our minds, we are putting on the mind of Christ and consequently giving no opportunity to the devil.
BE IMITATORS OF GOD AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER
Be imitators of God and love one another. Sexual immorality and impurity must not be part of your thought patters or lifestyle habits, but instead we are to walk as children of light, children of the day. In contrast to the intoxicating effects of alcohol, the apostle instructs his spiritual siblings to be filled with the Holy Spirit of God.
In the household of God, we are taught to submit to each other out of reverence for Christ. In the family household, wives must submit to their husbands, as to the Lord, and husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church.
PUT ON THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD
Likewise, children must obey their parents and so receive a blessing. As employees, we are to obey our employers with a sincere heart, providing we do not violate the law of God. To finish his letter, Paul looks to his prison guards for inspiration and pens the most amazing paragraph of encouragement, instruction and truth!
Memorizing Scripture passage:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Ephesians 6:10-13
Armed with the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit we ought to pray at all times.
Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible. Ephesians 6:23-24