Summary: Paul introduces the important themes of his letter to the church at Ephesus
Galatians, Romans and Ephesians are all related. Paul is trying to deal with one theological issue in each-that Christ came to the Jews, and the Jews, largely, rejected Him. But the Gentiles welcomed the Jewish Messiah. Thousands of people were coming to faith in Jesus who had little or no clue how their faith in Him was related to His Jewish roots. How does it work, when God promises to bring salvation to the world through the children of Abraham, but many of Abraham's children seem to have missed it? What do you do with all the people coming to faith in the Messiah who are not Abraham's children, at least not by any physical, genetic, connection?
A good portion of each of these three letters deals with this issue.
Brief Outline of Ephesians
Paul begins by talking about who Jesus is, and who we are as His followers. That's chapter 1.
Then he talks about how all these Gentile believers fit in with the overarching plan of God. That's most of Chapter 2.
Chapter 3 brings these themes together & ends with a beautiful prayer that we would all be united to God in knowledge of Him.
Then Chapters 4 & 5 together deal with what some people call "house rules" (the German theological term is "Hausaufgaben", which literally means "homework" :-). These are instructions about how to apply the faith in our daily lives-in how we behave in relationship to each other, in family & such.
Chapter 6 closes the letter with an exhortation to stand firm in the grace given to us, fighting the spiritual battle of which we are all a part.
This is a brief overview of the book. It may not be very 'devotional' but hopefully you have found it interesting.
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
Who wrote the letter to the Ephesians? This may seem like a silly question, since Paul announces from the beginning of the letter who wrote it. And there are some scholars that feel the pressure of discovering something new about the Bible who have submitted complex, and in some cases silly, arguments for other authors. But that is not the point of my question.
Here are the opening & closing words of a few of Paul's other letters:
Romans "I, Tertius, who wrote down this letter, greet you in the Lord." (Romans 16:22)
Galatians "Paul, an apostle . . . and all the brothers and sisters with me (1:1)
Philippians "Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, (1:1)
Colossians "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, (1:1)
Paul, Silas and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians (1:1)
The list goes on like that. Paul seemed to like to write with a creative team. This in itself is a lesson. There is lots of research recently that our best creative work happens in teams. Paul also taught by word and action that true leadership is collaborative rather than dictatorial.
To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:
Do you think the Church at Ephesus was any better behaved than Church members at your church today? I think probably not. But Paul calls them holy & faithful. Holiness means "set apart", in this case, set apart for service to Jesus. Faithfulness has to do with living your faith-behaving as you believe-consistently. The root word of faith means reliable, sturdy. God is faithful. He teaches His people to be faithful.
2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Two things about this:
1. Grace comes first. You have to receive the grace of God-the forgiveness of your sins-before you can know His peace. Repentance, grief over our own sins, confession are all He requires. In the condition of repentance, we receive His grace. As Jesus illustrated, the man who went to pray who thanked god for all the ways he was wonderful was not received. The man who beat his chest and would not even lift his eyes and grieved, asking for mercy, was justified. We have to embrace grace if we want to increase peace.
2. Saying "God our Father & the Lord Jesus Christ", as Paul and all the other New Testament (NT) writers do, is either blasphemous, or places Jesus at the same level as God. Obviously, for Paul, it's the second. How God the Father & Jesus the Son are one and completely uniquely individual is difficult for us to get our minds around. Nevertheless, the NT reinforces this truth over and over in a multitude of ways. We'll talk more about this as the letter unfolds.
I know I've sinned against You and against others. I'm not worthy to come into Your presence. But You have called me "holy". You are making me faithful. Teach me to be holy and faithful all day today, and every day. Teach me to sing my life as a love song to You.
in the name of Jesus,