Summary: First in the Ephesians Series dealing with the blessing of God.
Ephesians Series #1
“Bless the Lord”
INTRODUCTION TO THE SERIES
Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus is an essential foundation of the New Testament and warrants frequent visits for deeper understanding. Any portion of the Bible has basic truths that never change but the applications and the particular emphasis always changes with time and circumstance.
The Message of Ephesians (Overview)
Ephesians is a sister letter to the letter to Colossians; two-thirds of the content of Paul’s letter to the Colossians can be found in some way paralleled in Ephesians. The message of Ephesians is a universal message to all the followers of Jesus outlining the identity and responsibility of the Church of Jesus Christ in a dark world. Many have spoken of the greatness of this letter.
Luther called it “the gospel in its purest expression”. Others see Ephesians as a “panoramic view of this wondrous and glorious work of God in Jesus Christ Our Lord.” It is a most vital message to the church today. As is all Scripture, the book is profitable for teaching doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness that the child of God may become mature, perfectly trained for every good work.
It is my hope that as we encounter the truths of this portion of the Bible and mine some of its numerous precious jewels, we will find ourselves filled with overflowing praise to God a even more transformed into the image of Christ than before we began.
If I were to single out a particular theme for Ephesians that would best express the intent of the letter it might be:
The identity and responsibility of the Church
Ephesians is one of many epistles or letters written to specific churches or individuals.
Some of these letters were intended to be shared and passed between the churches in various cities. The bulk of the letters were written by the Apostle Paul. A letter is a personal communication to a specific audience with a particular purpose. They were often triggered by issues related to a particular church. These letters, by reason of such personal nature, were not intended to be a theology class although they contain significant theological concepts.
The first part of the letter provides sufficient background information. In this case both the author and the intended recipients are clearly identified.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus: Ephesians 1:1
It is clear from the introduction, content and the style of this letter that it is a letter of Paul.
Paul used a similar style and vocabulary in all of his writings. Paul identifies himself as “an apostle”. "Apostle" means "one sent out". It is used 10 times in the Gospels, 28 in Acts, 38 in the letters and 3 times in Revelation. It is used in a general sense of anyone sent as a special messenger as well as a technical reference to the original 11 apostles plus Paul as "one untimely born". Here Paul affirms Jesus Christ as his sending agent by the will and authority of God the Father. He thus establishes the authoritative nature of his letter. He spoke on God’s behalf. The content was inspired and authorized by God Himself.
Time of Writing
Somewhere in the middle of the period 61-63 AD
Circumstances of Writing
Ephesians is one of several letters written by Paul during one of his imprisonments.
This letter is believed to be written by Paul during his house arrest in Rome and is thus categorized as a “prison Epistle” along with Colossians, Philippians. This was a rich period in the life and ministry of Paul. He was called, taught and personally discipled by Christ and had seen and experienced much as God's special messenger to the Gentiles. He suffered great persecution and hardship few of us will never experience and remained true to his calling and to the One who called Him to the very end. At the writing of this letter, Paul remained in prison for his faith and God delegated this time to get into writing some vital truths that have become the solid foundation for the Church to this day.
Paul focused on three things concerning the members of this congregation.
First, he called them "saints”.
The term "saint" comes from the word "holy", "set apart for a special use". We know from other passages that God considers every genuine follower of Jesus a saint. It is God’s designation and viewpoint. It is how He sees us. That is our identity. We are His special people set apart as special by Him for His pleasure. It does not mean that we always act like saints. The Ephesians were no angels; Paul addressed lying, stealing, bad language, unhealthy family relationships, sexual immorality. Yet because of their relationship with Christ, Paul still called them "saints" NOT "sinners". We need to follow the pattern of Scripture, not of the evil one.