Summary: Let’s go mining for treasure in this gem of a Bible book. The first half of Ephesians lays great foundations, and the second half builds a well informed Faith upon that foundation. The series begins here.
July 6, 2008
Introduction to Ephesus and Ephesians
Ephesus was the fourth largest city in the Roman World. It was located on the Asia Minor bulge into the Mediterranean region. It was a tremendously important crossroads of commerce, which is reflected by such artifacts as a road which survives today, paved in marble and still level and quite smooth. Back in Roman times, this road was lined with marble benches, beautiful fountains, and other such marks of high culture.
The city contained a beautiful theater which could hold some 25,000 attendees. There was an orchestra pit for 110 musicians. The ruins of this durable structure are able to be visited today.
Ephesus was also, unfortunately, a major center of Pagan worship, being the home base of Diana Worship. Diana, also known as Artimus, was a goddess whose image supposedly fell out of the sky and landed on the spot where her temple was constructed. This temple was an architectural wonder containing hundreds of pillars. The actual building was 110 feet wide and more than 200 feet long. The low and level area where it stood is now a swamp.
The Diana cult was a fertility one, and the “worship” involved sex, and was popular. There was plenty of money being made from the sales of images of Diana, shipped from Ephesus to many other places. There was an actual guild of silversmiths built around this trade in idols. Demetrius, the silversmith, led the opposition to the apostles and to the Gospel in Ephesus, instigating a riot.
There was a thriving Jewish community in this city. These merchants and professionals were doing well there, financially speaking. Ephesus was an ideal place to send a letter making it clear that in Jesus Christ, the wall between Jew and Gentile (Greek) is broken down, and the New Birth makes all of us to be “One New Man” in Christ.
The book of Ephesians was probably actually a circular letter sent to a number of cities throughout Asia Minor, with Ephesus being the largest one. The first half of this book is quite theological, very detailed in what it is saying, and very important in laying a foundation. The second half is also very detailed, but more practical in its directions and application matters.
Ephesians Chapter 1
Verse one identifies Paul as an Apostle. The Saints (practicing believers in Jesus) there knew this, because he had been there and really given himself over to establishing the Church in that city.
Verse two brings forth the apostle’s desire for the peace and grace (unearned favor) of God to be abundant upon the believers there.
Verse three mentions both the Father and the Lord in such a way that it is clear the Apostle had confidence that His readers knew the teaching of the Godhead. (persons of God) The Father is God. Jesus Christ is also God.
(4) All the “WE” statements from here through verse 12, deal with the first generation of believers, especially the apostles, who were hand chosen by God for their tasks. Note God’s foreknowledge in his choosing here.
(5-6) This choosing of them, didn’t start with a task; it began with son-ship. This is a matter of grace extended by God, not of personal merit beforehand.
(7-8) These verses make the grace referenced in verse 6 perfectly clear. Redemption is through the blood of Jesus Christ. It is the source of forgiveness of sin, and is the vehicle which brings God’s grace.
(9) God taught the apostles concerning His will in these matters.
(10) God taught them that Jesus Christ is Lord of all. He has authority over Earthly things and Heavenly things. The fullness of the times is here, because JC has suffered, died, risen, and ascended to Heaven. The apostles were called to make known the Lord’s “administration” in a fitting (clear and complete) manner.
(11-12) It all goes back to their original call from God. Those who were the first to “hope in Christ” were also called and empowered to live in such a way as would bring praise to the Lord’s glory. (glorified state/ sinless perfection/ awesome power/ perfect plans)
(13) And you too get in on this! God has given the Holy Spirit to seal you too, you Ephesians who are recent in hearing of the Lord.
(14) The Holy Spirit in you is God’s “down payment” toward your full redemption!
(15-16) This reality is inspiring to Paul. He is thrilled by the faith and love of the Ephesian believers, and he gives thanks to God for this.
(17-19) His prayer for them is that they receive full and detailed revelation from God, of the riches of knowing Jesus Christ in all of God’s love and mighty power!
(20) The resurrection of Jesus Christ and His ascension to Heaven put this into place.