Summary: The opening of our study of the book of Ephesians. This sermon gives a brief overview of the book, it’s purpose, and theme
The Letter to Ephesus
Text: Ephesians 1:1-2
By: Ken McKinley
We are beginning a sermon series on the book of Ephesians and in doing so I hope that we can dig out all the truth of this great letter from the Apostle Paul to the church in Ephesus. Now just like when you read any kind of book, its important to take a little bit of time and go over the introduction. It’s important because the introductions usually lays a foundation; a historical and contextual foundation if you will. In order to interpret any book of the Bible properly, it’s important that we understand who the book was originally written to, who wrote it, and the cause for writing the book.
So lets take a look at that quickly; The book was originally a letter (epistle) and it was written to the church in Ephesus, by the Apostle Paul. The book naturally splits into two sections; the 1st is chapter 1 to chapter 3. Chapters 1, 2, and 3 deal with doctrine or teachings. Then chapters 4 – 6 are practical application. In other words, the working of our faith, how we should live our lives as Christians.
The two key verses in both of these sections are found at the start of each of the sections. Look at chapter 1 verse 3 (Read). The second key verse for the second section is found in chapter 4 vs. 1 (read). So what Paul has done in this letter is to briefly discuss in the first 3 chapters all that we are in Christ, all that we have in Christ, the blessings we have inherited through the blood of Christ, and then, in chapter 4 he says, “Now that you know who you are and Whose you are, ‘Walk worthy of your vocation and calling.’”
A reoccurring theme you find in the book of Ephesians is that Paul is speaking of mysteries. Chapter 1 vs. 11 we see a mystery concerning the will of God. Chapter 2 there is the mystery of the church – how God has grafted into the vine people from all nationalities and backgrounds, and reconciled man to Himself. Chapter 3 vs. 4 we see a mystery of Christ, the mystery of His person, of His being, and His duty presently in heaven. Chapter 4 we read about the mystery of the unity of the Body of Christ. Chapter 5 we find the mystery of Christ’s love for the church. Chapter 6 we see the mystery of the Gospel, about how it will be proclaimed with boldness, even if the one proclaiming it is a prisoner.
And like I said, this letter was written to the church in Ephesus. Ephesus was one of the largest Mediterranean cities of that time, with a population of about 500,000 people (which was considered huge for those days). Paul first came through Ephesus on his 2nd missionary journey (see Acts 18). He wasn’t there long, only a few nights, but he did manage to debate with the Jewish leaders at the synagogue. The Bible tells us that they were so impressed with what Paul had to say that they begged him to stay, Paul had business in Jerusalem but he promised that he would be back, God willing. The book of Acts tells us that Paul did make it back through Ephesus and spent 3 years in the city. About ten years after Paul had left he wrote this letter to the church in Ephesus. Paul was imprisoned in Rome at that time. And if you think about it, that may have been a good thing. Prison slowed Paul down enough so that he could write several of the New Testament books.
So lets look at our text again (Read). Now days we finish our letters with our name and address in those days the letters began with them. So Paul begins by stating his name and then he goes on to say that he is an Apostle of Jesus Christ. The word “apostle” means “one who is sent,” but Paul is using it in the restrictive sense of one who has been specifically chosen directly by God, for God, to be a foundation for the church. That’s what Ephesians 2:20 tells us; that the church is built upon the foundations of the apostles and prophets with Jesus Christ being the Chief Cornerstone. When Paul calls himself an apostle here he is equating himself with the original disciples of the Lord. Paul had seen the risen Lord Jesus Christ and was chosen by Him on the road to Damascus.
That’s what he’s saying. He’s stating his authority and the source of his authority, “An apostle of Jesus Christ – by the will of God.”
Paul understood God’s will. I wonder how many people out there are trying to do something or be something that they shouldn’t? It’s their will not Gods, they are doing it in their own strength not in the power of the Lord.