Summary: Ephesians focuses on the implications of the supremacy of Christ for the church and Christian living. Relative to Christ’s supremacy and cosmic role, what is the church’s place and purpose? What does it really mean to be a Christian and a church, the Bo
THE SUPREME MYSTERY – THE BODY OF CHRIST
ACT I: Foundations Of A Supreme Mystery – Identification
1.THE SUPREME BLESSING (Ephesians 1:1-6)
Introduction: Background & Context
WHO? Ephesians was clearly written by the Apostle Paul, under the full inspiration
of the Holy Spirit.
WHAT? An epistle. Epistles are similar to letters, except that they tend to be shorter, and are intended for wide distribution (as opposed to being read simply by an individual or group).
WHERE? Written from a Roman prison to the church at the city of Ephesus (3:1; 4:1; 6:20; 6:21; Col. 4:7). Ephesus was one of the truly great cities of the classical world! It was located on the Aegean coast on the edge of the Cayster River Valley (modern-day Turkey). It also had easy access to the Hermas River Valley to the north and the Meander River Valley to the south. As such, Ephesus was ideally located and was a tremendous maritime, transportation and commercial city. In addition, Ephesus was the capital of the Roman province of Asia, one of the largest cities in the entire Roman Empire, and a religious center. It was also home to the great temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient wonder. It was a place of great religious diversity, exploration and tolerance. In other words, not really that different from our world today!
The importance of Ephesus, not only to the Roman Empire but also to the spread of Christianity, is evident in the fact that Paul spent more time there than in any other city. It was also the first-mentioned recipient of the seven letters to the churches in Revelation (2:1-7).
WHEN? About 62 A.D. One of four epistles sent together, and commonly referred to as “The Prison Epistles.”
WHY? The Roman “prison” from which Paul wrote was more likely a situation of being under strict “house arrest.” Through visitors (probably Epaphras in particular), Paul received reports about the happenings and situations of the churches he planted and oversaw. This epistle is a response to those reports: a letter to His fellow Christians who are struggling to live for God in the midst of a bustling and utter pagan culture!
Further, this epistle was clearly intended for a large, general circulation and deals with the implications of the gospel and what it means to be a Christian and a church. It is a circular message that truly is for the Church everywhere and in every age or time.
The breadth, influence and significance of this epistle even to our day is well attested. Various scholars and luminaries of the faith have referred to Ephesians in such phrases as: “the divinest composition of man,”1 “the consummate and most comprehensive statement which even the New Testament contains of the meaning of the Christian religion,”2 “pure music,” and “the Grand Canyon of Scripture” (referring to its breathtaking beauty and inexhaustible depth).3
THEMES: Ephesians focuses on the implications of the supremacy of Christ for the church and Christian living. Relative to Christ’s supremacy and cosmic role, what is the church’s place and purpose? What does it really mean to be a Christian and a church, the Body of Christ? How does this apply to our daily lives and what does it demand of us?
The central truth of Ephesians is that salvation is by grace through faith alone (2:8-9) - and this according to the will and purposes of God! We will be studying these truths in three “Acts.” In the first we will explore the Foundations of A Supreme Mystery (Chaps. 1 & 2). In the second Act, we will discover The Mystery of The Body Unveiled (Ch. 3:1-4:6). In the third and final Act we will see The Supreme Mystery In Action (Ch. 4:7-6:24). The first two “Acts” will focus primarily on revealing the foundational doctrine. The third “Act” will primarily outline the means and implications of applying these truths into our daily lives as Christians and as a Church.
We begin today in Act I, Scene I: The Supreme Blessing.
The Supreme Blessing
As we prepare to now ’dive’ into the Lord’s text for us, I would like to ask everyone to first consider a few questions.
1. How do you identify yourself?
2. Can you remember or identify at which point God first chose you as His own?
3. To what has He chosen you?
Now, let us read His Word and divine guidance.
THE WORD: READ EPHESIANS 1:1-6
1.Salutation (vv. 1-2)
1. Paul’s Identification (v.1a)
* Immediately, Paul identifies himself, not only in name but in position in Christ.
How often do you think of or identify yourself as in relation to Christ?
* “An apostle” means that he is one who was personally commissioned by Jesus Christ
with special authority to preach the gospel, maintain its integrity and represent Him.