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?