Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians

This letter to the Ephesians did not address any particular problem in the church, but was written to give Paul’s readers a deeper understanding of God’s eternal purpose and grace by means of a revealed mystery, and of the high standards God has for the church. Considered to be intended as a circular letter, it was written from his house arrest in Rome around A.D. 60.

God’s purpose in Christ

[1-3]

Spiritual blessings in Christ; A prayer

[1] Following a brief greeting, Paul speaks of God’s blessings in Christ: that he chose us, adopted us as children, brought us redemption and the forgiveness of sins, and has made known the mystery of his will, that in the fullness of time we will receive our inheritance, having the gift of his Spirit in our lives. All this is given unto the praise of his glory. Paul tells of how he always gives thanks for them, mentioning them in his prayers that they may know the hope of God’s calling, understand the riches of their inheritance, know the power of God in their lives, and the power that resurrected Christ and made him Lord over all things.

Salvation of individuals by grace; One in Christ

[2] God’s purpose is fulfilled by first reconciling individuals to himself. We were dead in sin and lived according to the ways of the evil one, but God’s love and grace give us a new life in Christ. We are saved through faith to do the good works God called us to do. Secondly, individuals are reconciled to one another, the barriers between Jews and Gentiles having been broken down through Christ’s death. We have peace in Christ and with one another now we are all one in Christ, having access to God through one Spirit.

The ‘mystery’ revealed; A second prayer

[3] The mystery Paul spoke briefly of earlier, given to him by Christ and not previously known by man, is that the Gentiles will be fellow heirs, along with the Jews, all of the same body and partakers of God’s promise in Christ. Paul’s second prayer is that his readers be strengthened by the Holy Spirit in them and, being rooted and grounded in love, be able to comprehend the depth of Christ’s love and be filled with all the fullness of God.

God’s purpose manifest in the Christian’s daily life

[4-6]

Towards maturity in the Spirit

[4] Paul calls the church to maintain the unity that the Spirit brings to the church. The differing gifts of the Spirit are to develop maturity in the saints, preparing them for ministry and for building up the whole body of the church in love. The old way of life, when they were alienated from God, is put aside for a new life in Christ. The evil things of the Devil, such as all manner of lasciviousness, greed, dishonesty and anger, are replaced by a new nature that is the renewal of the mind by the Spirit, manifest in holiness, love and forgiveness.

Renewal of personal life; Relationships; The armour of God

[5-6] Do not be deceived by false teaching, for those who live in any of the ways of the old self will not have inheritance in the kingdom of God. Walk as children of light in all goodness, righteousness and truth, having no fellowship with the disobedient, but rather reprove them by the example of your own lives. Constantly give praise to God, thanking him for all things, and submitting yourselves to one another in fear of him. The relationship between husbands and wives is to reflect that of Christ and his church. Children must honour their parents and parents must nurture their children in the ways of the Lord. Servants should serve knowing that Christ came to serve, and masters should remember they have a Master in heaven that is no respecter of persons. Finally, we are to be strong in the Lord as our real enemy is not flesh and blood but the influence of the evil one. It is a spiritual conflict in which we must use all the armour that God provides, which includes truth, righteousness, faith and the word of God, all of which is underpinned with prayer. Paul concludes his letter with words of peace, love and grace.
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