Here is your homework: Sit down and read the book of Ephesians in one sitting. Then jot down what you think are the primary concerns the apostle Paul wrote this letter.
According to Doctor Luke, author of the Book of Acts in the New Testament, Paul’s first visit to the city of Ephesus was brief – sort of checking it out. He later returned during his third missionary journey and spent over two years there. His ministry was effective and controversial.
Read Acts 18:18-22.
After 3 months in the synagogue, he was forced out and took up living in the lecture hall of Tyrannus (Acts 19:8-9). Paul probably worked as a tentmaker in the mornings and as a lecturer in the afternoons. News of his message spread throughout Asia Minor (Acts 19:10).
Extraordinary things happened: handkerchiefs touched by Paul were used to heal others (19:11-12); Demons were cast out in the name of Jesus – even by Jewish exorcists (19:13-17); Pagan converts burned their books of magic (19:18-20); Then a riot broke out in Ephesus over Paul. Demetrius, a silversmith, organized a city-wide protest, charging that Paul’s success posed a threat to the economic well-being of other craftsmen who made their living from the worshipers of Artemis (19:23-41). As a result, Paul moved on to Macedonia, and the church was firmly established in Ephesus. Paul never again visited Ephesus, but he stopped at the nearby port of Miletus on a return trip to Jerusalem. He called the elders of the Ephesian church to meet with him and he gave an emotional farewell (20:13-38). He later sent them a letter from prison.
In between the introductory greeting (1:1-2), and the concluding greetings (6:21-24) – both typical of a first century letter, Paul’s words fall into two distinct sections: Section 1(Chapters 1 to 3) focus on doctrine. Section 2(Chapters 4 to 6) focus on behavior. The ideas of section 1 can be summarized as the new life and community God created through Jesus. The ideas of section 2 can be summarized as the new standards of the new relationships expected of believers in Christ.
The tone of section 1 is that these are the facts of our new situation “in Christ.” This is what we must believeabout this Christian faith in light of this new reality. The tone of section 2 is what we must dowith the facts of our new situation “in Christ.” This is how we must live this Christian life in light of this new reality.
The emphasis throughout the book is on unity. In ch 1-3, Paul describes the great reconciling work of Christ, who through the cross overcame demonic powers (ch 1) and then broke down the wall between God and people (ch 2), and the wall between Jew and Gentile (2:11-22). In ch 3, Paul talks about God creating the church, a new social order of love and unity that transcends the racial, ethnic, and social distinctions between people. Then in ch 4-6, Paul exhorts us to unity via a series of imperatives – we are to live out this unity in our daily lives.
Grow devotionally. Meditate on Ephesians 1:3-14 for five minutes a day for the next three days. Work on memorizing those verses. Starting in v 4, what are seven things God has done for us? When did you come to appreciate all that God has done for you in Jesus? How does being adopted change your view of yourself and God? What does unity in diversity mean to you based on this letter? Rejoice that the cross of Christ leads to God’s new society of redeemed people.
Love is a verb,
©2018 by Mike Olejarz