Ephesians is one of four prison epistles of the apostle Paul. It is the third of those four to be written and was written during his first Roman imprisonment. The four epistles in order are Colossians, Philemon, Ephesians and Philippians. These four were written about the same time. They all have a very similar subject matter and are similar in the way they are introduced. Paul speaks of being in prison in all of them, (Col.1:24;4:3; Philemon 9-13; Eph. 6:20; Phil.1:7;2:17).
Ephesus was an Ionian Greek city and a very wealthy seaport. It was an idolatrous city. It was the centre where replicas of the goddess Diana were produced. There were all sorts of crafts related to the occult and heathen worship in the city (Acts 19:17-38). The temple of Diana influenced lands, fisheries and it's priests were bankers. Here people gave and stored their money and paintings.
The history of the church is recorded in Acts 18:18-28; 19; 20:17-38. One of it's early leaders was believed to be the apostle John. By about A.D. 340 the church had overtaken the city and Diana was a goddess of the past.
The letter to the Ephesians gives strong indication within itself that it was intended as a letter to several churches rather than just one church. The words "in Ephesus" is found in the Textus Receptus but not in two of the most important Unicals (written in Capital letters) Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus. Neither is found in a recently established manuscripts Codex Laura 184 a manuscript that agrees so closely with Origin's writings (A.D. 250) that most textual scholars feel it was composed from his writings. If this is true it is a very ancient document.
Paul had been at Ephesus for 3 years; therefore, Paul would know about their conversion yet in 1:15 he suggests his knowledge is hearsay. He also notes that the believers to whom he is writing know of him by hearsay only, (3:2). This would be very strange if he were writing only to the Ephesians, but it would not be strange if the letter was written to other churches of Asia Minor as well.
If it were written exclusively to the Ephesians, then it is difficult to know why Paul did not use his favourite terms like "brethren" or "beloved." The omission of these terms is best explained by the fact that he was writing to people with whom he was not personally associated. Neither is there a word of personal greeting in the book which again is unusual if he were writing to the Ephesians alone. Even the benediction is in the third person and impersonal. All his other epistles use the second person. The only explanation seems to be he was writing to a broader audience than Ephesus.
1. The book has 6 chapters made up of 155 verses.
2. The author was the Apostle Paul. His signature is in the book twice (1:1;3:1). The style is his and the status of the writer is in line with what we know of Paul at that time. He was a prisoner, of Jesus Christ for the Gentiles and a prisoner of the Lord. It agrees with the last eight chapters of Acts. He refers to his special calling as an apostle to the Gentiles and of his associate Tychicus both of these harmonize with the Acts record.
3. The book was written during Paul's first Roman imprisonment at the Mamertine Prison in Rome. The date of the writing is about mid to late A.D.60.
4. We have stated it is a prison Epistle written from Mamertine Prison in Rome so the place of writing was the city of Rome. It was delivered to Ephesus by Tychicus.
5. The events that give rise to the writing of the Epistle was the realization of Paul that there was a danger that the errors that had disrupted the Colossian church could spread to the churches of Asia. He was attempting to head off the heresy by giving a fuller treatment of the eternal purposes of God and His universal program. He showed them the place of the church, as the body of Christ in the eternal purpose of God.
The position of the believer as seated in heavenly places in Christ, but living worthy of that position on earth.
Christ is revealed as the heavenly king set supremely above all authority, the great Reconciler, the Head of the body and the Giver of the ministry gifts.
The key words are grace, body, predestinated and purpose.
Eph.1:9,10 Having made known unto us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself: (10) That in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him.
1. One reason for the book is that it reaffirms that God has an eternal purpose of redemption. The purpose is centred in Christ and all things sum up in Him.
2. Another reason for the book is to remind them he is praying they attain their goal in God, that is to come to a full understanding of the privileges that are theirs in Christ.
3. He wrote to show them what their experience Christ really meant. They were reminded of what they had at present, and were given a picture of what they would be in the future.
4. He wrote to emphasize that the New Covenant relationship meant that Jews and Gentiles were one in Christ.
5. He reiterates his authority for preaching the message of God's eternal purpose in Christ.
6. He shows that God's eternal purpose in Christ was not fully understood, even by angels, until it was made manifest in the church.
7. He moves from position to practicality by admonishing them to live a lifestyle consistent with their new relationship, life and position in Christ.
8. He shows that the ministry gifts are Christ's gift to the church to bring it to maturity and effective ministry.
9. They are to be examples to the Gentiles, apply the principles of salvation to their social relationships and do battle as Christian soldiers in full armour.
10. He used the occasion to explain the mission of Tychicus.
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Events and Characters
1. Paul gives the greeting and then offers praise for the spiritual blessings in Christ. He speaks of us being a part of the eternal purpose of God, chosen before the foundation of the world. Christ has been raised far above all principalities and powers and raised us together with Him. It is an act of His grace. Gentiles were alienated and strangers but, by the cross, have been brought near and made citizens of His nation and members of God's household. Now we are a habitation of God through the Spirit.
2. Paul was given the revelation of grace, which revealed that Gentiles should be equal partners with Jewish Christians in the church. The whole family is now named in Christ and He dwells in our hearts. This love which passes all understanding brings glory to God in the church.
3. The result of this that His followers are to walk worthy of the high calling in Christ. There is to be a spirit of unity drawing from the head and each other. Christians are to walk differently than the world, even to rejecting inward bitterness and malice. There is to be kindness and forgiveness. Christians are to walk in love as Christ did, and reject the lusts of the flesh which brings the wrath of God upon the disobedient. We are to be filled with Spirit and reject the false expressed in drunkenness.
4. Christians are to have a mutual submission one to another. Wives are to be submitted to their husbands and husbands are to love their wives in the manner Christ loved the church. The marriage relationship is a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church. Children are to be in subjection to their parents, and parents are to respect the children. Workers are to submit to the employer as service to Christ, and employers are to teach their workers with respect. We are in a spiritual warfare and to accomplish all this and spiritual victory as well we need the complete armour of God. We need to maintain a prayerful attitude.
Lessons to Remember
1. We are chosen in Him before the foundation of the world; therefore, we can walk confidently in this world.
2. God wants us to realize that He has an inheritance in us.
3. God by His grace has raised us up to sit with Christ, therefore we walk from a position of victory.
4. We are individually and collective saved so that we can be a habitation of God.
5. There is only one body; therefore, we should respect each other even when we differ.
6. Our position in Christ gives us a responsibility to walk in this present world worthy of the name we bear.
7. We must continually work at family, work and personal relationships so that they reflect to glory of God.
8. It is a spiritual battle, but we have been given the equipment to succeed.
9. We need an attitude of prayer in our lives, and we should continuously uphold those on the front line of battle.
I. Position of the Believer 1 - 3
A. Greeting, Blessing, and Prayer 1
B. Past, Present, Future of the Believer Their oneness in Christ 2
C. Mystery Revealed and a Prayer 3
II. Walk of the Believer 4 - 6:9
A. Unity, Gifts and Separation 4
B. The Spirit Filled Life 5:1 - 21
C. Instructions to Fathers, Children Servants etc. 5:22 - 6:9
III. Warfare of the Believer 6:10 - 24
I. Introduction 1:1 - 2
II. The Constitution of the Church 1:3 - 14
A. By the Father 1:3 - 6
B. In the Son 1:6 - 12
C. Through the Spirit 1:13 - 14
III. The Consciousness of the Church
A. Of Hope of Calling 1:15 - 18
B. Of Inheritance in Saints 18
C. Of Greatness of Power 19 - 20
D. Of Leadership of Christ 21 - 23
IV. The Creation of the Church 2:1 - 10
A. Material: From Children of Wrath 2:1 - 4
B. Means: By Grace 4 - 9
C. Purpose: For Good Works 10
V. The Concord of the Church: Union of Jew and Gentile in Christ 2:11 - 22
VI. The Calling of the Church3 :1 - 21
A. To Reveal the Wisdom of God 3:1 - 13
B. To Experience the Fullness of God 3:14 - 21
VII. The Conduct of the Church 4:1 - 6:9
A. Its Ministry: Diversity in Unity 4:1 - 16
B. Its Moral Strengths 4:17 - 5:14
C. Its Corporate Behaviour Toward the World 5:15 - 21
D. Its Domestic Standards 5:22 - 6:9
VIII. The Conflict of the Church 6:10 - 20
IX. Conclusion 6:21 - 24
Feed Yourself Students:
Before the next lesson arrives do the following:
1. Read through the Books Of Philippians and Colossians 2 times each.
2. Analyze Philippians Chapter 2.