Today we begin a study on the book of Ephesians.
Summary of the Book of Ephesians
This summary of the book of Ephesians provides information about the title, author(s), date of writing, chronology, theme, theology, outline, a brief overview, and the chapters of the Book of Ephesians.
Author, Date and Place of Writing
The author identifies himself as Paul (1:1; 3:1; cf.3:7,13;4:1;6:19-20). Some have taken the absence of the usual personal greetings and the verbal similarity of many parts to Colossians, among other reasons, as grounds for doubting authorship by the apostle Paul. However, this was probably a circular letter, intended for other churches in addition to the one in Ephesus. Paul may have written it about the same time as Colossians, c. a.d. 60, while he was in prison at Rome (See 3:1;4:1;6:20).
The City of Ephesus
Ephesus was the most important city in western Asia Minor (now Turkey). It had a harbor that at that time opened into the Cayster River, which in turn emptied into the Aegean Sea. Because it was also at an intersection of major trade routes, Ephesus became a commercial center. It boasted a pagan temple dedicated to the Roman goddess Diana (Greek Artemis); cf. Acts 19:23-31. Paul made Ephesus a center for evangelism for about three years, and the church there apparently flourished for some time, but later needed the warning of Revelation 2:1-7.
Unlike several of the other letters Paul wrote, Ephesians does not address any particular error or heresy. Paul wrote to expand the horizons of his readers, so that they might understand better the dimensions of God’s eternal purpose and grace and come to appreciate the high goals God has for the church. The letter opens with a sequence of statements about God’s blessings, which are interspersed with a remarkable variety of expressions drawing attention to God’s wisdom, forethought and purpose. Paul emphasizes that we have been saved, not only for our personal benefit, but also to bring praise and glory to God. The climax of God’s purpose, “when the times will have reached their fulfillment,” is to bring all things in the universe together under Christ (1:10). It is crucially important that Christians realize this, so in 1:15-23 Paul prays for their understanding (a second prayer occurs in 3:14-21).
Having explained God’s great goals for the church, Paul proceeds to show the steps toward their fulfillment. First, God has reconciled individuals to himself as an act of grace (2:1-10). Second, God has reconciled these saved individuals to each other, Christ having broken down the barriers through his own death (2:11-22). But God has done something even beyond this: He has united these reconciled individuals in one body, the church. This is a “mystery” not fully known until it was revealed to Paul (3:1-6). Now Paul is able to state even more clearly what God has intended for the church, namely, that it be the means by which he displays his “manifold wisdom” to the “rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms” (3:7-13). It is clear through the repetition of “heavenly realms” (1:3,20;2:6;3:10;6:12) that Christian existence is not merely on an earthly plane. It receives its meaning and significance from heaven, where Christ is exalted at the right hand of God (1:20).
Nevertheless, that life is lived out on earth, where the practical daily life of the believer continues to work out the purposes of God. The ascended Lord gave “gifts” to the members of his church to enable them to minister to one another and so promote unity and maturity (4:1-16). The unity of the church under the headship of Christ foreshadows the uniting of “all things in heaven and on earth” under Christ (1:10). The new life of purity and mutual deference stands in contrast to the old way of life without Christ (4:17-6:9). Those who are “strong in the Lord” have victory over the evil one in the great spiritual conflict, especially through the power of prayer (6:10-20).
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: (Ephesians 1:3)
Introduction Author, date, message (SEE ABOVE)
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
God’s eternal purpose for Christians (3-14)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;9 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 fulness 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:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian Christians (15-23)
Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
Our purpose is that we should be holy and without blame before him in love
God blessed us with all spiritual blessings
God revealed the “mystery of his will” to us
God redeemed us
Paul prayed for spiritual wisdom for the Ephesians
Tom Stearns, WASI Chaplain, 907 715-4001