About the book of Ephesians

Copied from Belief and Behavior, by Allison Kohn , available on Amazon

Paul wrote to expand the horizons of his readers. His teaching shows us how to repair what has been broken by corruption in our lives, damaging our behavior. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians shows us how to live out the purposes of God in the practical life of a believer. Eugene Peterson said, “He begins with an exuberant exploration of what Christians believe about God, and then, like a surgeon skillfully setting a compound fracture, “sets” this belief in God into our behavior before God so that the bones – belief and behavior – knit together and heal.” [1]

In other words, he showed them how to practice their position in Christ.

Jesus endowed the members of his church with spiritual “fruit” to enable them to minister to one another and in such a way that will promote unity and maturity. The unity of the church under the headship of Christ pictures the unity of “all things in heaven and on earth” under Christ. Paul pictured the new life of purity and mutual respect opposed to the old way of life without Christ. We see that we who are “strong in the Lord” have victory over the enemy of our souls in the great spiritual conflict.

Ray Stedman says, “Ephesians sets forth what no other book of the New Testament describes so completely — the nature of the body of Christ, which is the true Church. This letter, in many ways, is the crowning glory of the New Testament.”

[1] Introduction to Ephesians, page 1611, The Message Bible, Navpress, 2012

In the Greco-Roman world, letters allowed people to maintain contact with others across the miles. Ancient letters typically began with the identification of the sender and the recipients followed by the greeting. Paul introduced himself as the writer by qualifying his identity with the statement that he was a special agent of Christ Jesus – an apostle chosen by God.

His letter was addressed to the faithful believers in Ephesus and he greeted them with the grace and peace that was poured into their lives by God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ[1].

The Holy Spirit of God put the words of this letter in the heart of Paul as he wrote, guarded the letter as it traveled down to you and me through the ages, and speaks to our hearts as we read it. The Holy Spirit of God has always had total control over the canonization of his Word – what we call the Holy Scriptures – so we can agree that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God.”[2]

A short statement of thanksgiving often followed the introduction. Paul preceded his thanksgiving with praise for the God of our salvation – the reason for his thanksgiving.

He told them – and the Holy Spirit of God is telling you and me – to hold the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ in reverence. We are reminded that God has favored us with every spiritual advantage in the sublime company of our Mashiach, Jesus.

He chose us in the Messiah before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before Him in love. He predestined us for adoption as sons through Messiah Yeshua, in keeping with the good pleasure of His will – to the glorious praise of His grace, with which He favored us through the One He loves![3]

Long before the foundation of the world God loved us and choose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. His plan has always been to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. We praise God because he poured his wonderful kindness out on us and purchased our freedom through the blood of his Son – and our sins are forgiven.

Paul reminded his readers – and the Holy Spirit of God is reminding you and me today – that we have been redeemed in Jesus Christ. We were bought back – from the chains of sin and death – through the Blood of the Lamb.

God showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

Paul said, “How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

“Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.”

In Christ, we find out who we are and what we’re living for. From before the creation of the heavens and the earth God’s plan was centered on Christ. He designed it according to his good pleasure. You and I couldn’t have conceived such a plan, but God planned all along that at the right time he will bring everything in heaven and on earth together under the authority of Christ. Through Christ, we have received an inheritance from God. He chose us from the beginning and everything happens the way he decided it would all along.

Paul told his readers that they, who were the first to trust in Christ, praised our glorious God; and then, the ancient Ephesians heard the truth and the Good News that Jesus saves. When they believed in Christ[4], God identified them by giving them his Holy Spirit just as he had promised long ago.

The Holy Spirit of God wants you and me to know that, when we believed[5], God gave us his Holy Spirit as a guarantee that he will give us everything he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. That is one more reason for us to praise the God of our salvation.

He said, “It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.”

Paul’s thanksgiving for the holy people was for their strong faith and love for the family of God – their reputation that he heard of from others. Everywhere Paul traveled He heard of his reader’s strong faith that resulted in loving acts for other Christians. He told them that was why he prayed for them – with thanksgiving for them – that God would give them spiritual wisdom and understanding so that they could grow in the knowledge of the glorious Father of their Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul prayed for his readers – and the Holy Spirit of God wants you an me to pray for each other – that our hearts would be flooded with light so that we can understand the wonderful future he has promised for those he has called. Paul wanted his readers to know – and the Holy Spirit of God wants you and me to know – the wonderful inheritance he has given to his people.

Paul said, “That’s why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn’t stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!

All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral[6] to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.”

The Holy Spirit of God told his readers through Paul that he wants us to know what the exceedingly great power is toward us who believe in him – us who keep trusting Him—in keeping with the working of His mighty strength[7].That amazingly great power is for us – the same mighty power that raised Jesus from the dead and seated him at the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. We are seated with Christ at that place of honor in heavenly places[8]. Jesus is far above any ruler, authority, power, or leader – or anything else in this world or the world to come.

[1] Yeshua ha Mashiach

[2] II Timothy 3:16

[3] TLV

[4] Put their trust in Christ for the redemption of their souls.

[5] Put our trust in Yeshua ha Mashiach for the redemption of our souls.

[6] Secondary, minor, sideline

[7] TLV

[8] 2:6

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