The Book Of Ephesians
The Book Of Ephesians
Reading — Ephesians 2.8-10; 4.1-3 & 6.10-12
About two years ago we began a study of each book of the Bible, covering one book each Sunday evening. I perceived that at times you got weary of the study, so we would stop and take a hideous from the survey for a few months. Beginning tonight I would like to start again and work toward completion of the series, beginning with the New Testament book of Ephesians.
First tonight, let’s talk about the city of Ephesus. The city of Ephesus was colonized over a thousand years before the birth of Jesus by the Athenians. It was destroyed by a fire in 356 B.C. It was rebuilt for two reasons:
• The pride of its inhabitants,
• And the importance of its strategic location.
Ephesus was situated on the Cayster river where it emptied into the Agean Sea, which afforded a commercial harbor, much like our Mississippi at New Orleans. However due to heavy silting, the harbor was shallow and had to be dredged often. Today there is no harbor due to this silting process. Three major highways converged in the city of Ephesus... One of which was the infamous Roman Agean Way.
The city became famous in New Testament times as a: political, commercial and religious center. It was known as the Supreme Metropolis of all Asia Minor. The city was known for several things: A 25,000 seat theater.... This theater was one of the best known in the world. A race course. And a temple dedicated to the goddess Diana... known as Artemis to the Greeks. Diana was the multi-breasted goddess of Nature. This temple was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It consisted of: • 127 pillars... each was a gift from a king; 36 of these pillars were covered in precious metals. The temple was 425 feet long.. 220 feet wide... 60 feet tall, the height of a 6 story building. Today, the temple lies in ruins after being leveled by an earthquake.
The city was populated by a large number of diaspora Jews. Jews who had been scattered over the Mediterranean world because of precaution. Biblically, the city was visited by several well known Christian evangelists:
• Paul labored there for 3 years, longer than in any other city.
• Aquila and Priscilla were left in Ephesus as Paul ended his second journey.
• Apollos preached in Ephesus. It was here that he was taught the gospel of Christ by Aquila & Priscilla.
• Timothy accompanied Paul for at least a portion of his second stay in Ephesus.
These facts are recorded in Luke's narrative of Acts 18 through 20. Even though not a part of recorded Scripture, history tells us that the Apostle John spent the last years of his life in Ephesus as an Elder of the church and died in this famous city. Today the ancient city lies in ruins in what is known to us as Turkey.
Let’s notice from Acts some of the history of the church in Ephesus. Paul established this church on his second missionary journey. Coming to Ephesus for the first time, he only stayed only a few days, promising to return. As he traveled home to Antioch, he left Aquila and Priscilla in Ephesus.
As Paul returned, on his third missionary journey, he taught in the Jewish synagogue for three months. When opposition developed, from the Jews, he began teaching in the school of Tyrannus. This work was so effective that he stayed there teaching for two years. God authenticated the ministry of Paul in Ephesus in a most unusual way. Handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick and their illnesses were cured and evil spirits were caused to leave those who were possessed. There is no indication that this type of miracle was preformed by God through Paul elsewhere or that it was intended to become a pattern for other apostle and teachers. Even in Ephesus there were attempts to counterfeit these miracles... But they failed.
The second opposition to Paul's preaching came from the pagan silversmiths who made their living through the manufacture of miniature statues of the goddess Diana and of replicas of the great temple in her honor that was in Ephesus. This temple was a tourist attraction and when people visited they, much like us today, would take home a trinket from their visit. As people became converted from paganism to Christianity, the silversmiths trade began to diminish to the point that they rioted against Paul and company. When it looked as though a couple of Paul's companions were about to be executed, the town clerk intervened, saying... Be careful, Rome will hear of this insurrection and send troops. When the uproar was over, Paul left Ephesus ending a ministry of almost three years.
Paul later called the Ephesians Elders to meet him at Miletus to warn them against false teachers and about their responsibilities as overseers in the church. As far as we know this was the last contact with this church until he wrote this Epistle.
Notice with me now some facts about the letter itself. It was written by Paul during his first imprisonment in Rome, probably around 59-61 A.D. This makes Ephesians one of what we call the Prison Epistles, along with:
• And Philemon.
All of which mentions Paul's bonds.
There is some amount of controversy as to whom the letter was written. Notice if you will that the first verse says, Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus. The words, at Ephesus have been challenged by many Bible scholars. The reason being that they do not appear in three of the oldest and major manuscripts:
• The Chester Beatty papyrus, dated about 200 A.D. You remember from our previous studies, that this is one of the oldest scripture text we have
• The Codex Vaticanus dated from the fourth century,
• And the Codex Sinaiticus also dated from the fourth century.
This leads many Bible scholars to conclude that Ephesians was written as an encyclical letter to the Seven Churches of Asia. A letter to be read and passed on to other churches. Two other facts contribute to this theory are:
• There is no personal greeting contained within the letter,
• And there is no treatment of specific local church problems. This is strange in light of the fact that Paul spent three years in Ephesus. Even if the letter was designed as an encyclical Epistle, it would appear that the book was first sent to Ephesus and that it probably returned to Ephesus, which was known as the mother church of Asia Minor. In any case, the content or teaching of the letter is not affected by the problem of destination.
Like most of Paul's letters, Ephesians easily divides itself into two sections:
• The doctrinal section... Chapters 1-3
• And the practical application portion consisting of chapters 4-6.
Let’s examine both for the remainder of our lesson.
The book of Ephesians is about the church and her relationship with Christ.
• Chapters one through three are about the doctrine of the church and the fact that the church was always part of God's scheme of redemption. God had predestined the church. He had planned to save those who would accept salvation through the death of Christ. We see this in chapter one, verses 5 and 11. Those who were IN CHRIST are those who have been saved according to God's plan. These make up the church.
• God wants the members of the church to live in such a way as to glorify Christ and bring peace and happiness into their lives... As he says in 4.1 ...To walk worth of their calling. Therefore the last three chapters give us instructions on how we are to live as Christians.
Let’s consider the doctrinal content of the book
Access a New Testament as we will be reading a good portion of Ephesians
First Paul says the church has been made alive in Christ... By the blood of Christ. We know that we were dead in sin, but in the act of New testament baptism, we crucified the old man of sin and are raised to walk in a newness of life. Notice now the spiritual blessing we have, if we are IN CHRIST.... 1.7
• In Christ we have redemption.... We have been bought back.... Reconciled to God.
• In Christ we have the forgiveness of sins.
Secondly Paul says our eternal salvation was confirmed by the Holy Spirit. Note verse 13-14 You were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession--to the praise of his glory. Then in 2.21 and 22 Paul tells us that God lives in the church, and that this is made possible by the Spirit he gave us. In him the whole building.... Talking about the church... Talking about people not a wooden structure.... In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Thirdly, we notice that this redemption that is available IN CHRIST, is a free gift of God that cannot be merited. Read with me chapter 2, verses 4-10. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no-one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Listen now as Paul prays for the church in chapter 3, verses 14-20. For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
Now we will notice the practical application aspects of the book. The pivotal verse of Ephesians is 4.1. This verse draws a sharp line between the doctrinal and practical divisions of the book. You see, there is a cause and effect relationship between: Chapters 1 through 3, And 4 through 6.
We must know tonight that:
• Behavior does not determine blessings;
• Instead blessings should determine behavior.
You see, because we have been saved by grace, then this is the way we should behave. This concept is echoed by Titus in 2.10-14, when Paul says, The grace of God has appeared to all men..... DOING WHAT?..... Teaching us how to live godly lives.... Showing us how to live!
OK — Just how should we, in the church, live?
FIRST, WE ARE TO BE UNITED.
Read 4.1-6 with me, As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. WHY? Because, there is one body and one Spirit--just as you were called to one hope when you were called-- one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Let your eyes fall to verse 16 and Paul will tell us how to practice unity in the church. As each does his own work. Really, isn't this what destroys unity in our churches, becoming involved in others members work and walk?
SECONDLY, WE ARE TO LIVE AS CHILDREN OF LIGHT.
Turn to chapter 5 and lets read verse 8 through 9. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) Wasn't it John who said that the continual forgiveness of sins comes by walking in the LIGHT? But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. The secret is to know how to live as children of light. I believe Paul tells us here in Ephesians.
First, we are children of Light by moral purity.
Note chapter 4, verse 22-24, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Let your eyes fall to 5.1. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person--such a man is an idolater--has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no-one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.
“Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
BY TREATING OTHERS PROPERLY.
Note verses 25-32 of chapter 4. “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
BY LOVING OUR SPOUSE.
Are you at chapter 5, beginning with verse 25? “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no-one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church--for we are members of his body. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery--but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
BY BEING OBEDIENT CHILDREN.
Let’s read from chapter 6, beginning with the verse numbered 1. Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honor your father and mother" --which is the first commandment with a promise--"that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth." Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
BY BEING PROPER SERVANTS AND MASTERS, PROPER EMPLOYEES AND EMPLOYERS.
Note verse 5 of chapter 6, Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free. And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.
BY PUTTING ON THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD IN ORDER TO FIGHT SATAN.
This time we read from 6.10-18. Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled round your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Here it is audience, the book of Ephesians tells us what great things God has done for us in the church through the blood of Christ. And then in light of this.... How we are to live. Listen to me closely! In light of God's amazing grace.... What do we need to do tonight?
• Become a child of God through: Faith, Repentance and New Testament Baptism?
• Perhaps we need to change the way you currently live in order to be a true child of Light.
Whatever you need to do to respond to His grace, do it now.