The Book of Ephesians: An Introduction, Part Two.

“If Romans is, humanly speaking, the most impressive of Paul’s letters, then Ephesians is probably the most elegant. In its opening doxology blessings cascade down upon the reader. In its closing verses the smell of the battlefield lies heavily in the air and through the smoke of war we see Christians, fully clad in the armor of spiritual warfare, still standing. From beginning to end Ephesians sets before us the wonder of God’s grace, the privilege of belonging to the church, and the pattern of life-transformation the gospel produces.” Dr. Sinclair Ferguson

The structure of Ephesians is simple. The first three chapters are theological, emphasizing biblical doctrine, whereas the last three chapters are practical and focus on Christian conduct.

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “Perhaps, above all, this is a letter of encouragement and admonition, written to remind believers of their immeasurable blessings in Jesus Christ; and not only to be thankful for those blessings, but also to live in a manner worthy of them. Despite, and partly even because of, a Christian’s great blessings in Jesus Christ, he is sure to be tempted by Satan to self-satisfaction and complacency. It was for that reason that, in the last chapter, Paul reminds believers of the full and sufficient spiritual armor supplied to them through God’s word and by his Spirit (6:10–17) and of their need for vigilant and persistent prayer (6:18).”

A key theme in Ephesians is the mystery (meaning a previous unrevealed truth) of the church, which is “that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (3:6), a truth completely hidden from the OT saints (cf. 3:5, 9). All believers in Jesus Christ, the Messiah, are equal before the Lord as his children by grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone. Both people groups are citizens of God’s eternal kingdom. Paul also speaks of the mystery of the church as the bride of Christ (5:32; cf. Rev. 21:9).

Another truth in Ephesians is that of the church as Christ’s present spiritual, earthly body, also a distinct and formerly unrevealed truth about God’s people. This metaphor depicts the church, not as an organization, but as a living organism composed of mutually related and interdependent parts. Christ is head of the body and the Holy Spirit is its lifeblood, as it were. The body functions through the faithful use of its members’ various spiritual gifts, sovereignly and uniquely bestowed by the Holy Spirit on each believer.

Other major themes include the riches and fullness of blessing to believers. Paul writes of “the riches of his [God’s] grace” (Eph. 1:7), “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (3:8), and “the riches of his glory” (3:16).

Paul also admonishes believers to “be filled with all the fullness of God” (3:19), to “attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (4:13), and to “be filled with the Spirit” (5:18).

The church’s riches in Christ are based on His grace (1:2, 6–7; 2:7), His peace (1:2), His will (1:5), His pleasure and purpose (1:9), His glory (1:12, 14),His calling and inheritance (1:18), His power and strength (1:19; 6:10), his love (2:4), his workmanship (2:10), his Holy Spirit (3:16), his offering and sacrifice (5:2), and His armor (6:11, 13). The word “riches” is used five times in this letter; “grace” is used 12 times; “glory” six times; “fullness” or “filled” six times; and the key phrase “in Christ” (or “in him”) some 22 times.

I encourage you to begin reading Ephesians. Begin with Paul’s masterful extended paragraph concerning the work of the Trinity in the sinner’s salvation (Ephesians 1:3-14). Have a blessed day.

Soli deo Gloria!  

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