THE NEW TESTAMENT
THE BOOK OF EPHESIANS
This Introduction to the epistle of Ephesians is taken from the
New King James Bible: Personal Study Edition, by Nelson
Publishers (1990, 1995).
Except for the Book of Romans, the Book of Ephesians is the
most carefully written presentation of Christian theology in the
New Testament. For this reason it has been recognized as a highly
important book, and one that richly repays prayerful study.
AUTHOR AND DATE
The name Paul occurs at 1:1 and 3:1 as the author of this
book. Though in the last century some suggested it was written
after Paul's time, both external and internal evidence strongly
support Pauline authorship. There is no good reason to doubt that
Paul wrote this key doctrinal letter.
The apostle wrote from prison, probably in Rome, after
having written the letter to Colosse (see 3:1: 4:1; 6:20 and
Introduction to Colossians). This would put the date at about
A.D. 60-62 during his first Roman imprisonment. It is a high
point in Paul's mature thought.
Ephesus was a chief city of the west coast of Asia Minor,
situated at the mouth of the Cayster River. Paul visited the city
on the return part of his second missionary journey (Acts
18:19-21). He stayed with them only briefly, but soon returned to
spend two year, gathering and strengthening the church in that
important city (Acts 19). By the end of that time, Paul had been
so successful in spreading Christianity that he had aroused
strong opposition from those who earned their living making
idols. He moved on, leaving a strong church.
The title and first verse of this book indicate it was
written directly to the Ephesian church. All of the chief
manuscripts - that are preserved have either "Ephesus" in 1:1, or
a blank space. But if the letter had been written to the
Ephesians only, Paul likely would have followed his usual
practice of including personal greetings to many friends there.
Yet the book has none of these usual greetings. The logical
answer to this puzzle is that Paul wrote to a number of churches
in the area, asking each to read the letter and pass it on. As
the letter passed from church to church, the name of each
congregation may have been written in the blank space. Perhaps at
some time the name Ephesus was left in the first verse, and so we
have it today. The chief point is that this book is an important
explanation of the gospel written for the whole church.
Ephesians is closely related to Colossians. No other two epistles
are so similar as these. Bath were written from prison; both
delivered by Tychicus. They are similar in outline and outlook;
both have the same general theme. Half of the verses in Ephesians
contain expressions identical to those in Colossians.
Yet the two books have strong differences. Colossians
emphasizes the deity of Christ; Ephesians, the reconciliation of
Christ and the church. Ephesians also highlights the ministry of
the Holy Spirit. Twelve times in six chapters Paul cites the work
of the Spirit (1:13; 2:18,22; 3:5,16; 4:3,4,30; 5:9,18: 6:17.
18). Some also consider 1:17 a reference to the Holy Spirit.
Yet the similarities are more than the differences. It is as
though Paul wrote Colossians first to meet some special needs of
the church there, and then felt that the letter for all the
churches ought to elaborate on some of the Colossian themes.
The primary theme of Ephesians is that all Christians are
saved through grace by faith in Christ. We are all made one in
Christ and should therefore all live godly lives. Paul strongly
supports this theme in the first half of the book ... God has
made us all one in Chris by raising us up from death in sin and
making us alive in Christ Jesus. Since both Jews and Gentiles are
saved in this way, we are all now one body in Christ. Therefore,
we must live in a manner worthy of the new life in Christ and
walk in the light of the Spirit of God. We must, by the power of
God, resist all temptation and the wiles of the devil, and show
ourselves victorious in Christ to the end.
The Book of Ephesians was intended to strengthen the church
and make Christians more conscious of their oneness in Christ.
This purpose is needed much today as it was in the first-century
1. Salutation 1:1,2
2. All made one in Christ 1:3-3:21
A. Song of God's saving grace 1:3-14
1. Father 1:3,4
2. Son l:5-12
3. Holy Spirit 1:13,14
B. Prayer for spiritual insight 1:15-23
C. The church built by grace through faith 2:1-3:21
1. Saved by grace 2:1-10
2. Jews and Gentiles made one in Christ 2:11-18
3. Built together as a temple 2:19-22
4. Paul's mission to the Gentiles 3:1-13
5. Paul's prayer for the church 3:14-25.
3. Life in the Christian community 4:1-6:20
A. Live as one in Christ 4:1-16
B. The old life and the new 4:17-33
C. Live in love, not lust 5:1-7
D. Live as in the light 5:8-21
E. Christian wives and husbands 5:22-33
F. Other Christian relationships 6:1-9
1. Children and parents 6:1-4
2. Slaves and masters 6:5-9
G. Put on the whole armor of God 6:10-20
4. Final greetings 6:22-24
Verses 4-5 shows us that God had a plan even before the
world was made. It was a plan to create and bring us humans into
His very own family. The New Testament has much to say on this
truth, a truth not fully or deeply understood by most Christians.
If you read the New Testament carefully you will find the many
verses that show being a child of God is just that - a literal
child. The creation of mankind was intended to become higher than
the angel kind, and there is only one level higher than the
angelic kind, and that is the very God level of existence. God
the Father wants children BORN of Him, who will have the
character, nature, power, perfectness, holiness, of HIMSELF!!
Paul them proceeds to explain that the KEY to all this great
plan lies in Christ Jesus. This plan is now fully revealed to us
and the plan is centered on Christ. It is a plan designed in the
ages past for God's very pleasure. Part of that plan is to one
day bring everything together to be under the authority of
This we know will happen when Jesus returns to this earth to
establish the Kingdom of God over all nations and peoples, and
because of Christ we have forgiveness of sins. We are to praise
God for His wonderful kindness and glorious plan of salvation. He
had determined in past ages that a people would be the FIRST to
be called and chosen as His children, and the first ones to trust
in Christ's work of redemption.
When we believed and accepted Jesus as our personal Savior
then we became a child of God, and He gave us His Spirit, His
nature (see 2 Peter 1:1-4). His Spirit in us is our guarantee
that ALL He has promised will be given to us, and is one more
reason to PRAISE Him (verses 3-14).
Paul tells them that they were always in his prayers, and he
wanted them to have spiritual wisdom and understanding, in order
that they would grow in the knowledge of God. He prayed that
their hearts and minds would be flooded with light so they may
better understand the awesome future that God had intended for
them. It would indeed be a rich and glorious inheritance. The
very power in them through the Spirit, was the and is the same
power that raised Jesus from the dead who is now seated on the
right hand of god in heaven. Hence Jesus now has all power and
authority and so that authority and power is to benefit the
church, the body of Christ as Paul called it in other epistles
Paul makes clear that ALL, Jews and Gentiles lived in sin
before they became Christ's. We all worked the works of Satan,
who is busy influencing all human hearts in one way or another.
So we were all sinners, but God had MERCY or GRACE upon us. Even
as we were dead in sins He raised us up to sit with Christ so to
speak, in the heavenly realm. God saved us by grace, un-deserved
mercy, through faith in Jesus' sacrifice for sins, His shed blood
on the cross. It was God's doing, His mercy, not something that
we could do of ourselves through some "good" works. We could not
"work off our sins" by good deeds, just as we cannot do some good
deeds to have the judge erase a death penalty we have incurred
because we murdered someone. Yet here Paul is telling us that the
judge of the universe has shown MERCY or GRACE to us in forgiving
our sins through the sacrifice of His own Son. Our sins are
washed away in the blood of Christ, when we accept Him as our
personal Savior and have faith in His sacrifice. We are then
saved from death by GRACE and not by any other means.
After being saved by grace through faith we go on to live as
the Lord wanted from the start. It was always His desire that
humans live the way that is good works, the way that is according
to His perfectness and righteous and holy character.
Surely anyone can see and understand that a murderer cannot
go on murdering people, just because he is shown mercy and grace
when the judge's son takes the death sentence on himself instead
of the murder taking it.
And surely it is not hard to see that the one escaping the
death sentence for murder, cannot continue in the mind-set of
thinking he can murder people at his will. The mind-set must now
be the attitude of wanting to live the righteous way and works of
the perfect judge.
God the Father shows us GRACE - forgiveness of sins -
through Christ, so we will set our minds to do the good works of
the Father, that He desired we should do from the start (verse 1-
Paul told them that we Christians are God's masterpiece, and
has created us anew in Christ Jesus, IN ORDER that we can DO the
things He planned for us long ago (verse 9). Salvation cannot be
"earned" it is God's gift to us by grace through faith in Jesus,
but once we are saved God wants us to walk and do His will, His
pleasure, His way, His commandments. This truth is told to us
time and time again in the New Testament, and especially in the
books of 1 and 2 and 3 John. Grace and Law are not opposed to
each other, they are coupled to each other as like a horse to a
buggy, a hand to a glove.
Starting in verse 11, Paul bring forth a truth that many
simply do not grasp, or will not understand for its simplicity,
and then delve into the Scriptures for the answer to the question
of what happens to millions upon millions who have lived and died
NEVER being called by God to salvation, millions, nay, BILLIONS
of people, young or old, never even having heard the name of
Jesus in their life on this earth, and it is only through Jesus
that you can be saved (see Acts 4:12 for that clear truth).
Paul tells the Gentiles that when they lived APART from
Christ, they were outsiders, did not know the promised of God,
did not know God. They lived in the world without God and WITHOUT
They were once FAR from God, but now have been brought near
to Him through the blood of Christ. It is simple. No Christ Jesus
in your life and no salvation. You cannot gain eternal life by
your good works, your man made "religion" - your being a good
Muslim, Communist, New Ager. or through Yoga, or whatever else
you follow. If you do not know Christ Jesus as personal Savior,
you are FAR apart from God, you have no hope in this life time.
Only through Jesus Christ is their salvation and eternal life. It
is that simple! Are such people who are far from God then lost
for all eternity? Not at all! We have seen through the previous
pages of this New Testament Bible Story, that God has a PLAN of
salvation for ALL who have ever lived or will yet live. That plan
includes giving everyone a plain view of Jesus and saving grace
through faith. For some it is in this life time, for the others
left in spiritual blindness it will be in a GREAT resurrection
AFTER the 1,000 years of Jesus' reign on earth (often referred to
as the Millennium). This is seen from chapter 20 of the book of
Revelation and from other sections of the Gospels (we have
expounded already) and from the verse in 2 Peter 3:9 where the
Lord tells us that He is not slack but LONGSUFFERING, and WILLS
that NONE should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
God will take away the spiritual blindness from all minds,
He will give all hearts the ability to see clearly His truth as
to the way of salvation, and that it is only through Christ
Jesus. Some it is now for others it is later. Jesus truly did say
that the first shall be last and the last shall be first (verses
Starting in verse 14, Paul brings forth the great and
wonderful truth of the "peace" of God for ALL people, Jews and
This passage has been often misunderstood and hence given a
completely wrong interpretation. some have said Paul was teaching
the law and commandments of God were now abolished in Christ. A
little meditation and some in-depth Bible study reading would
show how silly and how dangerous such an idea would be. Just
think how the world would be if there was no Ten Commandments, or
at least nations following some of those laws. There would be
total anarchy, everyone doing "their own thing" when and how they
pleased. Even secular nations understand there must be laws to
maintain order and functionability, people doing whatever,
whenever, and however, for whatever reason of their own, would
soon bring a full collapse of any good normal function to that
nation and its people. Nations that have civil war tell the
horrible scene of anarchy.
God's laws, commandments, precepts, statues, are GOOD. Paul
taught so in Romans chapter 7. They are spiritual, holy, just,
and good, is the way Paul wrote about them. This passage in
Ephesians has NOTHING to do with abolishing God's laws or
commandments. It has everything to do with MAN'S false laws and
dogmas, and commandments, that DIVIDE people from people, and
people from God. The best Bible Commentaries will give the truth
of what Paul was saying in verses 14 to 18.
Paul was alluding to a Temple wall in the structure of the
physical Temple in Jerusalem that DIVIDED the Jews from the
Gentiles. On this wall was a sign written that if any Gentile
went beyond this wall into the next section of the Temple, they
did so with possible life threatening consequences. This was a
man made law of the Jews. There is nothing in the Old Testament
to establish such a law within the Sanctuary of God. Though
Gentiles could become part of the Jewish nation by embracing the
Jewish faith, the Jews nevertheless had established man made laws
and commandments that in many ways still separated the Jews from
Then there were the many laws and dogmas contained in
commandments of both the Jews and Gentiles, that divided both of
them not only from each other, but from God. Many "religions"
today have their own man made laws and commandments that are not
part of anything written in the word of God, or they have wrongly
interpreted certain verses in god's word, and so established
teaching and ideas and laws, within their own religious community
that are sometimes CONTRARY to the laws and commandments and
overall way of life that God sets down in His word. This has
often come about by taking a verse out of the immediate context,
and certainly the context of the whole Bible. Some religions have
condemned the using of jewelry for women, or they have ordered
their followers to dress only in black, or wear a veil over their
faces at all times when in public. Such commandments of men have
NO authority from God, but come from the false ideas of men or
from using a verse out of context with the whole Bible.
God, through Christ, has broken down that wall that divided
Jew from Gentile, and mankind from God. Through Christ, all laws
and commandments of men have been broken down and abolished, so
ALL people can be ONE in God through Jesus. Christ took all sins
and wrong doings of mankind through their own vain ideas and
traditions, and washed them away in His blood. Thus ALL people
can be brought to God the Father, reconciled, justified, declared
sinless, forgiven of sins, which came about by either directly
breaking God's laws, or by living contrary to God's way by
following their own man made ways, which not only divided them
from God, but often divided themselves from each other.
The Gentiles were at one time FAR away from God, at least
the Jews did have the written word of God, though most of the
time they did not live it or they misapplied it. The Good News of
reconciling peace had now come to the Gentiles who were FAR away,
and to the Jews, who were somewhat nearer to God, in a relative
way of looking at it.
But BOTH were still cut off from God because of following
their own ways, yet now, Jews and Gentiles could come to the
father through the same Holy Spirit, because of what Christ Jesus
had done for ALL mankind.
Gentiles, those outside the nation of Israelites, were now
citizens, along with Israelite citizens of ONE NATION, BOTH WERE
NOW one FAMILY - THE FAMILY OF GOD. All in Christ are now God's
house, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, the
corner stone being Jesus Christ Himself.
All BELIEVERS are now carefully joined together, becoming an
Holy Temple for the Lord. This is the Temple of importance, not
some physical building in some physical city called Jerusalem,
with its physical walls that divided people from each other (the
physical Temple even had a wall that divided Jewish men from
Jewish women - that was how far out the man made laws of men had
developed by Jesus' time).
The Gentiles could now through the Spirit be part of the
spiritual building where God lives in this New Covenant age. As
we have seen in other sections of this New Testament Bible Story,
there is only ONE way to salvation, only one way to become a part
of the family of God, only one way for BOTH Jew and Gentile, the
exact SAME way for all peoples. That way is through Jesus the
Christ, accepting Him as personal Savior, repentance, faith, and
receiving the Holy Spirit (verses 14-22).
This is the TRUE way of the true peace of God.
This plan of God, to bring Gentiles into His family (whereas
before it was mainly the Israelite nation that God was dealing
with) was not fully understood in its depth by most in Israel in
the past ages. Though sections of the prophets did FORETELL this
plan, most were spiritually blinded to understanding it, as it
was intended to be implemented by God in his set time. That time
had come. Paul was especially to be a large part in teaching this
plan of God, this GOOD NEWS to the Gentiles. Paul we have seen
from the book of Galatians, was called and was taught by christ
Himself for a period of time. This was a one on one teaching
class, and then paul was to go out and preach this good news of
peace to the Gentiles.
The plan was that Gentiles could have an EQUAL share in God,
an equal share in the riches of God with Jews or Israelites.
Those that BELIEVE from both groups (Jews and Gentiles) have
equal share in all the promises and blessings of God through
Paul admits he thought himself least deserving of any
Christian. Yet, he knows and he tells them, that he was chosen
for this special joy of telling Gentiles about the endless
treasures that they can have through Jesus the Christ. He tells
them that he especially was chosen to tell this plan that was in
most part kept secret for generations. The plan included that ALL
the universe of any authority in the heavenly realms (including
then the angels) would see the wisdom of God in His plan of
salvation for all peoples. The joining together of Jews and
Gentiles would also show forth this wisdom, of making all people
as one people in the church. This was God's plan from eternity,
and it had now come to fruition through Christ Jesus the Lord.
And because of Christ and our faith in Him, we can come
fearlessly and boldly into God the Father's presence, assured of
His glad welcome.
Paul ends this section by telling them to not despair
because of his sufferings. It was for THEM that he was going
through trials, tests, and even sufferings. They were to feel
honored and encouraged (verses 1-13).
When Paul meditated on the wisdom, scope, and plan of God,
he often fell to his knees in praise to the Father, the creator
of all things (verses 14-15). He also prayed that through the
unlimited power of God, He would give them inner strength through
the Holy Spirit, and that Christ would be more and more at home
in them. He wanted their roots to go down deep into God's
wonderful love. And that they would understand more and more
just how deep, how wide, how high, His love really was. He wanted
them to experience in a deeper way the love of Christ, although
he knew it was so great that they would never in this life time
come to understand it all. But in so deepening their
understanding of this love they would be filled with the fullness
of life and power that comes only from God (verses 16-19).
He finishes chapter 3 by glorifying God, and tells them that
by His mighty power in them, in all of us, we can accomplish more
than we ever dreamed of or even dared to ask or hope for. Paul
wants all glory to be given to God through the church and also by
means of Christ Jesus, in all His past and present work. Paul
wants this to be so forever and ever through the endless ages
TO BE CONTINUED
Written August 2005