Sunday, 21 August 2016
It is believed that Paul wrote the Epistle to the Ephesians from prison. It was written to encourage believers to walk as fruitful followers of Christ and to serve in unity and love in the midst of persecution. Instead of correcting issues within the churches, Paul writes a very positive and encouraging letter.
Many of the ancient copies of this letter do not contain the word Ephesus, and in fact, have a blank where the name would go. It is believed that Paul wrote this as a "circular letter" to be read (and applied) by any church who received a copy. This is important to us because we too can apply the truths that are contained within this wonderful letter.
A simple breakdown of this letter would be identifying believers in relation to God, one another, and the enemy of all believers:
This does not mean that this is a simple book, however. Although much of the material in Ephesians is also recorded in other letters by Paul, it is the way that it is combined and integrated into how the church is to function as a whole, neither Jew nor Gentile that makes it a valuable letter to study. Paul's desire and goal was that the church would grow ...
until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
The following outline identifies how Ephesians explains God's purpose, plan and provision for believers individually and for the church as a corporate entity.
The book of Ephesians can also be divided into two parts, with the first three chapters being doctrinal in nature, explaining what we have -- our riches in Christ. The last three chapters are more practical, explaining what we should do with what we have been given. Indeed, we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
The following passage is representative of the rest of the book. Two things are important to note in this emphasized. One is that God has blessed us, chosen us, predestined us, given us, lavished on us and made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ. God purposed, in Christ, to reveal the mystery of salvation to the world. The second item of note is the phrase you also were included in Christ, which stresses that the Gentiles were included in His salvation along with the Jewish people. Then, having believed, we were marked with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance. When we believe, we become God's possession, guaranteed!
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-- to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment--to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also 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.
The power that raised Christ from the dead has given Him authority over everything. God has placed all things under Christ's feet and we as the church are His body.
That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
It was not because of anything that we did, but through God's mercy that we have been made alive with Christ. In fact, because of our transgressions, our sins, we were dead. God has seated us with him in the heavenly realms so that He might show the incomparable riches of his grace! We are part of God's plan for this world: we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.
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.
Paul emphasizes that this blessing is also for the Gentiles, even though they were formerly without hope and without God. Through the blood of Christ, the Gentiles have been brought near.
Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)-- remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
There is no longer Jew and Gentile, but rather God has extended salvation to all people, that the Gentiles might become fellow citizens with God's people. Together, in Christ, the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. We are a dwelling in which God lives.
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 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.
Paul prays for those to whom he is writing, to believers everywhere, that out of the glorious riches of God that He would strengthen you with power through his Spirit. When we begin to realize the love of God towards us, when we grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, we agree with Paul that God deserves the glory!
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, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
God's desire to have believers to be mature and complete is why he gave the five-fold ministries to the church. They work together to build up the body of Christ.
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
We have been forgiven, and therefore Paul calls us as believers to forgive one another. He calls us to live in a way that pleases God.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
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.
Paul's instruction on how to live continues, as he explains that we should not live in a foolish manner, but rather live in a way as to be filled with the Spirit.
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. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
How do we live in a way that is filled with the Spirit? We can do it only in the power of God. We do it through putting on the full armor of God, through which we find the strength to stand against the spiritual forces of evil.
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 around 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.
Posted on 08/21/2016 5:30 AM by Al Robbins
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