The Book of Ephesians Introduction

The Book of Ephesians Introduction

Ephesians 1:1-2

  • Founded by Paul, who spent 2 years there preaching and teaching 
  • The first 3 chapters of the book are explaining theological truths, namely our position in Christ
    • In chapter 1 we read that Christ chose us before the foundation of the world, purchased us by His blood, and has absolute and complete dominion over all creation.
    • In Chapter 2 we read about our personal state before Christ,  dead in our trespasses and sins, enemies of God, and without Hope, But God sent Christ to be the payment for our sins, and offer salvation to all who would trust in Him.  in so doing has torn down the dividing wall of Hostility between races, cultures, and peoples that has been there since the tower of Babel. 
    • In Chapter 3 we read about the mystery of God that has been slowly unfolding over the course of thousands of years.  This mystery finally has been made known through Christ.  All the old testament stories point to Jesus, Adam, Abraham, Moses, Samson, David, the prophets, the kings, Ezra, Nehemiah.  The grand narrative of scripture, the greatest story ever told, has finally reached its climax with Christ on the cross.
    • Heavy, meaty, wonderful, rich, theology in the first 3 chapters.
  • The last three chapters are all about application. In light of all that theological truth, “How should we then live?”  The first 3 chapters are about who we are in Christ, the second 3 chapters are about how we are to live in Christ (POSITION —– PRACTICE)
    • Chapter 4 – The church, the body of Christ, Spiritual gifts, Discipleship, sanctification, Unity, and bearing with one another in love.
    • Chapter 5 – How to love, and live well, and includes the quintessential passage on marriage, and how it can only be fulfilled in Christ
    • Chapter 6 – Godly parenting, Godly business management, Spiritual warfare and the armor of God. 
    • Wonderfully Practical, relevant, and beneficial.

From Paul

  • an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God
    • How did he become an apostle? By the will of God. His story from beginning to end is according to God’s will. (this is a major theme in the book, God is sovereign and his will cannot be thwarted)
  • Tarsus
    • Paul was born in a Jewish family of high standing – wealthy Roman citizens – in the city of Tarsus, in modern-day Turkey.  Tarsus still exists today, a city of more than three million people.  Tarsus was home to one of the world’s most renowned universities, having more than 200,000 volumes in its library.
  • Education
    • Have you ever met someone, and after talking with them a while, you realize that they are extremely intelligent? Speaks 4 languages, memorized PI, chess grandmaster, familiar with every subject…  That’s Paul.
    • As a teen, Paul’s family sent him to Jerusalem to study under Gam-al-iel, a prestigious religious teacher with hundreds of students. He is the best of the best, and this would be similar to a Harvard education today.
    • Paul was multilingual – he spoke Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic and perhaps even Latin.
  • Conversion 
    • Persecutor of the Church, Murdered Christians, Road to Damascus. Blinded, Changed, Converted.
  • Characteristics
    • Based on comments about him from second century writers, we get this impression: middling size, balding, bow-legged, long nose, and large eyes with bushy eyebrows that nearly meet.
      • He was not a looker, no Instagram model stardom for him.  What made him influential was his teaching.
    • Paul writes about a personal thorn in the flesh, something that caused him great trouble.  (Could have been eye problems, migraines, or a speech impediment)
    • Paul remained single his entire life.  
      • He was a single man, who taught on marriage, (by the power of the spirit, He set the tone for happy Christian marriages for the next 2000 years.)
  • Accomplishments
    • Wrote 13-14 books of the new testament. (depending on Hebrews)
    • Planted more than 20 churches, Including those set up in Galatia, Philippi, Thessalonica, Corinth and Ephesus.
    • He traveled more than 10,000 miles on foot in his lifetime.  That is going from New York to LA 4 times. 
  • Death
    • He is imprisoned 4 times in his life, and it is while he is under house arrest in Rome that he writes his first letter to the Ephesians.  Some of you are thinking “1st?” Yes.  After his first letter to the Ephesian Church, He sends Timothy to minister to the Ephesian Church.  He then writes 2 more letters to Timothy on how to minister in Ephesus. The final letter before his death was 2nd Timothy from jail, awaiting his execution.  
      • Paul died a martyr, by beheading, at the command of Emperor Nero, a hater of Christians.
  • Apply
    • Paul our example
      • Faithfulness, Sacrifice, Selflessness, Love.
      • Combine Paul’s testimony with God’s divine authority, and we realize that the words of this book should be treasured, highly regarded, valued, and obeyed.

To The Saints in Ephesus

  • The beginning of the Ephesian church.
    • Acts 19:1-10 – And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. 2 And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. 7 There were about twelve men in all.  8 And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. 9 But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus. 10 This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.
  • Started in the synagogue, moved to the Hall of Tyrannus
    • 4th or 5th largest city in the world at the time… but it wasn’t just big, the reach was far further.  Ephesus was a Port City, and the gateway of trade to the East.
    • In the 3 years Paul was there, Acts tells us that all of Asia heard the word of the Lord.  that means as many as 2 million people heard the message Paul presented, and several churches were started there as a result.
  • Spiritual Warfare in Ephesus
    • The Culture was steeped in materialism, sensuality, and perverted idolatrous practices.
    • Cult of Caesar – People worshiped Caesar Augustus as God. 
      • Coins, Statues, Temples and Shrines proclaimed the gospel of Augustus.
    • Artemis of the Ephesians 
      • 4 Times larger than the Parthenon, and one of the 7 wonders of the world at the time.  
      • Temple Prostitutes
      • Silversmiths started a riot 
  • Apply
    • The Church is Birthed and Refined in Persecution.
      • When culture accepts Christianity, we consider ourselves blessed…  We think we are winning. Triumphing over sin and hell.  Look at our perfect culture!  We get brownie points for telling people we showed up to church on Sunday.  We grow lazy and complacent, content to believe that all is well with the world.  But what we fail to realize is that the New Testament Jesus is actually getting replaced with an idol that shares His name
      • But when a culture is against Christ and His church, we see a refining process take place, the lukewarm Christian burns away as following Jesus gets more difficult.  People begin to realize what Jesus meant when He said, “a servant is not greater than His master”.  They get serious, and they begin to actually do what Christ commanded them.  They make disciples.  This is what happened in Ephesus.  
        • A godless culture, idolatry, materialism, sensuality, and conflict created a rapidly spreading storm of Gospel advancement. 
          • We are only halfway there…  Somewhere between the two… What would it look like for something similar to happen here?
    • And are faithful in Christ Jesus
      • What does this mean? It means that it is not speaking to those who claim to be saints but are not faithful.  There is a measure here of a person’s salvation.  That true salvation is measured by faithfulness to Christ. 
        • In chapter 2 we will get into the interaction between faith and works, but let me start here with a simple truth.  Your faith is measured by faithfulness. Your faith is measured by works.  It is not the source of your salvation. But it is the evidence that you are in fact in Christ.  Are you faithful?


Grace and Peace (vs 2)

  • Explain
    • Paul’s greeting reads, as if he is bringing grace, and peace to the Ephesian church on behalf of God. Like, “Hey I was just with Him, He says hi” sort of greeting.  God says, Grace and Peace!”
      • Can you imagine that sort of communion with God?  This is what it means to be, “In Christ”
        • “In Christ” is said 36 times in the book of Ephesians.  It is a mega theme.  
    • From God the Father and Jesus Christ
    • Now there is some frustration over the book of Ephesians, as we will discuss next week, many a scholar have used these verses to create division and disunity within the church.  Instead of taking this letter for what it is, they use it as a lightning rod to create dissension.  That was not Paul’s nor the Lord’s intention.  This is a letter intended to convey grace and peace.  A loving letter.  A letter to delight in.
  • Grace and Peace are only through Christ
    • Gospel – Before Christ, there was no grace, no peace.  All through the book, it lays out this fascinating before and after comparison.  
      • Before we were dead, now we are alive
      • Before we were darkness, now we are light
      • Before we were separated, now we are heirs
      • Before we were foreigners, now we are citizens
      • Before we could not understand, now we are enlightened
      • We have put off the old self, and put on the new self.


Don’t Lose Your First Love (Conclusion)

What’s interesting is that while they had so much strong leadership (Priscilla and Aquila, Apollos, Paul, Timothy, and later John would minister in this city) the last time they are mentioned in the Bible is actually in Revelation 2:1-7.  Where we learn that they had lost their first love.  They had grown cold.  Their service to Jesus had become mechanical. Jesus tells them to repent, and to remember where they started.  

Perhaps your life is like that… where once your faith was flaming hot, hungry for more of God.  Over time and life, your faith has now become cold, distant, aloof, uncaring, hard hearted toward God.  This morning, and in the coming weeks, I would like to invite you back to the foundation of Christianity.  To the start of your faith.  Where you can see Christ, in all His splendor, where your faith can be revived, Where you can step up and live a life faithful in Christ. Would you commit with me this morning?  To take this book seriously?  To dive into the riches of these pages? I suspect that if you do, you will be blessed. 


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