April 27, 2014.
I have decided to do a overview and study of Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians for the next few posts because I have not spent all that much time in the book recently and I would like to refresh and show the over arching themes of the letter, as well as some of the finer details. After reading, I think I will break it into three sections (technically four including the overview): An overview and themes, chapters 1-3, chapters 4-5a and chapters 5b-6. Today we will start with the overview.
I think it is important to see a book of the bible as a whole before breaking it down chapter by chapter and verse by verse to understand the purpose. Understanding the purpose of a book sheds a lot of light on the meaning of the individual parts. Hebrews is a very good example of this. If you read anything out of the book of Hebrews, I would suggested you first read the whole book in one sitting. At least read half and half. It makes so much more sense than going chapter by chapter. But, I digress.
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul is writing to a church that was probably founded by his first journey there recorded in Acts 18, where he has a short visit and the work seems to be carried on by Priscilla and Aquila. At the time of his letter, Paul takes an active, but distant role in his teaching. In the first chapter he says
“For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,”
Paul takes a caring role in all the churches he has helped establish on his missionary journeys, as well as churches he has never been to, as was the case for the church at Colossi. I think this shows Paul’s love for the body. This comes out in the fourth chapter where he talks a lot about the unity of the body and how we are all one in Christ Jesus. That is one of the central themes of Ephesians. Unity. Even the first chapters can be tied into this theme.
Paul begins by making his case that he was called to preach to the Gentiles, to tell them the good news that God had now given all men, Gentiles and Jews alike, an invitation into the kingdom. There was no longer “circumcision” and “uncircumcision.” There was no Law of Moses to separate the Jews from the rest of the world. God was now calling all men into on unified body through Jesus. Paul spends the first 5 ½ chapters on this concept, so I would guess that it was pretty important to him, especially since he had been raised to believe the opposite.
After Paul finishes (as the main focus at least) writing about unity, he divides up responsibilities. Fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, children, teachers, servants, masters, Paul talks to them all. The concept of unity does not dismiss different roles. Paul was adamant that though we truly are all one in Christ, each of us has our own part to play, and all parts will add up to the whole. Thus, when you look at it this way, you could say that even this part is about unity.
There you have it, Ephesians in one word. Unity. And isn’t that wonderful? Stay tuned for the next few days as we embark on this journey through the book of Ephesians, but keep in mind the whole way that Paul is making a point about unity. This will help us understand the meaning of Paul’s writing.
Suggested Daily Reading: Acts 18, Ephesians 1-3.
The Lord unify us again.