Route 66 - Stop 49: EPHESIANS

Audio File: 
Speaker: 
Dr. Rich McCarrell
Date: 
Sunday, March 11, 2018

Route 66 – Stop 49

EPHESIANS

 

Author:           

The Apostle Paul (1:1, 3:1). Notice again the emphasis Paul places on his apostleship in verse 1.

 

Date:              

Ephesians is one of Paul’s four letters which are commonly called the “prison epistles”. These are Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon (3:1/Phil. 1:7/ Col. 4:10/Philemon 9). They’re called by this name since all four were written from Rome during Paul’s first imprisonment. This places the writing of Ephesians as well as these other epistles between A.D. 60 and A.D. 62 (Acts 28:30).  After his release and further ministry he was rearrested and wrote II Timothy during his second imprisonment.

 

 Recipients:    

Concerning these four prison epistles, Paul wrote one to an individual (Philemon), two specifically to local churches (Colossians and Philippians) and one, this book of Ephesians, to a local church but also to all the churches throughout Asia Minor.

 

Note (1:1) in the best manuscripts. We also note that though he ministered here for the longest period of time in one place (3 years) – he doesn’t list the personal names of people, as he did in his other letters. He also doesn’t address “local problems”. This is truly a universal letter for all of us who are members of the body of Christ.        

 

Ephesus was the chief city of the Roman province of Asia. It was about one mile inland from the Aegean Sea. Within the city was a great theater seating over 50,000 people. Also, one of the seven wonders of the world, the temple of Diana, was located in Ephesus. Next to Jerusalem and Antioch, Ephesus proved to be a very powerful springboard for influencing the world for Christ. This came about due to Paul’s faithful ministry in this city. Paul visited Ephesus during his second missionary journey (Acts18:18-19). On his third missionary journey (Acts 19), Paul spent three years ministering in Ephesus (Acts 20:31). During this time we see the gospel spreading to all of Asia Minor (Acts 19:10). After his departure, he sent Timothy to continue the work (1Timothy 1:3). Also, upon his return trip to Jerusalem, he asked the elders of the Ephesian congregation to meet with him at Miletus, 35 miles to the North (Acts 20:16-38). Obviously, Paul was committed to planting a firm foundation for the gospel of Christ and the work of the Lord here in Ephesus. In fact, the gospel had such a powerful influence that the idol makers incited riots against Paul, during his extended time of ministry in the city. This incident is recorded in Acts 19 and gives us an example to follow in bringing about societal change one life at a time (Acts 19:23-41).

 

Paul also trained other Christian leaders in addition to Timothy to carry on the work in Ephesus. These included Aquila, Priscilla and Apollos. This epistle of Ephesians makes it very clear that the Word of God fell on fertile soil at Ephesus, producing much fruit. In fact tradition indicates that the apostle John also may have made Ephesus the center of his labors during the latter years of his life (Rev. 2:1-7). If this is indeed true (and I think it is) then it is very possible that Mary, the earthly mother of Jesus, lived out her last years on earth as a part of this church in Ephesus. Ephesus was truly an influential city from the world’s viewpoint and also an influential city concerning the work of the Lord.

 

Theme:

The major theme of Ephesians is “the church” as the body and bride of Christ. Not a local church but the church universal. In speaking of the church, Paul makes it clear that every believer, no matter what their national or racial origin is a member of this living organism, and therefore is to live out in their daily life the fruit of their position as a member of the church. It is also interesting to note, especially coming out of first and second Corinthians and the sternness with which Paul addressed some issues concerning the gospel in Galatians that the book of Ephesians is truly a peaceable book. There is no controversy present in this epistle. It simply shows the believer’s position as a part of the   body/bride of Jesus Christ and appeals to all believers to live out our “position” in a “practical” way through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

 

Purpose:         

Paul states very clearly his purposes for the writing of this book.

  1. Paul desires to strengthen these believers in their Christian faith and walk (3:16-19).
  2. Paul desires to show these believers and us our position “in Christ” (1:1) and also “in the heavenlies” (1:3).
  3. He desires to show the unity of Jew and Gentile within the body of Christ (2:14-18). “There is one body” (4:4)!
  4. He desires to encourage all believers to turn away from the things of the old life and to “put on the new man” (4:17-24).

*   Paul is telling us that we, as God’s chosen people, have been set free from sin through Jesus Christ, and now we must live consistently with the oneness we share in Christ, by submitting to the positional truth of who we are in Christ, what we have in Christ, and who Christ has in us, which is the Holy Spirit (4:30) (5:18).

 

Terminology:  

The word “body” is used 8 times of the church, indicating that it is more than just an organization whose life comes from without, but rather a living organism, possessing life within. In relationship to this, the believer is spoken of in terms relating to 1. A body, 2. A temple, 3. A mystery, 4. A new man, 5. A bride, 6. A Soldier. Each of these terms present to us an aspect of our Christian walk.

 

Outline:          

This epistle is very typical of Paul’s style. In the first section, he describes what God has done for the believer, and in the second section, he describes how the believer is to conduct himself in the light of these great truths.        

 

  1. The position of the believers standing in Grace. (Paul covers many critical soteriological truths.) (chs. 1-3)

*    In Christ

*    In the Heavenlies

  1. The practical service of the believer in and by Grace. (4:1-5:17)

*   Giftedness

*   Enablement

  1.  The practical walk and warfare of the believer in and by Grace (5:18-6:24)

*   Our various walks before God in society.

*   Our walk of victory before the adversary in spiritual warfare.

 

* As you know ~ we are currently moving through this book in our Sunday morning study. For more introductory/overview information listen to Pastor’s first message in this series ~ Jan. 8, 2017.