Who wrote it?
Ephesians 1:1 identifies the author of the book as the apostle Paul.
When(ish) was it written?
Ephesians was very likely written between AD 60-63.
Why was it written?
Paul intended that all who long for Christ-like maturity would receive this writing. Enclosed within the book of Ephesians is the discipline needed to develop into true children of God. Furthermore, a study in Ephesians will help to fortify and to establish the believer so they can fulfill the purpose and calling God has given. The aim of this epistle is to confirm and to equip a maturing church. It presents a balanced view of the body of Christ and its importance in God’s economy.
Some Key Verses
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.
– Ephesians 1:3
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
– Ephesians 2:8-10
There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
– Ephesians 4:4-6
Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
– Ephesians 5:21
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
– Ephesians 6:10-11
A Quick Summary
Doctrine occupies the greatest portion of Ephesians. Half of the teaching in this book relates to our standing in Christ, and the remainder of it affects our condition. All too often those who teach from this book bypass all the foundational instruction and go directly to the closing chapter. It is this chapter that emphasizes the warfare or the struggle of the saints. However, to benefit fully from the contents of this letter, one must begin at the beginning of Paul’s instruction.
First, as followers of Christ, we must fully understand who God declares us to be. We must also become grounded in the knowledge of God’s accomplishment for all humanity. Next, our present existence and walk must become exercised and strengthened. This must continue until we no longer stagger back and forth with every spirit of teaching and subtlety of men.
Paul’s writing breaks down into three main segments:
Chapters 1-3 introduce principles with respect to God’s accomplishment.
Chapters 4-5 put forth principles regarding our present existence.
Chapter 6 presents principles concerning our daily struggle.
Old Testament Ties
The primary link to the Old Testament in Ephesians is in the startling (to the Jews) concept of the Church as the body of Christ (Ephesians 5:32). This amazing mystery (a truth not previously revealed) of the Church, is that “Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Ephesians 3:6). This was a mystery completely hidden from the Old Testament saints (Ephesians 3:5, 9). The Israelites who were true followers of God always believed they alone were God’s chosen people (Deuteronomy 7:6). Accepting Gentiles on an equal status in this new paradigm was extremely difficult and caused many disputes among Jewish believers and Gentile converts. Paul also speaks of the mystery of the church as the “bride of Christ,” a previously unheard-of concept in the Old Testament.
What does this mean?
Perhaps more than any other book of the Bible, Ephesians emphasizes the connection between sound doctrine and right practice in the Christian life. Far too many people ignore “theology” and instead want to only discuss things that are “practical.” In Ephesians, Paul argues that theology is practical. In order to live out God’s will for us in our lives practically, we must first understand who we are in Christ doctrinally.
Take a few minutes to read aloud the Scripture from Acts 19:23-30, Ephesians 1:1-14, 2:8-10, 4:1-3, 4:17-24, 5:22-26, 6:10-17. What verses or ideas stand out to you from these passages? What questions do you have? What “next step” are you considering as a result of your interaction with God’s Word?
How frequently do you reflect on the many blessings you have received as a follower of Jesus? What habits can you build into your life routine to help you be reminded of God’s grace on a more regular basis?
Are you living in unity with other followers of Jesus? If there is division, what steps have you taken/can you take to restore peace? How can you use your secure position in Christ to motivate you to pursue reconciliation with others?
How have you seen God use your own level of personal holiness to point others to Jesus? What are your areas of struggle when it comes to holy living?
God has given us the “sword of the Spirit,” the Bible, to allow us to fight temptation, discouragement, sin, etc. How can your Life Group help encourage you to utilize this weapon more frequently and effectively in your day to day life?