The following is from my latest book, Study Notes on Ephesians, which is now available in both paperback and ebook formats. 

CLICK TO PURCHASE

 

Introduction to Ephesians

 

Although Ephesians is a short epistle (6 chapters, 155 verses, and 3,022 words), we could spend the rest our lives studying it without exhausting the depth of its spiritual riches. Its boundaries are from eternity past (Eph. 1:4) to eternity future (Eph. 2:7), and it explains how God can take the lowest of the low (Eph. 2:1) and raise them up higher than the high in Christ (Eph. 2:6).

Ephesians is the pinnacle of divine revelation for the Body of Christ, just as the book of Revelation is for Israel. The number seven is God’s number of perfection and completion. Revelation is marked by the number seven, and so is Ephesians. It opens with seven spiritual blessings, it closes with seven pieces of the spiritual armour, and in the middle, we find the sevenfold unity of the Spirit. The will of God is referred to seven times.

Just as the Godhead is emphasized in Revelation, so it is in Ephesians. In fact, we find the Godhead in every chapter.

  • Salvation (1:3-14)
  • Access (2:18)
  • Prayer (3:14-17)
  • Unity (4:4-6)
  • Fulness (5:18-21)
  • Prayer (6:18; 3:14; 5:20)

The apostle Paul wrote this epistle around 62 A.D while a prisoner in Rome (Eph. 3:1; 4:1; 6:20). It was sent by the hand of Tychicus along with the epistle to the Colossians and Philemon (Eph. 6:21; Col. 4:7). Paul’s work at Ephesus (capital city of Asia minor) is recorded in Acts 18-20.

  • First brief visit (Acts 18:19-21)
  • Follow-up ministry (Acts 19)
  • Address to the Ephesian elders (Acts 20:17-38)

Despite much opposition, the Lord gave Paul a great ministry at Ephesus that spanned three years. Through his leadership “all they that dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:10). His ministry was so influential it caused a riot because the idol-makers for the temple of Diana were losing money.

The theme of Ephesians is the church which is the Body of Christ (Eph. 1:20-23; 2:11-18; 3:1-12; 4:4-6, 11-12; 5:23, 30). The ministry of the Holy Spirit (12x’s) is prevalent throughout the epistle. There is also an emphasis on “grace” (12x’s), being “in Christ” (10x’s), the “church” (9x’s), the “will” of God (7x’s), “walk” (7x’s), “mystery” (6x’s), “riches” (6x’s), and the “heavenly places” (4x’s).

Ephesians is the second of the great books of doctrinal instruction for believers in this present age of grace. In Romans is set forth the truth concerning the standing of the sinner in Christ, as having died and risen with Him. Now we are taken further and taught that the sinner not only died and rose again in Christ, but that he is now in God’s sight and purpose seated with Christ in heavenly places. Romans ends with a reference to the revelation of the mystery (Rom. 16:25); Ephesians takes up that subject and unfolds it to us. Of course, Paul knew and taught the doctrine in Ephesians before he wrote this epistle (cf. 1 Cor. 12:13; Eph. 4:4).

The six chapters of Ephesians are divided into two main sections. In the first three chapters believers are edified as to our spiritual wealth as members of the Body of Christ. In the last three chapters we are exhorted as to what our spiritual walk should be in view of that standing (Eph. 4:1).

Ephesians 1-3 Ephesians 4-6
Wealth Walk
Standing State
Calling Conduct
Blessings Behavior
Riches Responsibilities

Paul always begins with doctrine and then makes the proper applications. The practical application of scripture must be based on the foundation of sound doctrine for it to be effectual in our lives (Phil. 1:9-11; Col. 1:9-11; Titus 2:1, 10).

  1. Introduction (1:1-2)
  2. Edification: Spiritual Wealth (1:3-3:21) – SIT
  3. Exhortation: Spiritual Walk (4:1-6:9) – WALK
  4. Enlightenment: Spiritual Warfare (6:10-20) – STAND
  5. Conclusion (6:21-24)

These last two verses of chapter three divide the book in half. The first half is about our standing or position in heavenly places and the last half is about our state or practice on the earth. As we read Ephesians, we wonder how it is that God could give sinners like us such great blessings, and how it is that we can live up to the standard of life that He has set for us. The doxology (Eph. 3:20-21) provides the answer.