3 Things You Should Know about Ephesians

3 Things You Should Know about Ephesians

Ephesus was a center for the practice of magic (Acts 19:18–19). It welcomed magicians and sorcerers. These were believed to draw power from the worship of Artemis and other occult practices. We might be tempted to say that a false god is “nothing” and therefore no threat (1 Cor. 8:4), but Paul corrects a dismissive approach and warns that demons stand behind idols and receive their worship (1 Cor. 10:20). Hence, Ephesus was a hub of spiritual darkness and demonic oppression.

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians stands alongside Romans as a classic example of his thought. Ephesians is heavenly in its content and expansive in the truths it proclaims, while remaining approachable and pragmatic in its instructions. Here are three things you should know when you read Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.

1. Ephesians is deliberately broad and general.

Unlike Colossians, where Paul had not met the people to whom he was writing, he had pastored the Ephesians for three years (Acts 20:31). During that time, he regularly taught in a public lecture hall, laying a broad foundation of Christian teaching in Ephesus before this letter was written (Acts 19:9–10). So, what Paul writes is not a reaction to heresy (as in Colossians) or to public scandal (as in 1–2 Corinthians), but the essential gospel. Ephesians is gloriously and majestically general. It is a digest, hitting the high notes of the years of gospel teaching he provided as their pastor.

Paul’s balanced summary presents the two great functions of faith: to receive the redemption accomplished by Jesus Christ and to respond in new obedience. Chapters 1–3 lay out the gospel facts. They recount God’s eternal plans to bless His people, to give new life to those who were spiritually dead, to unite those who had been divided and far off into the one church, and to “do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us” (Eph. 1:3–14; 2:1–10, 11–22; 3:20). The first three chapters essentially ask the question, Will you believe?

In the last three chapters, Paul lays out the faithful response to redemption. A person’s “walk” is a motif in the letter. The term first appears when describing how unbelievers “walked” in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1–2). But, beginning in Ephesians 4, believers are called to “walk” as a response of faith. Paul calls the faithful to walk worthily of Christ (Eph. 4:1).

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