Here is an excellent video summation of Ephesians.
We have returned to the letters of Paul. Ephesus was a significant religious and cultural hub of its day, and also the city in which Paul spent the most time during his missionary journeys - he is in Ephesus for almost 3 years. He writes his letter to the Ephesians from prison, and we traditionally assume this was part of his imprisonment in Rome (between 62-64 AD).
Ephesians is a deep and challenging text, wrestling with concepts from predestination (mentioned twice in 1:5 and 1:11) to Christian marriage (5:21-33) to spiritual warfare (6:10-17). At its core, however, is a proclamation of the character and identity of the church, especially as it calls Jew and Gentile together.
We find a masterful summary of the gospel in Ephesians 2:1-10. Notice the emphasis on grace that runs throughout, as we are told that God loved us and made us alive while we were still dead in our sins, and as we are reminded that even our faith is a gift. Re-read this section and consider committing it to memory. What part of this section stands out to you as most striking?
The famous “armor of God” passage in 6:10-17 has been relegated to one of those “great children’s illustration” passages like Noah’s ark; we rarely reflect on it as adults. Yet when we do, we discover how profoundly adult this passage truly is; the conversation about our war with the evil spiritual powers of the enemy is hardly light children’s reading. How do you think about our war with the spiritual forces of evil? How do we avoid reducing this to a metaphor, while also preventing an unhealthy fear or obsession about the “powers and principalities”?
Philippians may just be Paul’s most positive book, despite the depths of sorrow within which he finds himself. Notice his language about rejoicing that runs throughout the letter. Pay special attention to the hymn in Philippians 2:5-11; this is another incredible gospel summary.
Colossians will be strikingly similar to Ephesians, both in content and style. Most people believe that these books were written together and perhaps even sent out together by the same messenger. In 1:15-20, you will read a beautiful depiction of Christ, “in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.”
Each of these books are precious to me, for each includes a passage that has deep personal meaning. Philippians 3:10-11 is my life verse, and hangs on the wall above my office. Colossians 1:24-31 is my personal mission statement. Perhaps, as you read these two incredible texts, you may also find a verse or verses that impact the course of the rest of your life.
Enjoy your reading and I’ll see you Sunday
Grace and Peace,