Ephesians Series: Introduction-Form and Structure of Ephesian Epistle

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Ephesians is divided into two main sections.
Chapters 1-3 contains the “indicatives of the faith” while chapters 4-6 contain the “imperatives.”
Therefore, the latter presents the practical application of the former.
The prologue or preface of the letter appears in Ephesians 1:3-14.
There are also two magnificent intercessory prayers offered by Paul to the Father for the recipients of the epistle.
The first appears in Ephesians 1:15-23 and serves as a hinge to chapters two and three and its purpose is for the recipients of the letter to gain understanding regarding the contents of the first two chapters.
The second intercessory prayer for the recipients of the letter appears in Ephesians 3:14-21 and serves as a hinge to the final three chapters and presents the practical application of the first three chapters.
The letter begins with Paul’s customary present greeting in the first two verses.
He notes that he is an apostle of Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:1) and that grace and peace originated not only from the Father but also the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:2).
As we noted, the preface of the letter appears in Ephesians 1:3-14.
Paul begins by asserting that along with the Father, the Lord is worthy of praise and glorification (Eph. 1:3).
The apostle then states that the Father chose the Ephesian Christian community “in Christ” before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4) because of their union and identification with Christ which took place at the moment of their justification through the baptism of the Spirit.
Paul then teaches that the Father predestined them for adoption as His sons through their union and identification with Christ (Eph. 1:5).
He asserts that they received the Father’s grace through His Son, Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:6) and not only this, but they have received redemption through the blood or death of Jesus, namely the forgiveness of our trespasses (Eph. 1:7).
The Father did this when He revealed to the church the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure that he set forth through the person of Christ (Eph. 1:9-10).
Paul teaches that all things will be summed up in Christ, namely the things in heaven and the things on earth.
The Christian has been claimed as the Father’s own possession because of their union and identification with Jesus Christ because they were predestined according to the Father’s purpose (Eph. 1:11) and they were marked with the seal of the promised Spirit because they trusted in Jesus Christ at their justification (Eph. 1:13).
The first prayer, which we noted appears in Ephesians 1:15-22, teaches that the omnipotence of the Father was manifested when He raised His Son Jesus Christ from the dead (Eph. 1:20).
The Father also put all of creation and every creature under the authority of His Son who He gave to the church as head over all creation and every creature (Eph. 1:21-23).
In chapter two, Paul teaches that despite the fact that the recipients of the epistle were spiritually dead in their trespasses and sins and as a result were children of wrath as the rest of the human race prior to their justification, God the Father raised them up and seated them with His one and only Son, Jesus Christ because of His great love (Eph. 2:1-7).
He asserts that the Father raised the church age believer up with Christ and seated them with Him at the moment of their justification through the baptism of the Spirit (Eph. 2:5-6).
They were saved from the wrath of God by grace through the object of their faith, namely Jesus Christ and absolutely not on their own meritorious actions (Eph. 2:8-9).
The believer is the Father’s workmanship who has been created through their union and identification with Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so they would perform them (Eph. 2:8-10).
Paul then asserts that the Father reconciled Jews and Gentiles through the person and work of His Son (Eph. 2:11-22) with Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone of this spiritual temple.
Then, in chapter three, the apostle teaches the Christian community regarding the mystery of Christ, which is that Gentile believers are fellow-heirs with Jewish believers, fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus (Eph. 3:1-6).
Paul teaches that the Father’s eternal plan was accomplished through His Son (Eph. 3:7-11) and that the believer has confident access to the Father in prayer because of their union and identification with Jesus Christ (Eph. 3:12).
The apostle also asserts that he prayed to the Father that Christ would dwell in the hearts of the Christian community in the Roman province of Asia and that they would know experientially Christ’s love for them (Eph. 3:14-21).
As we also noted the practical application of chapters two and three is found in chapters four through six.
Paul begins this section by teaching that each church age believer received a spiritual gift because of the Lord Jesus Christ and specifically because of their faith in Him.
Through the Holy Spirit, the Lord Jesus Christ gave some men the communication gift of apostleship and prophet while others he gave the gift of evangelist and others the gift of pastor-teacher (Eph. 4:12).
The purpose of which was so that the Christian community might grow to spiritual maturity and become more like Christ (Eph. 4:1-16).
The apostle Paul then goes to remind the recipients of the letter that truth is in Jesus (Eph. 4:21) and that they are to forgive one another just as the Father forgave them through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ (Eph. 4:32) and to love one another as God through His Son loved them (Eph. 5:1-2).
They should remain in fellowship with God through practice of the command of the Lord Jesus Christ to love one another in order that they might receive their inheritance in the kingdom of the Lord (Eph. 5:3-5).
They were to live godly lives so that Christ might shine on them (Eph. 5:7-14).
They were to know what the will of the Lord by being filled with the Spirit, which would manifest itself in speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music in their hearts to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for each other in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 5:15-21).
Chapter five closes with Paul addressing the proper function of the relationships between husbands and wives, parents and children and slaves and slave masters and it continues into chapter six.
He begins this section by teaching that the members of the Christian community were to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Eph. 5:22) and this submission would manifest itself when wives, submit to their husbands as to the Lord because the husband is the head of the wife as also Christ is the head of the church.
Just as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything (Eph. 5:24) and correspondingly, husbands were to love their wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her (Eph. 5:25) and he who loves his wife loves himself (Eph. 5:26-28).
Christ cares for the church and so should husbands care for their wives (Eph. 5:29).
When wives and husbands obey these instructions they are manifesting the great mystery of Christ’s love for the church (Eph. 5:30-32).
Chapter six begins with Paul commanding the children in the Christian community to obey their parents in the Lord for this is right (Eph. 6:1).
Fathers were not to provoke their children to anger, but raise them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4).
The slaves of this community were to obey their human masters with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of their heart as to Christ (Eph. 6:5).
The slaves were to do their work as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.
They were to obey their masters with enthusiasm, as though serving the Lord and not people because they know that each person, whether slave or free, if he does something good will be rewarded by the Lord (Eph. 6:8).
The slave masters of this community were to treat their slaves the same way, giving up the use of threats because they know that both they and their Christian slaves have the same master in heaven (Eph. 6:9).
The final major section of the epistle addresses the Christian community’s relationship to Satan and his kingdom and appears in Ephesians 6:10-19.
It begins with Paul commanding this community to strengthen themselves in the Lord, which is by appropriating by faith their union and identification with Christ.
The different aspects of this union and identification are described with a military metaphor, namely the full armor of God (Eph. 6:10-19).
In the closing of the letter, Paul asserts that he interceded in prayer for the recipients of this letter that they would experience peace in their souls and when interacting with each other by practicing the love of God with each other through faith in his apostolic teaching and which peace originates from not only the Father but also from Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 6:23).
The apostle also interceded in prayer for them to the Father that the grace of God, which was manifested through the Spirit inspired contents of this epistle would be experienced by the recipients of this epistle with those who love the Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love (Eph. 6:24).
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