Identity: A Study in Ephesians

This past week was our first week diving into Ephesians. This epistle from the pen of the apostle Paul helps explains the mystery of God’s plan in choosing us to know him through Christ. It encourages believers by showing them that their salvation is a part of God’s divine plan, and we are to act accordingly in light of knowing him. Here are some other interesting details in regards to the entire book of Ephesians.

  • Paul wrote Ephesians along with Colossians, Philemon, and Philippians during his first Roman imprisonment in 60-62 A.D. (3.1, 4.1, 6.20; cf. Acts 28.16-31)
  • The main theme of Ephesians is to reveal the mystery of the gospel and the church, and show believers the unity we have because of God’s plan.
  • Paul stresses seven individual “Ones” in Ephesians. These include one body (church), one Spirit, one hope, one Lord (Jesus Chris), one faith, one baptism, one God.
  • The city of Ephesus was of special significance to Christian ministry during this time – it was a bustling town on many trade routes, with 230 independent communities surrounding it. The strength of the Ephesian Church led to missionaries going out to the surrounding districts with the word of God, not to mention the travellers who passed through the town, who heard the Word of God and brought it home with them. Ephesus was probably also the gateway for the gospel to the six other churches mentioned in the opening of Revelation.
  • The Church in Ephesus was started by Paul whilst returning from his second missionary journey (probably around 53 AD). Paul’s Third Missionary Journey (54-58) saw his return to Ephesus where he stayed for about three years (probably 54-57), building on the work of Apollos, Priscilla and Aquila. At the end of this period, Demetrius the Silversmith led a riot in Ephesus attempting to get rid of the young church there, for its teaching on one true God was harming his business (making idols) (Acts 19:23-20:1). This uprising seems to have confirmed Paul’s feeling that it was time to leave, and so he bade farewell to the elders of the Church, charging them also with its leadership (Acts 20:17-35). Paul never visited Ephesus again – but he wrote!
  • The book of Ephesians was certainly written to the church at Ephesus, but many scholars believe it was also intended to be read and circulated to a wider audience. Likely it was read to various churches surrounding the area, and today we can glean the same wisdom and theological truth as the church did 2000 years ago.

Paul stresses unity in the Christian faith. This unity comes from Christ’s work on the cross, and is available only through God’s grace (Eph. 2.8-9). We have been chosen to do good works for God (Eph. 2.10) as well as display the new self in accordance with our salvation and living by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4). Ephesians is a great letter for new Christians as well as those who need to be reminded on the profound richness of the Christian faith. Chapter 1 gives us a list of gifts that we have received on account of our faith, and reveals to us that we have been chosen to be made holy and blameless before him (1.4). Our predestined position has nothing to do with the works we have achieved, rather it is the orchestration of God to bring about his desired will. For those who have placed their faith in Christ, we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing (1.3) and been redeemed from the slavery to sin. This is great news and an amazing hope!

I encourage you and your family to read through the richness of Ephesians on your own and discuss the questions found in the study guide. These are deep and heart warming truths as well as challenges that we all need to consider. Ephesians was written in order that we may have hope, and that we would act on account of that hope. Will you join us on the journey of this summer’s study through Ephesians? I promise that you will not be disappointed if you commit to study along with us and join the discussion as we discover our Identity in Christ.

Peace in Him,

Coleman

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