Introduction to the Epistle to the Ephesians
The Apostle Paul (Eph.1:1; see Eph. 3:1; 4:1). Please read “the introduction to the book of Galatians” for more reference.
II. The Recipients
This book was written to the saints at
Paul began the second journey in about the spring
III. The Time and Location the Book was Written
This book was written in about 61
IV. The Background
At the time this
book was penned,
the number of the gentile Christians in all the churches throughout
V. Special Points
1) There is no individual greeting of Paul as that in other epistles.
2) It speaks utterly from God. Among all of Paul’s epistles, this book is the very book that the least begins with speaking about man and that contains the least part of personal affection.
3) It helps us to see the present events from the point of eternity. Everything at present is according to what God has predestinated in the past eternity so as to fulfill the purpose of the eternity in future.
4) This is “an epistle of heavens”: the first chapter speaks of our blessings in the heavenly places. The second chapter touches upon our sitting together with Christ in the heavenly places. The third chapter refers to the fact that family in heavens and on earth is named with us together. The fourth chapter tells us that the Lord Jesus has risen far above all the heavens and has given gifts to man. The fifth chapter shows us that how the heavenly people should walk on this earth. The last chapter speaks of our battle with the spiritual wickedness in the heavenly places.
5) The book of Ephesians involves a wide range, including the Jews and the Gentiles, reaching the heavens and covering the whole earth, and encompassing things of the past, present, and future.
6) “Peace” is the special message emphasized in the book of Ephesians:
a) Those who once were far off from God has become near through the blood of Christ (Eph. 2:13).
b) Those who once were separated by a middle wall of partition, the enmity, has been reconciled and made into a one New Man through the Lord Jesus tearing down the middle wall of partition through His cross; thus making peace (Eph. 2:14-16).
c) All the disharmony among the saints should be revolved by the fruits of the Spirit and the perfecting grace of Christ, thus arriving at the unity (Eph. 4:1-16).
d) The situation of believers’ disobeying God and having no peace with God should be resolved by obeying the Spirit and being filled with the Spirit, thus we may have peace with God (4:17-5:21).
e) All the strife in believers’ family should be resolved by following the examples of the Lord and abiding in the Lord, and thus there is peace between the husband and wife and the father and the son (5:22-6:4).
f) All the conflicts between the masters and the servants should be resolved by fearing the Lord and relying on the Lord’s heart that has no acceptance of persons (6:5-9), thus making peace between the master and the servant (the superior and the inferior) (Eph. 6:5-9).
g) Man used to walk according to the ruler of the authority of the air (2:1-3), so the situation of man who had no peace within themselves (Rom. 7:18-25) should be overcome by putting on the panoply of God against spiritual of wickedness in the heavenly places, thus bringing peace to his spirit, his soul and his body (6:10-24).
VI. General Description
The theme of the book of Ephesians is “the church” (Eph. 1:22; 3:21; 5:32). This book reveals that the will of God in this age is to build up the “body of Christ” ---- “the church in glory”. From this book we may know the position of the church in the glorious counsel of God and the way of the church’s bearing witness of Christ on the earth.
This book tells us that the Church is a vessel that is filled with and manifests His wisdom, life and power. The Church is the “the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:23). And the fullness of the Christ manifested by the Church is beyond men’s understanding. It is as the saints are built together that we shall become the dwelling place of God in spirit (Eph. 2:22). It is through the Church that the wisdom of God is manifested to the principalities and powers in the air (Eph. 3:10). It is with all the saints that we can fully apprehend the love of God (Eph. 3:18-19). It is when all the members of the body of Christ have been fitted together that the Church will grow into the full measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:13). It is when the Church put on the full armor of God that we will be able to stand in the evil days and against the wiles of the enemy (Eph. 6:11). This book emphasizes that it is only the church, not any individual that shall be the vessel to manifest the fullness of Christ.
In short, the book of Ephesians gives us the highest revelation concerning the Church. Such revelation can be seen from the sequence of the record. The church was redeemed out of sins, and also started from the foundation of the world. Actually, the book of Ephesians is a complete history of the Church, including her position in the perfect will of God and the redemption in Christ through the gracious work of God, until the Church will finally fulfill the original counsel of God in the beginning.
VII. The Status in the Holy Scriptures
This book has the reputation of being the "crowning jewel" of all the epistles. Many people hold that it has reached the summit of mind of the New Testament. When John Knox lay on his sickbed, before his deathbed, the most frequent book that was read by others for him was the Sermons of the book of Ephesians by John Calvin. Coleridge called it "the divine composition of man".
VIII. It’s Relations with Other Books in the Bible
This book matches the Book of Colossians. The former reveals that the church is the body of Christ, and the latter mentions that Christ is the head of the church. It was the brother Tychicus that sent both of the two books. In the book of Colossians, Paul said that Tychicus would tell them all the news about him (Col. 4:7). In the book of Ephesians, Paul mentioned Tychicus would make all things known to them (Eph. 6:21). In addition, there were numerous scriptures that were very similar throughout the two books. Therefore, as Coleridge held, the book of Colossians might be called “the overflow” of the book of Ephesians or the book of Ephesians was a greater version of the book of Colossians.
IX. Key Verses
“The Church, “which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” (Eph. 1:23)
“In Whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” (Eph. 2:22)
“That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel” (Eph. 3:6)
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called” (Eph 4:1)
“Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.” (Eph 5:17-18)
“This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” (Eph. 5:32)
“Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Eph. 6:11)
X. Key Words
“Church” (Eph. 1:22, 23, 3:10, 21, 5:23, 24, 25, 27, 29, 32 …)
“In Christ” or “in Christ Jesus” or “in the beloved (Son)” or “in Him” or “in the Lord” (Eph. 1:1, 3, 4, 6, 10, 11, 12; 2:6, 7, 10, 13; 3:6, 11, 12, 21; 4:17; 5:8; 6:1, 10 …)
“In one accord” or “joined together in one” or “made into one body” (Eph. 1:10; 2:14, 16; 3:6; 4:3, 13; 5:31)
“In heaven” or “in the heavenly place” (Eph. 1:1, 3, 10, 20; 2:6; 3:10, 15; 4:10, 6:9)
“Grace” (Eph. 1:1, 2, 6, 7; 2:5, 7, 8; 3:2, 7, 8; 4:7, 29; 6:24)
“Riches” or “abundantly” (Eph. 1:7, 18; 2:7; 3:8, 16)
“Mystery” (Eph. 1:9, 3:3, 4, 9; 5:32; 6:19)
Apart from that, “saints” 7 times; “body” 9 times; “conduct” 7 times; “filled” 6 times; “His glory” 7 times.
Ⅺ. Outlines of the Book
1) Introduction (Eph. 1:1-2)
2) The Blessings of the Church Received in Christ:
b) The salvation and inheritance of the Son (1:7-12)
c) The seal and earnest of the Spirit (1:13-14)
a) In the full knowledge of him (1:15-17)
b) To know the calling of God and His inheritance in the saints (1:18)
c) To know the power of God towards those who believe (1:19-23)
4) The Status of the Church Received in Christ:
a) The church is the workmanship that God has created in Christ (2:1-10).
b) The church is a new man that God has created in Christ (2:11-18).
c) The church is the habitation of God that He has built in Christ (2:19-22).
5) The Revelation of the Church Received in Christ:
a) God reveals the mystery of Christ to His apostle through the Spirit (3:1-6).
b) The apostle preaches this mystery to all the others (3:7-13).
6) How does the Church Substantiate What He Has Obtained in Christ?
a) God strengthens the inner man of us through the Spirit (3:114-16).
b) Christ dwells in our hearts (3:17).
c) We can understand the boundless love of Christ (3:18).
d) When the church has been be filled to all the fullness of God, he will be able to do exceeding abundantly (3:19-21).
7) The Gifts Granted to the Church by Christ:
a) Christ has granted the essence of the oneness of the church (4:1-6).
b) Christ has granted the gifts to build up the church (4:7-16).
c) Christ has granted the new man to change the walks of the church (4:17-32).
8) The Manifestation of Christ in the Church:
a) He is manifested when the church is like the beloved children (5:1-7).
b) He is manifested when the church is like the children of light (5:8-14).
c) He is manifested when the church is like the son of wisdom (5:15-21).
d) He is manifested when the church loves others as Christ loves the church (5:22-23).
e) He is manifested when the church serves others as Christ serves others (6:1-9).
f) He is manifested when the church is like the mighty warrior (6:10-20).
9) The Epilogue (Eph. 6:21-14)
── Caleb Huang《Christian Digest Bible Commentary Series》
Translated by Mary Zhou