The city of Ephesus was located on the western coast of Asia Minor. It was a busy city of commerce and the capital city of the province of Asia. Its most famous attraction was its temple to the goddess Artemis (called Diana by the Romans). This temple was one of the “seven wonders” of the world. Tourists would come to visit the temple of Diana and carry away souvenirs (Acts 19:24).
Paul visited Ephesus at least twice. The first time was near the end of his second missionary trip when on his way back to Jerusalem. He stayed only a short time. He spoke to Ephesian Jews at the synagogue about Christ; and when they asked him to stay longer in Ephesus, he promised to come back again if God permitted. Aquila, Priscilla and Apollos ministered in Ephesus after Paul left. (See Acts 18:18-26). On his third missionary trip Paul returned to Ephesus and stayed for about three years (read Acts 19). God blessed Paul’s ministry in Ephesus. Luke tells us that everyone in the province of Asia had the opportunity to hear God’s word through Paul at Ephesus and that the word of God spread quickly (Acts 19:10; Acts 19:20). The church at Ephesus was made up of both Jews and Gentiles. It seems that Gentiles made up the larger part of the church (Eph. 2:11 and Eph. 3:1). When Paul was returning to Jerusalem at the end of his third missionary trip, he met the Ephesian elders for the last time. He said his farewell to them at the city of Miletus. Paul’s deep love for the Ephesian Christians and their love for him was very evident at this farewell meeting (Acts 20:13-38).
PAUL’S LETTER TO THE EPHESIANS
Ephesians is one of the four Prison Epistles (3:3, 4:1, 6:20). It is commonly accepted that Paul wrote Ephesians during his first imprisonment in Rome (Acts 28). This would be sometime during the years 61-63 A.D. His letter was carried from Rome to Ephesus by the hand of Tychicus (6:21-22). The Letter to the Ephesians is filled with rich and beautiful Christian truths. Many say that there is no other New Testament epistle that expresses Christian truths in such a majestic way. The parts of the letter in which Paul writes Christian truths using images or pictures are some of the most loved parts of Scripture (2:19-22; 4:1-16; 6:10-17). A truth that is especially emphasized in Ephesians is the unity that Christians enjoy. In Christ Gentiles have become “fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household” (2:19). “There is one body and one Spirit … one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all” (4:4-6).
THE CONTENTS OF EPHESIANS
We can find a two-part general outline for Ephesians in 2:10: “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” In part one of Ephesians we hear about what the Church is; and in part 2 we are encouraged to live as members of the Church which God had made us a part.
“PAUL TEACHES ABOUT THE CHURCH OF CHRIST”
1. He tells what the church is. (1-3)
2. He tells how we should live as members in Christ’s Church. (4-6)
SOME OF EPHESIANS’ IMPORTANT PASSAGES:
“It is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” (2:8-9) “You (Gentiles) are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people.” (2:19) “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (4:3) “Live as children of light.” (5:8b) “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.” (5:19) “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her.” (5:25) “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” (6:11)
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