The Book of Ephesians Survey
Pr Edi Giudetti
The book of Ephesians Survey; I must say with all fear that to put any outline point on a single chapter of any book of the Bible is a fearful thing, for we run the risk of tempting God and limiting the Holy one of Israel (Ps 78:41). But to do so for the book of Ephesians seems almost infinitely more fearful. Chapter three has a passage that speaks of not only of all men, but even the Angels of heaven that the “manifold wisdom of God’ might be demonstrated by the church (3:9-10).
And yet, there are certainly times when I simply cannot see how this is possible. Don’t get me wrong, that God is infinitely wise is not a question to me in my mind, but to think it wise that the inestimable worth of the Gospel, the infinitely profound truth of eternal life and how all mankind can gain it, to be placed in the hands of MAN….? I….I just can’t comprehend the wisdom in that.
But for the Grace and Spirit of God, and even with it, man is at best, contemptible. The more I live, even as a man born again by the Spirit of God, the more I think this true of man. And in reading Ephesians, and thinking that I must bring a summary of this book, I find myself feeling that, if it was not for the infinite value of every verse spoken as I preach, God would not be demonstrating himself wise.
If I did not believe that these very words are Gods words, and that those words are valuable alone and beyond anything else I could add, then it would be foolishness on Gods part to give vain man the charge to preach it.
So, I have declared my fear to you as we approach this book. Consider with me the first point, and you might get a glimpse of what I mean.
Knowing The Plan, Manner and Purpose of Salvation.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; 8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. (Eph 1:3-14)
Twelve of the most profound verses you are ever likely to read in the Bible. Just over 260 words that speak with utmost certainty of the purest and most profound doctrines in the Bible concerning Salvation. Both its plan, manner and purpose in such a condensed form, to what has been argued, in even a single sentence.
And much of Ephesians, especially the first three chapters is like this.
We find a natural structure to Ephesians where the first three Chapters are purely Doctrinal, and the last three are application. No marvel here, the first lays the foundation for the building to be applied to. Without a basis for action, there is no reason to act. For anything of value to last, it must be founded on a sure foundation.
Jesus said it simply and best,
“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:”
Therefore, the first three chapters of Ephesians lays the foundation on a rock upon which our lives can be built, and what a foundation it does lay!
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
Chosen, predestined …..according to….his will…he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
I wish I could tell you how often I have heard people excuse away these words to make them mean something they don’t actually say. Everything about the context of Ephesians teaches us that those who have believed in Christ by faith have been chosen, predestined and all in accordance with “the good pleasure of his will”.
We are given no explanation as to why God has chosen us specifically…well maybe no explanation as to why he has chosen me…I can see why he has chosen some of you!
Look at the text; verse 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world
It was Charles Spurgeon who said, “So glad am I that God had chosen me before the foundation of the world, if he was to look at me now he might have changed his mind”
I don’t think there is a man on Earth that can properly understand the doctrine of Predestination. We struggle with it because on the one hand we think of a sense of Inevitability in the doctrine, a type of fatalism that no matter what, those who are saved were always going to be saved! But brethren, God commands us ALL to believe the Gospel,
(1 John 3:23) And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
A commandment is to be obeyed, but not all obey and this is by people’s own personal will and choice.
The famous John 3:16 passage offers the Gospel to all, not to some.
Jesus spoke saying “Whosoever believeth”, this is not a limitation to some only; the call is for ALL to believe.
And Jesus confirms in John 6:37b… “and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out”
What we see clearly presented in the Bible is both the total sovereignty of God and the free will of man taught in its pages.
This is the PLAN of Salvation, We don’t understand it, it is a paradox that perhaps we will not fully comprehend until eternity, but it is taught and its teaching is wonderful to behold.
That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
Not only do we have that Plan of our salvation written of in this passage, but also the confirmation. The text says “who first trusted in Christ”… “after that ye heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation” It was simply believing the Gospel that saved us, FAITH, FAITH in what God said is true that saved our souls from death. FAITH is the MANNER of our Salvation.
But not only this, we discover that as a result of this “salvation” we are sealed with that holy spirit of Promise.
The text refers to it as the “earnest of our inheritance”, in other words, the Holy Spirit is given to us to confirm to us the guarantee of inheriting Heaven and that guarantee is given the moment we believe. All you need to do is take God at his word for that which concerns your eternity. Believe God and it will be accounted to you for righteousness. The Lord does not will that any should perish (2 Pet 3:9). He determined the manner and the means for all to be saved, broken down to its simplest form possible, by faith.
Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. And this is the purpose for which Christ died and man can attain eternity by faith, the purpose is simply unto the praise of his glory.
It will all be to the Glory of God that salvation is come.
2. Remembering The State, Sorrow and Hopelessness of Our Past
Chapter two reminds us from where we came and what was our state.
And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
Note that Paul includes himself in the number saying “among whom we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh” This was not limited to some, but extended to all.
There were none EVER deserving to be saved, none EVER gained it by merit, none EVER were looked upon with more mercy than others. Jesus died for all of mankind, not all will believe, BUT all certainly “were dead in trespasses and sins”.
This was our state before we were quickened (Made alive). We “walked according to the course of this world” what a phrase, “the course of this world” as if we are swimming downstream in the flowing river of the world, ‘going with the flow’. This is what Paul is reminding the Ephesians of in chapter 2.
That there is also a “spirit that now worth in the children of disobedience” reminds us that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
This Spirit working in the children of disobedience of Chapter 2 is consistent with those “spiritual wickedness in high places” of chapter 6.
Beloved we were servants to sin and to the Devil, doing his bidding and in accord with his will to which our will was aligned! Please keep a ready eye on this phrase, we were not “Slaves to sin” as some people teach, neither are we the “slaves of Jesus Christ” as other translations would have it. There is distinction between slaves and servants, it is a question of the will. When we were in sin we were willing participants, we served sin.
All people today are servants, some to the god of this world and some to the Lord.
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
To think that God would love man so much, even while we were in rebellion against him, dead in sins, he makes us alive by his grace. Knowing this should stir our hearts, would compel us to give all to Christ, to live for him to sacrifice all comforts for the telling of his great mercy to all who would hear the good news of what Jesus has done.
7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
Not just for now is all this done, but for the ages to come, to all people yet future, that they may know of the exceeding riches of his grace. This is what Paul was writing to the Ephesians of.
Paul must have known of their love for Christ, he must have known of their works and their labour and their patience. Paul must have known of their dedication to the truth of God, that they could not bear those which are evil and that they even would try and test men who called themselves Apostles but were not and found them liars.
Is their known love for Christ the reason why the Ephesians were the first to receive the Letter from Jesus Christ in The Revelation of Christ chapter 2?
Turn to Revelation 2:1
1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; 2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: 3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
Notice that unlike the Dealings with the sin of the Corinthians, the same place where Paul had to defend his apostleship because they could not discern truth, Paul does not rebuke evil in the Ephesian Church, nor does he need to contend for his authority.
Notice also that unlike the Galatians, Paul does not rebuke them for preaching or receiving “another gospel” but have believed themselves saved by faith.
Finally notice that Paul does not rebuke any sign of Gnosticism like that which had crept into the Colossian Church, (that we will deal with in a couple of weeks).
Colossians together with the book to the Ephesians seems to have been written from the same prison cell in Rome, at the same period of imprisonment, mostly believed because it was taken by the same hand of Tychicus in delivery to the Ephesians and Colossians about 120 km down the road from coastal Ephesus.
Consistent even with the Last book of the Bible is the faithful Ephesian church who, at this time, Loves the Lord Jesus Christ as her first love. whom Paul reminds why she should love him.
Paul reminds the Ephesians of life without hope.
Paul speaks to that in verse 11.
11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
It was his own blood that brought us near him, a hope we gained by faith in his word concerning the salvation of our souls secured through his death. But Paul does not stop there, he continues on to speak to the Churches understanding of what has been done.
3. Understand, See, Comprehend and Know The Manifold Wisdom of God
1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, 2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: 3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; 6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: 7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. 8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; 9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: 10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, 11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: 12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.
We should undertake all effort to understand, comprehend and know of the manifold wisdom of God, especially if it is through us, the Church, that the angels themselves have this wisdom revealed.
This salvation that has come upon us, the gentiles, was a mystery hidden in God from the beginning of the world. The revelation of it began with the death of Christ and the beginning of the Church. The New Testament is the written documentation of that mystery.
Beloved it is not until we might sit and consider of what Jesus has done, how God has made it happen that we would do as Paul and “for this cause bow our knees unto the father of our Lord Jesus Christ”.
As our enquiry toward the truth of what God has done begins to reveal itself to us, we begin to Love him with such great Love. Paul says that our comprehension will ground us in love and he encourages the Ephesians who had Christ as their FIRST Love;
he says in verse 17;
17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
4. Walk Worthy and Not as Other Gentiles
But now to the vocation of the Ephesians, how are they now to live?
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
The last three chapters deals practically with how we are to live in this grounded love, if being filled with all the fulness of God, what does such a life look like? First of all it is one that endeavours to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Paul goes on in this chapter to remind us of the ‘oneness’ of all that surrounds us now.
4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
If this be true then the unity of our faith should indeed be singular. The unity of our love, singular. The unity of our hope, singular. And the unity of our purpose, our vocation, singular.
But this does not occur naturally, it is why we contemplate the things of Christ and thereby determine to live
With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love
But the Lord has not left us to ourselves, he knows our weakness and our struggles and our often timid faith. But he has given us Grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ (v7) but more than this, the Lord gave gifts unto unto us for the perfecting of the saints;
consider from verse 4:11
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
And even this we see still has its purpose. Please dear friends don’t limit the reasons why God has instructed things the way he has, but limit your own reasonings to a level of humility.
There are many commands the Lord has given us that have far reaching implications and even what God has given in gifts, is for more than just edification;
14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
Our knowledge of the Son of God, our considerations of the Manifold wisdom of God, will not leave us as a rudderless boat tossed to and fro, carried about with every wind of doctrines, we will believe the things as true that we see presented in his word, we will not be easily deceived, we will not believe ‘another gospel’ as did the Galatians, nor heresy as came to the Colossians.
Yet we will speak the truth in love.
Paul gives many practical commands on who we should live in these chapters, but there are those commands spiritual that assist in the practical, this is part of our knowledge and understanding spoken of earlier.
Verse 22 he says
22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
Seeing there has been a change in us spiritually, we set aside that old life and be renewed in the new. Romans gives the same charge saying;
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind (Rom 12:2)
The third last verse of the chapter Paul reveals that we
… grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Paul here confirms not only that the grief we experience in sin is that shared by the holy Spirit that abides within, but also that it witnesses we are sealed by this same Spirit as the guarantee of the inheritance of eternal life.
Seals in days of old were made of wax, they were stamped by a wooden stamp which bore the image of the owner. The wax seal reflected the owners image.
Brethren, you are not your own, you were bought with a price and belong to the Lord. Sealed with his Spirit you are not to reflect the life of the world, but of Christ.
5. Walk Circumspectly in Light and Not Darkness
Chapter 5:8 Paul again reminds us of where we were and where we now are.
8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. 12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.
Satan is bound to keep all in darkness until ultimately the world experiences it for eternity. His darkness resembles what has been observed in the parts of our galaxy as a black hole.
This “Black hole” has gravitational effect that will not only not permit to have light escape, but it draws in the stars of light that sail too close to it.
Christians today are sailing far too close to those same things that have drawn in many. They seek exposure, popularity, acceptance by those in darkness. Others are pleased to be amused by the unfruitful works of them, they excuse the odd swear word, the odd blasphemy, the odd sexual innuendo forgetting that they were sometimes darkness but are now light, sadly they don’t walk as children of light.
Beloved I don’t know if you have noticed but the way you now think is not the same as the way you thought before. Your minds no longer lead themselves naturally to filth.
A few years ago I misspoke an object and it led certain people who also claim Christ, to laugh and make jokes about it. I repeated what I said knowing it was wrong but not seeing how badly wrong it was until the filth of it filled my mind. I can’t tell you how badly i was shaken by it, but it disgusted me, not so much that I said what i said, but to be reminded of the filth I had once forgotten.
I don’t want even my mind to have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.
I don’t know about you but I am fragile enough as it is, I don’t need to expose myself to more works that would readily suck me in.
Are you being drawn too close to the traps the Devil has laid for others?
15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
We have a choice, we can be blind to the snares laid down to trap the unwary, or we can be wise?
We can either have tunnel vision and not see the peripheral dangers or we can walk circumspectly.
Proverbs 1:17 says
Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird.
Unlikely will a bird fly into a net spread for it, it watches circumspectly, but sadly many children of the light are foolishly unwary of the evil days they are in.
Paul charges them to BE WARY.
Beloved, BE WARY. Don’t think that there is something more special about you that you will not be drawn into darkness.
Not unlike our faithfulness to the Lord, it comes to Paul’s writing the faithfulness of the husband and wife in the balance of the chapter.
Read from verse 21 and if you are unwed consider it in light of your relationship to Christ. If you are wed, take heed of the passage to your spouse, but also consider it in the Lord.
6. Walk Unblamably, As Servants of Christ
Chapter six concludes an incredible book with an incredible chapter. Again the fruit of it will rejoice the heart and glorify God when it is lived.
Paul begins the chapter with admonitions of faithfulness to all;
To bond and free
Finally he spends the latter half teaching of the spiritual war at hand and encourages the armour of the Lord.
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Brethren how I wish you might truly understand that there is a spiritual war going on, what you see before your eyes is the evident witness of that behind the scenes.
Everything about the armour in which you are to arm yourselves is practical.
Knowing the Truth
Living in Righteousness
Preaching the Gospel
Trusting by faith
and understanding with the heart, the word of God
Paul is not talking spiritually, he means it practically because his desire for the Ephesians is a practical one.
Beloved the story does not seem to end well for the Ephesians. In the Letter dedicated to them of the Lord in Revelation chapter two, where Jesus writes to them directly We read the first three verses, but now consider the next two;
Rev 2:4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
Not too unlike Paul’s reminder to them of where they were before Christ, Jesus reminds them of the height they enjoyed in Christ.
Be Jealous of the love you have for Jesus, don’t give it up for anything in this life. It is the height from which all our joy and hope can be viewed and rejoiced in.
BE JEALOUS for Christ, don’t let the dark whiles of the devil pry you away from your first love.
BE JEALOUS, love the Lord with ALL YOUR HEART MIND SOUL AND STRENGTH.