Series: Best Book In the BibleEvery Christian knows the importance of reading their Bible, but many are overwhelmed with the task of devouring such a monstrous book! Often times, when Christians lose steam in their yearly reading plans, they can become frustrated and feel defeated. It is for this reason that individual book studies can be a lifesaver. In the Best Book in the Bible series, we will provide entry points into faithful study through “selling” you on why you should fall in love with the various books of the Bible.
Who are you? I mean, who are you, really? As human beings, we struggle and strive to understand ourselves, often defining ourselves according to titles. But for the Christian, we need to see that our identity does not come from any superficial source; our identity is found in Jesus Christ. Before we take a single step into service or ministry, it is essential to realize that you are a son/daughter of the Most High God, a blood-bought sinner saved by the Lord Jesus Christ. For those of you who are seeking to find your identity in Christ, Ephesians may very well be the best book in the Bible!
Main themes: The Body of Christ
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6)
“Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.” (Ephesians 6:13)
The apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians while in prison along with Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. It is believed that the letter was written to be encyclical—a letter to be sent to several churches throughout Asia minor. While Ephesians doesn’t deal with any specific problems, it functions as a treatise for unity within the body, as well as a declaration of praise for the grace of God.
The letter can really be broken up into two main sections. Chapters 1—3 deal with the believer’s identity. The section is heavy on doctrine and provides the basis for action in part 2. Chapters 4—6 deal with the practical aspects of the believer’s function. When we understand who we are in part 1, we are then able to fulfill our mission laid out in part 2.
(Chapters 1—3). The opening of the letter is a beautiful doxology rehearsing the grace of God in salvation. Verses 3-14 are markedly Trinitarian, as we see the Father’s work to foreordain salvation, choosing and electing believers (vv. 3-6a), followed by the work of Christ to redeem us (vv. 6b-12), culminating in the Spirit’s work to seal us (vv. 13-14). The remainder of the chapter constitutes Paul’s prayer for the churches.
Chapter 2 approaches the factors of the gospel, noting that we are “dead in [our] trespasses and sins” (2:1) and utterly depraved, “But God… loved us… and made us alive together with Christ” (vv. 4-5). Paul is diligent to reinforce that we are saved “by grace… through faith” (v. 8) and not by our own merits (v. 9). And once we are justified and saved, we are united with other believers into one body (2:11-23). Chapter 3 explores the mystery of this unity, not only with Christ but with one another.
(Chapters 4—6). Immediately, Paul moves into his exhortation for believer’s to “walk in a manner worthy of [your] calling” (4:1); in essence, he says, “Knowing what you know about how you were saved and united with Christ, now live according to that gift!” The first command is to “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (4:3). Unity is established by the Spirit, but we are called to conduct ourselves in a way that keeps that unity intact. In 4:7-16, we learn that God has given gifts to the church (spiritual leaders) to help “equip the saints for the work of ministry” (v. 12) for the ultimate goal of building up the body unto maturity.
The remainder of chapter 4 through the first half of chapter 5, Paul exhorts the church to forsake sin and practice righteousness. Paul then moves into the realm of the home, dealing with husbands and wives (5:22-33), parents and children (6:1-4), and masters and slaves (6:5-9). Finally, Paul teaches believer’s the importance of spiritual warfare, and taking up “the full armor of God” to battle the enemy (6:10-20). Paul closes with a few personal words of thanksgiving (6:21-24).
What Makes This Book So Great:
Ephesians is a power-packed book full of rich theology and poignant practicality. It contains perhaps the most breathtaking account of the Triune God accomplishing salvation (1:3-14). Additionally, Paul makes a concise, yet air-tight case for the need for justification by faith (2:1-10). In light of recent cultural discussions on marriage and family, Ephesians 5:22-33 speaks to the mystery and meaning of marriage as a demonstration of Christ’s union with His church. Finally, Ephesians 6:10-18 has been the battle cry of believers for millennia as they wage war against sin and the devil. There is truly something for everyone in Ephesians!
This letter can easily be read in one sitting and I would encourage that to be done often. However, a more in-depth study can be done by approaching both main sections individually. Challenge yourself to memorize Ephesians 2:1-10, as it will serve you well in evangelism and personal devotion. Having a firm grasp of “the armor of God” (6:14-18a) will help equip you to “stand firm” daily.
- John MacArthur, Ephesians. (Chicago: Moody, 1986).
- James Montgomery Boice, Ephesians: An Expositional Commentary. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006).
- Harold W. Hoehner. Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002).
Note: Find the rest of the Best Book in the Bible series here: EntreatingFavor.com/BestBookSeries