Today we begin a walk through the book of Ephesians.
Ephesus is located on the western part of Asia Minor, on the Aegean Sea. Ephesus is part of modern-day Turkey.
(NOTE: you will likely need to view this map below on the web site, as it may not show up in your email version).
Our first introduction to Ephesus is when Paul visits there as part of his second missionary journey (Acts chapter 18). Paul made his introductions there, then left Aquila and Priscilla to minister there (Acts 18:18,19,26). Paul then came back to Ephesus (Acts 19) and taught there for about three years. Later, Paul sent Timothy there to minister and correct some doctrinal problems (1 Timothy 1, especially verse 3). We also see Ephesus called out in the book of Revelation (Revelation 2:1-7) as one of the seven churches mentioned, where God calls out the fact that the church started well, but ended up leaving its first love (Christ).
Ephesus was an important commerce city, and was known for its temple to Artemis (Diana), considered one of the seven wonders of the world. Many people from the region came to see the magnificent temple and worship their pagan gods.
Paul wrote to the Ephesian church when he was in Rome, under house arrest. There is no dispute that Paul is the author of the letter – he clearly identifies himself in his greeting (Ephesians 1:1). Because of his time ministering in Ephesus, as well as those who ministered before and after him, Paul could write with both love and authority.
The letter to the Ephesian church is divided equally into two parts:
- theology (chapters 1-3)
- practical living (chapters 4-6)
As we shall see, Paul often mirrors what he writes in the theology section with the same topic in the practical living section, calling out both the nature and character of God as well as how it relates to living our everyday lives.
Paul makes a special point to the Ephesian church that both Jews and Gentiles are equals in salvation in Christ. This was something obviously new to the believers there – Gentiles did not have to become Jews first, before accepting Christ.
Another theme throughout the letter to the Ephesians is the metaphor of the church as the “body” of Christ here on the earth. This body is not a man-made organization or institution, but rather an idea that we all are part of something bigger than ourselves, a spiritual “organization” that gets its direction from the head (Christ), and works together to carry out the Good News to all in its reach. This reminds us that there is a bigger goal of life with Christ beyond our current earthly realm (aka Heaven – being with Christ for eternity).
Take some time and read through the Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. May you be encouraged and blessed as we walk through this wonderful letter together over the next days and weeks.