Ephesians: The Church Body

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The Church Body

Christian privileges and responsibilities.

Background: Paul writes to the Ephesian church while a prisoner in Rome about 60-61AD
Theme: The Body of Christ (the Church)
Outline: Christian Privileges and Responsibilities
Key Verse: "From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work." (Eph 4:16, NIV)






Paul traveled through Ephesus on his 2nd Missionary Journey, and was begged to stay, but was unable to.  On his 3rd journey he stayed for three years, leaving just after an uprising of the goldsmiths.  He wrote this letter a decade later while a prisoner in Rome.  The earliest copies we have of Ephesians do not have "in Ephesus" in verse 1:1 and the letter has the character of a generic letter intended for all the churches in Roman Asia, of which Ephesis is the capital.  It reflects Paul's most developed and matured theology.  It was probably written just after Colossians and Philemon and would be delivered on the same trip.  It is similar to Colossians, but speaks of the church in general without addressing problems of a particular church.  It is characterized by ethics or Christian actions that are closely tied to theology or Christian beliefs.


The body of Christ

I. The Calling of the Church (1-3)

1:5 "He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ, ..." It is difficult to understand how God could have predestined us, after all, we make a choice to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior. Yet this and other verses clearly teach that God chose us first, we responded.

1:13 "Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit." This important verse teaches that all believers receive the Holy Spirit at the time of conversion. Everyone who belongs to the Lord (every believer) is marked, and has the Holy Spirit.

1:15 Perhaps you have heard the saying, "I love God, it's people I can't stand!" Paul commended the Ephesians for two things, "your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, ..." May we follow this example and learn to love God's people - as we learn to love God.

2:10 God has a specific plan for our lives (corporately and individually). He has "good works ... prepared in advance for us to do." This is the other side of verse 1:5, God predestined us, He made us and chose us because He has a great purpose for each one of us.

II. The Conduct of the Church (4-6)

4:9-10 I read this verse as "he ascended to the lower, earthly regions, namely, the earth". This is because the ascending was clearly to a place higher than the earth (above all heavens). Some interpreters take it as a descent into hell after death, but before the resurrection. But the resurrection from the grave was from the grave to the earth. The descent from heaven to earth would parallel ascension from earth to heaven, which took place after the resurrection and post-resurrection appearances to men. The resurrection would parallel the crucifixion. Mr. Hoehner does take it as the death and burial, which is the basis for redemption and leading men in his train.

6:1-3 Concerning whether the first ("Have no other gods before me") or fifth commandment ("Honor your father and your mother") should be learned first: children are properly taught obedience to parents before they are able to intellectually grasp either commandment. This is as simple as the word 'no'. For instance, if my child tries to run into the road I shout 'stop' or 'no'. Obedience in small children to instructions such as don't touch the stove, stay out of the road, and don't hit your sister with that stick, is certainly essential to their well being.


New Testament Survey by Merrill Tenney : Highly recommend this book for a good background to the life of Jesus and the New Testament. The first half covers background, what the world was like under Roman rule and what the conditions of the Jews were. The second half gives background, outline, and introductions to each of the New Testament books (including Acts).

Bible Background Commentary (New Testament) by Craig S. Keener : Printed by InterVarsity Press, this is an excellent one-volume resource for understanding the customs and background (history, language, and geography) behind the verses of the New Testament. It is not an interpretation of the New Testament as are most commentaries, its purpose is to give background information. I highly recommend this to the serious student of Scripture, who already has a good grasp of the meaning and application of the New Testament.

Bible Knowledge Commentary (New Testament, Volume II) by the Staff of Dallas Theological Seminary : Admittedly a 'dispensational' interpretation, meaning that the authors take the book of Revelation very literally and teach that Jesus will take the Church out of the world before the 'Tribulation Period'. Although I do not agree totally with their opinions, I have found this to be a fair commentary, also explaining the views of others which the authors do not hold. If you use my notes you will receive some insight as to where the points of disagreement are. Highly recommended as the best short commentary on the market. I am easily in agreement with 98% of what this commentary teaches, and who knows if I am right about the other 2%??

Updated March 2012
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