"THE EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS" Introduction To The Epistle (1:1-3) INTRODUCTION 1. Have you ever heard of "Hetty" Green, known as "America's Greatest Miser"? a. She died in 1916, and left an estate worth over $100 million b. Yet, it is said that... 1) She ate oatmeal cold, because it cost to heat it 2) Her son's leg was amputated, because she delayed too long looking for a free clinic c. Sounds crazy, doesn't it? 1) For someone who had such great assets, to go through life miserable 2) Living the life of a pauper, when great wealth was at her disposal 2. But the same could be said of many Christians today... a. For in Christ Jesus, we have countless spiritual blessings! - cf. Ep 1:3 b. However, many of these blessings go unused 1) Blessings that are wonderful, but unappreciated by many 2) Resulting in some Christians living what Thoreau would call "lives of quiet desperation" 3. God would have us to know about these blessings, or spiritual "riches", and in the New Testament one book in particular describes many of them . . . a. It is the book of Ephesians b. One expressed purpose of the book is that we might know "what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints" - cf. Ep 1:18 4. Lest we become the spiritual equivalent of "Hetty" Green, we begin a series devoted to the Epistle to the Ephesians, in which we plan to "mine" for the riches that are ours in Christ Jesus [In Ep 1:1-3, Paul addresses the brethren at Ephesus and begins immediately to speak of our "spiritual blessings". Let's first more closely consider...] I. THE AUTHOR (1:1a) A. PAUL... 1. Formerly, "Saul of Tarsus", the persecutor of the church
- Ac 9:1-2 2. But who became the "apostle to the Gentiles" - Ac 9:15 B. AN APOSTLE OF JESUS BY THE WILL OF GOD... 1. His apostleship was not of his own choosing - cf. Ga 1:1 2. He knew it was by the grace of God that he had been so called - Ep 3:8a 3. And his charge? To "preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ" - Ep 3:8b C. WHOSE WORK HAD BROUGHT HIM TO EPHESUS... 1. First, for a short stay - Ac 18:19-21 2. Then for over two years, one of his longer periods of service in one place - Ac 19:1-10 3. He also met with the Ephesian elders at Miletus - Ac 20:17-38 D. WRITING NOW AS "AN AMBASSADOR IN CHAINS"... 1. At the time Paul wrote this epistle, he was awaiting trial in Rome - cf. Ep 3:1; 4:1; 6:20 2. This epistle was written about the same time as Colossians, Philippians, and Philemon, approximately 60-62 A.D. 3. I.e., during the time period briefly described in Ac 28:30-31 [Now for a few thoughts on...] II. THE RECIPIENTS (1:1b) A. THE SAINTS WHO ARE IN EPHESUS... 1. The recipients of this letter were called "saints" a. The word "saint" means "one who has been set apart" b. It is related to the word "sanctified" which means "set apart" c. ALL Christians were called saints in the New Testament, for in Christ Jesus even the vilest sinners are "sanctified" upon their conversion - cf. 1Co 6:9-11 2. The recipients of this letter were those brethren "in Ephesus" a. This is called into question by some, for in a few manuscripts "in Ephesus" is omitted b. For a detailed examination of this question, cf. New Testament Commentary, Exposition Of Ephesians, William Hendriksen, Baker Book House, pp. 56-61 c. Hendricksen's conclusion: this letter was written to the churches of Ephesus and surroundings 3. Historical background concerning the work in Ephesus can be found in Ac 18:19-28; 19:1-41; 20:17-38 B. AND FAITHFUL IN CHRIST JESUS... 1. This describes the character of those "saints" in Ephesus 2. They are "faithful in Christ Jesus"; that is, they trusted in Him for their salvation - cf. Ep 1:13 3. They were "faithful" in another sense, also, in that they were trustworthy in their stand for the truth - cf. Re 2:1-3, 6 4. However, they were to be later rebuked for leaving their "first love" - Re 2:4-5 [To these "faithful saints", Paul give his customary greeting in which he prays for grace and peace to come upon them from God and Jesus (1:2). With the very next verse, Paul begins to praise God for the blessings we have in Christ, which reveals to us...] III. THE THEME: THE BELIEVER'S RICHES IN CHRIST (1:3) A. THE SOURCE OF OUR BLESSINGS (RICHES)... 1. They come from "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" 2. As revealed later, they come to us a result of the "riches" of . . . a. God's grace - Ep 1:7 b. God's glory - Ep 1:18 c. God's mercy - Ep 2:7 3. As James wrote, "every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights" - Jm 1:17 B. THE SCOPE OF OUR BLESSINGS (RICHES)... 1. They include "every" spiritual blessing; not just a few, but every single one! 3. Blessings that are "spiritual" in nature; unlike many of the blessings to the nation of Israel of old, which were but material C. THE SPHERE OF OUR BLESSINGS (RICHES)... 1. First, they are "in the heavenly places" a. Lit., "in the heavenlies", a phrase found only in Ephesians - 1:3; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12 b. Referring to the spiritual realm, as opposed to the physical 2. Secondly, they are "in Christ" a. It has been counted that this phrase "in Christ" occurs 27 times in this epistle c. Emphasizing that it is only by being "in" Christ that one can have access to "every" spiritual blessing [With verse three, then, we have the "theme" of this epistle stated, and one would do well to think of it as the "key verse". Before we close this introduction to Ephesians, it may be helpful to consider the following outline of the book as presented in "The Bible Exposition Commentary", Volume 2, Warren W. Wiersbe, p. 7...] IV. A BRIEF OUTLINE A. DOCTRINE: OUR RICHES IN CHRIST (chapters 1-3) 1. Our spiritual possessions in Christ (1:4-14) a. From the Father (1:4-6) b. From the Son (1:7-12) c. From the Spirit (1:13-14) -- First Prayer: for enlightenment (1:15-23) 2. Our spiritual position in Christ (2:1-22) a. Raised and seated on the throne (2:1-10) b. Reconciled and set into the temple (2:11-22) -- Second Prayer: for enablement (3:1-21; with verses 2-13 as a parenthesis) B. DUTY: OUR RESPONSIBILITIES IN CHRIST (chapters 4-6) 1. Walk in unity (4:1-16) 2. Walk in purity (4:17-5:17) a. Walk not as other Gentiles (4:17-32) b. Walk in love (5:1-6) c. Walk as children of light (5:7-14) d. Walk carefully (5:15-17) 3. Walk in harmony (5:18-6:9) a. Husbands and wives (5:18-33) b. Parents and children (6:1-4) c. Masters and servants (6:5-9) d. Walk in victory (6:10-24) CONCLUSION 1. In our next lesson, we will begin our study of this Epistle to the Ephesians in earnest, noticing immediately some of those "unsearchable riches of Christ" 2. But as we have already seen, the "sphere" in which these blessings (riches) are to be found is "IN Christ". How does one get "into" Christ? The answer is found in Ga 3:26-27, where we learn that those who have been "baptized into Christ have put on Christ". Are you in Christ...?