Ephesians: Introduction

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“Hello! I am…” is our next sermon series. We are going to look at the book Ephesians and see how are identity is reshaped in and through Jesus Christ. I am going to be blogging about Ephesians in the coming weeks as well.

Ephesians is an amazing book. It is like Scripture in miniature. It is like the Psalms in compact. Ephesians is one of my favorite books in the Bible. In fact, people have said that Ephesians is “one of the divinest compositions of man.” I agree.

Paul wrote (Eph. 1:1; 3:1) to the church in Ephesus and to the surrounding churches; he probably composed the letter when held in Rome in A.D. 62 (Acts 28). In letter we see many outbursts of prayer (Eph. 1:15-23; 3:14-21). It is almost as if Paul could not contain himself. Actually, in the original Greek,  1:3-14 is just one sentence; one long sentence of exuberant praise of God and His amazing work of salvation. The whole letter is really an overflow of praise and practical theology.

Three main things stand out in the letter; God’s sovereignty and glory in salvation, identity in Christ, and unity in and through Christ. Snodgrass says Ephesians “describes the power God’s Spirit gives for living. It shows who we really are without Christ and who we become both individually and corporately with Christ. It is about how we understand ourselves and how we can get along with each other and God” (Klyne Snodgrass, The NIV Application Commentary: Ephesians, 17).[1]

Identity formation is the main purpose of Ephesians. “It seeks to shape believers by reminding them how wonderful God’s work in Christ is, how significant their unity with Christ is, and what living for Christ looks like. It is a letter of definition and encouragement” (Klyne Snodgrass, The NIV Application Commentary: Ephesians, 23).

There are only 155 verses in the book of Ephesians and yet “there are some 120 direct references to Jesus Christ, 80 references to God the Father, and 15 references to the Holy Spirit. In addition, Paul talks to ‘you’ over 80 times, and about ‘us’ 45 times. So God appears about one and a half times per verse, and you are talked to almost once per verse!” (David Powlison, “Who is God?” in The Journal of Biblical Counseling, 12). So, we see that Ephesians is immensely practical.

Truly, as Powlison has said,

“If you’re even semi-conscious, Ephesians ought to produce an intensely personal encounter with the Lord. It ought to take you down into some very sober reflections about what you’re really like by nature and habit. It ought to lift you up into joyful praise, and ought to rivet your life with purpose and resolve” (David Powlison, “Who is God?” in The Journal of Biblical Counseling, 12).

[1] “The thirteen Pauline letters use ‘in Christ,’ ‘in the Lord,’ ‘in him,’ or some similar expression 164 times in a variety of ideas” (Klyne Snodgrass, The NIV Application Commentary: Ephesians, 38). In Ephesians we see more about being “in Christ” than in any other letter (36 times see esp. 1:3-14; 2:5-7, 11-22).