Epistle to the Ephesians

Concise Bible Dictionary:

Paul first visited Ephesus on his way from Corinth to Syria: he did not stay then, but left Priscilla and Aquila there, who were afterward joined by Apollos (Acts 18:18-2418And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow. 19And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews. 20When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not; 21But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus. 22And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch. 23And after he had spent some time there, he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples. 24And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. (Acts 18:18‑24)). Paul soon returned and stayed there two years. There was thus time for the saints to be grounded in the truth. The opposition was so great in the synagogue that Paul separated the disciples, and they met daily in the school of Tyrannus. The word grew mightily and prevailed (Acts 19:1-201And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, 2He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. 3And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. 4Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. 5When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. 7And all the men were about twelve. 8And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. 9But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. 10And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks. 11And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: 12So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them. 13Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. 14And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. 15And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? 16And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. 18And many that believed came, and confessed, and showed their deeds. 19Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed. (Acts 19:1‑20)).
In 1 Corinthians 15:3232If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die. (1 Corinthians 15:32) Paul speaks of having fought with beasts at Ephesus, doubtless alluding to the strong opposition manifested towards him there by the Jews. In Acts 20:17-3517And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. 18And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, 19Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: 20And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, 21Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. 22And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: 23Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. 24But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. 25And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. 26Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. 27For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. 28Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. 32And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. 33I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel. 34Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. 35I have showed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:17‑35) Paul exhorts the elders of Ephesus, as overseers, to feed the church of God. He warns them that grievous wolves would enter in, and some from among themselves would speak perverse things to draw away disciples after them. As their resource he commends them to God and the word of His grace. Following this was the Epistle he wrote to them during the two years he was a prisoner at Rome.
In 1 Timothy 1:33As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, (1 Timothy 1:3) Paul says he had besought Timothy to abide at Ephesus, and to exhort them to teach no other doctrine, and not to give heed to fables and endless genealogies. In 2 Timothy 1:1515This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. (2 Timothy 1:15) there is the sad intelligence that “all they which are in Asia” (which must have included Ephesus) had “turned away from” Paul, doubtless signifying that they had given up the truth as taught by Paul, and settled down with a lower standard. In 2 Timothy 4:1212And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus. (2 Timothy 4:12) Tychicus had been sent to Ephesus. The great care and watchfulness with which Paul labored for their welfare is very manifest. In Revelation 2:1-71Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; 2I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: 3And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast labored, and hast not fainted. 4Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. 6But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. (Revelation 2:1‑7) we have the address to this church, in which much is said in their favor, though the solemn charge had also to be made that they had left their first love, and the warning is given that if they did not repent their candlestick would be removed.
The Epistle to the Ephesians is remarkable in setting forth the counsels of God with regard to His people as connected with Christ. It is from this standpoint that they are viewed, rather than that of their need as sinners, and how it has been met. This latter is developed in the Epistle to the Romans. The state of the Ephesian believers enabled them to receive a communication of such a nature as this Epistle, in which glorious unfoldings of the mind of God about His own are given in the greatest fullness.
The key note is struck in Ephesians 1:33Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: (Ephesians 1:3), where God is blessed as “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”—the God, when our Lord Jesus Christ is looked at as man; the Father, when He is viewed as Son of God. Christians are brought in Christ into these very relationships, as stated by the Lord Himself when risen from the dead, “Go to My brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father, and your Father; and to My God, and your God.” It will be seen that the prayer at the close of Ephesians 1 is founded on the title “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ,” while that in Ephesians 3 is on the title “Father.” The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has blessed believers with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ. He has marked them out for adoption to Himself, that is, their being brought into the full position of sons in Christ Jesus, according to the good pleasure of His will. Brought into favor in the Beloved, they have in Him redemption, the forgiveness of sins. The mystery of God’s will is set forth—to head up all things, whether heavenly or earthly, in the Christ for the administration of the fullness of times. Jews and Gentiles are the subjects of salvation according to the purpose of God, believers from among both being sealed by the Holy Spirit, who is also the earnest of their inheritance—an inheritance which will be to the praise of God’s glory when everything is headed up in Christ.
The prayer at the close of Ephesians 1 is that the saints might have the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full knowledge of the God of the Lord Jesus Christ: that they might know the hope of His calling, His inheritance in the saints, and the greatness of the power towards them which He wrought in raising Christ (a Man) from the dead, and setting Him at His right hand in the heavenly places (Compare Psalm 8). He being head over all things to the body, which is the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
Ephesians 2. This same power had wrought toward the saints (as shown by the subject being continued without a break from Ephesians 1 to Ephesians 2), in that having been dead in sins they had been quickened with Christ; had been raised up together (Jew and Gentile), and made to sit down together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus. There is a new creation in Christ by God as regards His people. The apostle would have the Gentile Christians contrast their present privileges with their former hopeless state. Jew and Gentile believers had access by one Spirit to the Father, while the latter were now fellow-citizens of the saints, and were of the household of God, being part of the holy temple He was building. They were also built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit.
Ephesians 3. This chapter, in a parenthesis, unfolds the administration of the mystery, hid in God, but now revealed by the Spirit, namely, that the Gentiles should be joint heirs and a joint body and joint partakers of His promise in Christ Jesus. A mystery is that which is understood only by the initiated. In the public dealings of God with men this mystery had no place; it is connected (though administered upon earth) with Christ while hid in the heavens, and the saints united to Him there; by its administration would be made known to principalities and powers in heavenly places the all various wisdom of God. A prayer follows that the saints might be strengthened inwardly by the Spirit; that the Christ might dwell through faith in their hearts; that they might apprehend the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, and might know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, so as to be filled unto all the fullness of God. Christ is here presented as the center of all the counsels of God, and His love is to be known in all its fullness by the hearts of His people.
Ephesians 4. The apostle applies what is given in the earlier part of the epistle, particularly at the close of Ephesians 2—the bringing together in one in a new and heavenly manner of those who on earthly ground had been at enmity. The saints were to endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Gifts are alluded to as given by the Head, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all arrive at the unity of the faith, and the full knowledge of the Son of God, at the full grown man, and at the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ. Everything necessary for the body is derived from the Head. All is to grow up into Christ. Practical exhortations follow in Ephesians 4:1717This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, (Ephesians 4:17). The truth “in Jesus” is the having put off the old man and having put on the new: consequently all that characterized the old man must be put off, and what is of the new cultivated.
Ephesians 5-6. Believers are to be imitators of God as dear children. They are light in the Lord, and are to walk as children of light. They are to be filled with the Spirit. Earthly relationships are now referred to: wives, husbands, children, fathers, bondmen, masters. Each relationship is to be taken up as in the Lord. Blessed instruction as to the mystery of Christ and the church is given in connection with the word to wives and husbands.
In view of the nature of the spiritual conflict waged in heavenly places, Christians are exhorted to put on the panoply of God. Without this they cannot stand. The apostle asks the prayers of the saints that he might make known the mystery of the glad tidings with boldness; and closes this remarkable epistle with a benediction.

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