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"Ephesians: An Introduction" by Sergio Arguello (part 1)

posted Jul 7, 2014, 1:14 PM by Media Ministry   [ updated Jul 20, 2014, 4:18 PM ]




Introduction to Ephesians



One of Paul's Prison Epistles--Colossians, Philemon, Ephesians, and Philippians.  Thought to have been written and delivered at the same time as Colossians and Philemon.

Recipients—Christians in Ephesus

It is thought that the lack of personal greetings in the letter constituted either that the letter was not originally meant for the church in Ephesus or that personal greetings were left out for the purposes of making the letter for a more general audience, meaning to be circulated and read to all the churches. 

Purpose—To strengthen the disciples in Ephesus, showing them how important the church is and how glorious it can be.  More importantly, while other letters were meant to encourage the reconciliation between man and God through Christ.  Ephesians was more focused on helping brothers and sisters within the church reconcile or be in “good’ relationships with each other and people in general thus making the church glorious.

The City Of Ephesus:

Ephesus was located on the west coast of the Roman province of Asia (Asia Minor) in what is now Turkey. Ephesus was an important commercial port city. It was also situated at the junction of natural trade routes. The city lay about midway between Miletus to the south and Smyrna to the north.

Ephesus was a major population center and the capital of the Roman province of Asia. It contained a theater that was one of the largest known of all that have remained to modern times. The auditorium was a semicircle that measured 495 feet in diameter, with 63 rows of seats that provided seating for an audience of 24,500 spectators. It was in this theater that the silversmiths led by Demetrius rioted against Paul and his companions.

Adding to the attraction of Ephesus was the temple of the Greek goddess Artemis, who in the Latin language was called Diana. This temple was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The temple was a magnificent work of Ionic architecture, which was four times the size of the Greek Parthenon in Athens. The temple stood on a platform about 425 feet long and 239 feet wide. The platform had ten steps that led up to its pavement. The temple itself was 342 and 1/2 feet long and 164 feet wide. The temple consisted of two rows of eight columns each in the front and rear and two rows of twenty columns each on both sides of its sanctuary. In all the temple contained one hundred columns. Each column was a monolith of marble 55 feet high. The eighteen columns at each end were sculptured. The temple roof was covered with large white marble tiles. The inner sanctuary of the temple was 105 feet long and 70 feet wide. The Goths destroyed this temple in 260 A.D.

Ephesus was home to a large number of Jews. They had a synagogue in the city, where Paul began his mission work (cr. Acts 19:8). When some of the Jews who had hardened their hearts against the gospel of Jesus began persecuting those who believed in Jesus, Paul turned to the Gentiles. From Ephesus the gospel spread throughout the whole province of Asia (cf. Acts 19:10).

Acts 19

Paul in Ephesus

While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when[a] you believed?”

They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”

“John’s baptism,” they replied.

Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues[b] and prophesied. 7 There were about twelve men in all.

Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. 9 But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 10 This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.

11 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

13 Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.

17 When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. 18 Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done. 19 A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.[c] 20 In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.

21 After all this had happened, Paul decided[d] to go to Jerusalem, passing through Macedonia and Achaia. “After I have been there,” he said, “I must visit Rome also.” 22 He sent two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia, while he stayed in the province of Asia a little longer.

The Riot in Ephesus

23 About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way. 24 A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in a lot of business for the craftsmen there. 25 He called them together, along with the workers in related trades, and said: “You know, my friends, that we receive a good income from this business. 26 And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that gods made by human hands are no gods at all. 27 There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited; and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.”

28 When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29 Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia, and all of them rushed into the theater together. 30 Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him. 31 Even some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, sent him a message begging him not to venture into the theater.

32 The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there. 33 The Jews in the crowd pushed Alexander to the front, and they shouted instructions to him. He motioned for silence in order to make a defense before the people. 34 But when they realized he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison for about two hours: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”

35 The city clerk quieted the crowd and said: “Fellow Ephesians, doesn’t all the world know that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image, which fell from heaven? 36 Therefore, since these facts are undeniable, you ought to calm down and not do anything rash. 37 You have brought these men here, though they have neither robbed temples nor blasphemed our goddess. 38 If, then, Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a grievance against anybody, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. They can press charges. 39 If there is anything further you want to bring up, it must be settled in a legal assembly. 40 As it is, we are in danger of being charged with rioting because of what happened today. In that case we would not be able to account for this commotion, since there is no reason for it.” 41 After he had said this, he dismissed the assembly.

Paul was very aware of the worldly attractions in Ephesus and how important the city is to people and how proud they may feel of their worldly creations, so he says in

Ephesians 2:10 

For we are God’s handiwork (workmanship), created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Reminding the disciples that man made things are not important and can’t accomplish what God’s workmanship can, and also reminds them that we are God’s temple—and are to be holy.

If I were to use one scripture to describe Ephesians it would be:

Ephesians 4:1--As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.

Ephesians 1:1-2

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,

To God’s holy people in Ephesus,[a] the faithful in Christ Jesus:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


1.  By The Will Of God

VS 1a

1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,

·       Apostle-someone who has been sent out, a messenger.  Sent out to proclaim the gospel.

·       Things that marked an apostle were:  signs, wonders and miracles.  They also walked with Jesus and were eyewitnesses to His resurrection.

·       Paul refereed to himself as one abnormally born since he was called and even served differently than all the others.

·       His calling as an apostle is an honor to him—as much as our calling as disciples should be to us.

·       It is by the will of God that he is who he is.  He did not work himself into that role by his own awesomeness or desire.  Doing the will of God or accepting the will of God, answering His divine calling is something that demands full submission to His will and a dethroning of self.  We no longer live to ourselves, we live by and for the will of God.  This is the reason why Paul even while imprisoned wrote to the churches, even though absent in body, was present nonetheless leading, encouraging and directing as much as possible, the hearts of the disciples.  The will of God was ultimately the most important thing for Paul.

·       A question we must ask ourselves:  how serious are we about our calling as disciples?  And are we first and foremost concerned about living out the will of God in our lives with all that it means, with all the pains, sorrows, sacrifices, as well as the joys and rewards? 

·       We can look back in our lives and learn from our pasts:  how well have we done as disciples in our pasts?  During times of great joy and success and during times of great suffering.  In all this have we remained faithful and committed to doing his will?

·       I know I’ve struggled and stumbled so many times during the last 20 years.  I have struggled with criticalness, bitterness and depression during tough times, though there are times that I’ve done well through trials.  I’ve also faltered during good times and relied on myself, feeling like things are going well because of me. 

·       I want to be consistent in my office of disciple of Jesus by the will of God.  Pray for me.

·       I want to challenge you and encourage you to be consistent in being a disciple of Jesus by the will of God.  I will pray for you.

·       Next week we are going to cover some words that raise many issues for people, one of the words is predestined.  I want to tie it in to the will of God to help clarify any confusion that can come later on.  We will also remind you of it as we teach on this at that time.

·       Doing God’s will or accepting God’s will means that we are choosing to walk in His path (his predestined path to salvation).  The path as well as the church is predestined, but we as individuals have choices to make, whether we will travel down the path or not.  Kind of like a freeway.  The paths may go north and south, and we have a choice in which direction to go as individuals, but the paths and traffic will always flow in the direction that has been predetermined by the architect and builders.

·       Paul was called and responded to God’s will, the path of an apostle was not of his own design but God’s, he simply responded to the grace provided by God and submitted himself obediently to the direction of the Lord’s plan.  I hope that makes a little sense, I know it can be confusing.

2.  Holy and Faithful

To God’s holy people in Ephesus,[a] the faithful in Christ Jesus:

·       Holy people(set apart for a Godly / special purpose—not of this world)—yet in Ephesus (in a worldly place).

·       We like our brothers and sisters addressed here have been made holy (we a set apart for Godly purposes) yet we live in this world and in a worldly place.

·       Paul lovingly addresses the church as holy and faithful, reminding them of who they are as a whole.

·       One cannot be part of the people of God (the church) if they are not made holy and are not faithful (they must adhere to the teachings of the master)

·       One can only be holy and faithful if “in Christ” Jesus.

2Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!

·       In the Old Testament for something that was once unclean to be made clean or to be made holy it had to be sprinkled in the blood of a perfect sacrifice.  So too are we made holy when we are in Christ Jesus since we come in contact with the perfect blood of Christ and now set apart for a Godly and special purpose.  As the scripture above states the old is gone and the new is here.  We no longer are meant for our old purposes, but only for the new.

Hebrews 13:12

12 And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood.

·       This welcome is in part exclusive in nature and the letter is penned in exclusivity to disciples of Jesus.

·       Imagine how special the disciples felt to receive this letter, especially in a worldly place where they received constant persecution, felt constant pressure and were seen as foolish.

3.  Grace and Peace

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

·       As one strongly connected with God and one viewed by the church as close to God he extends God’s and Jesus’ grace and peace (as a greeting, but also showing great humility and seriousness for his calling as an apostle and older brother to the church).

·       In this greeting we also see that grace and peace can only come from above.

·       Grace and peace is also something that can be extended freely in the spiritual family that is the church.

Media Ministry,
Jul 7, 2014, 1:26 PM
Media Ministry,
Jul 7, 2014, 1:26 PM