Outline and Themes
Outline of Ephesians
1. Main Theme: Unity of the Church
- Epistle is not personal but general.
– In it, Paul (1) is not defending his apostleship as in 1Cor, (2) not rebuking fickleness as in II Cor, (3) not controverting Judaizers as in Galatians, (4) not battling Gnosticism as in Colossians. Unlike several of the other letters Paul wrote, Ephesians does not address any particular error or heresy. Paul wrote to expand the horizons of his readers, so that they might understand better the dimension of God’s eternal purpose and grace and come to appreciate the high goals God has for the church.
2. Epistle known as “The Heavenly Epistle” and “The Alps of the New Testament”
- It takes us from “depths of ruin to the heights of Redemption”. The Church is one with Christ; it is the body of which He is the Head (1:22-23). It is the building of which He is the Chief Corner Stone (2:20-22); and she is the bride of whom Christ is the Bridegroom (5:25-32).
3. Two sub–Themes : Christian Wealth and Christian Walk
a. Christian Wealth
- Chapter 1 – Called by God through Grace:
– In Chapter 1:1-3, Paul names God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ as the source of blessing.
– Paul went on to elaborate in Chapter 1:4-14, a few blessings that make up our spiritual wealth ie.
(1) Blessing from God the Father (1:4-6),
(2) Blessings from God the Son (1:7-12),
(3) Blessings from God the Holy Spirit (1:13-14).
– In Chapter 1:15-23, Paul desired the Ephesian Christians to understand what great wealth they had in Christ. This is why he prayed for them and for us that:
(1) We might know God (1:17b),
(2) We might know God’s Calling (1:18a),
(3) We might know God’s Riches (1:18b),
(4) We might know God’s Power (1:19-23).
- Chapter 2 – Raised from the dead:
– Paul turns to our spiritual position in Christ.
– Sin’s Work against us in Chapter 2:1-3. Below are the characteristics of the terrible spiritual condition of the unsaved person:
(1) He is dead,
(2) He is disobedient,
(3) He is depraved,
(3) He is doomed.
– God’s Work for us in Chapter 2:4-9. Salvation is of the Lord. Below are four activities that God performed on behalf of sinners to save them from the consequences of sins:
(1) He loved us,
(2) He quickened us,
(3) He exalted us,
(4) He keeps us.
– God’s Work in us in Chapter 2:10a. Our salvation is not the end; it is the beginning. We are part of God’s new creation and God continues to work in us to make us what He wants us to be. His purpose is to make us more like Christ.
– God’s Work through us in Chapter 2:10b. Our works are good not because we are good but because we have a new nature from God;
the Holy Spirit works in us and through us to produce these works.
- Chapter 2: 11 to 22 – Reconciled with God:
– Before reconciliation with Christ, What was the state of the Gentiles in Chapter 2:11-12? They were:
(1) Without Christ,
(2) Without citizenship,
(3) Without covenants,
(4) Without hope,
(5) Without God.
– When we are reconciled with God in Christ, all spiritual distance and division have been overcome by Christ. The unity of believing Jews and Gentiles in the church can be illustrated by three pictures below:
(1) One nation,
(2) One family,
(3) One temple.
- Chapter 3 – Christ’s victory over Satan is the mystery:
– In Chapter 3:1-13, Paul explained how God has unfolded the mystery. The mystery is the redemption of the human race which was unveiled by the preaching of the gospel to the gentiles or human race (Chapter 3:6). Hence, Christ’s victory over Satan is the mystery.
– Gentile believers are now united with Jewish believers in one body, one church.
– In Chapter 3:14-21, Paul prays that the Ephesian Christians will get their hands on their wealth.
– Realize how vast it is and start to use it. Paul prays that we will enjoy the full measure of all the fullness of God such as:
(1) Spiritual Strength,
(2) Spiritual Depth,
(3) Spiritual Apprehension,
(4) Spiritual Fullness.
b. Christian Walk
- Chapter 4: 1 to 16 – Walk in Unity:
– To Walk in Unity we need to have the Grace of Unity and possess the following Christian graces, they are :
(3) Long suffering,
(6) Peace & Love.
– The Ground of Unity:
(1) One Body ie. believers are all members of one body, the body of Christ,
(2) One Spirit ie. the same Holy Spirit indwells each believer,
(3) One hope of our calling ie. this refers to the return of the Lord to take his church to heaven,
(4) One Lord ie. this is our Lord Jesus Christ who died for us, lives for us & one day will come for us,
(5) Believers who claim to obey the same Lord should be able to walk together in unity,
(6) One Faith ie. all true Christians agree on the same faith that is Apostolic Faith,
(7) One Baptism ie. this refers to baptism of the Holy Spirit at conversion,
(8) One God & Father ie. believers are children in the same family, living & serving the same Father, so we ought to be able to walk together in unity.
– The Gifts of Unity:
(1) Spiritual gifts are given to build up the church – these are God’s given gifts to edify the church,
(2) Use of spiritual gifts – spiritual gifts are tools to build with. If they are not used in love, they become weapons to fight with.
Examples of spiritual gifts are given by Paul in 1 Corinthian chapter 12-14.
– The Growth of Unity:
(1) Evidence of spiritual growth ie.
a. Christ likeness,
b. Stability ie. the false cults try to capture immature Christians who do not feed on the Word of God. The mature believer recognizes false doctrines & stays clear of it,
c. Speak the truth in Love ie. truth without love is brutality; love without truth is hypocrisy. It is a mark of spiritual maturity when we are able to share the truth with our fellow Christians & do it in love. In Proverbs 27 :6, it says that “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful”,
d. Truth & love unites but lies & selfishness divides,
e. Co-operation ie. the body grows as the individual members grow, & they grow as they feed on the Word & minister to each other.
- Chapter 4: 17 to 5: 17 – Walk in Purity:
– The emphasis is on the new life as contrasted with the old life, imitating God & not the evil world around us. This is because Salvation begins with repentance, which is a change of mind. The whole outlook of a person changes when he believes Christ, including his values, goals & interpretation of life. We have believed the truth, we have received the life. Therefore, we will walk ‘in the way’ & not walk after the example of the unsaved world. The old man (the former self) has been put away & we can now walk in newness of life through Christ.
– Imitating God:
(1) God is LOVE, therefore walk in love,
(2) God is LIGHT, therefore walk as children of light,
(3) God is TRUTH, therefore walk in wisdom.
- Chapter 5: 18 to 6: 9 – Walk in Harmony:
– A Christian home must be ruled according to God’s Word if we are to enjoy the harmony that is a foretaste of heaven on earth.
– There are basically 4 groups of Christians admonished by Paul to walk in harmony, they are:
(1) Christian Wives : Submit to your husbands,
(2) Christian Husbands : Love your wives,
(3) Christian Children : Obey your parents,
(4) Christian Masters and Servants : Respect each other & service on the job.
- Chapter 6: 10 to 24 – Walk in Victory:
– Christian life is a battle ground, not a playground.
– Our struggles with 3 enemies :
(1) The World,
(2) The Flesh,
(3) The Devil.
– By His death & resurrection, Christ overcame the world, the flesh & the devil. So, as believers, we do not fight for victory, but we fight from victory.
– Our Strength:
(1) We must therefore put on the full armor of God at all times & trust God for the victory,
(2) Prayer is the energy that enables the Christian soldier to wear the armor & wield the sword. We ought to pray and encourage one another, as we are not fighting the battle alone.