This book study of Ephesians is important because we are studying a doctrinally significant New Testament Epistle. The New Testament Epistles are God’s final word on doctrine. Let’s consider some examples.
1. The doctrine of the Church. This doctrine is not in the Old Testament. Paul will explain this new doctrine in Ephesians 2:11-3:13.The doctrine of the Church is a Biblical mystery or a truth heretofore not revealed but now revealed by God.
2. The doctrine of the Rapture. There is no rapture in the Old Testament. Christ gave some teaching on the rapture in John 14:1-6. Paul gives the fullest description of the rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
3. The doctrine of the Holy Spirit. The last word on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit is in the Epistles. Before Pentecost, the Holy Spirit did not permanently indwell believers nor were believers baptized by the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “For he dwells with you, and shall be in you…. at that day (Day of Pentecost in Acts 2) you shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me (Baptism of the Holy Spirit), and I in you (Indwelling of the Holy Spirit)” (John 14:17 and 20). Paul gives the last phase of progressive revelation on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in Romans 8:9: “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” and the baptism of the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:13.
Reading Schedule for Book Study of Ephesians
Week 1 Assignment: ”The Introduction” and “The Trinity” Read pages vii-36 in MacArthur and Eph 1:1-14 (Read and comment on the following 4 lessons: Introduction, Eph 1:3-5, Eph 1:6-12, Eph 1:13-14).
After The Introduction there are three lessons on Ephesians 1:3-14 and the Trinity’s involvement in our salvation are divided into three parts:
1. God the Father’s Election 1:3-6. I also added a video of MacArthur on Charles Spurgeon.
2. God the Son’s Redemption 1:7-12
3. God the Holy Spirit’s Sealing 1:13-14
I am dividing this week’s assignments into four different posts because of the length. After the Introduction lesson go to Election under Catergories. In this post I will discuss God The Father’s Election in Ephesians 1:3-6.
For the second post go to Unlimited Atonement under Catergories. In this post I will discuss the extent the of Christ’s atonement touched on in Ephesians 1:7-12. In this post are some important links. The first link is to a sermon by Mark Driscoll and second is a link to a PDF of Paul Hartog’s new book on Calvin’s view on unlimited atonement.
For the third post go to Sealing of the Holy Spirit under Catergories. In this post, I will discuss God the Holy Spirit’s Sealing in Ephesians 1:13-14.
Week 2 Assignment: “Salvation by Grace through Faith” Read Pages 37-63 in MacArthur and Eph 1:15-2:10. Read and comment on the two posts for week two. At the end of this post is the second post: “Our Spiritual Inheritance.”
Week 3 Assignment: “The Church” Part 1 & 2 and “God’s Call to the Ministry verses God’s Call to Ministry” Part 3. Read pages 65-98 in MacArthur and Eph 2:11-3:13. Read and comment on three posts: Eph 2:11-13 “The Church: Part 1 ” Eph 2:14-18 “The Church: Part 2″ and Ephesians 3:1-13 “God’s Call to the Ministry verses God’s Call to Ministry:” Part 3.
Week 4 Assignment: Read and comment on “Paul’s Prison Prayer” and “Orthodoxy verses Orthopraxy” and “Five Marks of a Healthy Church” Read pages 99-162 in MacArthur and Eph 3:14-4:1-16.
Week 5 Assignment: “Stop Living Like Unbelievers” Part 1 & 2 Read pages 163-191 in MacArthur and Eph 4:17-32.
Week 6 Assignment: “Walking in Love” and “Walking as Children of Light” Read pages 193-214 in MacArthur and Eph 5:1-14.
Week 7 Assignment: “Walking in Wisdom” Read pages 307-319 in MacArthur and Eph 6:1-4.
Week 10 Assignment: “Slaves and Slave Owners”: Read pages 321-329 in MacArthur and Eph 6:5-9. Read and comment on the four posts.
Week 11 Assignments: “How to Resist the Devil”: Read pages 331-344 in MacArthur and Eph 6:10-13. Read and comment on the Parts 1-3.
Week 12 Assignments: “How to Resist the Devil”: Read pages 345-373 in MacArthur and Eph 6:14-17. Read and comment on Parts 4-7.
Week 13 Assignments: “The Spiritual Warfare of Prayer”: Read pages 375-385 in MacArthur on Ephesians 6:18-24. Read and comment on the two posts (Parts 1-2) for our final lesson. Read and comment on the two posts.
Introduction to Book Study of Ephesians
Knowing the category of Paul’s Epistles helps to interpret them. From the chart, you access below, we see that Paul wrote Ephesians when he is in his first Roman Imprisonment which lasted two years. The probable order is Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, and lastly Philippians. We think Philippians is last because unlike in his other Prison Epistles, Paul is anticipating a soon release (Philippians 2:24). Click http://www.foundationsforfreedom.net/References/NT/Pauline/Pauline_Letters-Chronology.html for a chart on Paul’s Epistles.
The book of Acts furnishes background for ten of Paul’s Epistles
I like to mark in my Bible in Acts where Paul was when he wrote the Epistles and then go back and study the historical setting of each epistle.
Acts 14:28: After Paul’s first missionary trip, he writes Galatians at Antioch. See map of Paul’s first missionary journey.
Click http://www.apostlepaulthefilm.com/paul/journeys.htm for some neat animated and interactive maps of Paul’s missionary journeys. Just click on the map you want to view. You can also click on different cities for more information.
Acts 18:5: During Paul’s second missionary trip, he writes 1st Thessalonians at Corinth. See map of Paul’s second missionary journey.
Acts 18:11: During Paul’s second missionary trip, he writes 2nd Thessalonians (perhaps 12 months after 1st Thess. at Corinth).
Acts 19:21: During Paul’s third missionary trip, he writes 1st Corinthians at Ephesus. See map of Paul’s third missionary journey.
Acts 20:1: During Paul’s third missionary trip, he writes 2nd Corinthians at Macedonia.
Acts 20:2: During Paul’s third missionary trip, he writes Romans at Corinth.
Acts 28: During Paul’s 1st Roman imprisonment, he writes Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, and Philippians, See map of Paul’s journey to Rome.
Background to Prison Epistles
Paul was in prison when he wrote these Epistles. Paul alludes to his prison experience in Ephesians 3:1; 4:1, Colossians 4:18, Philemon 1:1, and Philippians1:12-13. The question is “From which prison did Paul write the Prison Epistles?” There are three views.
1. Caesarea: Paul spent two years in prison at Caesarea (Act 24:27). One reason we do not believe that this is the prison experience from which Paul wrote the Prison Epistles is because Philip the evangelist was in Caesarea and Paul does not mention him (Acts 21:8).
2. Ephesus: Paul indicated that he was “in prison more frequent” (2 Cor. 11:23). Proponents of this view say Paul is referring to short imprisonments as at Philippi (Acts 16). Supporters from the churches in Philippi could have more easily communicated with Paul at Ephesus. A longer imprisonment seems to fit Paul’s circumstances better than a short one. Paul’s imprisonment at Rome was two years.
3. Rome: The traditional view (Phil. 1:13; 4:22). Paul refers to the Roman Praetorian guards and Caesar’s household he had won while in this imprisonment thus pointing to a Roman imprisonment.
Introduction to Ephesians
In the last decade of the fourth century the golden-mouthed Chrysostom of Constantinople states in the preamble to his homilies on Ephesians that this letter is full of Paul’s sublime thoughts and doctrines which he scarcely utters elsewhere but plainly declares here.
John Calvin considered Ephesians his favorite letter and he preached a series of forty-eight sermons on the book. J. Armitage Robinson considered Ephesians as “the crown of St. Paul’s writings.”
The two major divisions in Ephesians reveal Paul’s advanced theology.
1. Ephesians 1-3-Theological Unity (In this first division are three major doctrines)
A. Trinity (1:3-14)
B. Salvation (2:1-10)
C. Church (2:11-3:12)
2. Ephesians 4-6-Practical Unity
1) “Therefore Walk” in Unity (4:1-16)
2) “Therefore Walk” not as the Unsaved (4:17-32)
3) “Therefore Walk” in Love (5:1-6)
4) “Therefore Walk” in the Light (5:7-14)
5) “Therefore Walk” in Wisdom (5:15-6:9)
What about Romans? When we think of a doctrinal Epistle we usually think of Romans. Romans is Paul’s most doctrinal letter on Salvation or more specifically Justification. Ephesians, however, written after Romans refines and develops doctrines like the church and the Trinity that get little attention in Romans.
F. F. Bruce considered Ephesians the “quintessence of Paulinism” because it “in large measure sums up the leading themes of the Pauline epistles, and at the same time the central motive of Paul’s ministry as apostle to the Gentiles.”
Basic Bible Study Questions to Ask and Answer in Preparation for a Book Study
1. Who Wrote Ephesians?
a. Paul: He identifies himself (1:1; 3:1). There is internal evidence (Paul refers to himself as prisoner and apostle) and external evidence (Ephesians was excepted by the early church as Pauline).
b. An apostle: He identifies his ministry (apostle means “sent one”).
1) Paul was sent to Ephesus in Acts 18:18-20:1 in AD 56 on his 3rd Missionary Journey.
2) There was a revival at Ephesus under Paul’s ministry about which you can read in Acts 18:18-19:22.
3) There was a riot at Ephesus because Paul’s ministry cut into the profit of the idol makers when the idolaters got saved and turned from their idolatry (Acts 19:23-20:1). Most of Paul’s persecution came from Jews but in Ephesus, his persecution came from the business community who were profiting from idolarty. Billy Sunday’s evangelistic campaign were so successful that nearly all of the saloons closed down and the owners threatened to kill Sunday (Click for Sunday’s famous “Booze Sermon” that him into so much trouble http://billysunday.org/sermons/booze.php3).
c. A prisoner: (3:1; 4:1) Paul now writes this Prison Epistle from Rome in Acts 28.
2. To Whom Did Paul Write? There are major two views
1. Did Paul write the opening verses without “in Ephesus” because he intended Ephesians to be cyclical (that is, sent to many churches not just Ephesus) and each church could insert its own name in the blank? Here are three arguments for “in Ephesus” not being in the original autograph.
A. “In Ephesus” is not found in 3 early Greek manuscripts (Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, and a 2nd century papyrus).
B. No personal greetings. If Ephesians had been written specifically to the Ephesians, surely Paul would have included a personal greeting since he labored there for over two years.
C. No treatment of local church problems. Most of the letters that Paul writes deal with church issues.
2. Did Paul write to the saints “at Ephesus” and later “at Ephesus” was dropped by a scribe? This is the preferred view for me.
A. “In Ephesus” is found in the great majority of older Greek manuscripts.
B. There are no personal greetings in Ephesians but there are no personal greetings in Galatians, etc (Perhaps greetings were left to be conveyed byTychicus as stated in 6:21 when he personally delivered the letter to the Ephesians).
C. There is no treatment of local church problems because Paul was writing about the Body of Christ or the universal church and not the local church and it’s problem and because perhaps Paul intended for Ephesians to be read by other churches after the Ephesians had read it. According to Acts 19:10, Paul’s ministry at Ephesus was regional and maybe he wanted to minister with this letter to the churches he indirectly planted in Asia. Some believe the seven churches in Revelation 1 & 2 were started as a result of Paul’s ministry at Ephesus (Click for a unique study of the Seven Churches in ancient Turkey http://sevenchurches.org/).
D. No manuscritpts have been found with “in Ephesus” omitted and some other city inserted.
There Are Practical and Doctrinal Emphases in Both Sections
There is an interesting blend of the practical and the doctrinal throughout the book. Paul sets a good example for teachers and preachers of the Word. We should when communicating God’s Word include the practical application of doctrine. This helps us avoid sermons that are mostly explanation or mostly application or mostly illustration.
1. “Walk” is used in both sections (2:1-2; 4:1)
2. “Love” is found in both sections (1:4; 4:2)
3. “Holy Spirit” is found in both sections (1:13; 4:30)
4. “Body of Christ” is found in both sections (1:22-23; 4:12, 16)
5. “Mystery” is found in both sections (3:9; 5:32)
6. “Satan” is found in both sections (2:2; 6:10-20)
There are Some Major Doctrines in Ephesians. We will highlight these doctrines as we make our way through the book and study them in their specific context.
1. End times (1:10; 21; 2:7; 4:30; 5:27). For example, Paul refers to the millennium in 1:10 because this future event will be the nearest thing to Unity on earth this side of eternity which fits Paul’s theme for Ephesians.
2. Salvation (1:3-14; 2:1-10)
3. Church (1:22-23; 2:11-22; 3:1-12)
4. Trinity (1:3-14; 1:17; 2:18; 2:22; 3:4-5; 3:14-17; 4:4-6; 5:18-20)
5. Reconciliation (“one” is mentioned 14 times 2:14-18; 4:4-6)
3. What is the Theme of Ephesians? The combination of two subthemes (Unity and Love) helps see the overarching theme of the book
a. “Unity” (Gk. enotas) only used in Ephesians (4:3, 13).
b. The term “one” which speaks of unity is used 14times in Ephesians.
c. There are two major doctrinal examples of unity. The Trinity is mentioned 8 times (1:3-14; 1:17; 2:18; 2:22; 3:4-5; 3:14-17; 4:406; 5:18-20). The Trinity is the perfect example of unity. The three Persons of the Trinity have always been in agreement. The other major doctrine is the Church or the Body of Christ in whom believers are “one” positionally. Paul will exhort us to be as practically united as we are positionally. We are one in Christ, so let’s act like it in our relationships with other believers in our families and local churches. Paul has already stressed this new truth in Galatians 3:28.
2. Love (Biblical Unity is accomplished when believers love one another)
a. “Love” is used 20 times in the short epistle to the Ephesians. “More than 1/6 of his references to ‘love’ appear in this small epistle” (Bible Knowledge Commentary, Harold W. Hoehner, page 614).
b. God’s love or Christ’s love is used 8 times (For example, 2:4). One time the believer’s love for Christ is mentioned (6:24). The only reason we love God is because He first loved us.
c. Believers’ love for each other is used 11 times (1:15; 4:2). The stress with these references is on our love for one another which is the result of our love for Christ. John put forth this truth strongly: “We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar: for he that loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:19-20).
“Possibly Paul, realizing they (the Ephesians) were starting to forsake their first love, wrote this epistle to encourage them to love both God and their fellow saints” (Bible Knowledge Commentary, page 614). They did eventually lose their first love inspite of all Paul’s concern as the following sequence shows. May God helps to stay close to Him so that we do not follow this digression.
1. Paul admonished the elders from Ephesus in Acts 20:28-30 in A.D. 58 to beware of false teachers and professing believers who would draw believers away.
2. Paul wrote Ephesians in A.D. 62 and stresses “love.”
3. Paul wrote 1 Timothy in A.D. 63-66 to Timothy in Ephesus and emphasized love in 1:5.
4. Finally in Revelation 2:1-7, a letter is written in A.D. 95 to the Ephesians believers who had left their first love for God.
The height of spirituality is to love God with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves. May the study of this epistle aid us in loving Him and others for whom His Son died.
Theme: Only Love for God and One Another can Produce Unity in the Church
Now go to Election under Catergories. In this post, I will discuss God The Father’s Election in Ephesians 1:3-6.
For the next post go to Unlimited Atonement under Catergories. In this post I will discuss the extent the of Christ’s atonement touched on in Ephesians 1:7-12. In this post are some important links. The first link is to a sermon by Mark Driscoll and second is a link to a PDF of Paul Hartog’s new book on Calvin’s view on unlimited atonement.
For the last post this week go to Sealing of the Holy Spirit under Catergories. In this post, I will discuss God the Holy Spirit’s Sealing in Ephesians 1:13-14.