Theme: The theme of the book of Ephesians is The Church Glorified.

At Grace Church of Mentor, you will primarily hear expositional preaching of a whole book in its parts and not many topical series. We preach this way because:

  • It cultivates the discipline of starting and finishing.
  • It helps God’s people sharpen their interpretation skills through learning context and hermeneutics in order to apply truth to the culture.
  • It reveals each person’s spiritual strength and weakness
  • It strengthens spiritual maturity.
  • It protects the flock from wolves within and without.
  • It helps us to systematically focus on truths mentioned in other places in the Bible.

Our next series will study the book of Ephesians, but first we need to cover some overview information.

Background: Paul’s Introduction to Ephesus (Acts 18:18-20:38).
Paul first visited the city of Ephesus, to whom he would write the letter of Ephesians, at the end of his second missionary journey. Aquila and Priscilla, two quality teachers, accompanied him. This couple stayed there though Paul had to leave quickly.

On Paul’s third missionary journey, he stayed in Ephesus for 3 years. He taught first in the synagogue, then in the city’s academic center. As a result, all the residents of the surrounding area, Jews and Greeks alike, heard the Gospel.
Ephesus was a strategic city in this part of the Roman empire, surrounded by 230 independent Roman communities to which the church in Ephesus could spread the Gospel. The rest of the book of Acts and Revelation 2-3 show that the church did just that!

The letter to the Ephesians was clearly authored by Paul: he identifies himself in the first verse, and it is characteristic of Paul’s writing in style and content. Paul wrote it from prison, likely house arrest in Rome, and it was delivered by Tychichus. While in prison, Paul received many visitors who ministered to him and to whom he ministered. Epaphrus was one he trained who went on to plant 3 churches.

There are some encouraging lessons here for faithful older saints! Paul’s venue of ministry changed, but he still ministered to those who came to him and through writing. Similarly, those whose ministry has been confined for other reasons can take lessons of spiritual creativity from Paul. God never wants you to be idle in ministry.

Theme: The Church Glorious
Ephesians 1:3-6 describes the spiritual riches we have been blessed with in Christ. Solely by grace, God bestows these blessings on both Jews and Gentiles to “the praise of the glory of His grace.”

A sub-theme is oneness or unity (1:10, 4:1-4). In a world deeply divided both politically and religiously, there still remains the opportunity of unity in Christ among God’s creations.

How is the Church glorious? It happens by the transformational grace of God in our hearts. He cleaned us up from the inside out! We have has been gloriously redeemed, and by the grace of God, are called to live that glory in the culture.

The culture of Ephesus was not much different than ours, concerned about various social problems and seeking solutions. It’s okay to help the culture socially, but that is not the culture’s greatest need – our greatest need is the removal of guilt and removal of the lifestyle of sin. As people’s souls are led out of darkness and pessimism through Christ, our feet are now directed to multiple ways of righteousness and joy.

Typical of Paul’s writing, chapters 1-3 deal with the Gospel, doctrine, and positional truth, while chapters 4-6 expound how to live out truth in the culture.

Hendrickson outlines Ephesians using an acrostic of the Greek word for “Blessed” or “praise” in 1:3.

  • Eternal Foundation We Have in Christ (chapter 1)
  • Universal Scope of God’s Redemption (chapter 2)
  • Lofty Goal (chapter 3)
  • Organic Unity that God brings to His body amid diversity (chapter 4)
  • Glorious Renewal, the influence that salvation has on our lives personally, domestically, vocationally, and communally (4:17-6:9)
  • Armor Given by God (6:10-24)

Similarities with other New Testament books:

  • Half of the 155 verses in Ephesians are echoed in Colossians.
  • Ephesians contains 16 similarities to the pastoral letters (1, 2 Timothy and Titus).
  • 12 similarities to 1 Peter
  • 10 topics also found in Luke and Acts
  • many similar themes to John’s writing (gospel of John, 1, 2, 3 John, Revelation)
  • multiple similarities to Hebrews and James

Why so much repetition in the Bible? Because we so easily forget.

  • Repetition and Remembrance grows us: A rehearsal of key doctrines and practices is necessary and healthy for any Christian and their growth.
  • It protects us and helps reinforce our defense against false teaching within and without.
  • It encourages us as we disciple new believers hearing it for the first time! (See Titus 2.)

Application Points
  • It would be a great idea to read through the book of Ephesians in preparation for the series. Take 1 chapter a day and you’ll read the entire book this week!
  • The more humans try to reform themselves or society, the darker the culture gets. Where do you need to repent of self-sufficiency? Is there an area in your life that you’re trying to change without the power of God?
Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore:

  • Deuteronomy 6, Exodus 14-15, Deuteronomy 7:12-21, 2 Peter 1 – Israel’s forgetfulness and the importance of remembering.
  • Ephesians 1:22, 1:23, 4:4, 4:16, 5:23, 5:30, 2:19-22, 5:22-27 – 8 mentions of the Church.
  • Ephesians 2:12 – culture of Ephesus.

A Hymn to Encourage: “To the Praise of His Glorious Grace”

What astonishing mercy and power:
In accord with his pleasure and will
He created each planet, each flower,
Every galaxy, microbe, and hill.
He suspended the planet in space
To the praise of his glorious grace.

With despicable self-love and rage,
We rebelled and fell under the curse.
Yet God did not rip out the page
And destroy all who love the perverse.
No, he chose us to make a new race,
To the praise of his glorious grace.

Providentially ruling all things
To conform to the end he designed,
He mysteriously governs, and brings
His eternal wise plans into time.
He works out every step, every trace,
To the praise of his glorious grace.

Long before the creation began,
He foreknew those he’d ransom in Christ;
Long before time’s cold hour-glass ran,
He ordained the supreme sacrifice.
In the cross he removed our disgrace,
To the praise of his glorious grace.

We were blessed in the heavenly realms
Long before being included in Christ.
Since we heard the good news, overwhelmed,
We reach forward to seize Paradise.
We shall see him ourselves, face to face,
To the praise of his glorious grace.

Quotes to Ponder:
“The merit of helping society in these ways must not be underestimated, but it must not be over-estimated either.”

“Governmental totalitarianism is the tendency to look upon the state to provide for every need ‘from cradle to grave,’ with consequent loss of the sense of individual responsibility and initiative. Another danger is the misunderstanding of man’s basic need. That need is nothing less than the removal of the load of sin and guilt by which he, being born in sin, is oppressed (Ephesians 2:3).”