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Book 10 - PAUL'S LETTER TO THE CHRISTIANS AT EPHESUS
Click here for Brief Introduction to Ephesians
1:1-2 - Paul, messenger of Jesus Christ by God's choice, to all faithful Christians at Ephesus (and other places where this letter is read): grace and peace be to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Praise God for what he has done for us Christians!
1:3-6 - Praise be to God for giving us through Christ every possible spiritual benefit as citizens of Heaven! For consider what he has done - before the foundation of the world he chose us to become, in Christ, his holy and blameless children living within his constant care. He planned, in his purpose of love, that we should be adopted as his own children through Jesus Christ - that we might learn to praise that glorious generosity of his which has made us welcome in the everlasting love he bears towards the Son.
1:7-10 - It is through the Son, at the cost of his own blood, that we are redeemed, freely forgiven through that full and generous grace which has overflowed into our lives and opened our eyes to the truth. For God had allowed us to know the secret of his plan, and it is this: he purposes in his sovereign will that all human history shall be consummated in Christ, that everything that exists in Heaven or earth shall find its perfection and fulfilment in him.
1:11-14 - And here is the staggering thing - that in all which will one day belong to him we have been promised a share (since we were long ago destined for this by the one who achieves his purposes by his sovereign will), so that we, as the first to put our confidence in Christ, may bring praise to his glory! And you too trusted him, when you heard the message of truth, the Gospel of your salvation. And after you gave your confidence to him you were, so to speak, stamped with the promised Holy Spirit as a guarantee of purchase, until the day when God completes the redemption of what he has paid for as his own; and that will again be to the praise of his glory.
I thank God for you, and pray for you
1:15-19 - Since, then, I heard of this faith of yours in the Lord Jesus and the practical way in which you are expressing it towards fellow-Christians, I thank God continually for you and I never give up praying for you; and this is my prayer. That God, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ and the all-glorious Father, will give you spiritual wisdom and the insight to know more of him: that you may receive that inner illumination of the spirit which will make you realise how great is the hope to which he is calling you - the magnificence and splendour of the inheritance promised to Christians - and how tremendous is the power available to us who believe in God.
1:20-21 - That power is the same divine power which was demonstrated in Christ when he raised him from the dead and gave him the place of supreme honour in Heaven - a place that is infinitely superior to any conceivable command, authority, power or control, and which carries with it a name far beyond any name that could ever be used in this world or the world to come.
1:22-23 - God has placed everything under the power of Christ and has set him up as head of everything for the Church. for the Church is his body, and in that body lives fully the one who fills the whole wide universe.
We were all dead: God gave us life through Christ
2:1-3 - To you, who were spiritually dead all the time that you drifted along on the stream of this world's ideas of living, and obeyed its unseen ruler (who is still operating in those who do not respond to the truth of God), to you Christ has given life! We all lived like that in the past, and followed the impulses and imaginations of our evil nature, being in fact under the wrath of God by nature, like everyone else.
2:4-10 - But even though we were dead in our sins God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, gave us life together with Christ - it is, remember, by grace and not by achievement that you are saved - and has lifted us right out of the old life to take our place with him in Christ in the Heavens. Thus he shows for all time the tremendous generosity of the grace and kindness he has expressed towards us in Christ Jesus. It was nothing you could or did achieve - it was God's gift to you. No one can pride himself upon earning the love of God. The fact is that what we are we owe to the hand of God upon us. We are born afresh in Christ, and born to do those good deeds which God planned for us to do.
You were gentiles: we were Jews. God has made us fellow-Christians
2:11-13 - Do not lose sight of the fact that you were born "Gentiles", known by those whose bodies were circumcised as "the uncircumcised". You were without Christ, you were utter strangers to God's chosen community, the Jews, and you had no knowledge of, or right to, the promised agreements. You had nothing to look forward to and no God to whom you could turn. But now, through the blood of Christ, you who were once outside the pale are with us inside the circle of God's love and purpose.
2:14-18 - For Christ is our living peace. He has made a unity of the conflicting elements of Jew and Gentile by breaking down the barrier which lay between us. By his sacrifice he removed the hostility of the Law, with all its commandments and rules, and made in himself out of the two, Jew and Gentile, one new man, thus producing peace. For he reconciled both to God by the sacrifice of one body on the cross, and by this act made utterly irrelevant the antagonism between them. Then he came and told both you who were far from God and us who were near that the war was over. And it is through him that both of us now can approach the Father in the one Spirit.
2:19-22 - So you are no longer outsiders or aliens, but fellow-citizens with every other Christian - you belong now to the household of God. Firmly beneath you in the foundation, God's messengers and prophets, the actual foundation-stone being Jesus Christ himself. In him each separate piece of building, properly fitting into its neighbour, grows together into a temple consecrated to God. You are all part of this building in which God himself lives by his spirit.
God has made me minister to you gentiles
3:1 - It is in this great cause that I, Paul, have become Christ's prisoner for you Gentiles.
3:2-6 - For you must have heard how God gave me grace to become your minister, and how he allowed me to understand his secret by giving me a direct Revelation. (What I have written briefly of this above will explain to you my knowledge of the mystery of Christ.) This secret was hidden to past generations of mankind, but it has now, by the spirit, been made plain to God's consecrated messengers and prophets. It is simply this: that the Gentiles, who were previously excluded from God's agreements, are to be equal heirs with his chosen people, equal members and equal partners in God's promise given by Christ through the Gospel.
3:7-13 - And I was made a minister of that Gospel by the grace he gave me, and by the power with which he equipped me. Yes, to me, less than the least of all Christians, has God given this grace, to enable me to proclaim to the Gentiles the incalculable riches of Christ, and to make plain to all men the meaning of that secret which he who created everything in Christ has kept hidden from the creation until now. The purpose is that all the angelic powers should now see the complex wisdom of God's plan being worked out through the Church, in conformity to that timeless purpose which he centred in Jesus, our Lord. It is in this same Jesus, because we have faith in him, that we dare, even with confidence, to approach God. In view of these tremendous issues, I beg you not to lose heart because I am now suffering for my part in bringing you the Gospel. Indeed, you should be honoured.
I pray that you may know God's power in practice
3:14-19 - When I think of the greatness of this great plan I fall on my knees before God the Father (from whom all fatherhood, earthly or heavenly, derives its name), and I pray that out of the glorious richness of his resources he will enable you to know the strength of the spirit's inner re-inforcement - that Christ may actually live in your hearts by your faith. And I pray that you, firmly fixed in love yourselves, may be able to grasp (with all Christians) how wide and deep and long and high is the love of Christ - and to know for yourselves that love so far beyond our comprehension. May you be filled though all your being with God himself!
3:20-21 - Now to him who by his power within us is able to do far more than we ever dare to ask or imagine - to him be glory in the Church through Jesus Christ for ever and ever, amen!
Christians should be at one, as God is one
4:1-6 - As God's prisoner, then, I beg you to live lives worthy of your high calling. Accept life with humility and patience, making allowances for each other because you love each other. Make it your aim to be at one in the Spirit, and you will inevitably be at peace with one another. You all belong to one body, of which there is one Spirit, just as you all experienced one calling to one hope. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God, one Father of us all, who is the one over all, the one working through all and the one living in all.
God's gifts vary, but it is the same God who gives
4:7-8 - Naturally there are different gifts and functions; individually grace is given to us in different ways out of the rich diversity of Christ's giving. As the scripture says: 'When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men'.
4:9-10 - (Note the implication here - to say that Christ "ascended" means that he must previously have "descended", that is from the height of Heaven to the depth of this world. The one who made this descent is identically the same person as he who has now ascended high above the very Heavens - that the whole universe from lowest to highest might know his presence.)
4:11-13 - His "gifts to men" were varied. Some he made his messengers, some prophets, some preachers of the Gospel; to some he gave the power to guide and teach his people. His gifts were made that Christians might be properly equipped for their service, that the whole body might be built up until the time comes when, in the unity of the common faith and common knowledge of the Son of God, we arrive at real maturity - that measure of development which is meant by the "fullness of Christ".
True maturity means growing up "into" Christ
4:14-16 - We are not meant to remain as children at the mercy of every chance wind of teaching and the jockeying of men who are expert in the craft presentation of lies. But we are meant to hold firmly to the truth in love, and to grow up in every way into Christ, the head. For it is from the head that the whole body, as a harmonious structure knit together by the joints with which it is provided, grows by the proper functioning of individual parts to its full maturity in love.
Have no more to do with the old life! Learn the new
4:17-19 - This is my instruction, then, which I give you from God. Do not live any longer as the Gentiles live. For they live blindfold in a world of illusion, and cut off from the life of God through ignorance and insensitiveness. They have stifled their consciences and then surrendered themselves to sensuality, practising any form of impurity which lust can suggest.
4:20-24 - But you have learned nothing like that from Christ, if you have really heard his voice and understood the truth that he has taught you. No, what you learned was to fling off the dirty clothes of the old way of living, which were rotted through and through with lust's illusions, and, with yourselves mentally and spiritually re-made, to put on the clean fresh clothes of the new life which was made by God's design for righteousness and the holiness which is no illusion.
4:25 - Finish, then, with lying and tell your neighbour the truth. For we are not separate units but intimately related to each other in Christ.
4:26-27 - If you are angry, be sure that it is not out of wounded pride or bad temper. Never go to bed angry - don't give the devil that sort of foothold.
The new life means positive good
4:28 - If you used to be a thief you must not only give up stealing, but you must learn to make an honest living, so that you may be able to give to those in need.
4:29 - Let there be no more foul language, but good words instead - words suitable for the occasion, which God can use to help other people.
4:30 - Never hurt the Holy Spirit. He is, remember, the personal pledge of your eventual full redemption.
4:31-32 - Let there be no more resentment, no more anger or temper, no more violent self-assertiveness, no more slander and no more malicious remarks, Be kind to each other, be understanding. Be as ready to forgive others as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you.
5:1-2 - As children copy their fathers you, as God's children, are to copy him. Live your lives in love - the same sort of love which Christ gives us and which he perfectly expressed when he gave himself up for us in sacrifice to God.
5:3-4 - But as for sexual immorality in all its forms, and the itch to get your hands on what belongs to other people - don't even talk about such things; they are not fit subjects for Christians to talk about. The key-note of your conversation should not be nastiness or silliness or flippancy, but a sense of all that we owe to God.
Evil is as utterly different from good as light from darkness
5:5-14 - For of this much you can be certain: that neither the immoral nor the dirty-minded nor the covetous man (which latter is, in effect, worshipping a false god) has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Don't let anyone fool you on this point, however plausible his argument. It is these very things which bring down the wrath of God upon the disobedient. Have nothing to do with men like that - once you were "darkness" but now you are "light". Live then as children of the light. The light produces in men quite the opposite of sins like these - everything that is wholesome and good and true. Let your lives be living proofs of the things which please God. Steer clear of the activities of darkness; let your lives show by contrast how dreary and futile these things are. (You know the sort of things I mean - to detail their secret doings is really too shameful). For light is capable of "showing up" everything for what it really is. It is even possible (after all, it happened to you!) for light to turn the thing it shines upon into light also. Thus God speaks through the scriptures: "Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light."
You know the truth - let your life show it!
5:15-21 -Live life, then, with a due sense of responsibility, not as men who do not know the meaning and purpose of life but as those who do. Make the best use of your time, despite all the difficulties of these days. Don't be vague but firmly grasp what you know to be the will of God. Don't get your stimulus from wine (for there is always the danger of excessive drinking), but let the Spirit stimulate your souls. Express your joy in singing among yourselves psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making music in your hearts for the ears of God! Thank God at all times for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. And "fit in with" each other, because of your common reverence for Christ.
Christ and the Church the pattern relationship for husband and wife
5:22-24 - You wives must learn to adapt yourselves to your husbands, as you submit yourselves to the Lord, for the husband is the "head" of the wife in the same way that Christ is head of the Church and saviour of the body. The willing subjection of the Church to Christ should be reproduced in the submission of wives to their husbands.
5:25-27 - But, remember, this means that the husband must give his wife the same sort of love that Christ gave to the Church, when he sacrificed himself for her. Christ gave himself to make her holy, having cleansed her through the baptism of his Word - to make her an altogether glorious Church in his eyes. She is to be free from spots, wrinkles or any other disfigurement - a Church holy and perfect.
5:28-33 - Men ought to give their wives the love they naturally have for their own bodies. The love a man gives his wife is the extending of his love for himself to enfold her. Nobody ever hates or neglects his own body; he feeds and looks after it. And that is what Christ does for his body, the Church. And we are all members of that body, we are his flesh and blood! 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'. The marriage relationship is doubtless a great mystery, but I am speaking of something deeper still - the marriage of Christ and his Church. In practice what I have said amounts to this: let every one of you who is a husband love his wife as he loves himself; let the wife reverence her husband.
Children and parents: servants and masters
6:1-3 - Children, the right thing for you to do is to obey your parents as those whom God has set over you. The first commandment to contain a promise was: 'Honour your father and your mother, that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth'.
6:4 - Fathers, don't over-correct your children or make it difficult for them to obey the commandment. Bring them up with Christian teaching in Christian discipline.
6:5-8 - Slaves, obey your human masters sincerely with a proper sense of respect and responsibility, as service rendered to Christ himself; not with the idea of currying favour with men, but as the servants of Christ conscientiously doing what you believe to be the will of God for you. You may be sure that God will reward a man for good work, irrespectively of whether the man be slave or free.
6:9 - And as for you employers, be as conscientious and responsible towards those who serve you as you expect them to be towards you, neither misusing the power over others that has been put in your hands, nor forgetting that you are responsible yourselves to a heavenly employer who makes no distinction between master and man.
Be forewarned and forearmed in your spiritual conflict
6:10-18 - In conclusion be strong - not in yourselves but in the Lord, in the power of his boundless resource. Put on God's complete armour so that you can successfully resist all the devil's methods of attack. For our fight is not against any physical enemy: it is against organisations and powers that are spiritual. We are up against the unseen power that controls this dark world, and spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil. Therefore you must wear the whole armour of God that you may be able to resist evil in its day of power, and that even when you have fought to a standstill you may still stand your ground. Take your stand then with truth as your belt, righteousness your breastplate, the Gospel of peace firmly on your feet, salvation as your helmet and in your hand the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Above all be sure you take faith as your shield, for it can quench every burning missile the enemy hurls at you. Pray at all times with every kind of spiritual prayer, keeping alert and persistent as you pray for all Christ's men and women.
6:19-20 - And pray for me, too, that I may be able to speak freely here to make known the secret of that Gospel for which I am, so to speak, an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may speak out about it as my plain and obvious duty.
6:21-22 - Tychicus, beloved brother and faithful minister, will tell you personally what I am doing and how I am getting on. I am sending him to you bringing this letter for that purpose, so that you will know exactly how we are and may take fresh heart:
6:23 - Peace be to all Christian brothers, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!
6:24 - Grace be with all those who sincerely love our Lord Jesus Christ.
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