I love lists and charts. I’ve been known to add things to my to-do list just so I could check them off. I know I’m not alone, and if you’re like me, than a study in Ephesians is right up your alley! However, I’ve already made lists on here of Ephesians 1-3, and for the sake of this summary, I’m going to attempt to just write it in paragraph form and avoid my temptation to simply list out all that Paul says.
(For review, I’m going through Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, writing my own summaries, so that I can more easily remember what is in each book. They’re a tangled mess of great passages right now in my mind.)
we were dead in our sins. We acted disobediently like everyone else in the world, following after Satan, the prince of the power of the air. We made choices based on the lusts of our flesh and indulged in whatever our darkened minds and hardened hearts desired. We did what seemed best to us in our impurity and greed. Because of this, we were children of wrath, separated from Christ, and excluded from the blessings of Israel, God’s chosen people. We were strangers and aliens to this promise that God gave to Abraham and His descendants so many years ago. We didn’t have any hope, being so far away, and we were without the One true God.
Gave us a wonderful gift! Through the blood of Christ, though we were dead, he made us alive, like Christ’s own resurrection, by raising us up with Him and saving us by His grace. Then, He seated us with Him in the heavenly places. We have been made to be His special workmanship, and He has prepared good works for us to do. We are no longer living far away, but instead he has brought us close, becoming our peace.
Now, In Christ…
We have grace and peace with God, as well as every Spiritual blessing that is in the heavenly places. By God’s will, we were chosen before the world was even created, predestined to be adopted into His family, and redeemed through His blood. Now, our sins are forgiven by His kindness, His grace is freely lavished on us, and we have an inheritance – a rich and glorious hope! We’ve been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise and have been given a surpassingly great power that was able to raise Christ from the dead.
Because of His great love with which he loves us! In this, He was able to show the surpassing riches of His grace in His kindness toward us. He came to make us holy and blameless before Him, to the praise of His glorious grace, so that the manifold wisdom of God might be made known through the church and the heavenly places. It all points to the fullness of time, when all will be summed up and gathered in Christ, when His own possession is redeemed, for the praise of His glory. We were originally created for good works that he prepared beforehand for us to do, but because all is from God, we cannot boast in our own greatness, but only in the saving grace of Jesus.
Paul calls us to be united together in love. God took two groups – the Israelites and the Gentiles – and made them one man, establishing peace between them. We are all fellow Citizens of God’s household, and we all have access to One Spirit through the cross. To live now in unity, we must practice humility, gentleness, and patience, tolerating each other in love. We are to diligently seek peace, remembering that we all have one body, Spirit, hope, Lord, faith, baptism, and one God and Father who is over all of us and through all. This body is being fit together by Him, so we are to build each other up in love, which each person doing his own part. God is building us up into the church in the Spirit, with Christ being the very Cornerstone.
He did not create clones, but instead gave grace as gifts to each of us. Everything we have – all that we are – is a gift from God, so we should not be boastful about it. Instead, we should be serving each other in love. He specifically gave us apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Their role is to speak the truth in love in order to equip the saints – the rest of us – for the works of service we’ve been called to do. Through this, the body will be built up in unity in our faith and our knowledge of the Son of God. We’ll be mature, grounded in truth. This means that when new doctrines and crafty, deceitful men rise up, we won’t be led astray.
Consider the above –
all that God has done for us.
Oh, how He loves us!
Therefore, in light of all of that,
how are we to respond?
A Christian who’s been made alive by Christ no longer walks in darkness, in the way of his old self with its corrupted lusts and desires. Instead, he’s been made new, created to be in the likeness of God, walking in righteousness and truth. He chooses to speak the truth instead of lying. His life is full of hard work and a habit of sharing, rather than stealing. He is not known for his unwholesome talk, filthy stories, course joking, and slander. Instead, he seeks to edify others, building them up, and giving them grace. His life is marked by thankfulness instead of complaining.
He is not bitter, angry, and wrathful, seeking to harm others. Rather, because of the great forgiveness he’s experienced from God, he offers that forgiveness to others, in a kind, tender-hearted way. In place of his past behavior of living foolishly, he diligently seeks to understand God’s will. He is repulsed by drunkenness, immorality, impurity, greed, covetousness, and other dark deeds, being drawn instead to living a life that imitates God, walking in love and righteousness as a child of the light. This is evident to all by his Spirit-filled life, which longs to sing a variety of songs to the Lord (audibly or in his heart), giving Him thanks for all He’s done.
As a husband, he loves his wife and gives himself up for her, just as Christ gave Himself up for the church. He nourishes her, cherishes her, and loves her as he loves his own body. He also cares for his children, not stirring them up to anger, but raises them up to know and obey the truth of the Lord. As a wife, she is subject and respectful of her husband, just as the church is subject to Christ. As a child, she honors her parents, knowing that this pleases the Lord. As a worker, he obeys his employer with sincerity, knowing that he’s working for the Lord. And as an employer, he does good to his employees, knowing that God has no partiality between the two.
Paul warns us against living by our flesh and walking in the ways of the darkness, even though we’ve been made alive and created to be children of the light, and he reminds us that we have a real enemy! Our struggle is not with mankind, but with the spiritual forces of wickedness, depravity, and evil in the heavenly places. It is possible to give the devil a foothold in our lives, causing our hearts to become calloused. He reminds us that though the wicked seem to prosper, the sinful have no inheritance waiting for them, and the wrath of God is indeed coming to the sons of disobedience.
So how do we stand against our enemy? We rely on the strength of God so that we can stand firm against the devil and his schemes. We are to be protected by truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, and salvation. Our weapons against him are our faith, the Word of God which is our sword, and prayer. He encourages us to pray for everyone, so that we’d all have boldness to preach the gospel.
In the end, remember the love of God. Through Him, we can be filled with his peace, grace, and love.