Paul’s letter to the Ephesians has the answer. The church at Ephesus (a city in the Roman Empire) had been established during Paul’s two-year stay (Ac 19). They heard the call, they believed, and they turned away from their old idols and practices—even if it was costly (Ac 19:19). Now Paul writes to remind them of where they stand in the family of God, and how to behave as members of that family.
Paul calls attention to three major themes: grace, peace, and love. God has shown these to the Ephesians, and Paul calls the readers to be imitators of God (Eph 5:1); therefore, we are to treat one another in like manner.
- Grace. We’re saved by God’s grace—His favor which we could not deserve (Eph 2:8–9). Paul encourages the church to deal graciously with one another in turn (Eph 4:25–32).
- Peace. We naturally deserved God’s wrath (Eph 2:3), but He has adopted us through Jesus (Eph 1:5). Furthermore, he has united the Jews and non-Jews in His Son, establishing peace between all parties (Eph 2:14). Now, the church is to preserve peace and unity with one another (Eph 4:3).
- Love. God showed His love through Jesus (Eph 2:4), and Paul commends the Ephesians for the way they love one another (Eph 1:15). He prays that they be rooted in love (Eph 3:17) and encourages them to continue walking in love (Eph 5:2).
The call of Christ is a call to action, and Ephesians lays out God’s desire for your spiritual walk like no other book of the Bible.
Theme verse of Ephesians
“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.” (Eph 4:1)
Ephesians’ role in the Bible
Ephesians is the fifth of Paul’s letters. Of the 27 New Testament books, Paul wrote 13. Eight of these book are letters to local churches (like the one in Ephesus).
Paul wrote Ephesians to accomplish two things:
- Describe the Christian’s calling. The first half of the letter focuses on the Ephesians’ calling. They were chosen by God, sealed with His Spirit, and saved by His grace. The church was mostly Gentile (Eph 3:1; 4:17), and didn’t have the historical relationship with God that the Jews had, but Paul assures them that they are just as much a part of God’s family as the Christian Jews are (Eph 2:19).
- Prescribe the Christian’s walk. The second half teaches how to “walk in a manner worthy” of the Christian’s calling (Eph 4:1). Paul outlines what the Christian walk looks like in various facets of life.
Like his letters to the Philippians and Colossians, this epistle is meant to encourage the Ephesians to walk in a manner worthy of the gospel (Eph 4:1; Php 1:27; Col 2:6). Whereas Philippians focuses on the believer’s attitude and Colossians focuses on the believer’s mind, Ephesians focuses on how to walk as part of God’s family.
Quick outline of Ephesians
- Our calling in Christ (Eph 1–3)
- Identity in Christ (Eph 1)
- Grace in Christ (Eph 2:1–10)
- Peace in Christ (Eph 2:11–22)
- Paul’s calling (Eph 3:1–13)
- Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians (Eph 3:14–21)
- Our walk in Christ (Eph 4–6)
- Walk in unity (Eph 4:1–16)
- Walk differently from the world (Eph 4:17–31)
- Walk carefully (Eph 5:1–21)
- Walk in love (Eph 5:22–6:9)
- Stand firm in the armor of God (Eph 6:10–24)