Commonly known as one of four Prison Epistles (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon), the letter to the Ephesians was written by Apostle Paul during his first Roman imprisonment). Having written three of the four letters (Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon) around the same time (AD 60–61), Paul had Tychicu hand deliver the letters accompanied by Onesimus (Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 4:7–9; Philemon 1:10–12).
Unlike 2 Second Corinthians or Galatians where Paul added personal touches about his own life or that of the recipients, the letter to the Ephesians stands out as being more formal. Rather than responding to a theological or moral dilemma, the heart of this letter focuses on what it means to be a Christian… both in faith and in practice … regardless of what is going on in the world.
Paul divided his letter into two main parts consisting of three chapters each, or six chapters in total.
DOCTRINE: OUR RICHES IN CHRIST (Ephesians 1:3-3:21)
The first three chapters focus on faith, discussing the spiritual riches believers possess in Christ:
- The gift of undeserving grace from God our Father, making salvation possible.
- The gift of redemption from God the Son, Jesus Christ whose life, death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven, makes reconciliation and a closer relationship with God our Father possible.
- The gift of wisdom and guidance from God the Holy Spirit during our spiritual walk, enlightening our heart, mind, and spirt, making a Christ-centered life possible.
DUTY: OUR RESPONSIBILITIES IN CHRIST (Ephesians 4:1-6:20)
The last three chapters provide instructions for living a Christ-centered life. Following Jesus’ footsteps, we are asked to serve the needs of others out of our love and reverence for Christ, with the goal of preserving unity, love, harmony, and victory in all our relationships:
- Called to walk in unity, we are asked to preserve unity of the Spirit by maintaining a proper attitude and edifying the body of Christ with the grace God has given us.
- Called to walk in love, we are asked to live a life demonstrating our love for God and for others while living a life as children of light and wisdom.
- We are called to walk in harmony, preserving harmony in relationships beginning with those who are in our household, with guidelines for maintaining a healthy relationship among husbands and wives; parents and children; and masters and servants.
- We are called to walk in victory. Equipped with the whole armor of God, we are asked to stand strong in the power of the Lord.
Discussing a wide range of moral and ethical behaviors, the letter to the Ephesians is a powerful “how to” guide designed to help us live a Christ-centered life according to God’s purpose for us. As we continue to grow in faith, complacency often sets in with temptations quickly sidelining us for a time. This letter is an extraordinary gift from Apostle Paul to help us stay on course.
What is one way in which you can live a more Christ-like life?