In a letter to the church at Ephesus, the Apostle Paul details some very important parts of what would eventually become different beliefs of the Christian faith.
Paul begins his letter addressing the spiritual blessings of Christ, namely the idea of predestination. Paul writes that the body of believers was predestined to be made holy and blameless and that by receiving Christ, they have also received the validation that they are a part of God’s kingdom. God ordained this from the very beginning, because he knew his love would be consummated in the sacrifice and passion of Jesus Christ. Therefore, by receiving Jesus, believers receive the Holy Spirit, the spirit that allows people to come into communion with God. This spirit is a badge of both individual choice and of God’s choosing.
Before coming to Christ, Paul tells the Ephesians that they were dead- dead in transgression and sins. God however, made them alive once again, through the reconciliation that took place through Christ Jesus. This reconciliation is a gift and a sign of God’s love, not a by- product of anything that can be done. Therefore, people are justified not by acts, but by faith in God which allowed us to cast off our lives of sin and become truly alive. Hitting upon another key area of Christian thought, Paul writes that believers were saved for the reason of doing good works. In the debate of whether justification is by faith or works, Paul shows that it is faith that saves and good works that naturally precede. Thus, the two are not mutually exclusive.
Paul then goes on to write about salvation and the universality of it. He writes that before, the covenant of God was only promised to the Israelites, but with Christ’s sacrifice, it is now available to all. This is why Paul is actively evangelizing to gentiles (non-Israelites). Paul writes that all are one in the sight of God- one body in unity and equality.
Continuing on with the analogy of the Body of Christ, Paul writes that to each believer there is a delegation of a role, talent, or niche. Much like a body in which an arm cannot do what a leg does, each part is made especially for God’s service.
Thus, there is a reason for preachers, teachers, apostles, etc. because each have a special role in advancing the kingdom of God.
As a part of the body, Paul continues, each member needs to be “children of the light” meaning each member must give up his/her old sinful ways and emanate Christ’s holiness. To do this, Paul gives some very important instructions. He says not to let anger become sin, avoid obscenity, coarse joking, unwholesome talk, and instead substitute all this with continual praise for God.
In the area of relationships, Paul draws an interesting analogy of husband and wife to Christ and the church. Husbands, much as how Christ treated the church, must love their wives fully, be ready to sacrifice themselves for her, and wish her to be clean and holy. Wives, like the church, must submit themselves to their husbands (as the church should do to Christ), and love their husband with all their hearts. In the end, Paul writes, the husband and wife just like Christ and the church, are united and one.
For parents and children, Paul advises children to always obey and honor their parents. Parents should avoid exasperating their children and raise them well in the instruction of the Lord.
For slaves, Paul tells them to submit to their masters not because their masters own them, but because their true master is Jesus Christ who wishes them to be examples of obedience and strength. For masters, Paul advises them to treat their slaves as equals because in the end, they are equals before the eyes of God.
This book of the New Testament is rich with theology and moral instruction. It serves as an eloquent example of Paul’s final goal- to advance the true gospel, changing lives as he preaches the truth.