As I study the book of Ephesians, I want to remember, as with all books of the bible, that what I am reading is real. Ephesus was a real place, with real Christians, who had real life issues. The people of Ephesus were known as Ephesians, and the apostle Paul wrote a very personal letter to the Christians living in Ephesus. This letter was passed around and, because it was found to be not just a simple letter written by an average guy, but rather inspired by the Holy Spirit, it was included in our bible as ‘The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians.’ Although written for this specific group of Christians, the message applies to our lives as well.
The first time we see the city of Ephesus in the bible is in the book of Acts, which tells of the spreading of the gospel and the growth of the church after Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. Acts18:19-21 tells us that Paul visited Ephesus (about 25 years after Jesus’ death), reasoned with the Jews in the synagogue, and left shortly afterward, promising to return, if the Lord allowed. Upon his return, he baptized and laid hands on about twelve disciples, who in turn received the Holy Spirit, spoke with tongues, and prophesied. Paul ministered to these disciples daily for two years and all the Jews and Gentiles heard about Jesus Christ because of him (Acts19:1-10).
The enormous city of Ephesus, with a population of almost ¼ million people, was known all across Asia for its temple and worship of the goddess Diana. Its local merchants made a substantial profit producing handmade goddesses. Yet, as the gospel of Jesus spread, many were converted and their proceeds took a significant hit. Likewise, those practicing magic gave up their traditions, burned their books, and followed the teachings of Christ. This resulted in an enormous riot against Paul and the teaching of the gospel throughout the entire city of Ephesus (Acts 19:11-41). Following the riot, Paul left Ephesus, but was able return for one final visit to encourage the church elders, warn them of the dangers of false doctrine and leaders, and bid them an emotional farewell, assured he would never see their faces again (Acts20:17-38).
After spending two years teaching and living among them, the Christians of Ephesus became near and dear to Paul’s heart, and about three years later, as he sat chained in a Roman prison, Paul took time to write a very heartfelt letter to those in Ephesus. However, these God inspired words are not solely for the church of Ephesus, but for each of us. So my hope is to take each chapter, each verse, each word, and receive it as a personal letter from my Lord to me. He speaks to us! He has a message for us, and that message is found throughout this book.
So, let’s dig in! I hope you decide to study this book also. Either way, check back occasionally so I can share with you all the jewels He gives me. I look forward to reading yours as well! J