Scripture reading – Ephesians 1-6
Our devotional study of the Acts of the Apostles concluded with Paul under house arrest in Rome, where he was imprisoned for two years (Acts 28:30). Today’s Scripture reading, The Epistle to the Ephesians, is one of four “Prison Epistles” that the apostle wrote during those years of confinement (the others being Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon).
You might remember that Paul had spent three years ministering in Ephesus, and had warned the leaders of that congregation, that “grievous wolves” (Acts 20:29), would enter the assembly after his departure and would spiritually ravage the believers. Indeed, the very life and health of the church would be threatened by enemies from within the congregation.
Ephesians 1-3 – The Believer’s Relationship in Christ
In the first three chapters, Paul reminded the believers of their position in Christ: Redeemed “through His blood” (1:7), “saved through faith…created in Christ Jesus unto good works” (2:8-10), “sealed [secured] with the Holy Spirit of promise” (1:13), “made nigh by the blood of Christ” (2:12-13), Jew and Gentile “fellowheirs, and of the same body” (3:6) which is the church.
Ephesians 4-6 – The Believer’s Life and Walk in the World
Paul exhorted the believers of Ephesus to live, “with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love” (4:2), to the end that they “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (4:3). Whether Jew or Gentile, Greek or Roman, slave or master, sincere believers were to have a mutual affection, a spiritual kinship because they were “one body, and one Spirit” (4:4-6).
Paul taught that unity and harmony would characterize believers as they accepted their place and function in the body of Christ (4:7-8, 11-12, 4:16). While the world was known for its self-centeredness, and narcissistic pursuit of sinful pleasures (4:14, 19, 22, 25-30), the believers were to “put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (4:23-24).
Because the Gentile believers had been saved out of a heathen, idol worshipping culture, Paul took pangs to define the character of God’s people and the transformation their salvation and sanctification was to have made in their relationships with others. Unlike their culture, believers were to be characterized by self-sacrificing love (5:2), “goodness and righteousness and truth” (5:9), gratitude (5:20), and submission (5:21).
Husbands were commanded to love their wives, “even as Christ also loved the church” (5:25), and their wives were to love and revere their husbands (5:33). Children were to fulfill the fifth commandment (Exodus 20:12), and obey and honor their parents (6:1-3). Servants were to obey their masters “as unto Christ” (6:5-8), and masters were to treat their servants with dignity and respect (6:9).
In other words, salvation and sanctification was to have turned their world upside down from the common order!
Paul’s letter closes with a challenge, a warning, and an exhortation: “Be strong in the Lord… 11 Put on the whole armour of God…12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (6:10-13).
Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith