Overview of Ephesians (1 of 4)
Next Monday morning I’ll begin sending out a five day per week devotional in the book of Ephesians. This one will take the worshiper through the entire book in six weeks, at the pace of five devotionals per week.
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Here’s the first of four background studies in preparation for the beginning of next week’s devo. The habits of the incredible Bible expositor G. Campbell Morgan come to mind right now … he would read through a Bible book 40-50 times before he’d even begin studying that book!
I’d suggest reading through Ephesians at least a couple of times … more than that certainly won’t hurt either!
God bless you!
HOW TO USE THIS DEVOTIONAL
Welcome to this devotional on the book of Ephesians! This guided study will help you to know the contents, structure, and themes that are part of this important New Testament letter. This study will also help you apply the timeless truths of God’s Word to your everyday life.
The book of Ephesians is a manual of Christian living. Those who want to learn how to live as Christians need to study and apply this great epistle.
Here’s how the book breaks down: chapters 1-3 detail the believer’s riches in Christ, as seen from the vantage point of the heavenly, eternal realm. Rather than continuing to live as spiritual paupers, our response to these riches is to believe and receive them, and live as the rich spiritual children that we are in Christ. The idea of being in Christ therefore is of paramount importance for us.
In chapters 4:1-6:9, the believer learns to walk. We walk with the Lord in response to and gratitude for the many blessings He’s graciously and freely provided for us (chapters 1-3). As the believer learns to walk, there is a progression from infancy to toddler to a fully mature saint. These are the ways in which we walk: we walk in humility, in unity with other believers, as new creations in Christ, in love, as children of light, circumspectly, in the Spirit, and in submission to others in our lives.
The final major section of this great epistle is in 6:10-18. This passage shows us how to stand in the face of much spiritual opposition from the evil one and his cohorts. Our position in Christ is under attack, as is our walk with Christ. We are told to take up the complete armor of God that we might stand in the evil day. Only with the armor can we effectively withstand the onslaught of the enemy of our souls.
To sum it all up, the book of Ephesians teaches us to Sit, to Walk, and to Stand.1 We are seated with Christ in the heavenly places, we walk with Christ here on earth, and we stand in Christ against spiritual foes.
Ephesians is also significant due to its emphasis on the doctrine of the church of Jesus Christ. Whereas the epistle to the Colossians emphasizes the Christ of the church, Ephesians focuses on the church of Christ. Members of Christ’s church (Greek: ecclesia, the called-out ones) have been redeemed out of the world to form the body of Christ, which is also the bride of Christ. These doctrines emphasize how relational this Christian life is, as we are intimately and intricately connected to Jesus Himself.
The translation that is used for the text is taken from the New International Version (NIV). But it is also possible to use other translations like the New American Standard and the New King James Version.
This devotional is intended to give you a complete tour of the book within a 40-day framework, one devotional per day. At the end of every five days, you’ll find summary pages. Use these pages to reflect upon the week. Here are the steps on how to proceed with this study.
1) Be sure to look at the big picture of Ephesians before you get into the specific passages. Take a moment and actually read through all six chapters in one sitting. This is how the letter was meant to be read! This will help you to frame the book and see the “forest” before you start examining the “trees.”
2) Take some time to look over the background of Ephesians, the arguments, the topics, and the outline of the book. This will help you become familiar with the basic shape of this great epistle.
3) As you approach each lesson, begin by reading the portion of the passage that is listed above. Think about the passage and pay attention to some of the key ideas that are mentioned. Remind yourself of the context of each passage (what proceeds and follows the day’s verses). Look for action verbs and notice repetition, contrasts, and comparisons. Read it again out loud to help you understand the passage. Then take some time to look at the interpretation notes which should aid you in understanding the passage.
4) Take some time to go over the reflection questions and apply them to your own life. Please do this thoughtfully and carefully. Use the text as a mirror to your own heart as you think about the principles first and then how your life should reflect those principles.
Take some time to pray over and meditate on the truth, and ask God to help you make it true in your own life. This will be crucial in order for you to internalize the devotional fully for that day!