The Book of Ephesians enables us to view God’s creation from an alpine altitude. When we study this book, it is as though we have climbed a high mountain peak, because the book gives us that kind of perspective on what God has created. Recall the opening scenes in “The Sound of Music” movie, where Maria Von Trapp is standing in a high meadow looking out over the valleys and mountains beyond. Yet the “creation” that Ephesians opens up to our vision is not the physical creation, but the church and its position and importance in the panorama of God’s program. The church is the subject of Ephesians. The church began on the Day of Pentecost, and will end at the Rapture.
This book is regarded by many as the crown of all Paul’s writings.
Paul wrote Ephesians, along with Colossians, Philemon, and Philippians, the other “Prison Epistles,” during his first Roman imprisonment, A.D. 60-62 (Ephesians 3:1; 4:1; 6:20; Acts 28:16-31). During that time, Paul was under house arrest. He lived in his own rented quarters, under guard by Roman soldiers. He was allowed visitors and could minister, without hindrance, as far as his confinement permitted (Acts 28:16, 30-31). He was not chained in a prison cell at this time, as he was during his second Roman imprisonment when he wrote 2 Timothy (2 Timothy 1:16).
The main subject of Ephesians is what Paul calls “the mystery.” By that he does not mean something that cannot be explained, but rather a wonderful truth never revealed before but now made known.
This sublime truth, which forms the theme of the book, is the announcement that believing Jews and believing Gentiles are now one in Christ Jesus. They are fellow members of the church, the Body of Christ. At the present time they are seated “in Christ” in heavenly places. In the future they will share His glory as Head over all things.
Try to imagine the impact of this news on the Gentile believers to whom it was sent. Not only were they saved by grace through faith, the same as the Jews, but for the first time they occupied a place of equal privilege with them. They were in no way inferior as far as their standing before God was concerned. And they were destined to be enthroned with Christ as His Body and His Bride, sharing the glory of His universal reign. What overwhelming but glorious news that must have been!
The emphasis on the importance of love is also strong. More than one-sixth of Paul’s references to “love” in his 13 epistles occur in Ephesians. This also shows that he wanted to promote Christian unity in the church. Possibly realizing that the Ephesians were starting to forsake their first love, Paul wrote this letter to encourage them to love both God and their fellow saints more deeply.
To summarize, the church must maintain unity as it grows. It must consecrate/purify every relationship as it makes its confession to the world. And it must stand firm against its spiritual enemies as it conflicts with Satan’s forces. These points clarify Matthew 16:18: “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”