Neighborhood Study Guide
What matters more - what you believe or what you do? In Ephesians, we see the two are always intertwined.Ephesians is a great symphony in three movements - the work of Christ, the identity of the church and the work of the Christian. The letter to the church in Ephesus is essentially a well-crafted sermon to the church in Ephesus inwhich the apostle Paul helps the new church think through its foundation in God's blessing through Christ, itsnature as a new body of Christ, and its calling as a representative of Christ in the world.
Ephesians is all about Jesus - all of creation is from him, and will one day be united in him. As we read it, we will seehow much we have in Jesus, and how he makes us into the church, and empowers us to love to one another.
Who Wrote Ephesians?
There has been some debate over the last 100 years about the authorship of the letter. The earliest tradition haveattributed it to Paul, but some more recent scholars have felt the letter must have been written at a later date, andtherefore Paul cannot be the author. This argument is essentially laid out as follows; Since it imagines a church thatis fairly organized, with a role for apostles, prophets and teachers. It also suggests a unity of Jews and Gentiles thatis already established - perhaps more than would be possible during Paul's ministry.
However, the manuscript evidence suggests that Ephesians was well-known and well-received as early as 95 ADand it is certainly possible that Paul's vision of the church and the reconciliation of Jew and Gentile is propheticand grounded in hope. I think on the whole, Paul is the author and this is the hope of Christ's church laid out tothe early church.
The first 14 verses are really one long sentence. 220 words in the original Greek. Paul just unleashes a flood of theology to describe our spiritual blessings in Christ. And we now wade deep into that newly formed ocean of blessing that Paul has described. The first thing we meet is the decision of God to choose a people for himself.
1. When have you been chosen for something you didn't deserve?
Read Ephesians 1:1-6
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
1.How does Paul describe himself? Why might Paul describe himself in this way?
2.How does Paul describe the recipients of the letter? What does it mean to be 'in Christ Jesus'?