Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Introduction to Ephesians
Introduction to Ephesians:
I have been sorting through ideas for new blog posts and have come to realize that maybe I should start a new installment on a book of the bible. Ephesians has been calling out to me for some time though as I read chapter one and two I find myself overwhelmed with the thoughts. Ephesians is a book that reminds me of wading through a NT Wright book. NT Wright can write one sentence with more content than most writers can introduce in a whole book! In a real way I look at what Paul has done with Ephesians as something that might take more time to unpack than Romans and Galatians combined. For me though, Ephesians is a book that contains more powerful truth than some of Paul’s other letters. That is not to say the truth contained in Paul’s other letters are lesser in truth, only that what Paul is teaching in Ephesians seems to reach deeper in to revelation and relational teaching that most realize. In some ways other writings of Paul are more practical while Ephesians seems to reach into Heaven and bring down bits and pieces of truth that may find some readers to feel the ideas are rather intangible if not out of reach of mere mortals. I hope to bring out points that I have been blessed with understanding and as we (the read and myself) humble push forward, that God may bless us both with something new to us, yet ancient in truth.
Ephesus was a city of commerce and a major port in the Mediterranean for trade in the ancient world. Ephesus is located in what we now call Turkey. There is much history in Ephesus from St. Luke’s grave where companion of Paul and writer of the Gospel of Luke was martyred and burred, to temple to the goddess Artemis (who in Greek mythology was the twin sister of Apollo as well as the daughter of Zeus and Leto). Not to mention this was the place Domitian built a temple to honor himself and accept worship as Caesar. Domitian may be the very person in which much of what the Apostle John wrote about as John spent time in Ephesus and was also exiled from Ephesus the Island of Patmos that is only a little over 60 miles away. If one reads the Book of Revelation, they might see that as John unfolds his vision, John describes such places as the Prytaneion as the place of the 24 elders in which the regional administrators would sit before Domitian. John replaces the earthly lord Domitian with the Heavenly Lord of All in the very seat. Again, if one reads the book of Revelation many scenes in Ephesus such as the decree to take the mark 666 in order to buy or sell in Ephesus may sound familiar. It may be a key to understanding the Book of Revelation as Ephesus is the very first church mentioned in the Book of the Revelation and called out on Ephesus is also the place where John returned after his exile and wrote the Gospel of John. John’s grave is also in Ephesus and in the Middle Ages considered to be a holy structure.
The Apostle Paul, who also lived in Ephesus for a time wrote about Ephesus, as we will read later, Paul calls out by name the silversmith Demetrius as there was the fear of loss of income by those who made idols as people turned from paganism to Christianity. Another point of interest as the popular cult of Diana seems to have been replaced by the cult of the Virgin Mary.
The Letter of Paul called the book of Ephesians is considered one of the “prison” letters as Paul was written during his imprisonment. If there be one theme to consider, Charles Rye sums it up as we go through Ephesians, is “God’s eternal purpose to establish and complete His Body the church of Christ.” (Ryrie NIV study Bible) Jon Stott in his book on Ephesians states the basic theme this way. “We are the family of God the Father, the body of Jesus Christ his Son and the temple or dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.” (Stott p. 25) Stott also puts forth the main message is “adumbrated in the apostle’s opening salutation: Greece to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”. While this may seem like a common greeting, and as Stott points out even a “Christianized” version of the Greek and Hebrew written greetings, there is nothing common about this introduction… for the key word of Ephesians are “Grace” and “Peace” which are found in not only in the concept of being “in Christ” but in the very Person and message of Jesus that was set forth even before creation.
1. Ring, T., Salkin, R., & La Boda, S. (1996). International Dictionary of Historic Places: Southern Europe. Available from http://books.google.com/books?id=74JI2UlcU8AC&pg=PA217&lpg=PA217&dq=prytaneion+and+revelation&source=bl&ots=jtvPbCr2LK&sig=CLk1DEfhAS2LUflLoxooNHKjvOE&hl=en&ei=6qa-TNvWCYSnnAfi4vGJDg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBMQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=prytaneion%20and%20revelation&f=false.
2. R. W. Stott, J., The Bible Speaks Today: The Message of Ephesians (Inter Varsity Press, Leicester, England. Downers Grove, Illinois, U.S.A. 1979)