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Welcome to Ephesus

April 4, 2011

“You have been saved.”

So what? What does God’s salvation have to do with our everyday lives? And just how are we supposed to live out God’s truth in the midst of today’s culture?

Paul’s letter to the Christians in Ephesus helps us answer these questions. In Ephesians, Paul not only beautifully expounds on God’s glorious gift of salvation, he also shows us how to live it.

The Scripture Dig team is excited about exploring the book of Ephesians with you during the month of April. This letter is so practical! We will begin by looking at how and for what purpose God saves us. Then we will see how His salvation should affect our character, our church life, our family relationships, and more.

Do you long to grow in your knowledge of God and deepen your intimacy with Christ? Then join the Scripture Dig team on our journey to Ephesus!

Understanding Ephesians

Although Ephesians has some aspects of a written sermon or devotional, it is basically a letter or epistle. Like all letters in the New Testament, Ephesians was written for a specific purpose, to a specific group of people, in a specific cultural situation, in a specific time period, to deal with specific issues.

Understanding the historical context in which this letter was written will help us separate universal truths and applications from instruction and applications that were specifically tied to the original audience and their historical situation. For instance, we cannot directly apply the facts found in Philemon. I don’t think many of us have had runaway slaves! However, there are foundational truths and principles – like forgiveness and restoration – we must accept and apply.

Unlike most New Testament letters, Ephesians does not address any specific, looming problems. This seems to indicate that the church was fairly solid – unlike the Corinthian church, which dealt with multiple problems like sexual sin and division. Based on the letter itself and Paul’s history with the church, his purpose in writing seems to be to encourage them to further spiritual growth and to keep them on a solid doctrinal footing.

Background & History

Paul made his first visit to the city of Ephesus around 50 AD during his second missionary journey (See Acts 18:18-22). Ephesus, an important trade center, was well-known for its worship of Artemis (also know as “Diana,” the goddess of fertility). This first visit was brief, but the message was well received. When Paul left, his coworkers, Priscilla and Aquilla, remained behind to carry on the work he started.

Paul returned to Ephesus about four years later during his third missionary journey and stayed for 3 years. This time, he faced opposition from some of the Jewish leaders at the synagogue. So, Paul and the believers moved to a rented lecture hall. God greatly blessed the message: “All the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord” (Acts 19:10).

As hearts turned to Christ, opposition increased. Some local business men, who did not like the effect the Gospel had on their idol-making business, incited a riot and Paul had to leave Ephesus. But God’s truth was firmly planted in the entire region. The Gospel “spread widely and grew in power” (Acts 19:20).

At the end of his third missionary journey, on his way to Jerusalem, Paul sent for the Ephesian elders to meet him in Miletus. During this final goodbye, he warned them of trouble ahead. He charged these leaders to carefully watch themselves and their flock because “savage wolves” would infiltrate the church to distort the church. They must diligently guard the church! (See Acts 20:17-37.)

Date and Purpose

It is generally accepted by scholars that Paul wrote this letter to the Christians in the broader area of Ephesus from prison in Rome between 60 and 62 AD. As we saw above, Paul was concerned that false teachers would try to sway them from the truth he had taught them. They needed a firm grasp of the Gospel. Because the pagan worship of Artemis was so ingrained in the culture, the church also faced a lot of opposition from the people around them. They needed to be armed with practical ways to live out their faith.

We may not have to deal with Artemis worship today, but our culture certainly opposes God’s truth. We too, need a solid foundation and practical ways to stand firm in the midst of temptation and false teaching. Are you ready to dig in?

What do you hope to gain from this study of Ephesians?

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. April 4, 2011 10:57 am

    I feel like I’m just beginning my spiritual journey and know nothing about the Bible. This is one of my favorite books based on individual verses, so I’m looking forward to spending this month getting to know more about the book.

    • April 5, 2011 6:54 am

      Glad you’re joining us! Ephesians is a wonderful book full of God’s truth we can apply to our lives.

  2. stephanieshott permalink
    April 4, 2011 1:13 pm

    Kathy ~ Thank you for helping us understand the background of Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church! Context is definitely key! 🙂

  3. April 4, 2011 2:20 pm

    Kaythy –
    Thanks for starting off the study of Ephesians with a great base. Looking forward to digging into this great little book. I hope to be reminded of how my salvation affects my character and relationships and hopefully find some nuggets of truth that I haven’t seen before.

    Blessings,
    Marita

  4. April 4, 2011 3:14 pm

    Marita, Ephesians will definitely help us with that!

  5. April 4, 2011 10:02 pm

    This will be my first time joining you all. I can not think of a better or more practical book to join in on!

  6. April 5, 2011 12:39 am

    I love this: “Paul not only beautifully expounds on God’s glorious gift of salvation, he also shows us how to live it.” That’s something I always long for in my walk – to not just talk, but actively live it!

    I also love this: “…his purpose in writing seems to be to encourage them to further spiritual growth…” Even though, as you said, the believers in Ephesus were doing many things “well,” we can also grow and progress! We won’t reach perfection until Christ comes back to complete that process.

    I truly love, love, love studying one particular book in depth. I *always* learn something more. Thank you for this wonderful introduction to background and context. I’m so excited!

    • April 5, 2011 6:55 am

      Caroline, thanks for joining us. I also love to dig deep into one book, so I am looking forward to this journey too!

  7. Lisa V. permalink
    April 5, 2011 12:52 am

    I always hope to see God’s direction in my day to day life. I also like to see what new way I’ll see even though I’ve read this book before, each time something new is learned. This is what I hope to discover as we study Ephesians.

    • April 5, 2011 6:56 am

      Lisa, I love that God’s Word is so applicable to our lives today. That’s what we will be striving for this month – discovering how to live out the truth He has for us in Ephesians!

  8. April 5, 2011 7:39 am

    Thanks Kathy for great insight into the book of Ephesians.

    During the next month, things around my house will be busy (oldest son graduating from high school, youngest son going to State Band Festival, last four weeks of school for me for this sememster, husband,) so I’ll try to read and keep up and will post as I can.

    Look forward to reading as much as I can this month.

  9. April 5, 2011 12:12 pm

    I love the book of Ephesians! Thanks for sharing the background and historical context of this letter from Paul. It helps to understand that in order to apply its truths to our lives today.

    Blessings, Joan

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