This letter is an excellent study about the things of God. The quality of its use of words is skilful too. In these ways, it is like the book of Romans. It clearly shows that we cannot separate certain great subjects. Here are two examples. First, there is Christ, the Christian and the church. Then there is grace, faith and work.

[Note: The word ‘church’ refers to a group of believers. It does not mean a building.]

There is another favourite subject. It is ‘daily life’. (Read 2:2, 10; 4:1, 17; 5:2,8,15.) Paul wrote to the church that was in Ephesus. But he probably meant it to be for other churches too. He reminded the whole church of Christ about four things. The church's:

  • special advantages
  • unity
  • responsibility
  • fate.

What God Did (Chapters 1-3)

The main subject of this section is ‘our salvation’. Notice how Paul repeated certain words. They are the great words of the gospel. They are:

  • Grace (1:2, 6, 7; 2:5, 7, 8; 3:2)
  • Peace (1:2; 2:14, 15, 17
  • Freedom (1:7, 14). We were slaves to sin. But God bought us and set us free.
  • Blood (death) of Christ (1:7; 2:13)
  • w Salvation|Salvation, saved (1:13; 2:5, 8)
  • Faith (1:15; 2:8; 3:12, 17)
  • Hope (1:12, 18. Compare 2:12)
  • Love (1:4, 15; 2:4; 3:17, 19).

In these three chapters Paul describes our salvation. It is:

A salvation that was always in God's plan (chapter 1). Students of the Bible use a word to describe this truth. It is ‘predestination’. The salvation experience does not begin when a person responds to the gospel. It began before God created the world (1:4).

Here we must remember the times in which Paul wrote. Things were hard for new Christians. There was much to oppose them. Ephesus was a city whose tradition was against God. The people worshipped idols. (Read Acts 19:18-19, 23-41.) And Paul wrote this letter when he was in prison. So it was hard to be a believer.

Those who were new Christians needed to remember something. It was their position in Christ. Their position was because of God's work in their hearts and lives. He chose them for his service (1:4). This choice was the act of his love (1:5). But the people whom God uses must be holy. Because God chose them, he would keep them.

Chapter 1 tells about a wonderful future (1:14, 18). Paul taught about ‘predestination’ in a certain way. People could think it is about each person. But Paul used it to teach about Christians as a group. This is the Church. He called them the body of Christ (1:22-23). They are God's Temple (2:19-22). He reminded believers about two important facts. First, they belonged to God. Second, they belonged to each other.

A salvation that changes lives (chapter 2). In the first century there were many ‘saviours’. (A saviour is one who saves.) The idea of salvation was in many religions. It was also in the philosophy of that time. One example was the Greek mystery religions.

But the salvation that God offers is different. It completely changes a person's life. So it is not a series of theories. It is a message of certainty. It is a message of power. It changes lives. Many believers who belonged to the church had been evil (2:1-3). Nobody deserved any good thing. But God (2:4) changed everything. His mercy and grace had no limits.

Paul was eager to emphasise something. It was this. Faith itself does not save a man. This would be another form of salvation by doing good works. (‘My faith is saving me’.) No, it is grace that saves (2:5-8). We saw this in the letter to the Galatians. God acted to save us. The word ‘faith’ describes the human reaction to this. And Paul declared that even this faith is God's gift (2:8-9).Grace changes relationships between people. It changes man's relationship to God. (This is an inner relationship.) Then it changes a person's relationship to another person. (This is an outer relationship.) There seemed to be a wall between Jews and Gentiles. [Note: A Gentile is anyone who is not a Jew]. But Christ broke down that wall by his death. He made Jews and Gentiles into one community. It is only by Christ that both can come to God. It is by grace that both belong to the new community (2:19-22).

A salvation for everyone (chapter 3). Christians in the first century cared much about something. It was the matter of relationships between Jews and Gentiles. It caused problems for Paul with many churches. Some of the Jews wanted to keep the Jewish practices. One was the practice of circumcision. We saw this in the book of Galatians. It is in the book of Philippians too.

In this chapter, Paul explained about his service to Gentiles. God gave him clear instructions. In the New Testament, the word ‘mystery’ means an ‘open secret’ (3:3). God wants to show things that would usually be a mystery. So they do not need to remain a secret. God has so much to give to his people. And Jews and Gentiles have an equal share in it all (3:6). Both groups are members of the body of Christ. (This is another name for all believers.) Two things helped Paul to understand this ‘mystery’. It was not just the fact that Christ died for all (3:13-17). It was also the fact that the Father cares for all (3:14-15).

What God Gives (Chapters 4-6)

This is a great practical section. The first section has much about the things that relate to heaven. This section is about ordinary life on earth. Paul persuaded and attracted with his words about them both.

Paul taught about holy things. He taught about ordinary things too. There are principles and actions. There is belief and behaviour. But there are no sharp divisions between them. One depends on the other. One controls and guides the other too.

The practical subjects are:

Unity (4:1-32). Salvation is personal but it is not selfish. Each believer belongs to all the other believers. The words that Paul used show this. Some examples are:

  • ‘accept each other’ (4:2)
  • ‘unity of the Spirit’ (4:3)
  • ‘one body’ (4:4)
  • ‘God's people’ (4:12)
  • ‘the body of Christ’ (4:12)
  • ‘join and hold together’ (4:16)
  • ‘members of one body’ (4:25)
  • ‘be kind to each other’ (4:32).

Paul mentioned certain sins in this chapter. They are sins that spoil relationships. (An example is 4:25-32.) Paul urged believers in this church to do two things. They should put off (4:22) their old life. It was a life that was evil (4:18-19). Then they should put on (4:24) their new life. It was a life that was good and holy, like Christ's life (4:22-24).

Love (5:1−6:9). The main subject here is a life of love. Notice:

  • Love's source: Christ (5:1-2).
  • Love's standards (5:13-17). If love rules, believers will not hurt themselves or other people.
  • Love's song (5:18-20). Love expresses itself. It is grateful.
  • Love's submission. [Note: This means to accept another person's authority. It means to be humble and willing to obey.] Paul spoke about love and submission in the home (5:21-22, 25-33). Then he used this as an example of Christ's love for the whole church. And he used it to explain submission to Christ in the church (5:23-24). Paul urged children to obey their parents. And he quoted the Old Testament as his authority (6:1-4).
  • Love's service (6:5-9). Paul then used some great principles about work. Here again submission and service were the main ideas. Everyone must do all their work because of their love for Christ.

Courage (6:10-24). The last part of this letter is about war. It is a war against the devil (Satan). There is a need for strength, and there is a need for sympathy. We are soldiers as well as servants. There were various parts of protection that a soldier wore. And Paul used them to describe a believer's protection. The parts are similar to those in the Old Testament. Read Isaiah 11:5; 52:7; 59:17.

This wonderful letter closes with some great words. Paul used the great ‘little words’ of the gospel. They are peace, love, faith and grace (6:23-24).