While Paul was imprisoned in Italy, much of his job for Jesus was accomplished through letters to churches in Turkey & Greece. One of these letters was written to the church in Ephesus, in western Turkey.
This is not a letter addressing specific problems – such as those in the church in Corinth, in Greece. Instead, this is a letter of general instruction, revelation & encouragement. The letter may have been circulated among several churches, beginning with the church in Ephesus.
Paul begins by proclaiming what God has done for us (318) — citing first three major spiritual blessings for Christians:
- Before time began, God the Father chose us to be adopted into his family.
- Jesus has made it possible for us to be adopted into God’s family.
- The Holy Spirit assures us that, as God’s adopted children, we are inheritors of heaven.
Paul reminds us that we all used to live in sinful rebellion against God, and we were all deserving of God’s wrath. But God had a better plan for his people, whom he had originally created in his image.
By his grace (and not at all because of any natural goodness in us), God has provided for our salvation from our sins. In other words, God saves us from ourselves.
And he has done this for a purpose – specifically, that we would love other people in self-sacrificing ways, as an expression of our love for God.
This purpose extends both to Jews & to Gentiles, says Paul. Indeed, the body of Christ is made up of all different sorts of people.
Jesus is the head of the body; he is in charge of everything. People serve as parts of the body, insofar as we have surrendered control of our lives to Jesus.
All the parts are intended to work together, under the direction of the head, to share the love of Jesus with the world. But the only way that’s going to happen is by the power of the Holy Spirit — because, as sinful humans, we are not naturally good team players.
However, God’s Holy Spirit can supernaturally change us into good team players. And in the power of the Holy Spirit, we can work together — faithfully & effectively — to share the greatness of God’s love with the world.
Best of all, God will give more & more of his Holy Spirit to anyone who lives with more & more faith in Jesus.
(318) Ephesians 1-3