“Paul an Apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God.” Ephesians 1:1. Here in the opening of his Epistle Paul starts out by emphasizing his position and how he happened to come into it. Paul had an encounter experience on the Damascus Road. In this Epistle Paul is addressing people from the root of his supernatural experience. It is a truth that you will minister out of the depth of your experience. You can only raise people up to the level of your own experience.
This principle also existed with Moses. He first encountered God on Mt Horeb and after the deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt Moses brings the people back to Mt. Horeb. He brought them to the same place of his own experience. Paul starts this letter by reminding us that he is called of God.
Ephesians is in a sense the Epiphany of the Epistles. It is the height of revelation from Paul who wrote this epistle from the perspective of Heaven. Most theologians agree that Paul wrote Ephesians while he was still in prison. Colossians, Galatians, and Ephesians were all written in a very close time frame.
Though the letter begins with, “To the saints in Ephesus” some of the earlier manuscripts do not contain the word “Ephesus” and it has been argued that this Epistle was written to the Saints in general. In the letter to the Colossians Paul deals with Christ as Head of the Church, in Ephesians his theme is the Glorified Christ ministering from the throne.
Ephesians speaks to us of the Church as the Body of Christ. It conveys a vision of corporate unity. The Body of Christ is seen as “one body” from the perspective of the heavenly throne. Prophetic vision from a higher plane sees this unity. Colossians talks about Christ as the Head of the body, Ephesians talk about being the Body. The other emphasis we see is on “in Christ”.
“And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” Ephesians 1:22-23 NASB. Head over all things to his church (Ecclesia). The “All in All” revelation comes from the Throne.
“In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14. Christian Unity is key. “There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling;” Ephesians 4:4. There is one body and one spirit. We have been called to unity, to a revelation of oneness.
Paul was here instructing the jewish believers to see the gentile believers as equal. “until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:13. This is an epitome scripture, a peak verse: Same unity, same faith, same knowledge. This is what we are called to.
We know that Amos 3:7 says: “Surely the Lord God does nothing unless He reveals His secret counsel to His servants the prophets.” Ephesians calls the church the body that has Christ as the head. It compares the church to a temple, whose foundation is laid by Apostles and Prophets on the chief cornerstone which is Christ. You want people to be apostolic and you want people to be prophetic. The two need each other and the church needs both.
“but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,” Ephesians 4:15. Speaking the truth in love is how we grow up. The prophetic that lacks love is not the calling of Christ. Prophets and Apostles help keep each other balanced and effective at maturing the whole body.
When studying the letter to the Ephesians it’s helpful to understand some of the background of the city itself. The city Ephesus was in Roman Asia near the Aegean sea. It was a very wealthy city with fertile ground. The Temple of Diana, one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world, was located here. Diana is the same deity as Asherah of the Old Testament and her temple was filled with sexual orgies and other forms of cultic worship. Diana was the goddess of lust and fertility and her temple was ran by priestesses. These women priests were in charge of the worship of Diana which included temple prostitution.
A riot broke out when Christians in Ephesus came together and burned a bunch of books that were full of knowledge dealing with Diana worship and other cultic practices. This is the culture of the worldly city of Ephesus: Love has been corrupted with lust.
This is the same location we see in Acts 18:24. Apollos, an Alexandrian Jew, came out of Ephesus preaching repentance. Ephesus was a place of great revival for Paul. After his first visit he left Pricilla and Aquila with Apollos in the city. Paul eventually as recorded in Acts 19 comes back and spends around 3 years in Ephesus. There in chapter 19 we see a small presbytery team building the church in Ephesus. Acts 19:6 we see Paul laying hands on a group of men from Ephesus (who like Apollos had been baptized by John) to receive the baptism of the Spirit. They speak in tongues and prophesy. We know from history that the church in this region grew to around 100,000 people within a few years.
Ephesus is also mentioned in Acts 20. Paul comes by and calls for the elders from Ephesus to come and meet him just outside of the city and there he has a conference with them.
Later in Revelation 2:1-7 something drastic has happened with the church of Ephesus. The Spirit speaks to the angel of the church of Ephesus: “I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent..” The church had holiness, apostolic discernment, and endurance but they left their first love. The church is in danger of having its lamp stand removed. The lamp stand speaks of the light of the Holy Spirit…
The Epistle to the Ephesi