Lessons from Ephesians

Here’s my boiled down version of this epistle:

Chapter 1:  Paul is very positive about what God has given us, expressing great gratitude to Him for our blessings.  (“Predestined” appears twice, verses 5 and 11; see also 2:10.)

Chapter 2:  Grace and faith saves — not works (verses 8-9).

Chapter 3:  Jews and Gentiles are now united (2:11 – 3:13; see also 4:3-5).  Paul offers a prayer that emphasizes love (verses 14-21).

Chapter 4:  “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (verse 2).  Don’t live like the Gentiles (i.e., pagans) do, “in the futility of their thinking” — “darkened” and “separated” from God, with “hardening of their hearts,” insensitive and sensual, impure with continued lust for more impurity (verses 17-19).  Instead, be a new person:  Don’t lie and don’t let anger cause you to sin;  don’t steal, but work with your hands so you can share with those in need.  Don’t let unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but build up people according to their needs.  “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.    Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you” (verses 20-32).

Chapter 5:  Imitate God and live a life of love (verses 1-2).  No sexual immorality, other impurity, or greed (that’s all idolatry, Paul says, and keeps you out of Heaven); no obscenity , foolish talk, or coarse joking; don’t be partners with the disobedient; instead, give thanks (verses 3-13).  Embrace light, not darkness (verses 8-14).  Make the most of every opportunity, “because the days are evil.”  Don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.  Don’t get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.  Instead, be filled with the Spirit.  “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.”   Always give thanks (verses 15-20).  Verses 22-33 is the famous wives-submit-to-your-husbands passage, analogizing this relationship to the church-Christ relationship.  Note that verse 21 reads, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

Chapter 6:  Children should honor their parents, and fathers should not exasperate their children but “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord’ (verses 1-4).  Verses 5-9 tell slaves to obey their earthly masters and then tells the earthly masters to reciprocate; it’s not really clear how, but presumably by treating them humanely (verse 8 says that “the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free”).  Verses 10-18 is the famous “full armor of God” passage; our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the spiritual forces of evil.  Finally, in verses 19-23, Paul signs off; apparently he is writing from prison, and asks for prayers that he have the courage to continue with his preaching.