The Wednesday Bible Study Club recently met in the home of Mrs. Nikki Murphy.
Mrs. Murphy also served as lesson leader presenting Ephesians, chapter 3. This is a letter addressed to the church in the city of Ephesus, the capital of the Roman province of Asia Minor, modern day Turkey.
Scholars believe this letter was an encyclical and meant to be circulated and read among all the churches in Asia Minor. It was sent first to the believers at Ephesus. It’s likely that the gospel was first brought to Ephesus by Priscilla and Aquila, the couple left there by Paul on his second missionary journey.
Ephesus was best known for the magnificent temple of Diana, which was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. (Others are the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Great Pyramid of Giza, Lighthouse of Alexandria, Colossus of Rhodes, Statue of Zeus and the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus.)
Paul returned and pastored in Ephesus for three years. When he departed, he left Timothy to minister for over a year. Ephesus, at that time, was a political, commercial and educational center equal to Alexandria, Egypt. This is a letter of encouragement, reminding believers of their immeasurable blessings in Jesus. The letter was written by Paul while imprisoned in Rome about AD 60-62, so it’s often called a prison epistle. While imprisoned for preaching to the Gentiles, Paul was allowed to move about the house, under the supervision of soldiers, but at night he was chained to a soldier.
In verses 1-7, he identifies himself as a prisoner of Christ for the Gentiles. He spent two years in prison in Rome and 2 years in Caesarea. He felt compelled to affirm his authority for teaching the oneness of Jew and Gentile in Christ and alludes to the fact that Jesus Himself delivered the Gospel to him and appointed him an apostle to the Gentiles. (Romans 15:16)
This radical affirmation must have been difficult for most Ephesians to comprehend or accept. He is revealing the mystery of Christ. Mystery, in the Bible, does not mean something mystical or magical, but a sacred truth. Mystery is a sacred hidden truth that always existed, but is now revealed, but is only understood by believers.
This mystery was that “in Christ, Jew and Gentile become one in God’s sight, in His Kingdom and in His family. This was also an Old Testament promise. God promised universal blessing through Abraham in Genesis 12:3 and in Isaiah 49:6, God says, “I will also give you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be My salvation to the ends of the earth”. The O.T. prophets did not understand that Gentiles were fellow heirs to all the promises of God. That in God, there is no racial, social or spiritual distinction. We are ONE. Paul became a minister, by the power of God, with this particular message.
In verses 8-13, Paul declares that he is the least of all the saints. He remembers what he had been and what he had done before being saved and speaks of himself in a deprecating way. He was given such grace, but not to sit back and enjoy, but to pass this message on to others. We recall that Jesus spoke to Paul from a light and sent him blinded into Damascus.
But it wasn’t just Paul who claimed Jesus spoke to Him, because God sent Ananias to Paul/Saul because Saul was a chosen vessel to bear His name to the Gentiles, Acts 9:15. Paul is to tell the Gentiles about the “unsearchable” riches of Christ. The mystery of the fellowship of believers has been hidden, in God, but now is revealed to all … to principalities and powers in the heavenly places, to holy angels, unholy angels, the entire realm of spiritual beings. All heavenly beings are observing the church and seeing God’s wisdom unfolding and are amazed at His glory. The supreme and eternal purpose of the church is to glorify God. And ANYONE can come through faith in Jesus. Paul admonishes all believers to stay the course and be strong, not to lose heart.
In verses 14-21 the remainder of the Chapter is a prayer concerning spiritual warfare. He bows his knees. This isn’t a physical posture, but an attitude of true reverence. All believers are of one household and as the church, they are the dwelling place of God. God is “at home” IN us. All who are redeemed, living on earth or in heaven, are as one family. He prays for all believers to be mightily strengthened within, so that Jesus can indwell us in our hearts and then all we do, say or think would originate in love.
We are to be rooted and grounded in LOVE so that we can know the love of Christ and be filled with all the fullness of God. He prayed for believers to become as Godlike as possible. (Matthew 5:48 and 1 Peter 1:15-16)
There is no limit to what God can do. He is able to do far more than we can ask or imagine and He does it according to the power that works in us. His power is unlimited and beyond our comprehension when the conditions of vv16-19 are met. When we are strengthened with might through the Holy Spirit, Christ dwells in our hearts through faith, and we’re rooted and grounded in love, filled with all the fullness of Christ; then, God’s glory is manifested through all eternity in those whom He has redeemed.
President Nikki Murphy conducted the business meeting. Members expressed prayer concerns and Phyllis Lister led the intercessory prayer. The meeting was dismissed with the Closing Prayer.