New Testament: letters
Paul's letter to the church in Ephesus
About this letter
“Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ for the spiritual blessings that Christ has brought us from heaven!” (1.3). Paul begins his letter to the Christians in Ephesus with a powerful reminder of the main theme of his message. Christ died on the cross to set us free (1.7,8). But God raised Christ from death, and he now sits at God's right side in heaven, where he rules over this world. And he will rule over the future world as well (1.20,21).
Christ brought Jews and Gentiles together by “breaking down the wall of hatred” that separated them (2.14) and he united them all as part of that holy temple where God's Spirit lives (2.22). This was according to God's eternal plan (3.11).
There is only one Lord, one Spirit of God, and one God, who is the Father of all people (4.4,5). This means that Christians must let the Spirit keep their hearts united, so they can live at peace with each other (4.3). The idea of all Christians being one with Christ is so central to this letter that it occurs twenty times. There is one faith and one baptism by which believers become one body.
Ephesus was a city port on the western shore of Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). In Paul's time this was the fourth largest city in the Roman Empire. It was also an ancient centre of nature religion where the goddess Artemis was widely worshipped (Acts 19).
Paul lets the Ephesians know that much is expected of people who are called to a new life (4.17—5.20). Followers of the Lord are God's dear children, and they must do as God does (5.1). They used to live in the dark, but they must now live in the light and make their light shine (5.8,9).
Paul then teaches husbands and wives, children and parents, and slaves and masters how to live as Christians (5.21—6.9).
Paul never forgets how kind God is:
God was merciful! We were dead because of our sins, but God loved us so much that he made us alive with Christ, and God's wonderful kindness is what saves you…You were saved by faith in God, who treats us much better than we deserve. This is God's gift to you, and not anything you have done on your own.
A quick look at this letter
1. Greetings (1.1,2)
2. Christ brings spiritual blessings (1.3—3.21)
3. A new life in unity with Christ (4.1—6.20)
4. Final greetings (6.21-24)
Contemporary English Version (CEV) is copyright © American Bible Society. Psalms and Proverbs © 1991, 1992; New Testament © 1991, 1992, 1995; Old Testament © 1995; translation notes, subject headings for text © 1995; Anglicisations © The British and Foreign Bible Society 1997, 2012.