Ephesians        

A Bible Study

Contents:
Introduction
Blessings in Christ  13-14
Chosen  14-14
Paul Prays for the Ephesian Church  115-23
God's Workmanship, Saved by Grace  21-10
In Christ Reconciled to God and Each other  211-22
The Mystery of Christ Revealed  31-13
Unity in the Body of Christ - by Grace  41 - 521
Wives, Husbands, Children  522 - 69
The Armour of God  610-18
      Truth
      Righteousness
      Good News
      Faith
      Salvation
      Scripture
      Prayer
Paul Seeks Prayer  619,20
Final Greetings  621-24

 
Introduction  11-5       [Contents]

Paul went briefly to this prosperous idol worshipping (Artemis) commercial port city, the Roman capital of Asia Minor, in AD 52.  Act 1819-21

Apollos, Priscilla and Aquila taught them that Jesus was the Christ.  Act 1924-28

On his 3rd missionary journey Paul stayed there for 2  years (53-55).
It ended abruptly in a riot.
Paul went on to Macedonia but left Timothy in Ephesus to counter the false teaching of Hymenaeus and Alexander.  Act 191 - 201 1Tim 13,20

In 57, while at Miletus, he called for the Ephesian elders to tell them his plans and also to warn them to be on guard against deceivers.  Act 2017-38

This letter was written ~3 years later, while Paul was imprisoned in Rome.
Paul was not depressed at his incarceration, nor did he become an escapee.
He devoted his time to preaching, teaching and encouraging the church.
            Almighty God ensured Paul was allowed pen and paper and a degree of freedom; and made great use of his servant's endeavour, much to satan's disgust!

They would later (~95) receive a letter from Christ, dictated to John, in Rev 21-7.
      They had persevered for over 30 years, but had lost their first love.

Unlike Paul's other letters, this one does not seek to correct any specific errors.
He delights to rehearse how much Almighty God has already done for his church,
      and then tells us how we should live and
      how to wage a successful spiritual battle with the weapons God provides.

From ... and To ...  11,2

From:  Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.
He rightly claims his apostleship (= one who was sent).
      He did not choose to be a Christian or missionary; it was by the will of God.
      First, God called him on the Damascus road.  Act 91-19
      The Holy Spirit sent him out with Barnabas.  Act 132

To:  The saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus.
He uses the title 'saints' rather than Christians.
      Today we rarely follow his example.
      Are we afraid of the need for holiness, that the word 'saints' implies?
The church is also called 'faithful'.
      They were persecuted and it cost to be faithful in Christ Jesus.
The letter was written to the Ephesians,
      but being a general letter it was probably also circulated to other churches.
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  12
Grace is the whole raft of undeserved blessings and revelation
      that only God can bestow upon men.
      Paul will list the huge extent of God's grace in the first 3 chapters.
Peace can only come with God's presence.
      Men have always fought each other, and always will, unless God intervenes.
      Only Jesus can give men peace with God.
Paul uses this greeting in each of his letters.
      May we experience both God's grace and peace today - and always.

 
Blessings in Christ  13-14       [Contents]

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us
      in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  13

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were greatly blessed by God.
      Blessing does not mean the cessation of trials, or prosperity.
            In The Pilgrim's Progress, Christian experienced:
                  Hill of Difficulty, Valley of Humiliation, Town of Vanity (persecution),
                  Doubting Castle, Enchanted Ground, and Hill Lucre.
      Revelation and faith opened their eyes to see the day of Jesus Christ,
            and the fulfilment of all that he promised.
How does God bless us today?
      Revelation of truth, faith, salvation, eternal life, reconciliation, righteousness,
            peace, hope, security, courage ...  the list is endless.
            The hand of Almighty God upon our lives is most reassuring.
      Though as Job said, sometimes he gives and sometimes he takes away.
            In all things God works for the good of those who love him.  Rom 828
            Many experience ridicule, deprivation and isolation;
                  others suffer extreme persecution for their love of Jesus.
                  Their reward is in heaven.
            But always "Baruch Hashem" - Blessed be the name of the Lord.  Job 121
      We see his hand both in small details and in the weightier events.
            At all times he leads, cares, protects and strengthens with his presence.

 
Chosen  14-14       [Contents]

Paul emphasises the greatest spiritual blessing - to be chosen by God.
      For he chose us in him before the creation of the world ... 14
      In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ,
            in accordance with his pleasure and will.  15
      In him we were also chosen, having been predestined
            according to the plan of him who works out everything
            in conformity with the purpose of his will.  111

Nowadays the emphasis is more on my choosing God.
      We do make that great choice, but only because God first chose us.
      And he did so before the world was even created.
      Part of the physical creation is the 4th dimension - time.
      We are unable to think outside of time, but Almighty God can do so.
            He knows all about the beginning, the middle and the end.
      That he wrote my name in his Book of Life before the first day
            when sun began to shine is staggering, amazing.

God's choice - the doctrine of election - is proclaimed throughout scripture:
      The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples
      on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.  Deut 76
      No-one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.  Jn 644

What is God's purpose in choosing us?

1.  to be holy and blameless in his sight.  14
            On his own, no man can get even near to achieving this.
            Jesus said that we must be born again, then he will live in us.
            Being obedient will then not be a burden, but a delight. Ps 197-11
            He will inspire us to do what is good and true, compassionate, loving.
            Note that it is 'in his sight';, and he knows every action and thought.
                  The Pharisees were not the only ones who tried to impress others.
      This is a high calling.

2.  to be adopted as sons.  15a
            Can there be a greater privilege than for Almighty God to be our Father?
            A son has a totally different relationship than a servant or even a friend.                    Every baby, naturally born or adopted, is chosen by his parents.
                  It is in accordance with his pleasure and will.  15b

3.  to lavish on us the riches of God's grace.  17,8
            Grace that brings redemption and forgiveness;
                 total, complete and eternal, according to his good pleasure. 19
            Our salvation is the very purpose of all his creation.
            God's joy is ecstatic!!  See also Lu 1511-32 Father of prodigal son.

4.  to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under Christ.  110
            A glance at the world today shows it is anything but united.
            War and conflict is on every page of history.
            Almighty God has a covenanted plan to change this.
            His creation will be transformed into a new heaven and a new earth;
                  and all the redeemed will be a glorious part of it.

5.  that we might be for the praise of his glory.  112
            God deserves our praise.
            He has rescued and forgiven us.
            He has designed and made a fantastic creation.
            We should hang our heads in shame that UK schools are only allowed
                 to teach evolution theory as fact. Creation is denied.
                 But there will come a day when the praise of God will be heard.

God's choice is a most significant dream.
His Son, Jesus Christ has and will fulfill it completely.
No one can thwart the plan and choice of the Lord God.
      He always was and always will be the Almighty.

The great privilege of being chosen is that we are 'included in Christ.'
You also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession.  113,14

Truth of Jesus Christ
      heard ... believed ... marked ...
The gospel is not some vague, iffy 'pie in the sky' idea -
      the musing of philosophers, old women or religious cranks.
      Neither will modern active atheists or governments be able to destroy it.
The glorious word of truth is revealed in the scriptures.
The Holy Spirit convicts and convinces us that God's word is true.
His constant presence is our certain guarantee - the Divine seal of our inclusion.

Redemption is the price paid to release a man from prison;
      to buy them in the sinners slave market.
      No prisoner or slave can pay the required price.
      But Jesus paid in full on the Cross.

 
Paul Prays for the Ephesian Church  115-23       [Contents]

First he gives thanks to God for them.

Then he asks that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.  117

The objective of wisdom and revelation is not greater theological knowledge,
      but it is to know Jesus better,
      to walk with him, love and obey him, witness of him to others, honour him.
Today, when so many discard, deny or ignore Jesus, this is ever more vital.
      May the church be seen to have the wisdom of God
      and in growing uncertainty, display the security and peace with God.
      For he alone knows the future -
            some of which he reveals to those who seek him.

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that ...
1.  you may know the hope to which he has called you
      The hope and expectation of many has been dulled by disappointment,
            rejection, sin, careless distraction, deceit ...
      It can be awakened by prayer and enlightened by God's word.

2.      the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints
      Christ, risen from the dead, inherited all the life and glory of God.
      He is seated by his Father in heaven to rule over heaven and earth.
            far above all rule and authority, power and dominion.
      He delights to share his inheritance with his saints. What a privilege!

3.  his incomparably great power for us who believe
      The power of God far exceeds all that our minds can see in his creation,
            and can know in our new birth when we believe in him.
      May his great power continue to transform us to be more like him,
            and filled with the fulness of him who fills everything in every way.
      Never think that God is not able to complete what he has begun in us,
            nor that one day he may forget us or become unfaithful to his word.
            Evil forces may seem powerful by are never any match against God.

 
God's Workmanship, Saved by Grace  21-10       [Contents]

You were dead in your transgressions and sins 21
The dead can do nothing whatever to save themselves.
Their relationship with God is not just poor or distant, but dead.
Though physically living, our time was spent
      gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature
      and following its desires and thoughts.  23
      If anyone should doubt this, listen to the news or read any newspaper!
      Yes, it is true unbelievers can be kind and unselfish,
            but they have no life with God, no true hope of heaven.
            They are by nature objects of wrath.  23b
            What a pitifully disastrous state to be in.

There then follows one of God's great 'But ...'s.
      But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,
            made us alive with Christ ...
      And God raised us up with Christ
            and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.
  24-6
God did not sit back and do nothing, he acted powerfully with love and mercy.
      He sent Jesus to make known this love by being willing to be crucified,
            thus taking on himself the punishment we deserve.
      Thereby we are forgiven, made righteous, and made 'alive with Christ'.
      How can there be any greater undeserved mercy that this?
The means by which he makes all this known to us is as various as his creation.
      Testimonies are fascinating; God is so patient, so ingenious, so personal.
Part of me, my body, remains on earth surrounded by wickedness,
      but the Holy Spirit reveals Jesus.
      He raises my spirit to 'see' and know a new life with Christ.
      For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face:
            now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
  1Co 1312

      I long for that day. 
      Some call it 'pie in the sky'.
            How silly to dismiss God's sure promise as 'too good to be true'.
      Today, now, our gracious God reveals a little of his heavenly realms;
            enough to know that is true and his word can be trusted.
Notice the tense that Paul uses.
      He does not say that God will raise us up with Christ,
      but God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him.
      He makes us aware of what God has already done,
            even if it seems that there is so much more to do!
Why does God raise us up?  The answer is profoundly simple:
      In order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.  27
      So that all the world may see clearly the extent of God grace and kindness.
      The degree to which we and the church display this remains a challenge.
            A challenge we must earnestly strive to achieve in all we do and say.
Paul quickly reminds us that the character of Christ in us is received by grace,
      it cannot be by our own efforts to be good.
      This not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -
            not by works, so that no-one can boast.
            For we are God's workmanship,
            created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
            which God prepared in advance for us to do.
  29,10
Furthermore, all the 'good works' are pre-planned by God.
      All the various events in our lives are opportunities to reveal Christ to others.

 
In Christ Reconciled to God and Each other  211-22       [Contents]

The first part of this chapter tells how we are made alive in Christ,
      how we are saved by grace, and created in Christ.
Seeing this amazing privilege and kindness of being reconciled to God
      Therefore ... remember ...
Why should we look back at our old lives when Christ has made us new people?
      remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth ...
      remember that at that time you were ...
            excluded from citizenship in Israel
            and foreigners to the covenants of the promise,
            without hope and without God.
  211,12
Today, very few Christians remember this important fact.
      Indeed many arrogantly assume we have taken over all the good promises
            that God made to the Jewish people. It is called 'Replacement theology'.
      But God's covenant with Abraham was eternal and unconditional.
            Israel has over the last 4,000 years made many mistakes.
                  Almighty God has punished them for this, but not rejected them.
                  He remains faithful to his word, his covenant.
      Paul then explains what has really happened:
      But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away
            have been brought near through the blood of Christ.  213
      Near to God and near to Israel !!

      For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one
            and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility ...  214
      Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens,
            but fellow-citizens with God's people ...
  219
What a privilege.  What a miracle of grace and power.
Christ came not only to save the Jews, but also us Gentiles.
      And in doing so to reconcile us and make us one.
His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.  215,16
He came to save all believers, resolve our hostility to God
      and towards each other, that is to reconcile Jews and Gentiles.
Why do we so often try to frustrate this clearly declared purpose of God?
He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.  217,18
      This real peace and friendship often eludes us.
      Since the Balfour Declaration in 1919 and the League of Nations in 1922,
            successive UK governments have consistently supported the Arabs
            before and during WWII. We did nothing to prevent the holocaust.
            And since then we have sought to destroy the nation of Israel.
      The church of Christ has largely ignored these words,
            and shown no gratitude to the Jews for their Bible or their Messiah.
            Almighty God, the God of Israel, is not impressed with our behaviour.
      We can plead for mercy; but without national repentance, expect judgement.

In one verse (112) Paul lists the relationship between Gentiles and Jews:
1.  They were separated from Christ, the Messiah and Saviour.
2.  Excluded from citizenship in Israel.
3.  Foreigners to the covenants of promise.
4.  Without hope and without God.
He then reveals what Christ has done to overturn all these;
      he declares our complete reconciliation both to God, and to the Jews.
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens,
      but fellow-citizens with God's people and members of God's household.
  219
At that moment (when Jesus died on the cross) the curtain of the temple
      was torn in two from top to bottom.
  Math 2751
You are all one in Christ Jesus.  Gal 328
In the kingdom of God there are no strangers, foreigners or second-class citizens.
Let this truth dictate our thoughts and behaviour.

 
The Mystery of Christ Revealed  31-13       [Contents]

In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.  34-6

What was the mystery that was hidden in past generations and revealed to Paul?
      The Gentiles are heirs together with Israel.

God's calling for him was to reveal this mystery, hidden for so many years.
Grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
      and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery.
  38,9
Since the days of Abraham the Jews had been God's 'chosen people'
      For 20 centuries they had longed for the promised Messiah and Saviour.
      God had sent many prophets and leaders to confirm his promise.
      Now Christ had come and God's covenant was fulfilled.

But there were two major surprises:
1.  The Messiah had been rejected by the Jewish leaders and crucified.
      So much for a glorious, victorious King!
      They were slow to understand that Christ first had to redeem sinners;
            all sinners. He had to be crucified to pay the punishment we deserve.
            Only then could he be their King.  Lu 2419-27

2.  God's plan was to include believing Gentiles.
      He made this clear from the beginning when he told Abraham:
      And all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.  Gen 123
      The Jews only remembered the first part of God's promise:
      I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you.  Gen 122

These two surprises remain so.
Both are a mystery until God graciously reveals them to our dull hearts.
Yet all the Scriptures, from Genesis on, prophesy God's redemptive plan.
Paul's great mission, and ours, is to reveal this 'mystery of Christ' to all.
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.  310
      The mystery is revealed on earth, to all the spiritual beings,
            including the fallen angels. God's plan is being fulfilled; none can stop it.

Paul Prays for the Ephesians  314-21

For this reason I kneel before the Father,
      from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.
  314
God's undivided family - Jew and Gentile, those who had died and those alive.
      They all have one family surname.
      Because of what Jesus had achieved, Paul prays:

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fulness of God.  316-19

If Christ dwells within us we will have power to resist all evil,
      and be inspired to really love and do good; not just talk about it.
Paul's desire and expectation for the Ephesian church knew no bounds.
      To be filled with 'all the fulness of God' would be fantastic!

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.  320,21

What do we believe God is able to do in us?
      Is it 'immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine' ?
            Can he so change us as to reveal his glory to the world?
Paul believed God was not only able to work in them, but would do so.
What do we ask God to do in us, and in others?

 
Unity in the Body of Christ - by Grace  41 - 521       [Contents]

Paul now narrows the theme of reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles
      to unity within a local church.
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  43

What characteristics are vital to achieve this?
      Be completely humble and gentle;
            be patient, bearing with one another in love.  42
Only by the grace and power of God can we begin to make such progress.
Arrogance, determination, the "I'm right attitude" doesn't only affect the young,
            older men think their way is right too and often resist change.

The truth is written here:
      There is one body and one Spirit ...
      you were called to one hope ...
      one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
      one God and Father of all.
  44,5
Sadly men divide the church of Christ -
      Sometimes theology, but more often style of worship,
            personal aggression or ambition and pride.
It always weakens the church, injures individuals and grieves the Lord God.
This letter (AD 60) to the Ephesians should be read often by all of us.
3 years earlier on his way to Jerusalem, Paul had warned the Ephesian elders:
      Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.  Act 2028-31

Paul was determined that the Ephesian church would remain united and strong.
      And it did so for many years.  (Rev 21-7)

Over the centuries the church has suffered far more from internal squabbles
      and from internal, self-interested 'savage wolves' that Paul warned about,
      than from outside persecution and wickedness.
One great miracle of heaven will be the complete oneness of all God's people;
      at last, what we can now only dream about, will be achieved.
      'One body and one Spirit ...'
Meanwhile we strive for oneness and at the same time avoid compromising truth.
      An almost impossible task!
      But to each of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.  47
      Such is his gift of grace, it is possible.

When he ascended on high he ... gave gifts to men.  48
      Though ascended he fulfills his promise to not leave us alone.  Jn 1418,26 167-16
      What gifts did he give?
      It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers  411
      Each of these tasks is primarily involved in making known the truth of Jesus.
            This is not just theology but is practical Christianity.
                  to prepare God's people for works of service  412
            And the final goal is also revealed:
                  we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God
                  and become mature,
                  attaining to the whole measure of the fulness of Christ.  413
            Clearly much work still remains to be done.

Led by the Lord, Paul is determined that the church:
      will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

He wanted stability,
      the maintenance of the firm foundation of Christ,
      truth revealed that overcomes the corrupt cunning deceit of men
            (this is not restricted to only business, politics and personal greed).
He saw the love of Christ building a very different body than the world,
      and he would not allow the church to become polluted.
He insists that Christians must live differently from the 'Gentiles'.  417
            (Gentiles here = unbelievers rather than non-Jews)
      They live in darkness because they are separated from the life of God.  418
      And their lives clearly show it.
      Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality
      so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.
  419
      Lust can be for wealth, power and popularity as well as sex.
            Lust corrupts and is almost always deceitful.
            The very opposite of Christ and invariably opposed to him.
      The church must continually strive to:
            put off the old self.  It was 'crucified with Christ'.  Ro 66
                  But it still tempts and tries to corrupt us.
            We are urged:             to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.  Ro 122
            to put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbour
            to practise no pretence, no 'economy of the truth', no false impressions.
            And definitely no lies. Always be honest, even if it costs.
            In your anger do not sin ... do not give the devil a foothold.
            Anger is not always sinful; God is sometimes angry.
                  But human anger often leads to sin - and bad decisions, later regretted.
            He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work.
            Beware of envy and greed, as well as laziness, that can lead to stealing.
            Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths.
                  Especially when trying to be popular with worldly people.
            Gossip, running down others, boasting etc are also unwholesome.
            Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God.
                  All sin grieves him. Let us practice the presence of Almighty God.
            Get rid of all bitterness.
                  Many, if not all, Christians have been hurt by others.
                  It is vital that we learn to forgive.
                  Bitterness destroys the soul and makes peace with God impossible.
            Be made new in the attitude of your minds.
            Be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
            Be kind and compassionate to one another,
                  forgiving each other,  just as in Christ God forgave you.
  422-32

            This will not only unite the body of Christ, but also give God great joy.
            May we all strive to walk this road in obedience and truth,
                  and have done with all the different strands of selfishness.

The ever practical Paul then continues with how we may do this.
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  51,2

On the negative side; what must be avoided?
      There must not be even a hint of sexual immorality.  53
      Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking.  54
      Let no-one deceive you with empty words.  56
      Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness.  511
      Do not be foolish.  517
      Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.  518
      Because:
      The days are evil.  516
      No immoral, impure or greedy person ...
            has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
  55
      God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient.  56

On the positive side:
      Live as children of light
            (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)
      Find out what pleases the Lord.
  58b,9
      Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.  514
      Be very careful, then, how you live not as unwise but as wise,
            making the most of every opportunity.
  515
      Be filled with the Spirit.  518
      Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.  519
      Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything.  520
      Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.  521

 
Wives, Husbands, Children  522 - 69       [Contents]

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.  522
Submission for anyone is not easy, especially for women in the modern world.
      Thankfully they have been set free from the imposed slavery in the past,
            but maybe the pendulum has now swung too far.
            Power / dominion is overly attractive to some.
Note that all of us (and the church) submit to Christ and his commands.
      Some men find this hard.
Also the scripture does not say anyone must submit to the church!
      But the church must submit to Christ.
      Failure to keep this command has brought considerable problems.
Submission is based on respect. 533b  Where this is lacking, so is submission.
A wife should not devise ways to manipulate her husband to do what she wants.
It is a foolish husband who does not listen to his wife's ideas.
      She is a partner, not a slave; nevertheless he is ultimately responsible.
"Do not expect too much from your spouse.
      Remember that marriage is, after all, the union of two sinners, and not two angels."   J C Ryle

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church
      and gave himself up for her to make her holy.
  525,26
This is indeed a mighty task and objective for any husband.
It is not the cost that is a problem but the extent of love.
      We are commanded to love 'as Christ loved'.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
      It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered,
      it keeps no record of wrongs.
      Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
      It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
      Love never fails.
  1Co 134-8

However often we husbands fail in this;
      be quick to admit any failure and
      never give up on this godly and rewarding objective.
      Only the exceeding grace of God will enable us to achieve the love of Christ.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
      Honour your father and mother.
  61,2
Obedience, honour, respect ... is too often rare in today's youngsters.
How can this rewarding practice be encouraged?
      Especially when children now start school just 4 years old;
            and both peers and schools have little of no respect for the Lord God.
      Also if the mother and wife show little respect for the father.
Note that Paul immediately adds, Fathers, do not exasperate your children.  64
      He must humbly love and cherish his family; not domineer it.
      He must teach and instruct by example; not just by command.
      He should learn to both lead and listen.
Priorities of time and resources often indicate our true objectives.
      They are not easy to keep true;
            but the family will be the first to notice and suffer any deviation.

It is a very bad day when a government tries to rule family structure,
      and change what God, our creator, has ordained as best.
Schools, TV and Media instruction is almost entirely atheistic in UK today.
      This is an enormous challenge to Christian families.
      Our nation is paying an increasing price for ignoring Scripture,
            and the Lord God who gave us his instructions therein.

 
The Armour of God  610-18       [Contents]

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Put on the full armour of God
      so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.
  610,11

This part of Ephesians is probably one of the best known in the NT.
      Yet we all need reminding of its truth.
      Why?
            1.  Laziness 
            2.  Battle fatigue
            3.  Self-sufficiency
            4.  Satan's subtle schemes
What makes a person strong?
Some are naturally stronger than others in character and ability.
In The Pilgrim's Progress Bunyan chooses the names carefully.
      There is Mr Valiant-for-Truth and Mr Ready-to-Halt.
            Both complete their journey and are called to enter heaven.
            So do Faithful and Mr Feeblemind.
      Each need the strength of the Lord.
      The proud and self-sufficient will surely stumble in the Christian life.
Gladys Aylward was rejected by several missionary societies,
      but God made her strong and resolute to tell the Chinese about Jesus.
In a word our strength is in the Name of the Lord. 1Sam 174  Ps 207  Zeph 312
      Only he can enable and protect us.
      Only he can give us hope and assurance in a wicked world.
      Only he can save and guide our souls.
     
Almighty God offers his children armour and weapons.
      First they reveal the devil's schemes, his evil strategy and tactics.
            (See The Screwtape Letters by C S Lewis.)
      Secondly they enable us to effectively resist him.
            We are weak, but the Lord Almighty is with us to fight for us.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  612

Here, the nature of the continuous battle is revealed.
      A military commander can only win if he knows where his enemy is,
            his motives, what forces and equipment he has,
            and correctly assess his tactics.

      This is equally true when our fight is spiritual.
            Only the Lord God can reveal satan's deceiving plans.
            Only the Lord God has the power to overthrow the enemy of our souls.
            But we must put on the 'armour' God provides for us,
                  and learn to use it well.

      Why should all the leaders of the main political parties in the last decade
            support evil homosexual practices, when they are otherwise decent men?
      Why for the last 50 years should they all have supported the EU,
            and consistently lied to us about their motive for a federal Europe?
      Why should PM Blair lie about the reasons for war in Iraq and Afghanistan?
      Why have so many leaders and the media supported Arafat and now Abbas
            and sought the destruction of Israel - God's chosen people?
      Why is advertising so effective? We buy what we don't need and can't afford.
      Why does the media consistently support greed, 'safe sex', abortion,
            homosexuality, euthanasia, evolution and ridicule Almighty God?
      Why was Mary Whitehouse so hotly resisted in the 60's when she warned UK
            against danger of explicit sex and violence on TV?
      etc, etc

      How can a Christian resist such a spiritual onslaught?

      Equally important, what about our own personal struggle against sin?

            7 Deadly sins:  Anger, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony.
            Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood,
                  a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil,
                  a false witness who pours out lies
                  and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.
  Prov 617-19
            The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.  Gal 519-21

      And our striving for righteousness - 7 Cardinal virtues:
            chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, and humility.
                  also faith and hope.
            the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
                   faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Gal 522,23

      Make no mistake, we are engaged in a holy war,
            the outcome of which is either life or death.
      Spiritual forces of evil seek our destruction.
      Almighty God gives us himself and his armour to win the war.

Therefore put on the full armour of God,
      so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground,
      and after you have done everything, to stand.
  613

The practical implication of this sentence is clear:
      1.  Every man without the armour of God will fall, and fall heavily.

      2.  We cannot suddenly put it on when the need arises;
            we must wear the armour always and be practised in its use.

      3.  If today seems bad, realise that a day of far greater evil is coming soon.

      4.  God is faithful; with his armour we will be able to overcome all evil.

Paul then details each piece of the armour in  614-18

Truth       [Contents]

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled round your waist,
      Truth and honesty in all our thoughts is vital.
      Pretence and deception is so common in conversation and writing.
      Calling  a spade, a spade must not be an excuse for being rude. Jesus wasn't.
            When a rich young man asked him about eternal life
            Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said.
            "Go,  sell everything you have and give to the poor,
            and you will have treasure in  heaven. Then come, follow me."
  Mk 1021
            When an adulterous woman was brought to him to be stoned,
            Jesus did not deny her sin or say it didn't matter, but said,
            "Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin."  Jn 811
      Ananias and Sapphira paid a high price for their pretence.  Act 51-11
      Jesus promised, But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes,
            he will guide you into all truth.
  Jn 1613
            Only then will we learn to make right decisions and share the truth of God.

Righteousness       [Contents]

with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
      Righteousness = virtue, holy living, obedience to God's commands.
      No man can just decide to become righteous - not by God's standards.
            He must first repent, believe, then receive a new heart and this gift of God.
      As Wesley wrote,
            "Jesus thy blood and righteousness my beauty are, my glorious dress ..."
      Our righteousness is his.
      If others see something of the nature of God in us - it is his good handiwork.
      Many scorn righteousness and see it as being opposed to happiness.
            It is not. God's gift brings real joy and peace now, and it lasts for ever.

Good News       [Contents]

and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
      Telling others of what Jesus has done, of his forgiveness and the offer of life
             is the desire and delight of all Christians.
      As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, For I resolved to know nothing while I was
            with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
  1Co 22
      All men without the salvation of Christ are lost and without reliable hope.
            At death we all face judgement, but a Christian has Christ
                  as both an affective Advocate and a risen Redeemer.
            Without Christ a man's prospects are decidedly bleak.
            But all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.
      This is the good news, the gospel of peace with God.
            Let us seek every opportunity to share or help others to share this news.

Faith       [Contents]

take up the shield of faith,
      with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

      The writer of Hebrews describes faith as being sure of what we hope for
            and certain of what we do not see
(with our eyes).  Heb 111

      He then gives several examples:
            By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command,
                  so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

                  In the beginning God created, ... he did not transform existing matter.
            By faith Abel ... by faith Noah ... by faith Abraham ... by faith Rahab ...
            What a grand number of men and women.
            They all believed what God had revealed and promised.
            They weren't disappointed, even if they did not receive the things promised
                  they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.
Heb 1113

      Faith that believes God is a mighty weapon when circumstances and others
            ridicule truth - especially God's creation and God's judgement (2Pe 33-13),
            and when  persecuted - e.g. reformation, communist or muslim martyrs.
            Their example is proof that their God-given faith was not in vain.
      You believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for
      you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
  1Pe 18,9
      Take care that we are not taken captive by Giant Despair in Doubting Castle.
            Christian and Hopeful only escape by prayer and believing promises.
            Note that their downfall was due to taking what seemed an easier path.
            (see Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress)
      The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.  Prov 1810
            It is not 'my faith' that protects, but the promise of God.
      Faith will not stop the arrows, but Almighty God will 'extinguish' them.

Salvation       [Contents]

Take the helmet of salvation
God's assurance of salvation in Christ is written in scripture and in our hearts.
      It is based not on some vague hope, nor on our striving to live a holy life,
            but by Christ bearing our just punishment for sin on the Cross.
      God confirmed it in the resurrection of his Son.
      Jesus is both our Advocate on the day of Judgement and our Redeemer.
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven
      given to men by which we must be saved.
  Act 412
David rejoices in God's salvation 44 times in the Psalms, and Isaiah 25 times.
      Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvellous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. The Lord has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations. He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.  Ps 981-3
Our salvation is sure and certain, even if it is not yet complete.
      So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.  Heb 928

Scripture       [Contents]

and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
This is the one offensive item in the armoury.
Scripture brings revelation, and revelation transforms our mind with God's truth.
      It overcomes satan's condemnation with assurance of God's forgiveness,
            by making known the work and purpose of Christ crucified.
      It remoulds our character and makes known the plans of God. Ro 122
      It brings light and hope into the darkness of this modern world.
      In the triple temptation of  Jesus by satan in the desert, how did he respond?
            Each time he used the Word of God, "It is written ..."  Math 41-11
            And each time satan was defeated.
The known and well used Word of God is a mighty and much needed weapon.

Prayer       [Contents]

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.
Prayer is all too often unused except when disaster strikes;
      yet it remains a vital part of the Christian's armoury.
The example of Jesus needs to be followed. 
      Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Lu 516
      Jesus said to them, "Pray that you will not fall into temptation."  He withdrew
            about a stone's throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed ...   Lu 2241
      The temptation for the disciples in Gethsemane was first to sleep,
            and then to use a steel sword to resist the arrest of Jesus.
      Other temptations would follow; satan has many varieties of arrows,
            but prayer is a vital weapon against them all.
      On this occasion Jesus was about to experience the maximum Roman pain.
            He needed courage for the extreme agony of crucifixion.
            But he needed even greater courage because he knew that by taking on his
                  shoulders all human sin, he would separated from his Father.
                  Only prayer enabled him to win the battle for our redemption.

When Daniel was in Babylon (mostly as a busy prime minister first under
      Nebuchadnezzar and then under Darius the Mede), he made time to pray three times a day.
      We are not told what he prayed, but he faced Jerusalem and from God's answer I suspect
      it majored upon Jewish forgiveness and becoming a righteous people.
      It was only after 66 years that God revealed that the time would surely come
      when the Anointed One would come and finish transgression, put an end to sin,
      atone for wickedness and bring in everlasting righteousness.
  Dan 924

Never give up praying when there seems to be no answer.
      Many mother's sons have been saved because they prayed faithfully.

God's answers may remain unknown in this life.
No tear ever falls to the ground unnoticed by Almighty God.
Pray in the Spirit ... follows the sword of the Spirit is the word of God.
So it is intended to be a good directive to use scripture in prayer.
      Use it correctly; don't distort an isolated scripture to mean what we want.
The Bible reveals God's plans and his enduring promises;
      it is thus the bed-rock and our hope, and gives confidence in prayer.
Prayer is not so much telling God our plans and asking him to bless them,
      but it is the discerning of God's plans, the pleading for his grace and mercy.
      Note also how much scripture honours God as Creator and gives him glory.
            Our prayers should do this too.

With this in mind, be alert ...
The temptation to enjoy rest and sleep is ever with us, especially in older years.
Consistent, faithful prayer is hard work and vital; let us not shy away.
Be on guard to defeat all of satan's opportunistic attacks.
Casual Christians are always in danger.

 
Paul Seeks Prayer  619,20       [Contents]

Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.  619,20
He knows well how important prayer is in supporting preaching.
1.  Preaching often led to persecution  and riots.
      It takes courage to speak about sin and judgement - then and now.
            It is never a popular, but it is an essential part of the gospel of Christ.
            How else can a man experience the forgiveness of God?
            prayer can give a man the heart of a lion!

2.  Paul could speak the words, but only God can make known the mystery.
      This is the exclusive work of the Holy Spirit.
      On the day of Pentecost when Peter preached and 3,000 believed,
            God turned the hearts of the God-fearing Jewish pilgrims so they cried,
                  "Brothers, what shall we do?"
            Peter replied, "Repent and be baptised, every one of you,
                  in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins."  Act 237,38
            God revealed the truth that they yearned for.
      Preachers speak the word of God, but hearers do not always hear.
            Keep preaching and keep praying. 
            God may in due time reveal the mystery of the gospel.

3.  Paul realised the urgency of the Gospel.
            Whenever I open my mouth ... 
            He obviously didn't have much time for 'small talk'.
            His one longing was to save souls
                  and to give men a firm foundation in Christ.
           

 
Final Greetings  621-24       [Contents]

Paul sends Tychicus to tell the Ephesians how I am and what I am doing.
      And also that he may encourage you.  621,22
His final words are similar to those used in several of his letters:
      Peace to the brothers, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.

These are not just words; Paul really meant them that they might abound in
      peace, love, faith and grace - through and with Christ.

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