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Summary of Paul's Letter to the Ephesians

By H. A. "Buster" Dobbs

I.  Introduction.
    A.  The object of the letter was to confirm the Ephesian disciples in 
        the one faith by affirming the universal nature of the one church.
        1.  The book has two parts:
            a.  The doctrinal part (1:1 to 3:21).
            b.  The practical part (4:1 to 6:24).
    B.  Salutation and greeting (1:1-2).
        1.  Written by Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ to the saints at 
            Ephesus and the faithful in Jesus (1:1).
        2.  Paul wishes for them grace and peace (1:2).
II.  Doctrinal Part of the Letter.
     A.  The blessings of salvation--every spiritual blessing is in Christ 
         1.  Holiness, signifying a separation to God (1:4).
         2.  Adoption as sons to the praise of God's gift (1:5-6).
             a.  Paul says the saved are foreordained to adoption as sons.
             b.  If this means individuals are predetermined to be sons by 
                 an arbitrary appointment, it would amount to divine 
                 prejudice and contradict Acts 10:34-35.
             c.  The only other possibility is that God predestined the 
                 conditions upon which sinners could be born of water and 
                 spirit into the spiritual family of God, making them 
                 adopted sons "according to the good pleasure of his will."
             d.  This sonship comes by birth, but not natural birth. It is 
                 adoption and, in this case, God has a choice and so does 
                 the sinner. In courts of law a mature child gives his 
                 consent to be adopted, but the adoptive father must also 
                 be willing to accept the child.
             e.  We praise God for the radiant show of his goodness, by 
                 which he has favored us, because of his Son.
         3.  Redemption through the blood of Jesus (1:7).
             a.  The slave of sin is redeemed (bought back).
             b.  The cost of redemption is the blood of the Son of God 
                  (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
         4.  Forgiveness of trespasses--every false step and blunder is 
             dismissed, released, and remitted, according to the fullness of 
             his favor or boundless gift (1:7).
         5.  The sum of God's blessings (1:8-12).
             a.  God's great gift of salvation overflows in keeping with his 
                 practical understanding and knowledge in the management 
                 of affairs (1:8).
             b.  The purpose of God in Christ is to completely forgive all 
                 sin, according to his good pleasure--this was concealed (a 
                 mystery) in the Old Testament but is now revealed (the 
                 terms and conditions of such forgiveness are disclosed) in 
                 the New Testament (1:9).
             c.  The plan of God for accomplishing the salvation of all 
                 obedient believers, both Jews and Gentiles, by bringing 
                 them into one body, church, or society under the rule of 
                 Jesus is now unveiled (1:10).
             d.  We have received the blessing promised to Abraham that 
                 in him and his seed all the nations of the earth may be 
                 sanctified--the offer of salvation to every creature in all the 
                 earth was the predetermined purpose of God (1:11).
             e.  The Jews hoped in the Christ because they were given the 
                 promise of his coming, and should praise God for boasting 
                 of his intention to bless all the nations of the earth (1:12).
         6.  Gentiles received the hope of salvation through Jews (1:13-
             a.  The gospel of salvation sounded forth from Jerusalem 
             b.  The Gentiles heard the word of the gospel and believed it 
             c.  Gentiles were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise as a 
                 result of believing the gospel (1:13). The seal was hearing 
                 and believing the word of the gospel. "The firm foundation 
                 of God standeth, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them 
                 that are his: and, Let every one that nameth the name of 
                 the Lord depart from unrighteousness" (2 Tim. 2:19). The 
                 seal is accepting the authority of the living God by 
                 conforming to the requirements of his revealed will--the 
                 gospel is God's power to save (Rom. 1:16); it makes us 
                 complete (2 Tim. 3:16-17); it is able to save our souls 
                 (James 1:21); and it is able to build us up and give us an 
                 inheritance among all the sanctified (Acts 20:32) (1:13).
             d.  The seal of the Holy Spirit of promise is the earnest of 
                 our inheritance (1:14). The seal is hearing, believing, and 
                 obeying the gospel. This makes us a new creature in Christ 
                 Jesus and gives us peace, joy, and hope. The contentment 
                of discipleship is a foretaste of future bliss--the seal of the 
                 Spirit and the earnest of our inheritance (1:14).
     B.  Paul's prayer for the saints (1:15-23)
         1.  The apostle, having heard of their faith and love, gave thanks 
             and prayed for them (1:15-16).
         2.  Paul prayed they might have a full understanding of the plan 
             of salvation and have the wisdom to know something of 
             what is in store for the Christian (1:17-18).
         3.  He also prayed the saints would understand the power of 
             God as he works in the believer through his saving word 
             a.  It is the same power that brought Jesus out of the tomb in 
                 a mighty resurrection and glorious ascension (1:20).
         4.  Jehovah gave Jesus rule and dominion (1:21).
         5.  Jehovah put all things in subjection under the feet of Jesus, 
             and gave him to be head over all things to the church (1:22).
         6.  The church is the body of Jesus and the fullness of him who 
             fills all his members with spiritual favors, according to the 
             position in his body (the church) assigned to them (1:23).
     C.  Paul reviews blessings already received (2:1-10).
         1.  They were dead in sin and servants of Satan. Walking in the 
             lusts of the flesh, they were rebellious children, deserving  
             wrath and punishment (2:1-3).
         2.  God, in his goodness and rich mercy, made them alive 
             together with Christ (2:4).
             a.  In the water of baptism the contrite believer dies with 
                 Christ and is raised to live with Christ (2:5, Rom. 6:8).
             b.  The resurrected believer is to walk in newness of life, 
                 accounting himself to be dead to sin and alive to God in 
                 Christ (2:6-7, Rom. 6:4,11).
             c.  All future generations may have forgiveness and the hope 
                 of eternal life (2:8).
         3.  Salvation is by grace through faith (2:8-9).
             a.  Grace is the favor of God. It is God's unspeakable gift of 
                  his own Son, that whosoever believes on him should not 
                  perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).
             b.  Faith is man's acceptance of God's free gift and includes 
                 obedience to God's commands. Faith is a work of God 
                 that man must do (John 6:28-29).
             c.  Salvation is not of works. Man cannot keep the moral law 
                 of God perfectly. All sin and fall short of God's glory. No 
                 mortal can live in sinless perfection, and therefore, has 
                 nothing to boast about. He sins and must receive pardon 
                 by God's mercy, love, and grace (2:9).
         4.  As new creatures in Christ, the saved are to display good 
                 works, according to the appointment of God (2:10).
             a.  In Christ, we are new creatures (2 Cor. 5:17).
             b.  Men are to see the goods works of the saved and glorify 
                 God (Matt. 5:16).
     D.  The law of Moses is taken away so Jew and Gentile could be 
         one new man in Christ (2:11-22).
         1.  The Gentiles, in times past, were without God, strangers from 
             the covenants of the promise, and without hope (2:11-12).
         2.  In Christ, Gentiles are made close by the blood of Christ 
         3.  Christ is our peace and has removed the partition (2:14).
         4.  Jesus abolished the partition--law of Moses--so he might 
             bring both Jew and Gentile together, making peace (2:15).
         5.  Jesus' cross removed the enmity--the law of Moses that had 
             been a barrier between Jew and Gentile--and reconciled both 
             Jew and Gentile in the one body unto God (2:16).
         6.  Jesus preached peace to Jew and Gentile (2:17).
         7.  Through Jesus, both Jews and Gentiles have access to God 
             through the Spirit (2:18).
             a.  Rapprochement to God is by the word of reconciliation (2 
                 Cor. 5:18-19). The word of reconciliation is revealed, 
                 confirmed, and protected by the Spirit (1 Cor. 2:13). 
                 Therefore, we have access to God through the Spirit, or 
                 through the word revealed by the Spirit.
         8.  Gentiles may now be reconciled to God and members of his 
             household (2:20-22).
             a.  They are built upon the foundation of the teaching of 
                 apostles and prophets about Christ, who is the chief 
                 corner stone (2:20).
             b.  In Christ each saved person grows into a holy temple in 
                 the Lord (2:21).
             c.  The holy temple made of living stones is the dwelling 
                 place of God in the Spirit, or by means of the teaching of 
                 the Spirit (2:22).
     E.  Gentiles are partakers of the gospel (3:1-13).
         1.  Paul was given the work of teaching Gentiles (3:1-2).
         2.  It was revealed to Paul that God's offer of forgiveness is for 
             all nations (3:3-4).
             a.  He has previously mentioned that which was once 
                 concealed, but is now revealed--the mystery of the Old 
                 Testament (3:3).
             b.  By reading Paul's words, they could know his 
                 understanding in the mystery of Christ (3:4).
         3.  Previously this was not made known, but is now revealed to 
             the apostles of Jesus and the prophets by the Spirit (3:5).
         4.  The New Covenant is for all nations, and believing Gentiles 
             are acceptable to God (3:6).
         5.  Paul was appointed to preach to the Gentiles the gospel of 
             salvation--the unsearchable riches of Christ (3:7-8).
         6.  Paul was given the task of making all men see what had 
             been previously concealed (3:9).
         7.  Through the church--the one body--angels are taught the 
             multiplied and diverse wisdom of God in reconciling men to 
             himself by the blood of his Son (3:10).
         8.  It has always been the intention of God to make salvation 
             worldwide (3:11).
         9.  Confidence of acceptance is the effect of faith, and all 
             believers can boldly approach God in prayer (3:12-13).
             a.  Paul suffered because he taught that Gentiles had a right to 
                 salvation in Christ, but he did not want them to be 
                 dejected. His affliction was for their triumph (3:13).
     F.  Paul's earnest wish and prayer is that they might understand the 
         glory of the plan of salvation and be partakers in the divine 
         nature (3:14-19).
     G.  Praise to God for his goodness (3:20-21).
III.  The Practical Part of the Letter.
      A.  An exhortation to unity (4:1-16).
          1.  Believers are to walk worthily of their high calling (4:1).
          2.  They are to be lowly, meek, longsuffering, bearing with 
              each other in love (4:2). They are to be indulgent of each 
          3.  They are to maintain unity and peace (4:3).
          4.  There is to be a oneness of body (church), hope, faith, and 
              baptism, because there is one Spirit, one Lord, and one God 
              (Eph. 4:4-6).
          5.  Jesus, who came from heaven to earth and has now 
              returned to an exalted station in heaven, has given gifts to 
              men (4:7-10).
          6.  Jesus put various offices in the church (4:11).
          7.  The purpose of evangelists, apostles, prophets, elders, and 
              teachers (4:12-16).
              a.  Perfect and edify the saints (4:12).
              b.  Attain to unity of faith in the knowledge of the son of 
                  God (4:13).
              c.  Believers may grow up into the fullness of Christ (4:13).
              d.  May be stable and deeply rooted in the truth and not be 
                  mislead and deceived by cunning and smooth talking false 
                  teachers (4:14).
              e.  Speak the truth in love (4:15).
              f.  Every member of the church works in close harmony and 
                  accord with every other member to build up and 
                  strengthen the body, which is the church (4:16).
      B.  The saved are to be holy and not ungodly (4:17-31).
          1.  They must not live as do Gentiles (heathens) in foolishness 
              of mind, darkened in understanding, unable to tell truth from 
               error, strangers to the life commanded by God, without 
               restraint, indecent, wanton, in all uncleanness and greed 
              a.  They had not so learned Christ (4:20).
              b.  They were to put on the new man in righteous and 
                  holiness of truth (4:23-24).
          2.  They are to put away lying, anger, theft, corrupt 
              conversation, grieving the Holy Spirit, bitterness, evil-
              speakings, and malice (4:25-32).
              a.  They were to be kind and tenderhearted (4:32).
              b.  Having received mercy, they were to be merciful (4:32).
      C.  Various admonitions (5:1-21).
          1.  Imitate the heavenly fathers as beloved children; walk in 
              love in gratitude for the sweet-smelling sacrifice Jesus made 
              for us (5:1-2).
              a.  Avoid fornication, uncleanness, covetousness, filthiness, 
                  foolish talking, jesting that is not befitting, and idolatry 
              b.  Watch for and do not be deceived by false prophets (5:6-
          2.  Walk as children of light (5:8-14).
              a.  Follow after goodness and righteousness and truth (5:8).
              b.  Have nothing to do with the unfruitful works of darkness 
              c.  Reprove evil and every false teaching (5:12).
          3.  Be careful, walk as wise and not unwise, buy back the 
              opportunities, because the days are evil. Understand the will 
              of the Lord (5:15-17).
          4.  Stay away from strong drink and riot (wastefulness) (5:18).
          5.  Be filled with the Spirit by letting the word of Christ dwell 
              in you richly in all wisdom (5:19; Col. 3:16-17).
          6.  Delight yourself in worship of God, singing to each other  
              spiritual songs (5:19).
          7.  Be thankful to God and respectful of each other (5:21).
      D.  Domestic duties (5:22-6:9)
          1.  Relationship between husbands and wives (5:22-33).
              a.  Wives must be in subjection to their own husbands (5:22-
              b.  Husbands must love their own wives, seeking for the 
                  wife's happiness and being considerate of her (5:24-33).
          2.  Parents and children (6:1-4).
          3.  Servants and masters (6:5-9).
      E.  Final exhortations (6:10-20).
          1.  Be strong in the Lord and put on the whole armor of God 
      F.   Conclusion and blessing (6:21-23).

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