Ephesians

Ephesians 1

            This letter is from Paul, chosen by God to be an apostle of Jesus Christ.  It is written to the saints who are at Ephesus who are faithful in Christ Jesus and to me!  May grace and peace be mine from God my Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  I am to praise the God and Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed me with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in Christ!

Before the foundation of the world, God chose me in Him to be holy and blameless in His sight.  In love, He predestined me to be adopted as His child through Jesus Christ, according to the kind intention of His heart.  In response, I should praise God for the wonderful kindness He has poured out upon me because I belong to His dear beloved Son. In Christ I have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of my sins!  This was done in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He has lavished on me with all wisdom and understanding.

God’s secret plan has been revealed; it is a plan centered on Christ, designed long ago according to His good pleasure. At the right time, God’s ultimate plan is to bring everything together under the authority of Christ – in heaven and on earth!  And in Christ, I have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose, who works all things in conformity with His will.  And I also have been included in Christ when I heard the word of truth, the gospel of my salvation, as when I believed, I was sealed in Him with the promised Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit is given to me as a pledge of my inheritance until the redemption of all who are God’s possessions, to the praise of His glory!

Ever since Paul heard of the Ephesians’ faith in the Lord Jesus and their love for all the saints, he never stopped thanking God for them.  He regularly remembered them in his prayers.  His prayer, which is also for me, is asking God, the glorious Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, to give me spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that I may grow in my knowledge of Him!

Paul continues praying that the eyes of my heart may be enlightened, so that I will fully know the hope to which He has called me; the riches of the glory of His inheritance; and the surpassing greatness of His power towards me as a believer!  This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.

Now He is far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come!  And God has put all things under the authority of Christ, and appointed Him to be head over everything about the church, which is His body – the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way!

Ephesians 2

            At one point, I was dead in my transgressions and sins.  I used to follow the ways of the world, according to the prince of the power of the air – the spirit that is now at work in those who are disobedient.   I, along with all Christ followers, used to live that way, gratifying the cravings of my sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts.  I was born with a sinful nature and was under God’s anger just like everyone else.

But God, being so rich in mercy and filled with love for me, made me alive with Christ even when I was dead in my sins.  It is only by God’s grace that I have been saved!  For God raised me up with Christ and seated me with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace expressed in kindness toward me in Christ Jesus!

For it is by grace that I have been saved, through faith.  And I cannot take credit for this, as it is a gift of God and it is not because of my works; therefore I cannot boast about it.  For I am God’s masterpiece!  I was created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God had planned in advance for me to do!

Therefore, I am to remember that all Gentiles were outsiders by birth.  They were called “the uncircumcised ones” by those who call themselves “the circumcision,” which is done to the body by men, not to the heart.  There was a time that I was separated from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and a foreigner to the covenants of promise.  I lived without hope and without God in the world.  But now I belong to Christ!  Though once I was far away from God, now I have been brought near to Him through the blood of Christ!

For Christ Himself is my peace, and He also made peace between the Jews and Gentiles by breaking down the wall of hostility that separated them.  His death abolished the law with its commandments and regulations.  His purpose was to make peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating one new man out of the two.  In creating one body, He reconciled both of them to God through the cross, and their hostility toward each other was put to death. Jesus came and preached peace to the Gentiles who were far away and to the Jews who were near.  For through Him, everyone can now have access in one Spirit to the Father.

Consequently, I am no longer a stranger or alien.  I am a fellow citizen with God’s people, and I belong to God’s household! God’s household has been built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone.  In Him, I am joined together with all believers to become a holy temple to the Lord.  And in Him, the Gentiles are also being built together into a dwelling where God lives by His Spirit!

Ephesians 3

            Paul considered himself a prisoner of Christ Jesus because of his preaching to the Gentiles.  Surely, the Ephesians had heard of the stewardship of God’s grace, which was given to Paul for them.  God had revealed to him His secret plan, as Paul had already written to them.  So when they read what he has written, they will understand Paul’s insight into the mystery of Christ!

God did not reveal it to previous generations, but now He has revealed it by Holy Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets. God’s plan is that the Gentiles have become fellow heirs and fellow members of Christ’s body, and fellow partakers of the promises in Christ Jesus though the gospel.  Paul became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given to him through the working of His power.  Although Paul considered himself to be the least of all God’s people, he was given the wonderful privilege to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ to the Gentiles!

Paul was to bring to light the administration of God’s plan, which was kept hidden in God who created all things.  This was done so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be known through the church to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to His eternal purposes, which have been carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord!  Because of Christ and my faith in Him, I can now approach God with boldness and confidence!

Therefore, Paul asks the Ephesians not to be discouraged because of his sufferings for them, as his sufferings are their glory.  And when he considers the wisdom and scope of God’s plan, Paul kneels before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named. Paul continues to pray that Christ will be more and more at home in my heart as I trust in Him, and that my spiritual roots would grow deep into God’s marvelous love!

Paul continues praying that I, and all Christ followers, may be able to completely comprehend how wide and long and high and deep the love of God is for me! So that I may know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, and that I may be filled up to all the fullness of God!   Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond anything that I could ask or think according to His power that works within me!!!  May He be given glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 4

            As a prisoner for serving the Lord, Paul urges me to live a life worthy of the calling I have received.  I am to be completely humble and gentle; patient; and show tolerance for others in love. I should always make every effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bonds of peace.

For I am part of one body and one spirit, and I share in the one hope of my eternal future.  There is only one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all who is over all, and in all, and living through all! By His grace, God has given me a special gift according to the generosity of Christ.  That is why the Scriptures say, “When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men.”

(What does “He ascended” mean except that He also descended to the lower, earthly regions?  He who ascended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)  He is the one who gave the following gifts:  apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. These gifts equip me for works of service to help build up the body of Christ until we all reach unity in the faith and knowledge of the Son of God.

I am to move towards maturity and attain the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then I will no longer be like a child, tossed here and there by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, or by the cunning and craftiness of others’ deceitful schemes.  Instead, I am to speak the truth in love, in every way becoming more and more like Christ, who is the head of His body, the church.  As I, and each part of the body, do our own special work, we are held together by each supporting ligament and grow and build up the other parts of the body in love.

By the Lord’s authority, Paul is telling me that I should no longer live as the ungodly do, who live in the futility of their minds. They (the ungodly) are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because they have shut their minds and hardened their hearts against Him.  They have become callous and given themselves over to immoral ways, and their lives are filled with all kinds of impurity and greed.

But, I did not come to know Christ in that way! For I have heard about Him (Jesus) and learned from Him the truth that is in Jesus.  In reference to my former ways, I am to lay aside my old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires.  Instead, there must be a spiritual renewal of my thoughts and attitudes! I am to put on my new self, which is created in the likeness of God – righteous, holy, and true! 

So, I am to put away all falsehood and speak truthfully with my neighbor, as I am a member of one body.  In my anger, I am not to sin; I should not let the sun go down while I am still angry; and I should not give the devil a foothold! If I were stealing, I should no longer steal.  But I should work and do something useful with my own hands, so that I will have something to share with someone in need.

I should not let any unwholesome talk come out of my mouth.  I should speak only what is helpful for the building up of others, so that my words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. I am not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God, who has sealed me for the day of redemption.  I am to get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, and slander, along with every form of malice.  Instead, I am to be kind and compassionate to others, forgiving them just as God through Christ has forgiven me.

Ephesians 5

            I am to be an imitator of God because I am His dear child!  I should live a life of love, just as Christ also loved me and gave Himself as a sacrifice – a fragrant offering to God.  My life should be void of any immorality, impurity, or greed, as such sins have no place among God’s people.  And I should not tell obscene stories, coarse jokes, or engage in foolish talk – these are not fitting for me.

Instead, I should speak thankfulness to God.  For I can know this for a certainty:  if I am immoral, impure, or greedy, I will not have an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. I should not let anyone deceive me with empty words, for because of these things God’s anger comes upon those who are disobedient.  Therefore, I am not to participate with them.

For I once was darkness, but now I am light in the Lord, and I should walk as a child of Light! (For God’s light within me produces goodness, righteousness, and truth.)  I should always find out what pleases the Lord, and I am not to participate in the worthless deeds of darkness, instead I should expose them.  For it is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret.

But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for it is light that makes everything visible. That is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”  I am to be very careful how I live; not as unwise but as wise!  I should make the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, I am not to be foolish, but always try to know what the will of the Lord is.

I must not get drunk with wine, because that can ruin my life.  Instead, I am to be filled with the Spirit! (When I am filled with Holy Spirit), I will speak to others in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, and I will sing and make music in my heart to the Lord!  I will always give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

I am to submit to one another in reverence for Christ!  Wives are to submit to their husbands as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of His body, the church, as He gave His life to be their Savior!  As the church submits to Christ, so you wives must submit to your husbands in everything.

And you husbands are to love your wives just as Christ loved the church. He gave His life for the church to make her holy and clean by the washing with water through the word, so that He could present her to Himself as a glorious church without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish – holy and blameless!  In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.

For when a man loves his wife, he is also loving himself. For no one hates their own body, as we feed and take care of it just as Christ does for the church–for we are members of his body.  As Genesis 2:24 states, “For this reason a man shall leave his Father and Mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”  This oneness of a husband and wife is a great mystery, but Paul is also writing about Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each man is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must respect her husband!

Ephesians 6

            Children are to obey their parents in the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. ”Honor your Father and Mother (which is the first commandment with a promise) so that it may be well with you, and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”  Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them; instead, bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Slaves should obey their earthly masters with deep respect and fear, and they should serve them sincerely, just as they would obey Christ.  Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but do so like slaves of Christ; doing the will of God from your heart.  Do your work with enthusiasm as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good they do, whether slave or free.

And masters, treat your slaves in the same way.  Don’t threaten them, for you know that both of you have the same Master in heaven, and there is no favoritism with Him. Finally, I am to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might!

I am to put on the full armor of God, so that I may be able to stand firm against all the strategies and schemes of the devil.  For my fight is not against people made of flesh and blood.  But, I am fighting against the rulers, the authorities, and the mighty powers of this dark world, and also against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore, I am to put on the full armor of God, so that I will be able to resist when the evil day comes, and having done everything, I will stand firm!

Yes, I will stand firm because I have the belt of truth firmly buckled around my waist and the breastplate of righteousness in place. My feet are to be fitted with the preparation that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all of this, I am to take up the shield of faith, so that I will be able to extinguish all of the flaming arrows of the evil one!  I am to take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God!

I am to pray on every occasion in the Spirit with all kinds of prayers and requests.  And I need to stay alert and be persistent in my prayers for all the saints! Paul asked the church at Ephesus to pray for him as well, so that whenever he opened his mouth, the right words would be given to him to boldly proclaim the mystery of the gospel.  Paul was in chains for being an ambassador of the gospel and needed prayer that he would continue to declare it fearlessly, as he ought to speak.

Tychicus, a much loved brother and faithful servant in the Lord, was sent to the Ephesians to tell them everything, so that they could know how Paul was getting along.  He was sent by Paul for just that purpose, to let them know how Paul’s ministry team was doing and to encourage the Ephesian church.  Paul’s prayer is that God gives me peace and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. And that God’s grace be upon me as one who loves our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.

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