Ephesians: “Wealth,” “Walk,” “Warfare” is the briefest summary of this magnificent letter, worthy of spending a lifetime studying. This magnificent circular letter describes the outworking of God’s eternal plan to build faith-communities as outposts of His presence. We are a people of God’s presence, persons-in-community. As such, our lives are modeled after the Plurality-in-Unity commonly called Trinity, Father, Son and Spirit, and especially the incarnation of Jesus as He walked this out on earth.
1. WEALTH, Part 1 (Ephesians 1:3-14):
This section answers the first essential question: “What is God like?” Paul describes several crucial ministries the relational Trinity has towards His people. Don’t stumble over the magnitude of what God has given us. Remember, this is not anything we earn or deserve through our hard work, but His free gift at the time we place our faith personally in Christ. It’s also for a few exceptional people, but the heritage of every last believer.
Begin with the relational God in all our thinking, or we skew our understanding of Scripture. Each member of the Godhead is mentioned in this section. Paul ends each section why our life purpose: that our lives will be “to the praise of his glorious grace” or another similar expression.
A. Our Wealth in God the Father (1:3-6): His initiative before time.
B. Our Wealth in God the Son (1:7-12): call to an epic adventure.
C. God the Spirit (1:13-14): safe and secure with the Spirit’s seal.
First PRAYER (Ephesians 1:15-23):
If the first fourteen verses have not already fried the circuits of your mind, go back and soak in 1:3-14 some more. No human mind can fully grasp such great and monumental promises from a God who always comes through. This drives Paul to His knees to pray for the Spirit of wisdom and revelation from above so we better experience the first essential question (1:17). He also prays that from within our heart may be enlightened that we might know (1:18a): (1) the sure hope to which God called us (1:18b), (2) the riches of His inheritance (1:18c), and (3) the power He deposited within to walk this out, a strength beyond description (1:19-23). Pray until this first chapter resonates deeply within.
1. WEALTH, Part 2 (2:1-3:11):
Part 2 of Wealth answers the second essential question: “How does this God see me./us?” Since God designed us in His image, we would think that Paul would sketch this out in a three-fold way that reflects our relational Trinity…and he does. “How does God see me?”
A. As a Person… (2:1-10).
Paul sketches out our past life (2:1-3), points to the “but God…” intervention (2:4), then touches on some of the instantaneous changes within through His grace (2:5-9). This includes preparing for us before time began good works for us to walk out (2:10). Remember, all of chapters 1-3 are Reality, what God has given us. Later beginning in 4:1, Paul will call us to arms.
B. …In Community (or koinonia)… (2:11-22):
Again, Paul gives us the “before” (2:12-13), the “but God…” intervention (2:13), and the “after” (2:14-22). Notice how community oriented and relational Trinitarian this section is. The relational Trinity with God’s Genesis 1 & 2 design and call, and the incarnation are the New Testament worldview (or mental map) for all of life.
C. …In mission (3:1-11):
Chapter 3 is an unfortunate chapter break. Paul continues the third vital aspect of how God sees us. In short, Paul is using the model of His life to call us to partner with our Team-of-Three in mission. This epic adventure communicates the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (3:8) to everyone (3:9) and also to the demonic forces (10) according to God’s eternal purpose. Notice how often Paul points back to eternity past as the source of all this, which is worked out now in our lifetime.
PRAYER (Ephesians 3:12-21):
No wonder Paul urges us to come boldly into the presence of the Father in prayer (3:12-14). Paul then calls us to pray what I believe is the greatest prayer ever uttered, thoroughly Trinitarian. We kneel in submission before the Father, strengthened by the Spirit’s power, settling into the love of God that surpasses our ability to quantitate, so we may be filled to the brim with all the fullness of God. Then Paul puts His exclamation on this prayer with 3:20-21! Mind blowing!
2. WALK (Ephesians 4:1-6-9):
Paul uses the word “walk” or “live” five times in this section. He calls us to partner actively with God in His call on our lives. Our little stories now find meaning within His BIG Story. What we possess in Christ must be put into action together to realize its fullness.
A. Walk together in our call (4:1-16).
B. Walk together in life (4:17-32).
C. Walk together in love (5:1-7).
D. Walk together in light (5:8-14).
E. Walk together in wisdom (5:15-6:9).
3. WARFARE (Ephesians 6:10—18):
Resting in power from the Son (6:10) as we put on the protection from the Father (6:11-17) and are armed with Spirit-directed prayer (6:18), we stand firmly against the attacks of the enemy. What a capstone to such a thoroughly Trinitarian letter. Are we so focused personally on the Father, Son and Spirit?
PRAYER THREE (Ephesians 6:19-20):
As you personally pray for open doors, I invite you to download the two 5-week “sprints” written as a basic guide through Ephesians (“A New Lens on Self” and “Life Together in Community”). Gather some friends together and peruse this letter together.