Ephesians: The Calling of the Saints

Ephesians sets forth what no other book of the New Testament describes so completely — the nature of the body of Christ, which is the true Church. This letter, in many ways, is the crowning glory of the New Testament.

Bible Studies in the Book of Ephesians

Please click the heading above to see the messages in this series.

Riches in Christ

God at Work
Eph 1:1-14
The Foundations
Eph 1:3-14
Eph 1:7-8
The Mystery of Unity
Eph 1:9-12
The Word and the Spirit
Eph 1:13-14
Turned on by Prayer
Eph 1:15-18
Hope, Riches, and Power
Eph 1:18-23
The Human Dilemma
Eph 2:1-3
But God...
Eph 2:4-6
Alive to Live
Eph 2:4-7
On Display
Eph 2:7-10
Strangers in Darkness
Eph 2:11-13
The Prince of Peace
Eph 2:13-18
The Third Race
Eph 2:19-22
The Great Mystery
Eph 3:1-6
Secret Riches
Eph 3:7-13
How Prayer Works
Eph 3:13-21

The Ministry of the Saints

Why the Church Exists
Eph 4:1-3
The Cry for Unity
Eph 4:1-6
How the Church Works
Eph 4:7-10
What is your Gift?
Eph 4:11-15
Understanding your Gift
Eph 4:11-12
The Contemporary Christ
Eph 4:11
The Church's Building and Maintenance Service
Eph 4:11-12
Shaping Up the Saints
Eph 4:11-12
On Growing Up
Eph 4:13-16

The Christian in the World

Darkness of Mind
Eph 4:17-21
Putting On, Putting Off
Eph 4:22-24
Practicing Christianity
Eph 4:25-27
Living in Focus
Eph 4:28-29
Forgive and Live
Eph 4:30-32
The Call of the Hour
Eph 5:1-2
New Morality or Ancient Foolishness? Part 1
Eph 5:3-4
New Morality or Ancient Foolishness? Part 2
Eph 5:5-14
Watch how you Walk
Eph 5:15-20

Christian Relationships

The Cure for Conflict
Eph 5:21
Husbands and Wives
Eph 5:22-33
Parents and Children
Eph 6:1-4
Employers and Employees
Eph 6:5-9

Spiritual Warfare

The Forces we Face
Eph 6:10
Beginning the Battle
Eph 6:10-13
The Strategy of Satan
Eph 6:10-13
The Tactics of Terror
Eph 6:10-13
Defense Against Defeat, Part 1
Eph 6:14-17
Defense Against Defeat, Part 2
Eph 6:14-18
Defense Against Defeat, Part 3
Eph 6:17
Defense Against Defeat, Part 4
Eph 6:14-17
Advice when Attacked
Eph 6:18-20
The Infallible Posture
Eph 6:10-20

Overview the Book of Ephesians

from Adventuring Through the Bible

The Epistle to the Ephesians is, in many ways, the crowning glory of the New Testament. But perhaps this letter ought not to be called "Ephesians" for we do not really know to whom it was written. The Christians at Ephesus were certainly among the recipients of this letter, but undoubtedly there were others. In many of the original Greek manuscripts there is a blank where the King James translation has the words "at Ephesus;" just a line where the names of other recipients were apparently to be filled in. That is why the Revised Standard Version does not say, "To the saints at Ephesus," but simply "To the saints who are also faithful in Christ Jesus..."

In Paul's letter to the Colossians there is a reference to a letter he wrote to the Laodiceans. Our Bible does not include an epistle called "A Letter to the Laodiceans," but many have felt that it is the same one we call "The Letter to the Ephesians." The reason is that the Revelation of John (the last book in the Bible) begins with letters to the seven churches of Asia, the first being to Ephesus and the last to Laodicea.

These cities were grouped in a rather rough circle in Asia Minor, and it evidently was customary for anyone who wrote to one of the churches to have the letter sent along to each of the others in turn, continuing around the circle until it came at last to the church at Laodicea. This may account for what would otherwise seem to be a lost letter from the Apostle Paul to the Laodiceans. At any rate, this letter sets forth, in a marvelous way, what no other book of the New Testament describes so completely -- the nature of the body of Christ, the true Church.

The first four letters of the New Testament -- Romans, First and Second Corinthians, and Galatians -- are the development of the phrase, "Christ in you," teaching us what the indwelling life of Christ is intended to do. But beginning with the letter to the church at Ephesus, we are to learn and understand what it means for us to be "in Christ" and to share the body life of the Lord Jesus Christ -- "you in Christ." Here is the great theme of this letter -- the believer in Christ, or the nature of the Church.

Verse three of the first chapter is in many ways the theme of the letter -- in Christ -- is the key:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places... (Ephesians 1:3 RSV)

There are many who take the phrase, "the heavenly places," which appears several times in this letter, as a reference to heaven after we die, but if you do this, you will miss the whole import of Paul's letter. While it does talk about going to heaven some day, it is talking primarily about the life you live right now. The heavenly places are not off in some distant reach of space or on some planet or star; they are simply the realm of invisible reality in which the Christian lives now, in contact with God, and in the conflict with the devil in which we are all daily engaged.

The heavenly places are the seat of Christ's power and glory. In chapter two, verse six we are told,

[God] raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, (Ephesians 2:6 RSV)

But in chapter three we learn that here also are the headquarters of the principalities and powers of evil:

...that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 3:10 RSV)

The conflict that occurs is set forth in chapter six:

For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:10-12 RSV)

So you can see that this is not a reference to heaven at all, but to earth. It is to the invisible realm of earth -- not to that which you can see, hear, taste, or feel -- but to that spiritual kingdom which surrounds us on all sides and which constantly influences and affects us, whether for good or evil, depending upon our willful choice and our relationship to these invisible powers. Those are the heavenly places. In this realm, in which everyone of us lives, the apostle declares that God has already blessed us with every spiritual blessing. That is, he has given us all that it takes to live in our present circumstances and relationships. Peter says the same thing in his second letter: "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness," (2 Peter 1:3a RSV).

That means that when you receive Jesus Christ as your Lord, you have already received all that God ever intends to give you. Is that not remarkable? The weakest believer holds in his hands all that is ever possessed by the mightiest saint of God. We already have everything, because we have Christ, and in him is every spiritual blessing and all that pertains to life and godliness. Thus we have what it takes to live life as God intended. Any failure, therefore, is not because we are lacking anything, but because we have not appropriated what is already ours.