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Thursday, September 6 2012
The Epistles: Ephesians
In the first century AD, Ephesus was a major city of Asia Minor, as Turkey was then known. Although then under the occupation of the Roman Empire (see A History Of Jerusalem: Pompey And The Caesars), the city remained very much influenced by the earlier Greek Empire (see A History Of Jerusalem: Greeks, Ptolemies, Seleucids). Ephesus was most famous at that time for the temple of the idol Diana, as the Romans called it (it was known to the Greeks as Artemis), as well as the great theater (the ruins of which are shown in the photograph below).
The apostle Paul visited Ephesus during his missionary journeys. Despite the opposition (including a riot that started in response to his calling the idol Diana a worthless thing; see Acts 19:23-41), believers were made in the city. It was to those "saints which are at Ephesus" that Paul addressed his epistle to the Ephesians.
"1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God [see The Passed Over Pharisees and Straight Street], to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: 1:2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ [see Who Is The LORD?]." (Ephesians 1:1-2 KJV)
Many have debated "predestination," however it should be kept firmly in mind that no one is saved until they are saved e.g. "10:22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved" (Matthew 10:22 KJV). God's knowing ahead of time who will be saved does not in itself get them saved (see Christ Died For Repentant Sinners and What Was The Lesson Of John 3:16?).
"1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself [see The Church: Mission Accomplished], according to the good pleasure of his will, 1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; 1:8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 1:9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 1:10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
Overall, the Christians of Ephesus held strong in their faith and obedience to the LORD. That fidelity can be attested by another epistle, written about thirty years later by the apostle John, as dictated to him by Jesus Christ ("1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: ... 1:11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea" Revelation 1:1,11 KJV). Although no doubt greatly troubled by Satan, they "for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted."
"2:1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write;
Paul was a Jew and an academic Pharisee, but the LORD sent him to preach mostly to "Gentiles." The Gospel began with a man who would be called a Gentile today, Abraham, which made Paul's ministry a full-circle to where it began. Even in the matter of circumcision, righteous Abraham lived his life as both (see Circumcision).
"2:11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 2:12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel [see Israel In History and Prophecy: Israel and Judah], and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
"Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages"
Paul seemed very joyous with the Ephesians. He prayed that they would be strengthened even further (a prayer that was obviously answered, as attested by the apostle John thirty years later, as we read above).
"3:14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 3:15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 3:16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man [see Written In The Heart Of Our Tabernacles]; 3:17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 3:18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 3:19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
As he did in all of his other epistles to Gentiles, he never made them feel less for being who the LORD created them - while emphasizing that everyone is responsible to and before the LORD. He admonished them to "henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind," just as he warned Jews of the same (i.e. "1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek" Romans 1:16 KJV).
"4:17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk [see What Did The Messiah Say About Gentiles?], in the vanity of their mind, 4:18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 4:19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
"Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil"
Some present-day "feminists" have criticized Paul for his statement "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord," however the full context of the statement began with "Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God," while the entire point was "the bride of Christ," the Church of God, composed of men and women. For those who bother to read his entire statement, Paul said, of it all, "I speak concerning Christ and the church" (see Brides From Their Sides).
"5:21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
The famous "armour of God" teaching is found in Paul's epistle to the Ephesians.
"6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil [see Who's Hiding On Your Wall?]. 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 6:13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 6:14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 6:15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 6:16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
Fact Finder: As a matter of prophetic symbolism, where is the church of "Ephesus" today?
This Day In History, September 6
394: Theodosius became the sole ruler of the East and West Roman empires after defeating Eugenius at the Battle of the River Frigidus. After he died however, the Roman empire again divided - as illustrated in the two legs of the great prophetic statue seen in Nebuchadnezzar's dream in Daniel 2:31-25 (see Nebuchadnezzar's Dream and What Is The Mark Of The Beast?).
1522: One of the five ships that set out in Ferdinand Magellan's voyage around the world returned to Spain. Only 15 of the original 265 men that set out survived. Magellan was killed by natives in the Philippines.
1620: The "Pilgrims" left Plymouth, England, bound for the New World.
1898: Queen Wilhelmina of The Netherlands was coronated.
1901: U.S. President William McKinley was shot at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. He died a week later.
1914: During the First World War, the first Battle of the Marne began along a 500 kilometer (300 mile) front when the French launched a counter-offensive against the German advance.
1941: The Nazi government issued an order that all Jews in Germany were to wear a yellow Star of David at all times in public.
1945: Amidst surrendered Japanese forces, Russian forces brought about the proclamation of The Korean People's Republic (North Korea). To avoid a power vacuum in the south, the U.S. ordered the surrendered Japanese military command to maintain authority until U.S. forces arrived, which they did 2 days later.
1948: Princess Juliana became Queen of The Netherlands following her mother's (Queen Wilhelmina) abdication.
1949: Howard Unruh, a former U.S. Army sharpshooter during the Second World War (1939-1945, the U.S. entered in December 1941 when Pearl Harbor was attacked), killed 13 people in Camden, New Jersey. He is regarded as the first U.S. single-episode mass murderer.
1970: Palestinian terrorists hijacked four airliners traveling to New York from Europe. One Pan Am Jumbo was blown up the next day in Cairo, and two Boeing 707s which landed at Dawson's field in Jordan were blown up on September 12. The fourth plane landed in London.
1977: Leslie MacFarlane died at age 74. The Canadian author from Whitby, Ontario (near Toronto) wrote the first 20 books of the popular "Hardy Boys" series.
1977: Highway signs across Canada were converted to metric. As of 2010, the U.S. is the only country that still uses the old system of pounds, miles and fractions (e.g. writing 9/10 instead of .9).
1991: After 67 years as Leningrad, the name St. Petersburg was restored to the Russian city.
1997: The funeral of Princess Diana. Great numbers of people lined the streets of London to view the procession, and hundreds of millions of people around the world watched on television. One of the biggest funerals in human history. She was later that day buried on the Spencer family property in the Northamptonshire countryside.