God’s Mercy for the Ephesian Church: A Look at Ephesians 2:1-7 INTRODUCTION
The book of Ephesians is one of Paul’s many New Testament letters, or epistles, to the Christian church still in its infancy. At the time of its writing, Paul is in Rome, imprisoned for championing the purposes of Christ and growing the church. We see numerous occurrences where Paul, being a man of little concern for the status quo, is either imprisoned or fleeing capture by Jewish or Roman officials for usurping the latter (Acts 19: 23-41). The date of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is dated 60-61A.D., depending on differing research. While this is certainly one of his epistles known as the “prison letters”, Ephesians was penned prior to Paul’s first roman imprisonment, along with the letter to Colossae (Tyndale, 1987). Despite Paul credited with authorship of the thirteen New Testament letters, several schools of thought doubt whether he actually wrote the book of Ephesians. While it is likely he did not physically write the letter himself as was customary with the other disciples, enough variations in language and literary style cause many to believe the fallacy of Paul’s authorship. The overwhelming evidence although, suggests that Paul intentionally sent this letter to the Ephesians under his authority.
In addition, the letter to the church is not typical of the other epistles in that Ephesus is not experiencing major hardships and strife that other early church bodies are. Corinthian church is rife with numerous issues contributing to its weakened state. Likewise Galatia, suffers from a prominence of false prophets, Judaizers, disillusioning the church into believing the need for following some of the OT law, such as circumcision. Ephesians, however, addresses no prominent or minor strife within its church. Paul, as mentioned earlier, seeks to build upon the believer’s current knowledge of God’s purpose for His church and by grace, expand on the high goals He has set for those in new covenant in Jesus. The book of Ephesians is broken up in to a few different sections as follows: 1) Paul begins with an exhortation and greeting followed by thanksgiving for their continued belief (1:1-23); 2) The realization of Gods purposes for the church (2-3); 3) Application for how to apply the purposes of God set out (4-6); and 5) Paul’s standard conclusion to the church and benediction. Similarly, Ephesians 2 is separable into sections. Verses 1-3 refer to the past life of the church and result of the world outside the church. In turn, verses 4-7 explain the result of God’s mercy and grace given to those who call on his name (Lincoln, 1990). These passages in Ephesians 2:1-7, through an exegesis of the scripture, sheds light onto how the grace of God is paramount in a relationship with Jesus. CONTEXT
The letter to the Ephesians, considered by many to be one of the greatest works of Paul the apostle, is one of thirteen Pauline epistles written to a specific region where the early Church had an important presence. This is not to put down the Christian church prominent in other regions, but it is clear that Paul knew exactly the importance, strategically, the church in Ephesus held. Not only growing, the church in Ephesus was flourishing just as the city itself flourished within the Roman province of Asia. Thus, Paul addresses this letter directly to the church body in Ephesus. The region, referred to in modern times as Asia Minor, has its roots dating back to original Ionian colonization in the 10th century AD. Greek influences eventually took over in the region evidenced by the goddess of Ephesus taking the name Artemis (Tyndale, 1987). The city experienced much prosperity and became a major commercial hub for the Roman Empire. Imagery of a paved colonnade nearly fifty feet wide and an ornate temple of Artemis, considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World in its time, give the reader a picture of Ephesus’ prosperity. At the...
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