Our prayer for this series is that Exodus would know and experience the mystery of the gospel so that every part of our lives serves as both a declaration and demonstration of this eternal mystery that changes everything.
Ephesians is a circular letter written by Paul from a prison cell around 62 AD. As a circular letter (think blog post rather than email), Paul intends for this to be read by churches in the region all around the major city of Ephesus.
Ephesus was a major center of learning and commerce. We know from Acts 19 that Ephesus was a central point for the worship of Artemis (Diana). Paul did not plant the church at Ephesus, but he did invest significant time and energy there.
Paul comes to Ephesus in Acts 19 and finds a church that needs to know and show the mystery of the gospel. He spends considerable time with them including a time with just the elders of the church at Ephesus (Acts 20) warning them that, when he departs, false wolves will creep in and do considerable damage to the church that Jesus died to redeem.
Apparently, this damage happens, because later Paul sends Timothy to Ephesus to put things in order (1 Timothy). e church is to be a pillar and buttress of the truth, but men are teaching false things and need to be removed from leadership. Elders need to be appointed. Deacons need to be commissioned. Timothy serves well in spite of these challenges and the church presses on.
Between Acts 20 and 1 Timothy, Paul writes this circular letter known as Ephesians to help the church know and show the mystery of the gospel that changes everything. For Paul, a mystery was not something to be solved, but something that required revelation in order to be understood. So, the mystery of Christ for us in the gospel and through us in the church is something that must be revealed to be understood. This mystery changes everything.
Chapters 1-3: A Mystery Declared
We see that this mystery is declared in the gospel in chapters 1-3.
There is an eternal mystery that comes to fruition in the work of Jesus to redeem a people for himself. We are saved by the love of God that has been and will be displayed for all eternity (Ephesians 1 and 2). We are saved to be a diverse people from the nations that are united in Christ. is is known as the Church. And now, the Church exists to display the wisdom of God for the whole universe to see. is is the fruition of the mystery—that the Gentiles are brought into the family of God as a display of God’s wisdom.
Chapters 4-6: A Mystery Demonstrated
We also see this mystery demonstrated in the church in chapters 4-6.
We are to pursue unity together both in our community and mission (chapter 4). We are to display the mystery of Jesus in our lives as individuals and in our marriages and families (chapter 5 and 6). We are to display the mystery of Jesus in the way we respond to the enemy (chapter 6). This mystery is not just to be declared; it is also to be demonstrated.
Paul writes this letter to a church that he loves and where he has invested his time and his best people. He wants them to flourish and thrive for the glory of Jesus.
The last thing we read about the church at Ephesus in the Bible is in Revelation 2. Jesus comes to them and has many good things to say about them: they love the truth, they do good deeds, they have endured. However, he does have one thing against the church in Ephesus—they have left their first love. Love for Jesus and his gospel has waned and therefore worship and mission has waned. If they cannot return to their love for Jesus and his gospel, Jesus will come and shut the church down.
Exodus, let’s be a people who know and show the mystery of the gospel-
Christ for us and Christ in us.