New Testament Week 39-40: “Ye Are No More Strangers” – Ephesians

As way of reminder, after this discussion on Ephesians, I will be posting one post next Sunday that will cover Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. That is a lot of letters to cover, but it is less information than is contained in 1 & 2 Corinthians. I will likely spend the majority of that post giving context and historical information to aid in personal study.

There are some really important ideas that come from those books and so it is a little unfortunate that I will not have the time to go into detail, however, the trip with my family is something I am looking forward to enjoying so it will have to do.

This week as we study Ephesians, remember that Paul lived in Ephesus for over two year and so he had strong relationships there. The letter we study was written while Paul was imprisoned in Rome to a pretty general audience. This lack of direct familiarity, or addressing of people Paul would have known, has led some to wonder if Paul was the actual author, or if the ideas from Paul were transcribed by someone else and delivered at a later date. The letter is similar in tone to the letter to the Colossians who were in a neighboring region and it could have been included with that letter as an aside meant to travel to Ephesus.

There are some loaded terms in the first part of Ephesus, and I will try to address those points in the Context Section.


– Salvation comes from our faith in Christ and His grace.

– All people, no matter race, ethnicity, culture, gender, sexual orientation, or citizenship status should be welcome in and by those within the household of God.

– The church and its functionality are built upon prophets, apostles, teachers, and others willing to give themselves to help others be closer to Christ.

Context and Timeline:
– The letter could have been meant for the Laodiceans, as many early manuscripts leave Ephesus out of the title, but the opening verses point toward it being intended for the Ephesians.

– “Before the Foundation of the World” – this is a critical revelation regarding a pre-mortal existence of spirits. This idea is taught in other places in the Bible, but here it is shown to discuss that some had specific callings as part of their mortal journey.

– “Fullness of Times” – this is another

– “Predestination and Foreordain”

– “Sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise”

– Ruler or prince of the kingdom/power of the air is Satan.

– Children of wrath is better translated as Children of Disobedience.

– Heavenly realms, or places may elude to the fact that there is a lot more to heaven than just one place.

– The discussion of accepting foreigners and strangers was the basis of some early Christian hymns.

– Mystery is the same as the plan, or information about God’s plan.

– “One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, One God and the Father of All” may have been something that was declared by early Christians when they were baptized.

– Pastors should be rendered shepherds, which was the same word as bishop in Greek. Evangelists is better translated as missionaries. Apostles were missionaries, but on a larger scale and they were especial witnesses of Jesus Christ’s resurrection.

– The end of Ephesians is a little strange and seems like a discussion about women and men in their marriage roles, but it is really an analogy about Christ’s relationship to the Church.

History around Epistle:
Ephesians was written between 58-62 AD while Paul was imprisoned, most likely in Rome. Paul had lived in Ephesus for over 2 years and had a very close relationship with many church members and leaders there. This letter, however, is very general and never addresses a specific person. This has caused some to wonder if Paul wrote the entire letter, or if he wrote it to other churches in the area near Ephesus. In either case, the letter is in response to local Jewish Christians persecuting and causing trouble for Gentile Christians, or potential Gentile converts. This is, of course, a theme that continues throughout early Christian history. Paul is seeking to encourage the Gentile believers and to convince Jewish Christians to come together as “one faith.”

Ephesians introduces some very complex Christian ideas like predestination, being foreordained, the fullness of times, and the organization of the church authority. It is also a call for us all to love each other and come together into the household of God. It is also famous for the teaching of the Armor of God and protecting ourselves from the forces of evil.

Doctrinal Teachings:

  • All Are Welcome in the Household of God (Chapters 1-2)
    • We are all alike, in that we sin, and are dead spiritually.
      • What makes us alive is our faith in Jesus Christ and our covenants with Him.
      • His grace is sufficient for all humankind.
    • Remember that we are all separate from God and in need of love and acceptance.
      • In the Household of God no one should be a stranger, or foreigner, or an outcast.
    • The foundation of the Household of God is Apostles and Prophets, with Jesus Christ being the cornerstone.
  • Paul is a Prisoner of Jesus Christ (Chapter 3)
    • The full plan of God is revealed in segments to prophets and apostles over time.
    • The primary mystery of Paul’s time was that the gospel was for all, not just the Jews.
    • Paul is imprisoned but he still rejoices in Jesus Christ and prays for the Ephesians and their faith.
  • Foundation of the Church (Chapter 4)
    • There are three parts of the foundation for the church:
      • Its members being united with one another (through patience, humility, kindness, bearing each other’s burdens, loving one another, and diligently becoming unified).
      • The ordinances of the gospel
      • Apostles, Prophets, Missionaries, Bishops and Teachers (Priesthood Organization)
    • The purpose of the church is to build up our faith, to prepare us to minister to others, and to help us become united in our differences, through our faith in Jesus Christ.
  • The Armor of God (Chapters 5-6)
    • We must attempt to be clean, so we can have the spirit with us. To do this we need to avoid people who bring us away from Christ.
    • Christ and the Church is a marriage and we need to see our relationship as such.
    • Honor and respect in our families will bring the Lord in.
    • The Armor of God is necessary, and I feel like in our day we ignore it:
      • Belt of Truth – Humility and Prayer
      • Breastplate of Righteousness – Our heart and our will must be given to the Lord.
      • Shoes of Peace – Our choices that move us to make peace and not contention.
      • Shield of Faith – Our commitments to the Lord (ordinances, and covenants).
      • Helmet of Salvation – Grace of Jesus Christ and knowing He loves us no matter what.
      • Sword of the Spirit – The Word of God or our willingness to learn it and preach it.

Key Moment or Scripture: Ephesians 2:17-22
17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 
18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 
20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 
21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 
22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

A few years back during a major refugee crisis in Europe there was a general conference talk given. I ask that rather than read what I have to say you read it.

There is almost nothing more powerful to our spirits to loving each other and being willing to love those who are different than us. That is the source of God’s greatest strength, love for all people. I get emotional whenever I read or listen to Elder Kearon’s talk and I ask that you spend some time listening or reading yourself or with your family.

Paul spent so much of his life trying to bring those who never were accepted into the fold and he was an inspiration to me.

Final Thoughts:
Random thought about politics. Politics is a tool to destroy our feelings for each other. It is a necessary evil of government, but it’s nature and purpose is something that we must factor when deciding how we engage in it. Christ and his early apostles struggled with the same governmental issues we do now (poverty, refugees, wars, political division, ideological disagreements), but in their teachings we can see that faith, love, compassion, and welcoming will bring greater good than what the politics of fear will bring. It doesn’t matter our political persuasion; it matters that we seek to be like the Savior and bring others to Him the best we can.