Paul began ministering to the Ephesians (approximately 62 AD) until the end of his life. Paul believed that all Christians make up the body of Christ. Acts 19 explains how Paul had organized the believers at Ephesus and he gave step by step progress of the members’ relationship to Jesus Christ. Both Jews and the Gentiles were reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. How can a new life in Christ be indentified? A new life should result in honest living habits among the body of believers and at home (Ephesians 4-6). Paul’s advice to the Ephesians included these inspiring and encouraging words, “By grace are we saved through faith; and that not of yourselves it is a gift from God, not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2: 8-9).” Verses 18-22 in chapter 2 advise all of us as followers of Jesus Christ that we are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household. Jesus Christ Himself is the chief cornerstone! In Him we are joined together to become a dwelling in which God lives in us by His Spirit. How will this be known? What are we to do? We can ask God to help us to live so that family, friends and neighbors will know us as Christians. If we are followers of Jesus Christ, people in our homes should be the first to know about it and entitle us as Christians! In other words, let our good works begin at home and then spread abroad.
Ephesians can be classified as an uplifting book written by Paul. This is unusual since Paul is in chains again and his “end times” in Rome may have been fast approaching! We, like Paul, at times, must forget about ourselves for the benefits of others. Paul did not let his house arrest stop him from writing about Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Paul thanked God for believers with strong faith (Ephesians 1:15-16). This letter probably was passed from one community of faith to another in Ephesus, the third largest city in the Roman Empire at that time. Paul ministered there about three years.
Some of Paul’s most helpful teachings included the idea of circumcision affecting only our bodies and not our hearts (Ephesians 2:11). Some most needed advice says to, “Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love (Ephesians 4:2).” In reality, Paul did not want confrontations and tensions to have been normal among believers. He said to, “Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit … There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all (Ephesians 4:3-6).”
This letter may have been directly addressed to the Ephesians, but it can also be helpful to us as followers of Jesus Christ today. We can continue to ask God to empower us with the courage to become more like those first century Christians, who let the GOOD NEWS of Jesus Christ impact their lives in every possible manner. Thank God for the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. From day to day, let us make faith in God our first priority!
Mrs. Gladys R. McElmore, a resident of Norfolk’s Middle Town Arch Community, is a New Journal and Guide Freelance Contributor on religion. She is a native of Essex County, Va.