Thanks for stopping in again to check out our blog. I have been pleased to hear from many who are encouraged by this study of Ephesians. By the way, there are quite a few Life Groups and Bible Study groups that have taken Ephesians as their focus. (It’s amazing how God works, isn’t it?) Let me encourage you to take up the discussion in a Life Group. It really is one of the best ways to deepen your understanding and lock it in. Please feel free to use the comments section of this blog (or Twitter or Instagram @uxbap #newnormal) to raise questions and offer comments. We will do our best to respond in a meaningful way.
This week we are addressing the grand story of God as the backdrop against which to see the various themes (seemingly unrelated) in the letter to the Ephesians. Especially important is the death, resurrection and ascension (enthronement) of the Lord Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit, which signals his unquestionable victory over the principalities and powers of darkness and his exaltation as Lord of the universe. This is the “unseen reality” which lays behind everything we see. In other words, the world is not as it seems. There is a hidden truth behind all appearances—the truth of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We, as those bound by faith to Messiah Jesus, are, in some mysterious way, raised with him and seated in the heavenly realms. Christ’s victory inexorably entails our victory in him. Just as Elisha’s servant was enabled to see the greater, unseen reality of God’s armies behind the visible reality of the Aramean army, so we are to perceive ourselves and our world in light of the unseen yet true reality of the victory of Jesus Christ.
One very helpful book which brings out this truth is The Drama of Ephesians: Participating in the Triumph of God, by Timothy G. Gombis. This book is not so much a commentary as a framework within which to see the various threads and themes of Ephesians holding together in a unified perspective. As I see it, this work is a very helpful corrective to the view that sees Ephesians as a collection of largely unrelated discussions on various Christian themes. However, as I see it, Gombis tips the scales a little too much to the side of spiritual warfare. A more balanced view would give greater weight to victory of Jesus Christ at the cross and his enthronement at the right hand of the Father, as the climax of the story of God’s redeeming work.
Another great book which helps to lay the background more broadly is The Unseen Realm by Michael S. Heiser, who does a fine job laying out the Old Testament basis for this perspective.
For those of you who feel that we may be getting off to a slow start, let me just say that these early considerations (which are clearly there in the letter) help to lay the foundation for what is to come. Without it, we just wouldn’t see the interconnections of the various themes of the letter with the same clarity.
LIFE GROUP LESSON:
Share a personal story about when you thought you knew what was going on, only to discover, with new information, that things were quite different.
Share a little bit about the blessings of God in your life. Celebrate them together.
- Read 2 Kings 6:8-23. How does this story inform us about the apocalyptic character of the letter to the Ephesians? What does this mean for our lives today?
- Read Colossians 3:1-4; Philippians 3:20, 21; 1 Peter 1:3-9. How do these verses relate to Paul’s theme in Eph 1:3?
- Read Ephesians 1:18-21; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12 – How do these verses relate to the theme of Eph 1:3?
- How important is having the right perspective on things? What distorts perspective, and how do we maintain the right perspective? How do we maintain a biblical (apocalyptic) vision of reality in the midst of a secular society?
- How does the vision of Christ on his throne make a difference in the way we view marriage, career, money, circumstances, etc.?
Pray for one another that each would see Christ and his kingdom for what they really are. Pray that each one would see the visible world in light of the greater “unseen” reality of Jesus Christ.
What change of perspective, informed by the “apocalyptic” reality of Christ on the throne, will you bring to the challenges you face this week?
Next time we will be looking at Ephesians 1:4-14, and what it teaches about ‘being in Christ.” This is a huge, overarching theme in the New Testament and especially in Paul. What does this mean? How does it work? What does it say about Christ?
“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Eph. 1:2)