Paul was one of Jesus' best-known disciples who wrote many sections of the New Testament. He is the author of the books of Romans, Colossians, Philippians, Thessalonians, Ephesians and several others. After his conversion outside Damascus in Acts 9, Paul went on to share many of Jesus' words with the following generations so that they may understand the Good News of God's grace.
In the second chapter of Ephesians, Paul writes that the bounds of God's grace were extended by Jesus' sacrifice. Before, Gentiles had been foreigners in Israel, separated from God's chosen people. But after Christ's crucifixion, those barriers were broken down and God became available to anyone — along with his promise of love. From that moment forward, Jew and Gentile were offered an equal place in God's household.
Paul describes a specific household as being "built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets" with God at the center (verse 20). This foundation refers to the ministries of the disciple's work in the Middle East and Europe in the years after Jesus' ascension. "In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit" (verses 21-22).
This "building," or "dwelling" that Paul is referring to is the community of believers that are born again through the disciple's preachings. Not just in Ephesus, where Paul is directing this letter, but in Rome, Corinth and what is now Turkey, where disciples were preaching at the time. Everyone who was converted became part of the body of Christ, a body that Paul expounds on in the following chapter.
Ephesians chapter three begins with Paul restating that Gentiles have now become heirs of God's promise along with Jews through the work of the gospel. Through God's intent, they had become more than strangers in the same land — they became one body of believers under Christ. Paul then prays over the Ephesians to be strengthened by God through his Spirit so they may come to know the boundless depths of His love for us.
In chapter four, Paul's words of encouragement shift into instructions. He urges them to adapt to their calling as heirs of Christ's promise. This is something that is true for seniors and other people of faith today too. He details what this looks like in the following verses:
• Be humble and gentle
• Be patient with one another
• Bear with one another in love
• Maintain the unity of the Spirit with peace
It is the responsibility of believers to maintain the peace of the body of Christ just as it was the Ephesians' responsibility when Paul first preached this to them all those centuries ago.
One of the most important instructions Paul gives in Ephesians comes in chapter 5 verses 19 and 20, which say, "...Sing and make music with your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Notice that Paul says everything. It's common for some of the subtle blessings God gives us to slip by us unnoticed, but Paul reminds us to give thanks for the little things as well as the big things. Discover more about the benefits of living with gratitude as a senior.
Ephesians chapter 6 offers a few more instructions regarding obedience before he dives into a section titled "The Armor of God." This section is more metaphorical or perhaps metaphysical, but it inspires Christians to stand firm against the enemy's attacks. Satan's tricks are constantly bombarding God's followers, trying to lead their hearts astray from the righteous path. To fight back against evil, Paul commands us to pray. Pray for each other, pray for ourselves and pray that God's Word may reach the ears of people all over the world and resonate with their hearts that they might find a home in Christ yet.
Paul's instructions in the book of Ephesians are not just for Ephesians, but Christians everywhere. While many of his teachings here may seem legalistic at first when reading through all the rules in list form, Paul makes it clear that these instructions are essential to God's work. God doesn't mean to install a new set of rules to override the rules of the Old Testament. Instead, God is laying the groundwork for his coming kingdom, the foundation for the "building" or "dwelling" that Paul alluded to in chapter 2 that all followers of Christ could run to for safety and salvation — God's grace and the community of believers who have accepted it.
This is an everlasting body that can stand the test of time. All who come to know Christ are welcome, and with God's instruction, we can keep it afloat for all future followers of God's Word. This was God's ultimate intention.
The major lessons Paul wanted to convey in Ephesians can be boiled down to this: You have been saved by Christ and added to his inheritance. Love your neighbors, pursue peace and community with your brothers and sisters in Christ, exhibit patience and humility, pray and always rejoice for the goodness God brings to your life.