This article is part of the Christ in All of Scripture series.
Explanation and Application
The book of Ephesians is full of gospel from start to finish. In fact, there may be no other book in all the Bible that packs in as much gospel per square inch. The first half of the book is almost nothing but gospel explanation, while the second half is almost entirely gospel application—mind-boggling indicatives followed by grace-filled (and grace-motivated) imperatives.
When we embrace the love of Christ, we will also embrace the way of life that Christ loves.
The good news of the first three chapters centers on the word “blessing,” specifically all the blessings we have by virtue of union with Christ (Eph. 1:3). We were chosen in him (Eph. 1:4). We were adopted in him (Eph. 1:5). We have redemption in him (Eph. 1:7). We have our inheritance in him (Eph. 1:11). And in Christ, God is bringing the entire universe to its fulfillment (Eph. 1:10). Paul goes on to explain that in Christ, God is exercising his mighty power for us who believe (Eph. 1:19). In him, we who were dead in trespasses have been made alive (Eph. 2:4–5). In him we have been created for good works (Eph. 2:10).
In him we who were far away have been brought near (Eph. 2:13). In him, longtime enemies can come together in peace (Eph. 2:14). In him we are being built together into a dwelling place for God (Eph. 2:22). All of this is ours in Christ Jesus, which is why Paul prays twice that we may know Christ more and more (Eph. 1:15–19; 3:14–21). In him, we find a love that is wide and long and high and deep (Eph. 3:18), a love that will surprise, and a love that surpasses knowledge (Eph. 3:19–20).
The glorious gospel in the first half of the book does not fade to the background in the second half. Instead, we see that the good news of chapters 1–3 makes possible, natural, and desirable the good commands of chapters 4–6. Therefore, as God’s beloved ones, we put off falsehood, unrighteous anger, stealing, unwholesome talk, and bitterness. We put on truth-telling, righteous anger, hard work, edifying conversation, and compassion (Eph. 4:17–32). Out of love for Christ, wives submit to their husbands (Eph. 5:22), children honor their parents (Eph. 6:1), and bondservants obey their masters (Eph. 6:5). Husbands lay down their lives for their wives (Eph. 5:25), fathers instruct their children in the Lord (Eph. 6:4), and masters deal kindly with their servants (Eph. 6:9). Taking our stand on the love of Christ, we stand our ground against the Devil and resist the schemes of the Evil One (Eph. 6:10–18). In Christ we have become holy, and in Christ we can grow in holiness.
The message of Ephesians is that when we embrace the love of Christ, we will also embrace the way of life that Christ loves.
This article is adapted from the ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible. Browse other articles in this series via the links below.
Genesis • Exodus • Leviticus • Numbers • Deuteronomy • Joshua • Judges • Ruth • 1–2 Samuel • 1–2 Kings • 1–2 Chronicles • Ezra • Nehemiah • Esther • Job • Psalms • Proverbs • Ecclesiastes • Song of Solomon • Isaiah • Jeremiah • Lamentations • Ezekiel • Daniel • Hosea • Joel • Amos • Obadiah • Jonah • Micah • Nahum • Habbakuk • Zephaniah • Haggai • Zechariah • Malachi
Matthew • Mark • Luke • John • Acts • Romans • 1 Corinthians • 2 Corinthians • Galatians • Ephesians • Philippians • Colossians • 1 Thessalonians • 2 Thessalonians • 1 Timothy • 2 Timothy • Titus • Philemon • Hebrews • James • 1 Peter • 2 Peter • 1–3 John • Jude • Revelation