Welcome to Week 23 of the Higher Hope Church 2018 New Testament Reading Plan! If you haven’t already, go pick up your 5x5x5 Reading Plan and join our private Facebook group for daily interaction and discussion. This week we finished the Book of Romans and started the Book of Ephesians!
We should seek to please our neighbor and not ourselves. Even Christ did not please Himself. Everything written in the past was written to teach us and to encourage us. Paul says to accept each other just as Christ accepted us in order to bring glory to God. Paul recaps by stating that he was boldly writing to remind them of some key points because of his position as a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. Jesus gave Paul the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles would become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Paul recounts his travels preaching the gospel to the Gentiles and how he was hindered from coming to Rome because he wanted to preach the gospel where Christ was not known. Paul ends the chapter by announcing that he plans to visit Rome on his way to Spain.
Paul sends his personal greetings, commending Phoebe a deacon of the church of Cenchreae and asking that she be favorably received. He asks them to greet Priscilla and Aquila, his co-workers in Christ, and many others. He urges the brethren to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in their way that are contrary to the teaching they have learned. Paul advises to keep away from them for they are not serving Jesus Christ.
Paul opens the letter with a greeting to the holy and faithful people in Ephesus. He continues on to discuss all the blessings that they have in Christ, including being chosen, adopted into God’s family, redeemed, and forgiven. This is all because God wanted to do it. It was His pleasure, will, and grace that they have all of these blessings. They were included in Christ when they heard the message of salvation and when they believed, they were marked in Him with a seal – the promised Holy Spirit. Paul ends the chapter by giving thanks to the Ephesians for their faith in Christ and their love of God’s people and prays for them.
Paul opens chapter two by discussing how the Ephesians were dead in their sins when they used to follow the ways of the world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is at work in those who are disobedient. But our merciful God made them alive in Christ even when they were dead in transgressions. They are saved by God’s grace, through faith in Christ – and not from themselves, not by works. We are created in Christ to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Both Jews and Gentiles are brought near to God by the blood of Christ. God has made the two groups into one and destroyed the barrier. We are now all members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ as the cornerstone.
Through the gospel, the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, and both share together in the promise of Christ Jesus. Paul discusses how he is the least of all people but he was chosen to preach this message to the Gentiles and make it plain to everyone this secret that was kept hidden in God. Paul ends the chapter with a prayer for the Ephesians, asking the Father to strengthen them, to help them understand the enormity of the love of Christ, and to fill them with the fullness of God.
Have a great week!