An Overview Of The Epistle To The Ephesians

Hugo Bouter

Part I - God's eternal counsels in Christ (1:3-23)

(1) Thanks for God's eternal counsels of grace (1:3-14):

(a) our position as children and sons before God, having been qualified for His presence and made accepted in the Beloved;
(b) our knowledge of the mystery of God's will to gather together in one all things in Christ;
(c) our position as co-heirs with Christ, being sealed by God with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance.

2) Prayer for spiritual insight in these counsels and the greatness of the resurrection power that was needed to realize them (1:15-23):

a) knowledge of the hope of His calling (v. 18), that is, our position before God (cf. 1a);
(b) knowledge of the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints (cf. 1b and c);
(c) and of the exceeding greatness of His power toward believers (v. 19), according to the working of His mighty power as it has been seen in Christ's resurrection and glorification in heaven.

Part II - God's work of salvation in the present time (2:1-22)

(1) Personal consequences (2:1-10):
Believers are made alive, raised up, and seated in the heavenlies in Christ.

(2) Common consequences (2:11-22):
Jews and Gentiles transformed into a new unity in Christ: one new man, one body, one building.

Part III - Paul's stewardship (3:1-21)

(1) Paul's ministry in relation to the revelation of the mystery of the Church, which had not been revealed in Old Testament times (3:1-13).

(2) Following on this his prayer for the saints to comprehend the full scope of God's eternal purpose (the width, length, depth and height of it) by the strength of the Spirit. Thus Christ, the Centre of the divine mystery, would dwell in their hearts through faith and they would know His love which passes knowledge. This leads to worship of the Father - the Source of all these counsels of grace - in the Church for ever and ever. Amen! (3:14-21).

Part IV - Our walk in accordance with this high calling (4:1-16)

(1) By keeping the unity of the Spirit (4:1-6):

(a) the inner unity as formed by one Spirit;
(b) the outward unity under the authority of one Lord;
(c) the universal unity under the headship of one God and Father.

(2) By exercising the diversity of gifts which were given according to the measure of Christ's gift, who is the heavenly Head of the Church (4:7-16):

(a) the apostles and prophets used of God to write the New Testament (they have laid the foundation);
(b) the evangelists (they add new members to the Church);
(c) the pastors and teachers (they are responsible for the edifying of the body of Christ).

Part V - Our walk according to the New Man (4:17-5:21)

(1) Because of our union with Christ we are to walk in His light and recognize His authority over us. We should put off the marks of the old man and put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. 

(2) As followers and imitators of God we should walk in love and light and so reveal His character as dear children who have been born of Him.

(3) As sealed with the Spirit we should walk in light, walk in wisdom, show the fruit of the Spirit, and be filled with the Spirit.

These things are closely related to each other as our relationships with God, with Christ and with the Spirit determine our walk as believers.

Part VI - Our mutual relationships on earth (5:22-6:9)

(1) Relationships between wives and husbands in the light of the union between Christ and the Church (5:22-33).

(2) Relationships between children and parents in the light of Christ's lordship (6:1-4).

(3) Relationships between servants and masters, also in the light of the authority of our Master in heaven (6:5-9).

Part VII - The armour of God (6:10-20)

(1) Defensive weapons: girdle (truth), breastplate (righteousness), footwear (peace), shield (faith) and helmet (salvation).
(2) Offensive weapon: the sword of the Spirit (the Word of God).
(3) Tactical weapon: prayer in the Spirit for all the saints.

Conclusion: 6:21-24

by Hugo Bouter