The scripture that we, as believers in Jesus, have come to recognize as “the gospel in a nutshell,” is John 3:16, New American Standard Bible, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” That scripture reflects the nature of God, per 1 John 4:8, New American Standard Bible, “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” The event of John 3:16 occurred in the year 30 A.D. John’s Gospel was not written until the time of 85A.D. to 90 A.D. The event of 1 John 4:8 occurred in 90 A.D. That epistle was written in 90 A.D. As you can see in the following paragraph, the first handwritten English language Bible was not available until the 1380s. Both of those scriptures, which are keys to understanding the Bible, cover the period of time from eternity past to eternity future. Consider the evening that Jesus spoke the words of John 3:16. Even if all of the disciples, and Nicodemus, had been killed by the roof caving in, thereby preventing the Apostle John from writing his Gospel, the truth of John 3:16 would have always been truth. Even if John 3:16 had not been written by the Apostle John, the truth of John 3:16 would have always been truth. Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians was written 34 years after the event of John 3:16, but 21 years prior to the writing of John’s Gospel. The letter was addressed the true church, the body of Christ, and not the physical and visible church at Ephesus. The letter was taken to Ephesus by Tychicus, who also delivered Pau’s epistles to the Colossians, Philippians, and to Philemon who was a key figure in Colosse. It is unknown as to whether the people in Ephesus knew the words of John 3:16, but they were still affected by that passage. Because of the effect of the dispersion on Israel, (722 BC to 586 BC), the members of the church at Ephesus probably were both Jew and Gentile, but were now “believers in Christ,” as their Lord and Savior. The study which follows will make reference to scriptures from other books of the New Testament, because they are available to us. But, we have to remember that the Ephesians had no such tools available to them. That is because the New Testament that had been written, published, and distributed, at that time.
The first hand-written English language Bible manuscripts were produced in the 1380’s AD by John Wycliffe, an Oxford professor, scholar, and theologian. Wycliffe, (also spelled “Wycliff” & “Wyclif”), was well-known throughout Europe for his opposition to the teaching of the organized Church, which he believed to be contrary to the Bible. With the help of his followers, called the Lollards, and his assistant Purvey, and many other faithful scribes, Wycliffe produced dozens of English language manuscript copies of the scriptures. They were translated out of the Latin Vulgate, which was the only source text available to Wycliffe. The Pope was so infuriated by his teachings and his translation of the Bible into English, that 44 years after Wycliffe had died, he ordered the bones to be dug-up, crushed,
Book Introduction – Ephesians
WRITER: The Apostle Paul (1:1)
DATE: Ephesians was written from Rome in A.D. 64. It is the first in order of the Prison Epistles. Acts 20:1 to Acts 27:44. (See Scofield “Acts 28:30”) and was sent by Tychicus, concurrently with Colossians and Philemon. It is probable that the two greater letters had their occasion in the return of Onesimus to Philemon. Ephesians is the most impersonal of Paul’s letters. Indeed the words, “to the Ephesians,” are not in the best manuscripts. Colossians 4:16 mentions an epistle to the Laodiceans. It has been conjectured that the letter known to us as Ephesians is really the Laodicean letter. Probably it was sent to Ephesus and Laodicea without being addressed to any church. The letter would then be “to the saints and the faithful in Christ Jesus” anywhere.
THEME: The doctrine of the Epistle confirms this view. It contains the highest church truth, but has nothing about church order. The church here is the true church, “His body,” not the local church, as in Philippians, Corinthians, etc. Essentially, three lines of truth make up this Epistle: the believer’s exalted position through grace; the truth concerning the body of Christ; and a walk in accordance with that position.
There is a close spiritual affinity between Ephesians and Joshua, the “heavenlies” answering in Christian position to Canaan in Israel’s experience. In both there is conflict, often failure, but also victory, rest, and possession Joshua 21:43-45; Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 3:14-19; Ephesians 6:16; Ephesians 6:23. As befits a complete revelation, the number seven is conspicuous in the structure of Ephesians.
The divisions are, broadly, four:
1. The apostolic greeting Ephesians 1:1-2
2. Positional; the believer’s standing “Christ” and “in the heavenlies” through pure grace, Ephesians 1:3 toEphesians 3:21.
3. Walk and service, Ephesians 4:1 to Ephesians 5:17
4. The walk and warfare of the Spirit-filled believer, Ephesians 5:18 to Ephesians 6:24
Now, let us worship our Lord and Savior, Jesus, as we are blessed by the Youth Choir of Prestonwood Baptist Church.
Prestonwood Baptist Church
Southern Baptist Convention
Fort Worth, Texas, USA
Dr. Jack Graham, Senior Pastor