Ephesians - Church, the Body of Christ

Background

Paul wrote the letter to the Ephesians sometime in AD 60–61, around the same time he wrote Colossians and Philemon. It was during this time that Paul sat in Rome undergoing his first Roman imprisonment.
The book of Ephesians is about community life in the church and how Christians should conduct themselves in the bigger community.


Maintaining unity in the church

Eph 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace...31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Conflicts do not only exist outside the church. As long as there are human beings, there is a potential for conflict. Paul instructs us how to behave within the church. We should be gentle with one another even when there are disagreements. This is good advice as a soft answer turns away wrath. Being patient and bearing with one another also averts potential conflicts. The church is like a big engine that will fulfill God’s purpose on earth. In order for this engine to operate effectively, we need to maintain unity and move as one.


Loving one another

Eph 5:1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

It is one thing to maintain unity in the church by not quarrelling with one another. But that alone is not sufficient. We need to show love to one another and love is shown through actions. Christ loved us and gave himself up for us. Likewise, when we love others, we act sacrificially to bless that person.


Serving in the church

Eph 4:11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…

When Christ ascended into heaven He sent the Holy Spirit to be with us. The Holy Spirit apportions to us the gifts of the spirit (some of them are described above) in order that we may built up the church. Our duty in the church is to serve God as well as one another. It is not to simply attend service and reap the benefits while we ourselves do not contribute. Even a person who thinks that he can grow in the church by attending service alone and not serving is mistaken. There are many aspects of growth and character development that we can achieve only by serving.


Be examples of God’s holiness

Eph 5:3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving...11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.

The world has its own view of what is right and wrong. For example, it thinks that homosexual sex is fine as long as it is between two consenting adults. Pornography is fine as long as the person is an adult. (That’s why the term adult movies, etc.) The world does not know the absolute standard of God’s holiness except through observing how Christians live their lives and how they speak up against sin.