An overview study of the Book of Ephesians leads to discovering the foundational way of thinking about the church and its call to impact the community where we live. God used His ministry through the Apostle Paul to raise a small body of believers in the thriving city of Ephesus (Acts 19:1-9). When Paul arrived at the city, Ephesus was the capital proconsular of Asia and a center for trade and commerce, with a population of around half a million. Paul’s tenure in Ephesus was marked by his dispute with the artisans in the temple, who made their living selling likenesses of the goddess Diana. A riot broke out, led by a silversmith who convinced the artisans that Paul was a threat to their businesses. Ephesus was not a place friendly to the gospel of Jesus Christ – but Paul stayed the course and was used to develop a church there.
The book’s overall theme is that Christians are all members of Jesus’ “body,” the church. A key verse in Ephesians is Ephesians 2:22, “In him [Jesus] you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” God does not live in a building, but He is present in the Spirit with His people wherever they are.
The first truth we discover in Ephesus about the church is that we are called out for something specific (Eph 1:3-10; 3:3-6). Paul answers the question: What is this church of God’s intent? We, the church, have been called out of the world by God. We have been set apart for a purpose. God has called us out for a specific mission. The church’s mission is to personify the transformed life found in Christ through being a reconciled community that invites others to be reconciled and renewed by coming to Christ and being part of His church (Eph 2:15).
The second truth we discover in Ephesian about the church is that we are called together for something specific (Eph 1:7-8; 2:1, 9, 11-22). Paul answers the question: What is this church like? We, the church, have been made into a new community of reconciliation and social healing. We no longer live as mere individuals but as a community belonging to God and embodying His concerns. We have been called to be a place to belong, find grace and forgiveness, and demonstrate a new way of living together, caring for one another in Christ Jesus. We, the church, are revolutionary disciples who hold in tension a compassionate concern for justice with an evangelistic zeal for people to encounter Christ.
The third truth we discover in Ephesians about the church is that we are called for something specific (Eph 1:13; 2:4-7, 18; 1 Peter 1:23-2:4). Paul answers the question: How will this church function? The church is to function by being in relationship to Christ, allowing God to be at the heart of our community call to be together. We are to function with the understanding that there is no other reason that we are together than to be friends with God inviting others to join us.
The fourth truth I will share that we discover in Ephesians about the church is that we are called to something specific (Eph 1:6, 18; 2:8-10; 3:14-19; 4:11-16). Paul answers the question: Why does this church exist? We, the church, exists to be on mission. We are on the move. We are to participate as being part of God’s presence on earth. We are the body of Christ continuing His incarnational ministry. We are filled with the Spirit of God – His peace and power and love – so that we can be transforming agents in this world – our community.
We, the church, participate in the reign of God through beating the rhythm of being a unique community called to display what life is like as the forgiven and forgiving people of God. We bear witness to the transformational nature of God as well as exemplifying service in this world. We are to be the church in word and deed. Words are not enough, and deeds are not enough. Witness consists of words and deeds. Words are authenticated by incarnational living of the gospel in the everyday lives of Believers.
The church is not simply a gathering of people and a sender of select missionaries. We are the sent ones. We are the church on the move impacting homes, streets, neighborhoods, and communities. Community impact begins with you and me answering God’s call to bring His love and message into the places we live, work, go to school, shop, and on and on. If you see a need, you are the answer. Pray, Obey. Be Christ in the midst of the need. You don’t need permission to be the church. We are the church, called out for a purpose, called together for a plan, called for loving God and others, called to be God’s redemptive agent in the world today. We, the church, are called to know God and make Him known, making a kingdom impact in our community. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!