If you forgot about my plan to do post my Ephesians study…you are totally justified because it’s been like a year. 😀 So if you need a refresher, here’s my original post:
We are going to dive into Ephesians over the next few posts and my hope is that it gives us a refreshing reminder of what our place is with God, each other, and the world. I feel like lately I’ve seen/heard/felt, a lot of hard emotions. This study dive is coming a year after my last post and what feels like a decade later in social and political chaos. I see that people are overwhelmed, tired, frustrated and just…lost. Some of us have lost hope, lost direction, lost connections and lost confidence. It seems like there’s been a bit of a disconnect between what is going on in our lives and what God wants for us as Christians. I wrote this study specifically to focus on a women’s connection to God but as is true with all of God’s word, it is about ALL of our connections to Him. So I hope this will help us get out of a funk a little and refocus our thoughts. And who better to help us get out of our funk than our buddy Paul.
Now, there are a few theories out there about who wrote the book of Ephesians but most historians and theologians believe it was Paul. Others theorize that a scribe took Paul’s words and put them to paper for the Ephesians while still others believe it was a student who studied Paul’s teachings with great admiration and merely imitated his writing style. However, it is my belief that it was in fact Paul who wrote Ephesians while he was imprisoned so we’re going to go under the assumption that Paul is in fact the author (with God’s guidance, of course).
In case you need a reminder, because I did, let’s talk about Paul for a moment. Paul the Apostle is actually Saul of Tarsus. He was born a Greek speaking Jew…well he learned to speak Greek…obviously he didn’t come out talking…but he DID come out as a “chosen person”. See, back then, there were Jews, God’s chosen people, and Gentiles, the others…later on we would introduce the Christians but not til you know…Christ came around. Fast forward a few years to Saul the Pharisee and a bad dude. I mean, you would NOT have wanted to be friends with him unless, of course, you favor power and piousness. Pharisees were basically pretentious Jews who prided themselves on being the “Best Jews” therefore they memorized the Torah and spent their time judging others. So, when Christians started popping up and Jesus started being referred to as Messiah…Saul and his jerky friends went nuts. Not only was he a HUGE persecutor of Christians, he just wasn’t fair…you see?
…see what I did there? Pharisee…Phar-i- see HAHAHA**
But really, the dude made it his mission in life to seek out Christians to threaten and slaughter…he was a bad Jesus hating dude. But on the road to Damascus to do some more Christian hunting, in the ultimate Jesus ‘love the sinner’ fashion, a freshly resurrected Jesus was like “No, really Saul, stop this nonsense. Take some time to ‘see’ things the way my Father wants them and then I’ll send a guy to help you physically see again and you can go do what all those people you wanted to kill are doing. Bam!”
So, Saul was blinded, he was sent to Ananias and then God worked his magic to restore his sight physically and spiritually. Saul then did as he was told and used his connections to make Churches all over. Some people contribute his name change to this moment on the road but, in reality, his being called Paul is really just a matter of language and location. Paul is the Greek transliteration of Saul which is why it is used primarily while speaking to Latin (or Greek) speakers and this is why he’s mostly referred to as Paul during his missions. This is an important thing to realize because instead of some big shift in name/purpose from Saul to Paul that is commonly misrepresented, we see that Paul is human and greatly flawed and even as Saul, the now broken down and convicted Pharisee, God had purpose. The Lord revealed himself to a horrible sinner and instead of transforming him into some other holier person, he used that sinner to share His grace and love with others…as a sinner. That, to me is the most relatable thing ever. We don’t need to be some perfect specimen of a Christian to spread His message of love and forgiveness. He loves and uses us like Mark Darcy loves Bridget Jones…just as we are.
So, back to Paul’s missions…
One of the places he worked on was Ephesus which was a super important harbor city in western Asia Minor. This book, Ephesians, is a letter he wrote to the church in Ephesus and possibly as something to pass around to other churches as well. I like it because it reminds me that I’m not in this world for me…I’m in it for a much greater purpose and THAT gift has nothing to do with my achievements or failures and purely to do with God just…wanting me to have it.
So, as you read, I’ve found some things for you to ponder while you explore the chapters. This pdf is the study guide I worked on with my group and followed along with as we dug deeper. Feel free to use these questions to guide your reflection of chapter one. Also, any constructive feedback is always welcome.
**And if you didn’t get the Pharisee reference than do yourself a favor and get familiar with this old VBS song. 😉 I don’t want to be a Sheep