Grace and Life {A Study in Ephesians}

3

Paul and the Epistles

 

Today, let’s turn our attention to the character of Paul and the epistles he wrote.

Known primarily as Saul of Tarsus, Paul was zealous in persecuting the early church.  He was present when Stephen was murdered and he travelled about delivering letters of arrests, seeking to destroy the church. It was on one such journey to Damascus that Paul was converted.

Paul’s background meant that he was acquainted with both Greek and Roman cultures, writers and philosophies.  However, on the road to Damascus, he came face to face with the glorified risen Christ who he had so vehemently opposed.  His conversion was dramatic and lasting.

The epistles were letters written to the early church and individual believers; of these, Paul wrote the first 13 – Ephesians being one of these.  The story of Paul in Ephesus can be found in Acts 19:1 – 20:1.

The epistles are characterised by the fact that they address different problems and/or situations that the church and people were experiencing at the time.  While these letters were written in a specific period for a particular group of people in a different culture to ours, they were still designed to have lasting resonance. This means we still have much to learn from them today. While many people argue that the Bible is archaic and has nothing to say to modern cultures, we have already seen how there can be similarities drawn between modern society and the societies in which the early church began. While there has been dramatic change in some areas of life, we can often see how the roots of problems haven’t changed all that much.

 

The Book of Ephesians

 

As with other epistles, the book of Ephesians was probably meant for a number of different churches as well as the one in Ephesus. An instructional letter, Ephesians is full of practical advice. Two particularly key passages are on the doctrine of salvation  by grace through faith in Jesus and the Armour of God. The themes centre around the unity of people from all nations to Christ, right living and honouring God through holy lives.

Written around 62 AD when Paul was under house arrest in Rome, it is also known as one of the prison epistles – along with Philippians, Colossians and Philemon.  1st Corinthians and Galatians were also written while Paul was in Ephesus.

 

Thoughts for Today

 

1. Spend some time in Acts today reading about Paul in Ephesus – jot down some things you find out about Paul’s work and character in Acts 19:1-20:1.

2. How did Paul’s background mean he was well-placed to do the work the Lord had for him after his conversion?

 

Grace and Love

Helen x

 

 

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