Obviously we are just in the last chapter of the Book of Ephesians this morning. But let’s just talk a little about four of these books or letters if you will. J Vernon McGee wrote an introduction to the Book of Ephesians years ago. It’s worth paraphrasing this morning:
The year is 62AD. Paul is in prison in Rome. He writes four letters. These letters are entrusted to four men. These men leave Rome with the letters and head for Asia Minor (modern Turkey). These letters consist of four of the most sublime compositions of the Christian faith. If the original documents existed today, they would be priceless. The officials of Rome had no idea of the impact these letters would have on the Roman Empire of the time and of the future. Had they known, the men would have been apprehended and the letters seized.
When they sadly said their goodbyes to the Apostle Paul, each was given a letter to bear to his particular constituency. These four letters are designated “The Prison Epistles”. He wrote them while awaiting a hearing before Nero, the notorious Caesar of that time, to whom Paul, as a Roman citizen, had appealed his case. Tradition has it that Paul would soon have his head chopped off at Nero’s command outside the walls of the Coliseum at Rome.
These four men and their places of destination can be identified by way of the letters themselves:
1) Epaphroditus from Philippi had the letter to the Philippians. (Philippians 4:18)
2) Tychicus from Ephesus had the letter to the Ephesians (Ephesians 6:21)
3) Epaphras from Colossae had the letter to the Colossians (Colossians 4:12)
4) Onesimus, a slave from Colossae had the letter to Philemon who was his master.
These epistles present a composite picture of Christ, the Church, the Christian life, and the inter-relationship and functioning of all. These different approaches present the Christian life on the highest plane.
1) Ephesians presents the Church, ‘which is his body’ – this is the invisible church, of
which Christ is the head.
2) Colossians presents Christ, ‘the head of the body, the Church’ – The emphasis is upon
Christ, rather than on the Church.
3) Philippians presents Christian living with Christ as the dynamic, ‘I can do everything
through Christ who gives me strength’. (Philippians 4:13)
4) Philemon presents Christ living in action in a pagan society: ‘so if you consider me a
partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. If he has done you any wrong or
owes you anything, charge it to me”. (Philemon 17-18).
Notice in the tract this morning the interplay on what I have just read to you. The Gospel walked in shoe-leather in the first century – it worked.
So let’s take a look at Ephesians Chapter 6.