Jeremy Sarber

What is Ephesians about?

You may notice the thrust of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is not about the subjects we typically think of when we think about Ephesians. What comes to mind when someone mentions Ephesians? We may think about the doctrine of election: He chose us in him before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4). We probably think about salvation by grace, not by works: By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works (Eph 2:8, 9).

The doctrines of election and salvation by grace are important topics covered by Paul in this letter, but what does he spend most of his time addressing? From Ephesians 2:11 through Ephesians 6:9, he primarily deals with the unity of the body of Christ in one sense or another.

First, he covers the relationship between Jews and Gentiles in the church. Then, he speaks broadly about love and unity. Later in Ephesians 4, he talks about the relationship between the church and her leaders. Then, he goes broad again by teaching honesty, patience, and other important subjects when dealing with other people. In Ephesians 5, he addresses the relationship between husbands and wives. In Ephesians 6, he covers children and parents as well as servants and masters.

What is the book of Ephesians all about? Is it about salvation? Yes, but it’s even more specific than that. Ephesians is about the unity that results from our salvation.

Ephesians 4 takes us into the practical lessons of this book. Paul seems to transition from doctrine to practice. To be clear, those categorizations of Scripture can be more harmful than helpful at times because doctrine and practice are often interwoven. They can’t be separated. Without doctrine, biblical practices are meaningless. Without practice, what good are Bible doctrines? Theology flows into behavior; behavior flows from theology.

In Ephesians 4, Paul begs us to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called (Eph 4:1). He expresses it in a slightly different way in Philippians. He says, Let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ (Php 1:27). In other words, our behavior should match our calling as God’s people. Our lifestyle should accurately reflect our belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Paul says, You are the children of God, so act like it.” How? With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph 4:2, 3). He states five characteristics: humility, gentleness (or meekness), patience, forbearance, and unsurprisingly, unity.