Before we begin with the text of Ephesians we will spend some time looking at the background to Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church and how it fits together with the history of contact recorded for us in Acts. Acts is known by some as the Historical Hub of the New Testament. It is always good to read any of the New Testament letters in conjunction with the part of Acts related to the recipients of the letter. Luke traveled with Paul and wrote an account of their journeys in Acts. The letters included in the New Testament are directly or indirectly linked to the accounts we find in the book of Acts. Paul’s letters to the churches are set in the context of the contact he had with them. You need to read the account of the contact with the people in Acts before you look at the letter itself. So before we start with the text go and read Acts 19 & 20 for Luke’s account of what happened at Ephesus and the contact between Paul and the Ephesians.
We will look at other sources to build our understanding of Ephesus as a city and the background to the book. You can find all of this info on E-Sword. For those of you who don’t know about it, this programme is available free on the Internet and is the most comprehensive Bible software programme I have come across and it is free. You can download it from http://www.e-sword.net. Through the Bible Gems I will give you pointers to using it. Most of the background I include in the Gems is found from E-Sword but I do have other sources based on years of study of God’s Word and an extensive library I have built up. But in the main I deliberately limit myself to E-Sword to show you what is available to you. However when I know there is more I add that too.
Because we are dealing with a place, a geographic setting, it is always good to look up a Bible Atlas and find out something of where it is located and its background if you can. If I went to my mother with a question of where some place was, she would always tell me to look it up in the atlas. She instilled in me the need to go and search out the information for myself. So don’t neglect the atlas before we start. Find out where Ephesus is.
I trust you have read the book of Ephesians through. I hope you have read it through a number of times. My Greek professor would tell us to read the book through at least 7 times before we started to dig. He would say that with a smile on his face. His suggestion was linked to the notion that the number seven symbolizes perfection. In other words keep reading it through until you thoroughly understand it – have perfected it . You are probably thinking, “Ian, I am hoping you will just tell me the answers and then I don’t have to do all the work.” If I do that, whatever you gain, you will lose quickly afterward. At least read it through several times and it helps to use a different version each time. There are some things that strike you after a simple straight reading of the Ephesian letter.
The pace you take to follow the Gems is entirely up to you. Posting the Ephesian Gems to my new website I will not be posting them to Facebook and Twitter as I normally do. I will just simply post them to the website. That way you have all the Gems related to Ephesians available to look at if you wish. But they will not appear on social media as such. They are not Gems on the Book of Acts. I will just simply classify them as Ephesian Gems and you will be able to see them on the website by clicking on Ephesians.
The Ephesians Gems start with # 592 and finish with # 725. On the website these will all be available and categorized. You will be able to see the titles readily if you are looking for something in particular. Many have told me that they would like to be able find the passages in the books more easily.
I am more interested in training you to dig into the Word of God for yourself than I am in giving you the answers or what you should think about each Bible book. I have written these Gems in conjunction with the development of Deeper Bible. That’s the idea behind what I do. I have put all of what I have done since working with Wycliffe under the umbrella of “Berean Insights“. The insights we gain from truly studying Scripture and digging into it. The name I have chosen, comes from Acts 17:11 which reads “The people of Berea were more open-minded than the people of Thessalonica. They were very willing to receive God’s message, and every day they carefully examined the Scriptures to see if what Paul said was true.” Bible Gems and anything else I do is all about the insight that comes from digging into the Word of God at a deeper level. I will gradually make all of what I have done available to you online.
With each Gem I add at the bottom quotes, quips or pithy statements – insightful one liners. There are many pastors who have told me they would get Gems just for the one liners because they find them so useful. To each his own. Here is the offering for today.
Give a person a fish and feed them for a day; Teach a person to fish and feed them for a lifetime.Ian Vail
The Bible is the only book on the planet that you can read with the author present with you each time you read it.Ian Vail
The wonder of the Bible is that it is one book – 66 books totally and comprehensively connected as one – yet written by 40 different authors over 2000 years. Impossible you say – not for God.Ian Vail
If you read the Bible and don’t sense its awe and wonder then you haven’t really read the Bible.Ian Vail
Most of us read the Bible out of a sense of duty without really understanding it. Understanding it is dependant upon the effort you put in – Bible Gems and Deeper Bible will help your understanding.Ian Vail