June 7, 2015: Daily Bible Reading with Commentary for Ephesians 1-3
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Author: Apostle Paul
Date Written: AD 62
Context: Paul greets the Ephesians and acknowledges each part of the Trinity and their role in salvation: that Father (1:3-6), the Son (7-12), and the Spirit (13-14). Paul then offers prayer for understanding. In chapter 2, Paul tells the story of our salvation, being born into a sinful world and being reborn in Christ. Paul addresses a common topic that he has touched upon in other letters; the matter of circumcision. This issue was causing friction between the Jews and Gentiles. Paul reminds that circumcision does not grant salvation. Since we are all one in Christ, having been cleansed and made new by His blood, circumcision no longer matters. No doubt it was difficult for Jews to give up the traditions to which they had so long clung. Chapter 3 begins with Paul starting a prayer, which he interrupts to talk about a mystery. Here the word mystery means "previously unknown." The mystery is that Jews and Gentiles are now equal in Christ, as Christ died for both. This mystery was revealed to Paul, for he is taking the Gospel to both Jews and Gentiles. Paul continues his prayer in verse 14. Kneeling represents humility and reverent worship. Paul prays for four things: strength, faith, love, and fullness.
World History: Paul wrote this letter while in prison in Rome. It is believed to have been sent with Tychicus, a friend of Paul and an Ephesian. This letter, unlike previous letters, was not written to address specific issues within the church at Ephesus; rather it was intended for all churches. Likely, the letter was circulated among various churches. Ephesus was the capital city of the Roman province of Asia and a leading trade center. Housed within the city was the temple to the pagan goddess Diana (Artemis), one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The city was sophisticated, wealthy, and pagan.