Paul had hoped to go to Rome as an itinerate missionary. Instead, he arrived in the empire’s capital city as a prisoner. Chained to a Roman soldier (Acts 28:16, 20), Paul remained captive for at least two years (Acts 28:30).
While there, Paul wrote at least four letters, three addressed to churches. The first prison epistle we will review is the letter to his beloved church at Ephesus. Paul had spent more time at Ephesus than at any other city.
The Epistle to the Ephesians is a perfect blend of doctrine and duty. The first three chapters are extraordinary theology, powerfully written so that every believer may know who they are in Christ! Paul prays that we would comprehend “the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His great might that He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come” (Ephesians 1:19-21, ESV). Paul proclaims that it is only “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, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10, ESV). “Workmanship” could be translated “masterpiece!” God doesn’t make junk! He produces exquisite works of art... like you!
The first three chapters are doctrinal. Chapters four, five and six are practical. Paul used the word “walk” five times in the final half of the letter. Any time the word “walk” appears, we might insert the word “live.” We should “live” worthy of Christ’s calling, we should “live” in love, and we should “live” as children of light.
Paul, writing from prison, says that those who have been saved by grace should “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called” (Ephesians 4:1, ESV). Because we have been forgiven according to the riches of His grace; because we have been chosen and adopted as sons and daughters; because we have been sealed with the promised Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:5-14), we should respond by faithfully and fearfully walking in obedience. We have been transformed from death to life, so we should be different from the lost world around us. We should “no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds” (Ephesians 4:17, ESV).
Paul also taught that Christians should “walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us” (Ephesians 5:2, ESV). Because Jesus loved us, we should respond by loving others. That’s simple to say, but sometimes pretty hard to do!
Lastly, Paul taught that Christ-followers should “walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8, ESV), “not as unwise but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15, ESV). With His living word as a “lamp unto my feet and light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105, KJV), we can understand His purposes and His ways, and we can walk as Children of Light.
Read Paul’s letter to Ephesus. If we believe the truth found in chapters one, two and three, then we will be able to do as Paul directs in chapters four, five and six.
South Georgia Baptist Church
Mike Martin, Pastor