Ephesians —Triumphant Unity pt. 1
This is the first part of a three-part blog series on the book of Ephesians.
The book of Ephesians is my favorite of Paul’s letters. It takes so many different themes from so many of his other letters and condenses them into a shorter letter with one thread of logic. With so many themes though, sometimes it can be hard to trace them through the book. In this blog series, I want to examine the theme of unity in Ephesians. Unity shows up again and again in the book and is the thesis of the whole letter.
In the first few chapters of Ephesians Paul mentions “the mystery” that God has made known to his readers. Ephesians 1:9 ESV says that through God’s grace he has been “making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ.” This revealing work has been ongoing throughout the whole story of Israel and is now finished in Christ. Paul tells the Ephesians that “this mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (3:6 ESV).
The mystery made known to us is the reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles! Paul describes it as Christ creating “in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace” (2:15b ESV).
Mark Roberts says, “God has reconciled himself to us through Christ and has given us the ministry and message of reconciliation. … Reconciliation involves bringing together those who have suffered brokenness in relationship. It is a form of uniting, focusing on estranged people or groups of people, including humans and God” (Roberts, Ephesians, 30) While many people focus on the vertical dimension of Christ’s work, we often don’t remember the horizontal as well. Christ didn’t just die for us so that we would be reconciled to him, but also so that we may be reconciled and united with one another. To properly understand Ephesians this idea is key. Without this, the logic of the thought is not understood.
To sum it up, Ephesians tells that the mystery of God’s will is to “unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (1:10b ESV). In doing this Christ has united all peoples to himself and has reconciled Jew and Gentile to each other. This is the gospel that Paul preaches and is what we also ought to preach.
To read the next part in this series click here.