Understanding The Bible
Clarence E. Mason's "Later New Testament Epistles"



Return to Syllabus

Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible



    "To the church at Ephesus" - sent to Ephesus as the capital of Roman Asia and from there to the other churches of the province (e.g., Laodicea, Col. 4:16).



    A. The theme 1:3This was something accomplished at the cross that became true as our position before God the moment we believed.

    We will never share the heavenly life, joys, or blessings, unless we are in Christ Jesus, But it is also true that we shall realize these blessings in experience only as faith lays hold upon them.

    These are spiritual blessings, not material. Many of God's servants have starved to death, e.g., Capt. Allen Gardiner on Patagonia and others.

    The essential difference is that material blessings are for those who walked by faith under the old order (Law) but spiritual blessings are for those who walk by faith in this age (Church).

    This is the introduction to the whole section and gives us the calling of the Church:

    1. The source of the calling: "God the Father"

    2. The subjects of the calling: "us"

    3. The scope of the calling: "spiritual blessings"

    4. The sum of the calling: "all"

    5. The sphere of the calling: "heavenly places!'

    6. The standing of the called: "in Christ"

      The believer's call is heavenly (Heb. 3:1);
      his citizenship is heavenly (Phil. 3:30);
      his inheritance is heavenly (1 Pet. lj4);
      his position is heavenly (Eph. 1:3; 2:6).

      The heavenlies = the spiritual sphere where we fellowship with God.

      Ephesians is the first book since Matthew in our Canon's order that deals with the Church as a whole.

    1. The work of the triune God in our behalf 1:4-14
      (cp. the work of creation with that of the new creation)

      1. The Father's work 4-6

        1. He chose us (election) 4
          That we should be holy.

        2. He predetermined that we should be placed as sons (predestination) 5
          We are born children (regeneration); we are adopted sons.

          Predestination always has to do with sonship. "All of those whom I am choosing according to my foreknowledge shall come into the full glorification of my Son, into full heirship with Him" (cp. Rom. 8:29; 1 Pet. 1:2).

        3. He accepted us in the Beloved (acceptation) 6

      2. The Son's work 7-12

        1. Redemption by His blood 7
          "We have redemption"; notice the tense. This Bridegroom gave His life for us, according to the riches of His grace: the Divine yardstick.

        2. Fellowship in His purpose 8-10
          We share with the Son the purpose of God, and we shall be glorified with the Son.

        3. Inheritance in His riches 11-12

      3. The Holy Spirit's work 13-14

        1. He saved us 13a
          He is the one who wooed us through the gospel.

        2. He sealed us 13b
          Sealing suggests three things:
          (1) A finished transaction, Jer. 32:9-10
          (2) Ownership, Jer. 32:11-12; 2 Tim. 2:19
          (3) Security, Esther 8:8; Dan. 6:17

        3. His presence in us guarantees the redemption of our bodies 14
          "Who (not "which") is the earnest of our inheritance, " i.e., the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession. "Unto the praise of His glory."

    2. The apostle's prayer for their enlightenment 1:15-23
      (that they might grasp the significance of these glorious, truths)

      1. The reason for his prayer 15
        Their faith and love to all brethren - evidence of their salvation.

      2. The thanksgiving of his prayer 16
        Suggests definite times of prayer. It was not impromptu praying that Paul did, but he had definite times of prayer for the churches.

      3. The purpose of his prayer 17-18a
        That spiritual discernment might be given.

      4. The petitions of his prayer 18b-23
        That ye may know:

        1. What is the hope of His calling 18b
          (cp. the Father's work)

        2. What the riches of His inheritance in the saints 18c
          (cp. the Son's work)

        3. What the exceeding greatness of His power to us who believe 19-23
          (cp. the Spirit's work)
          Four things the power of God did:

          1. Raised Christ from dead 19-20a

          2. Seated Christ at Father's right hand 20b-21

          3. Put all things under His feet 22a

          4. Made Him Head over the Church 22b-23

    3. Regeneration by resurrection power 2:1-10
      (cp. work of Son and Spirit)

      1. What we were by nature 1-3
        Just as dead as Christ was in the grave, only in a much more real way (cp. 1:19-20).
        Verse 3 - "doing what the flesh and thought willed to do. " Satan-ward downward, dead - this was our condition. Children of wrath, fullfillers of Satan's work.

      2. What God has done for us in grace 4-7
        God's "buts" are worth something.
        God is going to put on an exposition in heaven, and we are to be "exhibit A" of what His grace can do.

      3. Salvation, separation, service 8-10
        "For by grace" - guiding principle
        "Through faith" - medium

        "And that not of yourselves" - what is not of ourselves? The gender shows that both grace and faith are gifts of God, Faith is not an act of merit; even faith is made possible by the Work of the Spirit in the heart. Cp. the illustration of a spoon and medicine. The spoon does not make us well!

        It is a most prevalent of human errors to fail to see that salvation is not man doing something for God, but God doing something for man. As long as a man thinks he can do something for God, he can't be saved.

        We are "His workmanship" - the original creation was "a thing of beauty and a joy forever." But sin came in and brought chaos. We are His handiwork, His ordered "poem" of symphonic beauty; His New Creation in Christ Jesus, separated from the world and unto good works.

        There is plenty of opportunity for works after salvation. God does good works; why should not His children do them?

    4. Reconciliation by the blood of the cross 2:11-22
      (cp. work of Father and Spirit)
      Settling the greatest racial question that ever existed: hatred between Jew and Gentile.

      1. Gentiles' relation to Israel and God before the cross 11-13
        There are seven things pointed out here that are wrong with them - seven disabilities:

        1. They were Gentiles, not Jews

        2. Uncircumcision

        3. Without Christ - or the promise of a Messiah

        4. Aliens from the commonwealth of Israel

        5. Strangers of the covenants of promise

        6. Having no hope

        7. Without God

          Because of these disabilities they were "far off. "

      2. Gentiles' relation to Israel and God after the cross 13-17
        God met the Gentile disabilities and racial hatred through the death of Christ. Upon that basis, God has brought about a great model of union, namely, the Church. This proved to the world what His love and grace could do.

        There are two viewpoints here: the available and the actual.

        These seven disabilities were removed at the cross for all Gentiles availably; but actually for those who believe. Remember the Jewish "Day of Atonement, " which gave the nation another year of grace, i.e., national propitiation. The counterpart of that is a world "Day of Atonement, " not for a year but for an age, so that Paul may say, "Christ the Saviour of all men, especially those who believe, " 1 Timothy 4:10. The death of Christ is so far-reaching in effect that the whole world has been reconciled (availably), but each individual must lay hold of that work of Christ to obtain actual forgiveness, just as each Jew had to bring his personal sacrifice.

        The picture here is that the Jews before the cross were "near" to God in external relationship in that they had the sacrifices, the blood of atonement, and could get to God by the one step of faith; whereas Gentiles had no sacrifices, no blood of the atonement (etc.) and, ceremonially and externally, were "afar off. " It was very unlikely that they would become proselytes of the gate and get in.

        The work of Christ has changed that, because by the blood of Christ the Gentiles have been "brought nigh" also. The work of Christ has brought both Gentile and Jew to the threshold of the House of God (Church) and there remains just the step of faith to bring them into an internal and saving relationship with God.

      3. Access to the Father's house by one Spirit 18-22
        (cp. work of Father and Son)
        In Christ and fitted around Christ, the building grows toward completion. There are two figures here:
        that of a gate 15-16
        that of a building 20-21

        There are two main words for temple in the Greek:

        1. The whole structure - courtyard included.

        2. The sanctuary itself. It is this word that is used here of the Church.

    5. The "mystery" (God's eternal purpose through the Church) revealed 3:1-13
      There were a number of purposes hidden in God, but this "mystery" is the secret of what God would do through the Church. He is taking Jew and Gentile and making them one in Christ.

      We have here:
      the purpose of the mystery 9-10
      the content of the mystery 6

    6. Paul's prayer for their experience 3:14-21
      (that they may experience the fullness of God's love)
      In the first chapter he prays for light (knowledge of the truth of their portion in Christ); here he prays for the experiencing of the wonderful privileges which are theirs in Christ.
      "For this cause" I preach, 1-13.
      "For this cause" I pray, 14-21.

      Because of his special ministry, he feels specially led to pray for them.

      1. The cause for his; prayer 14-15

      2. The petitions of Ms prayer 16-19

        1. That they may be strengthened to appropriate what is theirs in Christ 16

        2. That Christ may dwell in their hearts by faith 17a
          Positionally He does - but what beggars we are, though all the riches of heaven are at our command!

          Experiencing His presence is a matter of definite appropriation by faith.

          We are to recognize His residence in us, a daily miracle and joy. We are to make Him fee}, "at home" in our hearts.

        3. That they may be able to apprehend the fullness of Christ's love 17b-19a

        4. That they might be filled "unto" all the fullness of God! 19b
          When Paul prays, he is not stinting, but prays for the best for them. How poor are our prayers when we have the riches of God before us. You have to ask to enjoy privileges which He has to give.

      3. The gloria of the prayer 20-21



    1. The heavenly walk of the believer upon earth 4:1-6:9

      1. Walk united - as members of His body 4:1-16

        1. The unity of the Church: the basis and incentive of growth 1-6
          We are never commanded to make the unity of the Spirit. But we are warned not to break the unity of the Spirit. The appeal to our growth is the unity of the Body of Christ. One body - 1 Cor. 12:12. One Spirit - active agent in our calling. One faith - a Scriptural thing which we believe. One baptism - a once-for-all confession to the world of our faith in Christ.

        2. The gifts of Christ were bestowed for the unity and growth of the Church 7-16
          What are these gifts?

          1. Some apostles: these did not continue indefinitely. Twelve apostles for the circumcision, at least one (Paul) for the Gentiles. These were given for a specific purpose and for a specific time.

          2. Some prophets: speak unto edification, exhortation, and comfort. The evangelist of today is equal to the prophet of the old days.

          3. Some evangelists: missionaries, those who spread the evangel (gospel).

          4. Some pastors: shepherds of the flock to feed and rule the local churches.

          5. Some teachers: not enough to rule the flock but must teach the flock. Every pastor should be a teacher, but not every teacher is a pastor.

          6. The saints: unto the work of ministering. It is utterly impossible for one pastor to minister to a whole neigh­borhood. The pastor leads and helps the people in the ministering. The purpose of the ministry is to build up the Body of Christ. Who does the work? The saints. Who leads? The pastor.

      2. Walk different - not as other Gentiles 4:17-32

        1. Put off the old man 17-22
          Note seven things: a complete indictment.

        2. Put on the new man 23-32
          Notice the high plane of these exhortations. The beseechings of grace, so different from the law. Not "love neighbor" or even "love enemy, " but love as I love. Not do good and I will bless you, but I have blessed you. Therefore, do good!

          Is it possible to be angry and not to sin? Yes. Sometimes it would be a sin not to be angry, e.g., when your Lord is being repudiated. But there are two dangers of anger:

          1. We are liable to hold our anger and let it turn into wrath, wrath into malice, malice into murder. So, don't let the sun go down on your wrath; don't let it solidify in the cool of the evening.

          2. It opens the door for the Devil to come in. If you go to bed angry, you have the Devil for a bedfellow. Anger leads to sin. Verse 32: forgiving one another when due apology has been made and they have humbled themselves? No. As God for Christ's sake forgave you. When did God forgive you? When you were a scoundrel. We are not to overlook the sin, but we should have the spirit of forgiveness to the sinning one.

      3. Walk discerning - not as fools 5:1-17
        Theme: verse 1

        1. "Walk in love" 2
          We are never asked to do a thing that God hasn't done for us.

        2. "Walk as children of light" 3-14
          Proving what is acceptable to the Lord. Romans 12:1-2: Prove the genuineness of our faith before the world by good works. Approve ourselves before God. Reprove the unfruitful works of darkness.

        3. "Walk circumspectly" 15-17
          "Buying up the opportunities" which are rapidly passing by.

      4. Walk overflowing - filled with the Spirit 5:18-6:9
        Seven places in Ephesians where the word "walk" appears. It is used with a definite progression of thought and to describe the life history of any Christian - 2:2; 2:10; 4:1; 4:17; 5:2; 5:8; 5:15. Though not appearing here in 5:18, it is implied and forms the climax of the "walk" exhortations.

        1. The command 5:18
          This is not simply a suggestion or a privilege, but a command; and not to walk in the Spirit is sin. It is obligatory.

          Three things are true:

          1. A thing cannot be filled with something unless it is emptied of everything else. "Two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. " Further, if we are filled with the Spirit we cannot be filled with anything else.

          2. That which is in us will splash out when we bump up against somebody else. "Out of the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaketh."

          3. Until a vessel is filled, there is no overflow! He keeps on pouring in while we keep on pouring over! Literally, "keep being filled."

        2. The overflow of the Spirit 5:19-6:9
          If verse 18 is so, our actions will be God-like:

          1. The happy heart 5:19

          2. The thankful heart 5:20


          1. The humble heart 5:21-6:9

            1. Submission of wives to husbands, and of the Church to Christ 5:22-33
              God gives a supernatural standard, but He also provides a supernatural enabling (5:18).

            2. Submission of children to parents 6:1-4

            3. The father in particular is to be obeyed, but to him also is given explicit directions.

            4. Submission of servants to masters 6:5-9
              The Christian should be the bust worker in the shop or office!

    2. The warfare of the believer in the heavenlies 6:10-20 THE PREVAILING HEART, 6:10-17

      1. The warrior's power 10
        It is the might of the Lord. We cannot afford to be careless or think that we can fight the battle ourselves.

      2. The warrior's panoply (armor) 11
        It is provided by God. It belongs to God, but we can use it, if we will put it on. Knowing that there is an armor won't do any good. It is only in putting it on that it is effective. Even admiring it isn't putting it on. We are not seeking a fight with the Devil, but we are withstanding him.

      3. The warrior's foes 12
        It is an organized kingdom. Wickedness, not in the worst place but in the best. High class, beautiful, subtle wickedness. Temptations in the prayer life; temptations in Bible study to put ourselves forward; temptations in spiritual relationships  The closer we get to God the more conscious we are of Satan's devices. Religious sin; religious error!

      4. The way the warrior wars 13-20

        1. He does not fight the Devil but stands against him 13-14a
          Illustration: Nehemiah building the wall.

        2. He stands, clad with the sevenfold panoply of God 14b-20

          1. Defensive weapons 14b-17a

            1. "Loins girt with truth" 14b
              Stripped of any unnecessary encumbrance. Practical service is here in view; practical service with the thing that hinders removed (Heb. 12:1).

            2. "Having on the breastplate of righteousness" 14c
              This protects the heart -- protects the heart's affections from contamination.
              This is two­fold:

              1. Righteousness of God: assurance of our salvation.

              2. Practical righteousness on our part.
                This will keep us in the love of God -­ keep our hearts' affections centered on Him (Col. 3:1-3).

            3. "Having feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace 15
              "Feet shod" requires that we should be saved ourselves before we go to others with the story of salvation (Isa. 52:7). We can do more with the sandals of the gospel than we could with seven league boots.

            4. "Taking the shield of faith" 16
              "Above all" = "over all," forming a double defense to quench the fiery darts of Satan. Fiery darts not only may inflict mortal wounds, but set the clothes on fire and cause men to die in agony. It is the fiendish delight of the Devil to see us in agony after we have been hit.

              God would have us lay hold by faith on His promises, thus protecting us from needless care. So, hold "over all" our other armor, the shield of faith.

            5. "Take the helmet of salvation" 17a
              Helmet of salvation speaks of the renewing of the mind - means knowledge of salvation and understanding of the purpose of God - knowledge of the Word.

              We need not only to guard our affections, but we need to guard our thinking. Thinking wrong, affections cool, and we are an easy target to have our thinking changed.

          2. Offensive weapons i7b-20

            1. "Sword of the Spirit" 17b
              This is hand-to-hand combat. Satan has shot his arrow and now he is close up. It is not enough to have a sword, but we must know how to use it (cp. our Lord, Mt. 4).

            2. "Prayer and supplication in the Spirit" 18-20

              1. The manner of praying 18a
                Machine gun type of prayer. Ask according to God's will and then keep asking. Prayer is asking according to God's will; supplication is asking according to His mercy. Judging by the character of His mercy, we plead with Him to do the thing we ask Him to do.

              2. The persons to be prayed for 18-19a

                1. For all saints, 18c.
                  Reach out to include the whole Church of God!

                2. Paul, as representing the gospel ambassadors, 19a.
                  If the apostle Paul needed prayer like this, what about the rest of us?

                3. The purpose of the prayer: boldness, 19b-20.


  4. CONCLUSION 6:21-24

    1. Personal greeting 21-22
      Tychicus will tell you all the things too personal to put in a general letter. Also, it is generally agreed that the letter was a "provincial" letter sent to Ephesus in the first instance as the capital city; then it was to be copied for the other cities of the province (cp. Col. 4:15-16). Hence, extended personal greetings to individuals at Ephesus would be out of good taste, as though the Ephesian Christians were his pets.

    2. Parting salutation 23

    3. Benediction 24

Return to Syllabus


"Mason's Notes"

(formerly Philadelphia Biblical University, Philadelphia College of Bible.)
Copyright © 2012 to present,
All rights reserved.

Cairn University

200 Manor Avenue
Langhorne, PA 19047
United States of America
"Mason's Notes" Study materials on this website are made available here free, through the generosity of Cairn University, and may be copied for use in Bible study groups, in limited numbers, providing that no charge is made for them.  No further distribution or use of these materials is allowable under U.S. or International Copyright Law without the express permission of Cairn University.