Bible Dig into Ephesus (Ephesians 1:13-18)

Photo by Natasya Chen on Unsplash

In modern days we have all kinds of legal documents, badges, uniforms, and “perks” to prove who we are, what we own, and what kind of authority we wield. The seal authenticated that the message was the real deal. During the times of our study, things were written on sheets of papyrus or parchment. Sheets of papyrus could be glued together to form a roll approximately 30 feet long. To prevent tampering and security–reading only by designated persons–scrolls were often closed with clay impressed with the owner’s mark or brand. So, when Paul says in verse 13 , we are marked by God’s seal, those listening understood that the Holy Spirit was God’s authentication that they were part of His family.


Read through verses 13-18 of Ephesians 1. If possible, read out loud.


13 And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. 14 The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.  15 Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, 16 I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, 17 asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. 18 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. (Ephesians 1:13-18, NLT)


HISTORICAL TIDBITS:

  • Agustus made Ephesus the regional capital of eastern part of his empire when he became the Roman Emperor and ruler in 27 B.C. It was well situated and big enough to meet his goals, so he developed it to become both the seat of governor and major center of commerce. At its peak during Roman times, Ephesus was thought to be as big as 1,000 acres, with a population of maybe as high as 225,000 people. Ephesus ranked with Rome, Corinth, Antioch, and Alexandria as the foremost urban centers of the Roman Empire.
  • Ephesus was a religious center for many of the Mystery Religions that flourished during this historical time period. These cults required little more than a loyalty pledge, participation in rituals, and a willingness to keep both the rites and teaching secret (hence the “mystery” designation). Each cult was distinct, but most contained views about death and the afterlife.
  • Silt build up in the harbor over time and eventually prevented ships from reaching Ephesus Port. It was finally abandoned in the 15th century AD. Archaeologist John Turtle Wood found its site while searching for the ruins of the Artemis Temple in the late 1800s.

READ these verses again, this time in The Message.

13-14 It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This down payment from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.

15-19 That’s why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn’t stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength! (Ephesians 1:13-19, MSG)

I noticed the principle of “cause and effect” in these verses, and so that is how I built the chart below. Feel free to fill in this model or make your own categories. Send it to me in the comment area, and we can look and learn from each other tomorrow (Tuesday) as I show you my responses.

EVENTWHAT GOD GIVES USHOW WE RESPOND

Read these verses one more time, this time in The Passion Translation. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes, ears, and heart to hear Him speak to you as you are reading.

13 And because of him, when you who are not Jews heard the revelation[o] of truth, you believed in the wonderful news of salvation. Now we have been stamped with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit. 
14 He is given to us like an engagement ring,[q] as the first installment of what’s coming! He is our hope-promise of a future inheritance[r] which seals us until we have all of redemption’s promises and experience complete freedom—all for the supreme glory and honor of God!

15 Because of this, since I first heard about your strong faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and your tender love toward all his devoted ones, 16 my heart is always full and overflowing with thanks to God for you as I constantly remember you in my prayers. 17 I pray that the Father of glory, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, would impart to you the riches of the Spirit of wisdom and the Spirit of revelation[t] to know him through your deepening intimacy with him. 18 I pray that the light of God will illuminate the eyes of your imagination, flooding you with light, until you experience the full revelation of the hope of his calling[v]—that is, the wealth of God’s glorious inheritances that he finds in us, his holy ones!  (Ephesians 1:13-18, TPT)

What truths are standing out for you a you read and reread these verses. Draw a picture, write it in your own words, to do both. Feel free to share you responses with me in the comment section below.


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