These notes are one of the studies I do with pre-marital couples. The question I like to ask them is this: Why is the longest passage in the Bible about marriage in the book of Ephesians? Here’s the answer in a nutshell:
Understanding Ephesians vs. Other N.T. Books: Ephesians, like Romans, is more of a theological treatise than a personalized letter aimed at a specific congregation dealing with specific problems, questions or issues. Great thought went into presenting a complete package in the writing of Ephesians. Therefore it is imperative that in the pursuit of understanding any particular passage within Ephesians that we evaluate that passage in light of the whole of its teaching. Ephesians is a great example of the dictum, “The Whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
Basic Breakdown of Ephesians:
Chapters 1-3 = Doctrine, Position or Wealth of the Believer
Chapters 4-6 = Doing, Practice or Walk of the Believer
Chapter 1 – What it means to be “in Christ” (vs. 1-14); Paul’s prayer to make it stick (vs. 15-19a); The Preeminence and rule of Christ (vs. 19b-23).
Chapter 2 – The greatness of God’s grace towards the Gentiles (vs. 1-10); The amazing joining of the Gentiles and Jews into one united people of God(vs. 11-21)
Chapter 3 – Paul’s stewardship of this great mystery of Christ (vs. 1-13); Paul’s prayer that they/we would experience this mystery of Christ (vs. 14-19); The ultimate purpose of all of this (vs. 20-21).
Chapter 4- Walking out unity in the body (vs. 1-16); walking out holiness in the world (vs. 17-24); walking out love for our neighbor/brother (vs. 25-5:2)
Chapter 5 – Walking in the light in the midst of those who walk in darkness (vs. 3-14); Walking in the fullness of the Spirit (vs. 15-21); Walking in marital oneness (vs. 22-33)
Chapter 6 – Walking out righteous Family relationships (vs. 1-4); Walking out righteous work relationships (vs. 5-9); Walking in victory over the devil and his demons (vs. 10-18a); Walking out our mission through prayer (vs. 18b-20); Sending of Tychicus (vs. 21-22); Closing Blessing (vs. 23,24)
So here’s the deal: One of God’s greatest inventions or creations is that of the institution of marriage or the marriage relationship. Its potential on the earth for bringing joy and completeness to the husband and wife, and having a spill over effect on all those around them (because of the joy and completeness they are experiencing together) is rarely fully tapped, but is truly transformative to society.
But it was never meant to operate without a daily growing relationship with Christ and His church. We have a very real enemy who knows the potential of the marriage relationship perhaps better than some of us; and thus who is hell bent on destroying marriages. And thus the longest passage in the Bible on spiritual warfare soon after the longest passage in the Bible about marriage.
What is the secret to a happy fulfilled marriage? Pursuing the fullness of Christ and the fullness of the Holy Spirit that this glorious book called Ephesians proclaims.
The good news in all of this? We have everything we would ever need in Christ and in the Holy Spirit and through our relationship with the body of Christ to be all that we need to be to our God ordained spouse. The bad news? Way too many people try to pull this off without all these blessings that are rightfully ours in Christ (see Eph. 1:3).
May the Holy Spirit give you ever increasing revelation and passion for all that He has revealed through this power packed book called “Ephesians”. And may it have wonderful ripple effects in your marriage, family, neighborhood, city, etc.