today, i would like to start a multiple part study that examines one of my favorite passages. i feel that every Christian, and future Christian, would benefit from taking on this type of attitude toward servitude. it’s incredible how the Apostle Paul affirms his calling and purpose in the ministry to which he was called while speaking to the church at Ephesus by saying, this is why I do what I do, and encouraging them to do likewise. “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Ephesians 314-21, KJV, Tyndale 1987).
if you have the opportunity to read The Bride’s Pearl (Brian Kinsey, Word Aflame Press, 1993), you may have discovered the parallels between Ephesians and the book of Colossians; wherein the Apostle conveys the riches of God’s grace. the difference is the shift in perspective, “In Colossians, Paul’s emphasis is on Jesus Christ and how the eternal purpose of God is realized in His triumph. However, when we examine Ephesians, the role of Jesus Christ in God’s eternal purpose is assumed, and the emphasis shifts from Christ to the church’s role in God’s eternal purpose.” when studying Ephesians, it is crucial to understand the difference and see how the books of the Bible work together to express Paul’s teachings completely. he writes to different people, in other areas, in different times, with varying understandings of the redemption made available collectively for our eternal benefit!
we see Paul’s first visit to Ephesus in Acts chapter 18. he intentionally sails from Corinth, where he had remained for quite some time, to reason with the Jews at the synagogue. this visit had a significant impact on those in the region as they asked him to stay on longer, but Paul was not able to and promised to come back “if God was willing.” when Paul first arrives, Priscilla and Aquila, accompany him. Paul first met this couple in Corinth, where they had been living in exile from the Roman Caesar Claudius. like Paul, they were tentmakers, and he stayed with them and worked with them. there is little doubt in my mind that during the working hours and the at-home hours, Paul did not fail to mention his Damascus road encounter with the Lord. the word Lord he uses in this experience is from the Greek kuros, meaning supreme in authority. Paul acknowledged this being as the Master, as being the One who was in control. when He asked why Paul was persecuting Him, Paul wanted to ensure these accusations were not held to his charge; he recognized the One, supreme in authority, and had to know exactly who He was. now it was revealed to him, or as we read in Galatians, in him, that the Crucified One was in deed, the foretold Messiah. the pronouns are both emphatic, “I, in my Love and Might and Glory, am the Jesus whom thou, now prostrate and full of dread, have been bold enough to persecute.” it was not the disciples and brethren alone whom Saul was persecuting. what was done to them the Lord counted as done unto Himself.
Paul could never deny an experience with the Lord. it motivated him for what he had done previously and for this newfound hope in Jesus. it will make you want to share the hope we have with someone else. there’s someone out there with a similar background as you, with a similar history, someone that you can relate to and that will listen to what you have to say! Paul spent time with Priscilla and Aquila, and i do not doubt they were well taught, by Paul, in the prophecies of the Messiah, the sacrifice that Jesus made, and the salvation that had been made available.
the Bible says every Sabbath, Paul went to the synagogue to reason with both Jews and Greeks. his hosts being Jews themselves were most likely in attendance for these “reasoning” sessions, and when Paul first comes to Ephesus, he parts ways with Priscilla and Aquila where they help to show Apollos “the way of God more perfectly.” from the time Paul met Priscilla and Aquila to the arrival at Ephesus could have been greater than 18 months. this process is quite an example of the conversion and discipleship process. Paul testifies what God has done, invests in relationships with people, brings them to church, and we see these converts bearing Spiritual fruit! what a great return on investment! do not give up on that person you are witnessing to! they may be the next great church planter! they may be the one who brings the whole Apostolic truth to a person and, under the anointing of the Holy Ghost, develops a powerful ministry for the Kingdom. John 15:8 says, “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.”
to be continued.