Lesson 5 of 5
In Progress

Theological Themes in Ephesians

Cosmic elements

Ephesians imagines a multiple-layered universe populated on all levels with spiritual beings: “rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 3:10), a “ruler of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2), “cosmic powers of this present darkness,” and “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). Yet the cosmic realm is not given over entirely to evil forces; it is also the place where both Christ and believers have been raised up and seated (see Ephesians 2:6). Paul’s letters sometimes imagine new life in Christ according to a tension in which it is present now and yet to be revealed, although Ephesians expresses this “now and not yet” tension in spatial terms rather than temporal ones. Believers simultaneously live in the earthly realm and the heavenly places.

Mystery revealed

In Ephesians, the gospel is a mystery hidden for ages and now revealed. The author understands his work to be to proclaim the content of this mystery with boldness so that the church as well as the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places may know God’s will. The content of the revealed mystery is that “the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Ephesians 3:6).

Relation between election and ethics

Both in Ephesians 2:4-10 and in the letter as a whole, the grace of God and the good works of human beings are bound together. Christ’s reconciling work is not an end in itself but the means by which readers’ lives will be transformed.