Letter to the Ephesians

This letter was written in prison in Rome. He is the ambassador of Jesus, in chains. (6:20) This is a really Christ-centred letter. Its beginning is extraordinary, affirming the centrality of Jesus Christ. It comes from “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God.” He recalls the name of Christ eight times in the first twelve verses of the letter, in which he explains the divine economy of salvation realised in Christ. Christ is the basis of our salvation and the beginning, instrument and goal of the divine economy. Jesus is the head of the Church. (1:3-12) “God… hath quickened us together with Christ,” (2:5) “and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (2:6) Formerly, we were without Christ, but now we live in him. (2:12) We used to be far from Christ, but now we are close, in Christ. (2:13) The whole world has become one in Christ. Peoples have been reconciled and unified in Christ. Christ is our peace, he who has made of two peoples but one, destroying the wall of enmity and proclaiming peace to all. (2:12-18)

Saint Paul utters a very beautiful prayer for the Ephesians to discover the mystery of Christ: “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 fullness of God.” (3:14-19)

Saint Paul invites us to unity, since everything is unified in Christ. For “there is one body, and one Spirit … one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all.” (4:1-6)

The one Christ brings forth all kinds of gifts or charismata in the Church, for the service of society and for the building up of the body of Christ, so that human beings may reach the knowledge of Christ, Son of God, the reality of a unified humanity and “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (4:7-13)
Growth is in Christ (4:15) Everything that we have learnt is from Christ and in Christ. “But ye have not so learned Christ.” (4:20) Moreover, the whole “truth is in Jesus.” (4:21)

The Epistle to the Ephesians is a real school of experience of life in Christ, following Paul’s example. It is a description of new life in Christ. (4:17-32 and chapters 5 and 6) The golden rule is to “walk in love,” (5:2) which is our priestly (1959), episcopal (1981) and Patriarchal motto (2000).

The love of Christ regulates relations in the Church and society, between husband and wife and in the religious life and it is here that we find a passage that we read during the celebration of marriage, or crowning, where we find, “Submit… yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” (5:21-25)

This golden rule finds its highest expression in the centrality and primacy of Christ in the mutual relations of people’s lives and it is what inspired Paul to write to the Ephesians a collection of guidance that lays down rules for their family relations - between children and their parents, servants and masters and indeed everyone. (6:1-9)

The epistle ends as it began, with Jesus: “Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.” (6:24)