Welcome to Word Study Wednesday! We will be looking at the book of Ephesians for the next few weeks. Last week I did an overview of Ephesians so take a look at here: Ephesians Overview.
We will begin our study of Ephesians by actually looking at the book of Acts. Acts is a history book and tells of the history of the early church as well as Paul’s three missionary journeys. If you decide to study one of Paul’s letters in the New Testament, take a look at the book of Acts to see if it gives any further insight to the letter. For example, Paul wrote Ephesians to several churches in Ephesus. Before sending this letter, he had visited Ephesus on his second and third missionary journeys. His visits to Ephesus are recorded in the book of Acts. To learn about Paul’s journeys to Ephesus read Acts 18-20.
In order to keep this lesson short, we will only look Acts 20:16-25. In verse 16 Paul says that he sailed past Ephesus and went to Miletus, but he sent for the elders of the church of Ephesus. When Paul meets with the elders, he tells them that he is on the way to Jerusalem and will never again see their faces. He states in verse 23, “the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me.” This is a very interesting statement for Paul to make. Why would he want to go to Jerusalem if he knows that he will be put in prison and eventually will be put to death?
Now take a look at verse 24, “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” Acts 20:24 (NKJV). Paul is able to go to Jerusalem knowing he faces death because the ministry of the gospel is his number one priority. He has discovered the secret to a happy life and that is dying to self. In Gal 2:20 (NKJV) he says, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me”. Paul has already made the ultimate sacrifice even before his death. He has given his life to Jesus Christ by becoming a bond servant. He is willing to go anywhere the Lord leads him, because his life is no longer his own. He can go to Jerusalem and face death, because he has already died to himself. Some people refer to this as the “exchanged life”. He has exchanged his old life for a new life in Christ where he allows Christ to live His life through him. In Colossians 3:1-4 (NKJV) Paul says, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory”.
Let me ask you a question. If you are a Christian, have you died to your own life? Have you totally surrendered your life to the Lord so He can use your life as He chooses? One way to answer this question is to ask yourself, “Is my answer ‘yes’ to Jesus before He asks the question?”. If you can answer “yes” to Jesus no matter what he asks you to do or go anywhere he asks you to go, then you have surrendered your life to Christ. If you have surrendered to the Lord, then you will walk in the Spirit day by day. When you walk in the Spirit, you will experience the fruits of the Spirit which are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” Gal. 5:22-23 (NASB).
Are you walking in the Spirit? Have you crucified the flesh? “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” Gal 5:24-25 (NKJV). If we want to understand how Paul could go to Jerusalem even though he knew death awaited him, we must learn how to walk in the Spirit. Paul was able to do these things because he had died to himself and walked in the Spirit. We will learn more about walking in the Spirit as we study the book of Ephesians. How do you walk the walk?
If you would like to do further study on Acts 18-20, then take a look at my teaching notes: Ephesians Week 1