Ephesians is a “Prison Epistle,” along with Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon (see EPH 3:1, EPH 4:1, and EPH 6:20). Written by Paul from Rome, the epistle expands on themes in Colossians, much as Romans does to Galatians. Whereas Colossians develops the all-sufficiency of Christ to the Church, Ephesians shows the blessings of that “fullness” enjoyed by the members of God’s family. The idea of unity resulting from reconciliation runs strong through the book (EPH 1:9-10; EPH 2:16-18; EPH 3:4-6; EPH 4:3-6; EPH 5:30-32; EPH 6:18-20). It is possible that the epistle was actually a circular letter to the churches of Asia. Paul’s goal is to inform the saints of their privileged status and exhort them to live in a way worthy of their standing.
Outlines are often a matter of personal opinion, or individual perspective, in approaching the book at hand. What one hopes to emphasize from the book also plays a part in making an outline. I am, however, convinced that the best outline for a book is the one that is most beneficial to the student in gaining a grasp of the truth of the book that can be remembered easily. Following are a few suggested outlines dependant on the basis.
I. Doctrine, Chapters 1-3
II. Duty, Chapters 4-6
I. The Prayer for Enlightenment, Chapters 1-3:13
II. The Prayer for Enablement, Chapter 3:14-Chapter 6
Take note of the two prayers of Paul in EPH 1:15-22 and EPH 3:14-21. These prayers match the doctrinal content of the surrounding texts.
In this study, we will follow a chapter outline, building on six different figures used for believers in each of the chapters. While it is recognized that chapter divisions often do not follow textual divisions, our goal is to work with our English Bibles, and we will take note of these differences as they arise.