In the first 3 chapters of Ephesians Paul’s tone seems much different than in the last three, almost as it was two different messages that were spliced together. Can you explain this?
The first half of Ephesians contains a message that’s not spoken about very often because it’s so difficult to comprehend. Essentially, Paul was saying that through Jesus, God has created an entire new race of mankind solely for the purpose of demonstrating the incomparable riches of His Grace. Some of us used to be Jews and some of us used to be Gentiles but now we are neither. We’re the Church. He’s blessed us with every Spiritual blessing and has already seated us in the Heavenlies with His Son. It was always His intention to do this and when He did, He sealed His Spirit within us to guarantee that it would come to pass. We didn’t do anything to earn or deserve this, it was given purely as a gift to all who believe that when His Son died on the cross, it was for us.
When Paul was given this understanding, even he had trouble fully grasping it. It was a great mystery, he said, that God had chosen him to reveal through him. No one before us had ever been so blessed, nor would anyone after us. Not the Gentiles, not even Israel. Through out the ages yet to come, the Church will stand as the unique monument to God’s love and His grace. The Greek words Paul chose literally describe the Church as God’s work of art, His greatest achievement.
Then beginning in chapter 4 Paul described what our response to this should be. He described a lifestyle we should aspire to as an expression of our gratitude. The incredible gift we’ve received is not contingent on achieving this lifestyle. Rather the lifestyle is meant as our gift back to God, an expression of our gratitude for all that we already have and will continue to receive. It’s the way we say thanks for having received something that our words have no ability to describe. No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has considered what God has prepared for those who love Him. It’s beyond comprehension.