In Ephesians, Paul makes it clear that we are saved by grace, not by our works (Eph. 2:8). But he makes it equally clear that God has made us and called us so that we do good works (v. 10). In the last half of his letter, he gives some specific exhortations for the kind of behavior that reflects our Christian faith.
Paul's letter to the church at Ephesus is filled with numerous theological and practical insights. Chapter 2 takes us from death to life, from hostility to peace. This chapter shows us that there is an important connection between God's grace and human interrelationships.
How can Gentiles inherit the promises God gave to Abraham?
Some people said that Gentiles ought to keep the laws of Moses if they want to
be part of the covenant people. Paul said no!
Paul ends chapter 3 by saying that Gentiles can inherit the
promises of salvation without any need to keep the laws of Moses (Galatians
3:29). In chapter 4, Paul uses two analogies to explain what he means.
How could anyone believe it? How could the people taught by
Paul himself go so quickly astray into false doctrines? Paul, who had seen many
things in his ministry, was flabbergasted. He was astonished that the
Christians in Galatia were attracted to a “gospel” that heaped extra
requirements on them.
Some people were saying that everyone needed to keep the
laws of Moses. Paul wrote a strongly worded letter to stop this nonsense! In
chapter 3 Paul explains that Christ died to release us from these
Someone had been telling the Galatian Christians false
stories about Paul’s relationship with the original apostles and the Jerusalem
church. Paul responds by recounting his history — and he uses that story as a
launching pad for preaching the gospel of salvation by grace. Chapter 2
includes two important interactions.
Paul started several churches in the province of Galatia and
then moved on to other regions. Then he learned that some other people had gone
to Galatia and were teaching the people that the gospel involved much more than
Paul had told them. “Jesus is good,” they apparently said, “but you need to go
further. You need to obey the Law that God gave his people. Faith is good, but
you need the laws of Moses, too.”
As Paul worked to spread the gospel in the gentile world, he also worked to have the gentiles give an offering to poor believers in Jerusalem. We see evidence of this offering in several of his letters; it was a consistent theme of his work.
Paul saw a vital connection between God's grace and our giving. Just as God has been gracious toward us, we should be gracious toward others, sharing the spiritual and physical blessings God has given us. Although good works can never pay for God's grace, they are an expected result of God's grace working in our lives.
When Paul met with the original apostles, they agreed to divide the mission field — Paul would focus on the gentiles, and they would focus on the Jews (Gal. 2:9). But they did make one request of Paul: that he remember that many believers in Jerusalem needed financial help (2:10).
Paul begins this chapter by pointing out that he, the apostle Christ used to begin the Corinthian church, did not need a "letter of recommendation" from anybody: "Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody" (verses 1-2).