The book of Ephesians represents God’s highest revelation of Christ and His Church.
Perhaps no other New Testament book provides such an elevated view of the Church of Jesus Christ as the book of Ephesians. In this short book, Paul describes an eternal Church that is from and in Christ, with Christ at the head and the Church as His body representing His fullness.
Paul, by the Spirit, begins the book with the understanding that we are chosen by God in eternity. Romans 1, for example, speaks first of sin—how we sinned and then how we are saved.
However, Ephesians 1 starts from eternity and how we were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world; the issue of sin isn’t mentioned until Ephesians 2.
The book of Ephesians reveals two important themes: the first is from eternity to eternity and the second is man’s fall to his redemption.
The Lord spoke to me a couple of weeks ago and said, “Understanding the book of Ephesians is more important for the body of Christ than understanding Revelation or studying the end times.”
I believe the Lord wants us to redirect our focus and perspective in this hour. Jesus said we are to “Go… and make disciples of all the nations” (Matt. 28:19 NKJV), advancing His kingdom until He returns. A preoccupation with the prophetic scriptures, such as the book of Revelation, and end-times teaching, can distort our Kingdom perspective and mission assigned to us by Jesus.
We are to be busy with the Father’s business. Our mission is to draw people to Christ, to help them discover His freedom and wholeness, and to guide them into becoming strong disciples of Jesus.
We need to see the Glory of Jesus through the eyes of Scripture and revelation by the Spirit. He is the light of the world, and we need His light to guide, comfort, and lead us. Challenges are ahead, but God has made a way through Christ for the Church to be the light and glory of God in the darkness.
Acts 18:19 mention’s Paul’s first visit to Ephesus (AD 55). Paul wrote Ephesians while imprisoned in Rome (AD 60-61).
He also wrote Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon during this time, as well—these are known as the Prison Letters. The letter to the Ephesians was most likely written as an encyclical letter—one to be read by several congregations.
Ephesus was a port city on the eastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea, near the modern-day city of Izmir, Turkey. Ephesus was 1 of 5 major cities in the Roman Empire (Rome, Corinth, Antioch, Alexandria, and Ephesus). Ephesus was a commercial, political, and religious center for all of Asia Minor.
This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. I am writing to God’s holy people in Ephesus, who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.” (Eph. 1:1-3 NLT)
Notice, we are united with Christ, in His life and victory; therefore, we have been blessed (past tense) with every spiritual blessing.
Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” (Eph. 1:4-5 NLT)
Notice the adoption into God’s family as a believer in Jesus? Notice how our faith in His Son brings the Father great pleasure?
As I shared last week, the Church isn’t the Kingdom of God, but the Church is of the Kingdom and is the agent and messenger of the Kingdom.
Jesus said in Matthew 16:18 NKJV “the gates of hell wouldn’t prevail against his church.” Satan is defeated, God’s kingdom is advancing, and the Church will prevail. Darkness does not prevent the ultimate triumph of Jesus and His Church.
When we—the Church—radiate His glory, through love, unity, and His power, the world notices. The world is irresistibly attracted to the Church when the Church embodies and walks in the revelation and nature of Christ in her. The Church is a force, an agent of God’s love and power.
Positionally in Christ, we are righteous, holy, and glorious, but we are also becoming more like Jesus (which is a process), and we are reflecting His glory in greater measures. We are “already glorious” and “not yet glorious.”
The Church isn’t an afterthought with God; rather, the Church was God’s plan before time began.
…just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.” (Eph. 5:25-27 NLT)
Paul beautifully describes in this passage what God has done in Christ for the believer and for the Church. Pursuing God and becoming Christlike is not optional for the Church; it’s God’s plan. Jesus will have a bride who is pure and holy. A Church without stain, blemish, or wrinkle at His marriage supper!
This does not mean that we, individually or as the Church, are perfect! But this is a spiritual reality, both in what God has done and what God is doing, through our union with Jesus.
Twentieth-century Chinese Pastor and Church Leader, Watchman Nee, wrote in his book, The Glorious Church,
“In Ephesians, something transcendent is revealed to us. We see how the church comes out from Christ, how it was chosen before the foundation of the world, and how it will forever manifest the glory of Christ in eternity.” 
“At the same time, it shows us that man’s fall is a fact, that man’s potential to sin is a fact, and that the existence of our natural life is also a fact. Therefore, Ephesians 5 says that Christ will cleanse us by the washing of water in the word until we are completely sanctified. God wants to restore us to the point that we match his eternal will—be the eternal church.” 
“We need to understand and see that from eternity to eternity, the church is in and from Christ, therefore she has never sinned, failed, or fallen—she is glorious—she is part of his body. Conversely, we need to realize that we are fallen people, saved by his grace, and are being transformed into his image by the washing of water in the word. We need his life, by means of his word (rhema) to sanctify us and restore us to the highest point.” 
I agree with Nee. God loves His Church, His bride. He sees her eternally, as perfect, and radiant. While at the same time, throughout the ages, God is maturing her into His nature and holiness—the very image of Jesus, who is the head.
Notice, in Paul’s discourse in Ephesians 5, that the Church is “washed by the cleansing of God’s word (rhema).”
How does God cleanse us? Through the life, His life, that is in His own word. Jesus said in John 6:63 NKJV, “The words that I speak to you they are Spirit, and they are life.”
And Paul reaffirms the reality of God’s Spirit-breathed life on His Word, both written and uttered by the Holy Spirit,
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word (rhema) of Christ.” (Rom. 10:17 ESV)
The Greek word rhema is used, a word which means God-breathed and active now. It means we can believe when Christ first speaks within us. Further, His Word cleanses and restores us.
John wrote how confession of our sins leads to God’s forgiveness and our cleansing. The blood of Christ cleanses us from every sin, those we have committed and those committed against us,
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NKJV)
There is healing in this understanding of the sufficiency of the blood of Christ for us! His Word cleanses and heals us of the past hurts, traumas, and sins of the past.
When we believe what God’s Word says about us—who we are in Christ—agreeing with His Word, we are elevated in His holiness and victory.
You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.” (Song of Solomon 4:7 NRSV)
God sees the Church as beautiful and with no flaws or imperfections! Yes, I know the Church is not perfect, but from eternity, God sees His bride as glorious already!
When, individually, we agree with God’s identity over us, we can embrace the destiny that He has for us. Individual identity believed leads to corporate identity realized.
Paul was given a revelation of the mystery of Christ. Namely, the Church would be comprised of both Jew & Gentile, and all people throughout the ages would be invited.
God sent me to reveal the secret plan that had been hidden since the beginning of time by God, who created everything. God’s purpose is now to show the rulers and powers in the heavens the many different varieties of his wisdom through the church. This was consistent with the plan he had from the beginning of time that he accomplished through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Eph. 3:9-11 CEB)
Notice it is through the Church that God is revealing His greatness and glory to the defeated powers through Christ. Paul Invites the Church to live out of the victory already won through Jesus.
From the beginning, God created man in His image, for relationship and to rule over the earth and all of creation.
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Gen 1:26-28 NIV)
God’s Kingdom dominion and rulership were basic to God’s whole intention for a time-space world; its rational inhabitant, man, as His vice-regent, governing the Earth—the role for which he was made.
After the fall, God chose Israel to be a kingdom of priests and kings through which the world would be impacted by God’s kingdom. God’s purpose in Israel was for all of humanity, not just for Israel itself.
God’s purpose in Israel was the same as it is in the Church… to be an agent—a spiritual house—from which He could move through to evangelize and disciple humanity globally. Israel misunderstood God’s Kingdom purpose with them.
Paul stated, “in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Eph. 2:22 NKJV).
Peter also declares this truth, “you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5 NKJV).
Jesus is building His Church. He is laying living stone upon living stone; you and I are being built into a glorious expression of His body, called the Church. While the Church isn’t perfect, Jesus is building her, maturing her, and preparing her for her eternal purpose in Him.
I’ll resume next week, looking closely in Ephesians 1 and the inheritance we have in Christ!
For a deeper look at this topic, watch the Passion Church message “The Glory of Christ and His Church: Ephesians Overview Pt. 2”:
 Watchman Nee, The Glorious Church, (Anaheim, CA: Living Stream Ministry, 1993), 50.
 Ibid., 50-51.
 Ibid., 51.