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The Net Pastor’s Journal, Eng Ed, Issue 49, Fall 2023

A ministry of…

Author: Dr. Roger Pascoe, President,
Email: [email protected]

I. Strengthening Expository Preaching: Preaching the Epistles, Pt. 4
A Case study (continued): The Epistle To The Ephesians, “United We Stand: The Mystery of the Church.”

A. An Overview Of The Structure Of The Epistle.

As with many of Paul’s writings, the epistle to the Ephesians is divided into two sections:

1. A doctrinal section: “Our Common Position in Christ” (1:3-3:21).

2. A practical section: “Our Common Practice in Christ” (4:1- 6:24).

The connection between the two sections of the epistle is the concept of their “calling” (4:1). Where the first section of the book reminds them of their calling into a new relationship with Christ and with his people, the second section of the book instructs and exhorts them to live in a way that exemplifies and reflects that calling.

The tone of the first section is that of thanksgiving to God for our spiritual position and riches in Christ - (1) for our blessings in Christ (1:3-14); (2) for our transformation in Christ (2:1-10); (3) for our relationship in Christ (2:11-22) – which position and riches form the basis for the practical instructions in the second section as to how to live in unity together as Christians in one body. The tone of the second section changes noticeably to one of exhortation, as Paul “beseeches” them to “walk worthy of the calling” with which they had been called.

In chapter 3, the epistle is interrupted by an important parenthesis (3:2-13) in which Paul reflects on his ministry and the revelation given to him by God concerning the “mystery” that was made known to him uniquely, the mystery of the unity of Jews and Gentiles in the church according to the purposes of God worked out in Christ.

After reminding them of their spiritual riches in Christ and the position for which they had been redeemed and to which they had been called, in chapters 4 to 6 Paul challenges them to live in such a way as to reflect that reality through their unity:

1. Unity in their ministry (4:1-16).

2. Unity in their behavior (4:17-5:21).

3. Unity in their relationships (5:22-6:9).

4. Unity in their spiritual battles (6:10-20).

Noticeably, the epistle contains two significant and instructive prayers from which we can learn how to pray and what to pray for: (1) A prayer for their enlightenment (1:15-23); (2) A prayer for their empowerment (3:14-21).

B. My Detailed Structural Outline Of The Epistle.



Introduction to the Epistle


I. Our Common Blessings in Christ


A. The blessing of our election


1. The nature of election is God’s choice (He “chose”)


2. The object of election is God’s people (“us”)


3. The foundation of election is God’s Son (“in Christ”)


4. The time of election is God’s eternity (“before the foundation...”)


5. The purpose of election is God’s glory (“to the praise of his glory”)


B. The blessing of our redemption


1. The source of redemption is God’s “Beloved”


2. The means of redemption is Christ’s “blood”


3. The result of redemption is our “forgiveness”


4. The motivation for redemption is God’s “grace”


5. The consummation of redemption is Christ’s “headship”


C. The blessing of our inheritance


1. Our inheritance is assigned by God’s sovereign plan


2. Our inheritance is secured with all God’s chosen people


D. Prayer #1: A Prayer for Enlightenment

1:15 - 23

1. Thanksgiving to God for their salvation


(1a) For their faith in the Lord Jesus


(1b) For their love for all saints


2. Petition to God for their comprehension


(2a) For the instruction of the Spirit


(2b) For the full knowledge of the gospel


II. Our Common Transformation in Christ


A. Before we knew Christ...we were condemned to spiritual death


1. To be spiritually dead means...that our behavior is worldly


2. To be spiritually dead means...that our nature is corrupted


B. When we know Christ...we are transformed to spiritual life


1. Our transformation is... a marvel of God’s mercy


2. Our transformation is... a monument to God’s grace


III. Our Common Relationship in Christ

2: 11–22

A. A distant relationship is made near


1. Our former relationship was one of complete distance


2. Our present relationship is one of complete nearness


B. A hostile relationship is made peaceful


1. A hostile relationship is made peaceful through the person of Christ


2. A hostile relationship is made peaceful through the work of Christ


C. A foreign relationship is made familiar


1. Through Christ...we are all citizens of the same country


2. Through Christ...we are all members of the same family


D. A Parenthesis: Paul’s Unique Ministry


1. The Revelation Given to Paul of the Mystery of Christ


(1a) The channel of this revelation was uniquely through Paul’s ministry


(1b) The substance of this revelation was unique to Paul’s ministry


2. The Declaration Made by Paul of the Mystery of Christ


(2a) To proclaim to the Gentiles Christ’s riches


(2b) To clarify to everyone God’s plan


(2c) To display to the evil powers God’s wisdom


E. Prayer #2: A Prayer for Empowerment

3:1, 14-21

1. Ask for Strengthened Spirituality


(1a) By the Spirit’s power


(1b) By Christ’s indwelling


2. Ask for Strengthened Comprehension


(2a) To grasp of the immensity of Christ’s love


(2b) To know the incomprehensibility of Christ’s love


3. Ask for Strengthened Godliness




I. Our Common Walk in Unity


A. Our common walk in unity is demanded by our common calling


1. We have been summoned to a calling that is heavenly


2. We have been urged to a walk that is worthy


B. Our common walk in unity is displayed in our common character


1. The character of Christian unity is produced internally


2. The character of Christian unity is practiced externally


C. Our common walk in unity is driven by our common confession


1. Unity of formation: One body and one Spirit


2. Unity of destiny: One hope of your calling


3. Unity of headship: One Lord


4. Unity of belief: One faith


5. Unity of sacrament: One baptism


6. Unity of Godhead: One God and Father


II. Our Common Walk in Maturity


A. We grow in our maturity through Christ’s servants


1. The church was built by the apostles and prophets


2. The church expands through the work of evangelists


3. The church matures through the ministry of pastors and teachers


B. We grow in our maturity for Christ’s service


1. We mature for Christ’s service as we are trained for ministry


2. We mature for Christ’s service as we work in ministry


3. We mature for Christ’s service as we edify others in ministry


C. We grow in our maturity in Christ’s likeness


1. Maturity in Christ’s likeness is doctrinal


2. Maturity in Christ’s likeness is relational


3. Maturity in Christ’s likeness is total


III. Our Common Walk in Purity

4:17- 5:21

A. Contrasting principles for living


1. Don’t live like the ungodly... in corruption that stems from deceit


(1a) The ungodly live in intellectual darkness


(1b) The ungodly live in spiritual deadness


(1c) The ungodly live in practical wickedness


2. Live like Jesus... in purity that stems from truth


(2a) You live like changing your way of living

4:22, 24

(2b) You live like changing your way of thinking


B. Contrasting practices of living


1. Practice truth…not lying


2. Practice righteous anger…not unrighteous


3. Practice sharing…not stealing


4. Practice constructive speech…not destructive


5. Practice virtues…not vices


C. Contrasting programs for living


Program #1: Live a God-centred life…not self-centred


1. Live a God-centred life


(1a) A God centred life imitates God’s holy nature


(1b) A God centred life imitates God’s holy love


2. Don’t live a self-centred life


(2a) A self-centred life is defiled by perversion


(2b) A self-centred life is doomed for punishment


Program #2: Live as light…not darkness


1. Live as people of light


(1a) People of light live to produce light


(1b) People of light live to please God


2. Don’t live as people of darkness


(2a) People of darkness produce deeds of darkness


(2b) People of light expose the deeds of darkness


Program #3: Live carefully...not recklessly


1. Be careful to live wisely…not foolishly


(1a) In the use of your time


(1b) In understanding God’s will


2. Be careful to be filled with the Spirit...not wine


(2a) Spirit-filled people worship with one another


(2b) Spirit-filled people give thanks with one another


(2c) Spirit-filled people submit to one another


IV. Our Common Walk in Harmony


A. The harmony between wives and husbands


1. Spirit-filled wives submit to their husbands


(1a) What is the nature of submission?


(1b) What is the basis for submission?


(1c) What is the conclusion of the matter?


2. Spirit-filled husbands love their wives


(2a) A Spirit-filled husband’s love…is like Christ’s for the church


(2b) A Spirit-filled husband’s love…is like his love for his own body


B. The harmony between children and parents


1. The obligations of children to their parents


(1a) To obey their parents


(1b) To honour their father and mother


2. The obligations of fathers to their children


(2a) To not anger their children


(2b) To train their children


C. The harmony between servants and masters


1. The obedience of Christian employees


(1a) Christian obedience is shown in your attitude


(1b) Christian obedience is shown in your diligence


2. The example of Christian employers


(2a) Do to others as you would have them do to you


(2b) Don’t misuse your power


(2c) You’re accountable yourself


V. Our Common Walk in Victory


A. Our victory through spiritual protection


1. The protection of God’s power


2. The protection of God’s armor


3. The protection against God’s enemy


B. Our victory through spiritual preparation


1. Prepared with all the spiritual armor


(1a) The truth


(1b) Righteousness


(1c) The gospel


(1d) Faith


(1e) Salvation


(1f) The Word


2. Prepared with all the power of prayer


(2a) The variety of prayer


(2b) The frequency of prayer


(2c) The means of prayer


(2d) The manner of prayer


(2e) The objects of prayer


(2f) The specifics of prayer


Concluding remarks


C. Preaching This Epistle.

As you can see from my “Structure of Ephesians,” I have divided the epistle into its two major sections (“Our Common Position in Christ” and “Our Common Practice in Christ”) and the titles of these sections reflect the thrust and theme of the epistle concerning our unity as believers in both our position in Christ and our practice.

In the first division of the book (Our Common Position in Christ, 1:3 – 3:21), I would preach a series of messages which reflect the unity we have as believers in our common spiritual position in Christ – where we have come from, the transformation that has taken place in us, and the new relationship we now enjoy in Christ.

After this, I would preach a series of sermons on the second major division of the book (Our Common Practice in Christ, 4:1- 6:20), which reflect the unity of believers in our spiritual practices if we are walking in the truth of our united spiritual position.

Since this epistle contains so much instruction on both doctrinal issues (such as predestination and election, redemption, the sealing of the Spirit etc.) and practical matters (such as forgiveness, reconciliation, the control of the tongue, the roles of the spiritual leaders in the church etc.), I suggest that when you preach this book to your church that you devote separate additional sermons to some of the subjects which need to be developed in greater detail. For example, if you have Sunday evening services, you could give these separate messages at that time, or you could give them at your mid-week prayer meetings or Bible study. These messages would be topical in nature and deal with other Scripture passages which expand on the ideas presented in your series of sermons from Ephesians.

II. Strengthening Biblical Leadership:
Order In The Church, Part 3, 1 Timothy 1:18-20

1 Timothy is structured around five “charges” (points of instruction) that the apostle Paul issues to the young pastor Timothy, who was Paul’s son in the faith and his protégé. These five charges are as follows:

A. A charge concerning pastoral responsibility (1:3-20): “Wage the good warfare.”

B. A charge concerning public worship (2:1-15): “The men should pray…the women should learn quietly.”

C. A charge concerning pastoral leadership (3:1-16): “How one ought to behave in the house of God.”

D. A charge concerning personal devotion (4:1-6:2): “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching.”

E. A charge concerning pastoral motives (6:3-21): “Keep the commandment unstained…guard the deposit entrusted to you.”

A. A Charge Concerning Pastoral Responsibilities (1:3-20)

Paul’s first charge to Timothy in the opening of this first epistle has to do with the pastor’s responsibility to “wage the good warfare” (1:18), as follows:

A1. To maintain pure doctrine (1:3-11).

A2. To testify to God’s saving grace (1:12-17).

A3. To fulfill your pastoral mandate (1:18-20).

In the previous two editions of this Journal (NPJ 47 and 48), we covered the first two points concerning pastoral responsibilities: A1 (to maintain pure doctrine) and A2 (to testify to God’s saving grace). In this edition we will address point A3…

A3. To fulfill Your Pastoral Mandate (1:18-20). These verses summarize and emphasize Paul’s first charge to Timothy that we have already studied.

Timothy’s pastoral mandate was to defend the truth by maintaining pure doctrine through his teaching (1:3-11) and by testifying to God’s saving grace through his personal testimony (1:12-17). By way of emphasis, Paul now says, “This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child” (1:18a). These pastoral responsibilities (doctrinal purity and gospel clarity) had first been entrusted to Paul himself and he is now handing them over to Timothy to exercise in the church at Ephesus. As a good mentor, Paul had modelled these pastoral responsibilities and Timothy is exhorted now to continue them unabated in his own ministry. This charge and its attendant responsibilities are serious undertakings, which Paul entrusts to Timothy like a precious asset for safe keeping and exercise in his pastoral ministry.

The confident consignment of these duties reflects “the prophecies previously made about you” (1:18b), Paul writes. Evidently, the pastoral role which Timothy had now reached and the assignment of these responsibilities to him is the culmination of what had been previously recognized and anticipated in the church, where his spiritual gifts and calling into ministry had been prophesied and where he had been set aside for just such a ministry as this in Ephesus where he now served. Timothy had lived up to their expectations of him and he had grown into the practice of ministry under the tutelage of his father in the faith and mentor, Paul, who is now affirming him in this ministry.

By way of further commendation and encouragement for the days ahead, Paul refers to those previous prophecies about Timothy as the basis on which “you may wage the good warfare” (1:18c). There is no doubt that pastor Timothy would face hard days ahead – that is inevitable in pastoral ministry – days of spiritual warfare that he would be required to fight. That is what pastoral ministry is in its essence – a spiritual battle against forces of evil who would seek to discourage and turn aside from the faith those under the pastor’s care. Notice that this warfare is described as “good.” We think of military warfare as bad, which it usually is. But spiritual warfare is good in that we are withstanding the forces of evil as we seek to advance the cause of the gospel and defend the truth of God.

In this battle Timothy would have to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). For himself and on behalf of the members of his church, Timothy would have to wrestle with the forces of evil who constantly bombard the people of God (Eph. 6:12-20). He would have to rebuke those in the church who hold false doctrine and correct those who are in error (2 Tim. 3:16). He would have to publicly rebuke those who persist in sin (1 Tim. 5:20). These and many other attacks can become wearisome and discouraging, but they are part and parcel of pastoral ministry. While being transparent about these challenges and not shying away from these realities, Paul here is encouraging Timothy that all that had taken place in his life - the position which he now occupied in the church and the gifts God had given him - was sufficient to enable him to wage this spiritual warfare.

In so doing Timothy must be sure to continue “holding faith and a good conscience” (1:19a). These are two fundamental, inseparable requirements in the Christian life and even more so in pastoral ministry. In fact they are so important that Paul mentions them together in 1:5, here in 1:19, and again in 3:9, thus emphasizing that, to wage this spiritual battle, our faith in Christ and our moral uprightness must be uncompromised. Faith and practice go together. Faith is the starting point - knowing Christ as our Savior and then progressing in our understanding of and confidence in what we believe, as revealed in God’s word. Such truth must be coupled with a good conscience through upright living. Belief and behavior go together, forming an impregnable barrier against the attacks of our spiritual enemy. Days of discouragement would surely come for Timothy, but Paul encourages Timothy that he can face and overcome these spiritual attacks by clinging firmly to the faith that he professes and teaches, and by consistently living in such a way that his conscience is clear, that his conduct and character reflect his confession.

By way of contrast, and to further reinforce his exhortation, Paul mentions two men who failed to hold faith and a good conscience and which resulted in utter defeat in this spiritual battle: 19b By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, 20 among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme” (1:19b-20). These two men evidently rejected the principle that a consistent, strong Christian life is one that is firmly established on the foundation of “faith and a good conscience.” Consequently they failed to wage the good warfare and instead “made shipwreck of their faith.” When your love for Christ and your faith in him fades, when you fail to live by and uphold the truth of Scripture, when you no longer enjoy a clear conscience before God because you have abandoned upright Christian conduct, then you no longer have a firm foundation on which to live and to “wage the good warfare” against our spiritual adversary.

Once you begin to waver in your faith in Christ and your trust in God’s word, and once you turn away from the moral standards which define a true Christian, then you open up yourself to making shipwreck of your life. Notice the two types of imagery that Paul uses here – “warfare” (1:18) and “shipwreck” (1:19). As Christians, we are soldiers engaged in a spiritual war against the enemy and we are travelers participating in a spiritual journey that is like crossing the ocean - one that is fraught with dangers like rocks and storms. Both the war and the journey will be won or lost based on the firmness of our faith and the reflection of that faith in the uprightness of our conduct. Those who become weak in their commitment to and conviction of the truths of Scripture risk defeat in spiritual battle. Worse yet, those who abandon their faith in God and his Word will face spiritual shipwreck, which may result in utter disaster as in the cases of “Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme” (1:20).

Who were these men and what does Paul mean by “whom I have delivered over to Satan”? The identity of the men cannot be determined, except to say that most likely they were leaders in the church, possibly those mentioned indirectly in 1 Timothy 1:3-7. As to the expression “whom I have delivered over to Satan,” Paul uses the same expression in 1 Corinthians 5:5 concerning the man who was guilty of sexual immorality. It’s unlikely that Paul would have used the same expression in similar contexts – to describe reprobate persons (spiritual and sexual) – with different meanings. Thus, in both cases, Paul must mean that, by putting such delinquent persons out of the protected and holy sphere of the church into the unprotected and unholy sphere of the world, they would experience the unmitigated attacks of Satan from which they would “learn not to blaspheme.” Now remember, in our study earlier in this chapter (NPJ 48), Paul characterizes himself prior to his conversion as being a blasphemer (1:13), because he willfully defied God’s laws both in word and deed. Similarly here, these men undoubtedly denied the truth about Christ, promoted false doctrine and speculations in the church, argued about myths and endless genealogies, wandered off into vain discussions without any understanding about what they were saying, and by so doing tried to draw away others to follow them, thus generating division in the church. For this reason, Paul “delivered them to Satan” with a view to their restoration once they had learned their lesson.

III. Sermon Outlines

Title: Learning from Jesus – Sharing his suffering (Matthew 26:36-46)

Subject: Closeness to Jesus

Theme: We need to stay close to Jesus by watching and praying.

Point I: Jesus expresses his distress (26:37-38)

Point II: Jesus prays for deliverance (26:39-41)

Point III: Jesus accepts his destiny (26:42-46)

Related Topics: Pastors

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