The 'mystery' of Jesus Christ is both the key to our salvation and the central theme in St. Paul's letter to the Ephesians (Ephesians 1:9; 3:4, 9). The mystery of Christ has various dimensions. Jesus is the Savior of the world, and he came to die on the cross for the sins of all people ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâ‰Ûù no matter what their background
of former way of life. After His death and resurrection, Jesus ascended into Heaven where He is highly exalted and is seated at the right hand of the Father (Ephesians 1:20-23).
St. Paul spends a lot of time going through these things because he believes that they are vitally important in our lives today. Although they occurred in the past, Christ's life, death and resurrection continue to have power and relevance in the modern period. Even though Jesus isn't currently walking the earth in bodily form, His presence is still real and powerful through the life and ministry of the Church ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâ‰Ûù in fact, the two are joined together (Ephesians 5:32). The Church isn't optional. It is a necessary part of Christ's lasting gift to his people. Christ is the 'head' and center of the Church, and it is He who unites the Church (Ephesians 5:23).
This letter is St. Paul's attempt to help his readers more fully understand the profound graces they have received from God in and through Jesus and His Church. As you read this, meditate on the blessings you have received through the sacraments, and look for advice from the apostle about how to live out your divine sonship.
Here are some of the key themes and verses we discover in this letter:
- God chose us to be his children before the world was created: 'He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:4-6).'
- God's 'mysterious plan' was to bring us home to Him: 'He has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, thing in heaven and things on earth (Ephesians 1:9-10).'
- God's love and mercy are the reasons for our salvation: 'God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up to him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-6).'
- Salvation by grace through faith: 'For by grace you have been saved through 143faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâ‰Ûù not because of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).'
- Unity in the Spirit: 'There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all (Ephesians 4:4-6).'
- The imitation of Christ: 'Be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacriÌÄåøÌâåÂÌâÌÉce to God (Ephesians 5:1-2).'
- We need the truth and love of Christ to win the battle for our souls: 'Take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand (Ephesians 6:13-18).'