A Teaching Outline of Ephesians

Bruce Corley  |  Southwestern Journal of Theology Vol. 39 - Fall 1996

Address and Greeting (1:1-2)

  1. Paul’s Apostleship (v. 1a)
  2. Description of the Readers (v. 1b)
    1.       Saints
    2. At Ephesus
    3. Faithful
  3. Grace and Peace (v. 2)


I. Overture of Praise to God for Spiritual Blessings (1:3-14)

  1. The Full Blessing (v. 3)
    1. Spiritual in Nature
    2. Experienced in the Heavenlies
    3. By Virtue of Union with Christ
  2. God’s Eternal Choice (vv. 4-6)
    1. Elect in Him, the Elect One (v. 4a)
    2. Chosen before the Act of Creation (v. 4b)
    3. The Moral Purpose of Love (v. 4c)
    4. Destined to Sonship (v. 5a)
    5. Ordained by His Gracious Disposition (vv. 5b-6)
  3. Redemption through the Cross (vv. 7-12)
    1. Forgiveness of Sins (v. 7)
    2. Gift of Wisdom and Understanding (vv. 8-10)
      1. What God Planned from Eternity (v. 9)
      2. The Fullness of Time (v. 10a)
      3. The Summing Up of All Things in Christ (v. 10b)
  4. A Share in the Heritage of God’s People (vv. 11-12)
    1. The Role of His People (v. 11)
    2. The Hope of His People (v. 12)
  5. The Promise of the Holy Spirit (vv. 13-14)
    1. Inclusion of Gentiles by Proclamation and Faith (v. 13a)
    2. The Ministry of the Promised Holy Spirit (vv. 13b-14)
      1. The Seal upon Faith (v. 13b)
      2. The Pledge of the Inheritance (v. 14a)

II. Revelation of the Mystery: Christ’s Power and Love (1:15-3:21)

  1. A Prayer of Intercession for an Enlightened Heart (1:15-23)
    1. Thanksgiving for the Readers (vv. 15-16)
      1. Good Tidings of Their Faith and Love (v. 15)
      2. Their Place in Paul’s Prayer-Life (v. 16)
  2. Petition for the Full Knowledge of God (vv. 17-18a)
    1. The Spirit’s Ministry in Wisdom and Revelation (v. 17b)
    2. The Illumined Eyes of the Inner Man (v. 18a)
  3. Knowledge Elaborated in Three Convictions (vv. 18b-19a)
    1. The Hope of God’s Calling (v. 18b)
    2. The Wealth of God’s Inheritance in the Saints ( v. 18c)
    3. The Surpassing Greatness of God’s Power (v. 19a)
  4. Acclamation of God’s Power in Christ (vv.19b-23)
    1. Personal Experience-Faith in Christ (v. 19b)
    2. Historical Demonstration- the Resurrection (v. 20a)
    3. Cosmic Repercussions- the Exalted Lord (vv. 20b-22a)
      1. Enthronement in the Heaven.lies (v. 20b)
    4. Subjection of the Powers (v. 21)
    5. Dominion of Universal Scope (v. 22a)
    6. Church Vitality-Christ the Head of the Body (vv. 22b-23)
      1. God’s Gift to the Church (v. 22b)
      2. The Church as Christ’s Fullness (v. 23)
  5. Salvation by Resurrection with Christ ( 2:1-10)
    1. The Plight of Unredeemed Humanity (vv. 1-3)
      1. Dead in Trespasses and Sins (v. 1)
      2. Captive to This Age and Its Ruler (v. 2)
      3. Dominated by the Flesh (v. 3a)
      4. Objects of Divine Wrath (v. 3b)
    2. The Transaction from Death to Life (vv. 4-7)
      1. Delivered by Mercy and Love (v. 4)
      2. Raised and Enthroned with Christ Spirit (vv. 13b-14)
      3. Purposed to Display God’s Kindness (v. 7)
    3. The Character and Design of Grace (vv. 8-10)
      1. Salvation as a Gift (vv. 8-9)
        1. By Grace through Faith (v. 8)
        2. Exclusion of Merit (v. 9)
      2. The Mandate and Potential for Good Works (v. 10)
        1. Created in Christ for Them (v. 10a)
        2. Foreordained by God to Walk in Them (v. 10b)The Peaceable Community in the Spirit (2:11-22)
  6. The Peaceable Community in the Spirit (2:11-22)
    1. Once-the Stigma of Exclusion from God (vv. 11-12)
      1. Racial Scorn (v. 11)
      2. Religious Estrangement (v. 12)
        1. Separated from Christ
        2. Strangers to the Covenant
        3. Bare of Hope
        4. A World without God
    2. Now-Christ ls Our Peace (vv. 13-18)
      1. Peace through the Blood of the Cross (v. 13)
      2. Peace through the Abolition of Hostility (vv. 14-16)
        1. The Ancient Cleavage Healed (v. 14a)
        2. The Dividing Wall Broken (v. 14b)
        3. The Legal Burden Annulled (vv. 14c- 15a)
      3. Peace through Reconciliation to Man and God (vv. 15b-16)
        1. Creation of a Single, New Humanity (v. 15b)
        2. Oneness in Two Dimensions (v. 16)
      4. Peace through Hearing of the Gospel (vv. 17-18)
        1. Invitation to the Far and the Near (v. 17)
        2. Common Access to the Father (v. 18)
    3. Therefore-the Privilege of Belonging in Christ (vv. 19-22)
      1. Citizenship with the Saints (v.19a)
      2. Membership in God’s Family (v. 19b)
      3. Fellowship in the Living Temple (vv. 20-22)
        1. Foundation of Apostles and Prophets (v. 20a)
        2. Christ the Cornerstone (v. 20b)
        3. A Unified, Growing Structure (v. 21)
        4. Dwelling-Place of God (v. 22)
  7. Apostleship: Paul as Steward of the Mystery (3:1-13)
    1. A Prayer Digression-on Behalf of Others (v. 1)
    2. His Calling and How He Understood It (vv. 2-7 )
      1. Insight into the Mystery of Christ (vv. 2-5)
        1. The Outcome of a Special Commission (v. 2)
        2. Made Known by Revelation (v. 3a)
        3. A Brief Reminder for the Readers (vv. 3b-4)
        4. Disclosure to Apostles and Prophets (v. 5)
    3. The Mystery Defined: Gentiles Incor­porated by Faith into Christ (v. 6)
      1. Fellow Heirs
      2. Members of the Same Body
      3. Partakers of the Promises
      4. Recipients of the Gospel
    4. Ordained a Servant of the Gospel (v. 7)
      1. Appointment by God’s Grace (v. 7a)
      2. Enablement by God’s Power (v. 7b)
    5. His Calling and How He Fulfilled It (vv. 8-13)
      1. Preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles (v. 8)
        1. A Charge Entrusted and Undeserved (v. 8a)
        2. An Untrackable Store of Blessing (v. 8b)
      2. Teaching How the Divine Plan ls Put into Effect (v. 9)
      3. Demonstration of God’s Wisdom by the Church (vv. 10-12)
        1. The Bedazzling of the Powers (v. 10)
        2. Eternal Conception of the Church’s Mission (v. 11)
        3. Undaunted Witness and Confidence (v. 12)
      4. Acceptance of Suffering on Behalf of Others (v. 13)
  8. Prayer Resumed: Power to Grasp the Love of Christ (3:14-21)
    1. Invocation of the Loving Father (vv. 14-16a)
      1. The Posture of Urgency (v. 14a)
      2. Appeal to the Father of Every Family (v. 15)
      3. A Grant of Inexhaustible Riches (v. 16a)
    2. A Threefold Progression Entreating for Spiritual Power (vv. 16b-19)
      1. To Strengthen the Inner Man (vv. 16b-17a)
        1. Empowering by the Holy Spirit(v. 16b)
        2. Indwelling of Christ through Faith (v. 17a)
      2. To Comprehend the Love of Christ (vv. 17b-19a)
        1. Love for Nurture and Foundation (v. 17b)
        2. Love Only for the Strong (v. 18a)
        3. Love Shared with All the Saints (v. 18b)
        4. Love in the Fifth Dimension (vv. 18c-19a)
      3. To Embrace the Plentitude of God (v. 19b)
    3. A Doxology of Celebration (vv. 20-21)
      1. Praise to God the Superabundant One (v. 20)
        1. The Boundless Energy of God (v. 20a)
        2. The Pettiness of Human Imagina­tion (v. 20b)
        3. Vouchsafed in Our Experience (v. 20c)
      2. Glory to God throughout Eternity (v. 21)
        1. In the Colony of Heaven (v. 21a)
        2. In Christ Jesus (v. 21b)


III. The Calling and Unity of the Church (4:1-16)

  1. The Priority of God’s Calling (v. 1)
    1. Summons from a Prisoner
    2. Ethic as a Grace Response
  2. The Unity Effected by the Spirit in the Church (vv. 2-6)
    1. Preservation of Unity in the Fellowship (vv. 2-3)
      1. Loving Forbearance of Others (v. 2)
        1. With Modesty
        2. With Gentleness
        3. With Patience
      2. Earnestness for the Bond of Peace (v. 3)
    2. Declaration of Unity in the Confession (vv. 46)
      1. One Body, Spirit, and Hope (v. 4)
      2. One Lord, Faith, and Baptism (v. 5)
      3. One God over, through, and in All (v. 6)
  3. The Diversity of Christ’s Gifts to the Church (vv. 7-12)
    1. Apportioned to Each Believer (v. 7 )
      1. Gift-by-Grace (v. 7a)
      2. The Measure of Christ’s Bounty (v. 7b)
    2. Bestowed by the Ascended Christ (vv. 8-10)
      1. In Fulfillment of Prophecy (v. 8)
      2. The Confirmation of His Descent (vv. 9-10a)
        1. To the Earth-Incarnation (v. 9)
        2. Above the Highest Heaven­ Enthronement (v. 10a)
      3. Integral to the Ultimate Design of the Universe (v. 10b)
    3. Exercised in the Ministry of the Church (vv. 11-12)
      1. Various Ministers Given to the Church (v. 11)
        1. The Foundation Ministry: Apostles and Prophets (v. 11a)
        2. The Continuing Ministry: Evange­lists and Teaching Pastors (v. 11b)
      2. Saints Equipped for Service and Upbuilding (v. 12)
    4. The Growth of the Church towards Maturity (vv. 13-16)
      1. The Goal: Advance to the Perfect Man (v. 13)
        1. Reached by All Together (v. 13a)
        2. Unity in the Realm of Faith and Knowledge (v. 13b)
        3. Christ the Standard of Perfection (v. 13c)
      2. The Progress: Growing Up in Union with Christ (vv. 14-16)
        1. Truth beyond Childish Naivete (vv. 14-15a)
          1. Resilience to Shifting Currents (v. 14b)
          2. Wariness of Crafty Presentation (v. 14c)
          3. Orthodoxy Wrapped in Love (v. 15a)
        2. Life Derived from Christ the Head (vv. 15b-16)
          1. Integration of the Whole Body (v. 16a)
          2. Invigoration by Each Member (v. 16b)
          3. Upbuilding in a Spirit of Love (v. 16c)
  4. The Christian Walk: Called To Be God’s People (4:17-5:21)
    1. The Old Walk Challenged by the New (4:17-32)
      1. Old-The Way of Life among the Gentiles (vv. 17-19)
        1. Frivolous Thinking( vv. 17b-18a)
        2. Estranged from God’s Life (v. 18b)
          1. Ignorance-the Head Problem
          2. Insensibility-the Heart Problem
        3. Shameless Conduct (v. 19)
          1. Abandoned to Sensuality
          2. Trading in Uncleanness
          3. Wanton Indulgence
    2. New-Truth as It Is in Jesus (vv. 20-24)
      1. Instruction via Acquaintance with Him (vv. 20-21)
      2. His Threefold Call to Obedience (vv. 22-24)
        1. Strip off the Old Self Sinking to Death (v. 22)
        2. Be Constantly Renewed in the Mind (v. 23)
        3. Put on the New Self Resembling God (v. 24)
    3. Therefore-Virtues of a Christ-like Person (vv. 25-32)
      1. Cultivated Truthfulness (v. 25)
        1. Away with Falsehood (v. 25a)
        2. The Trust Bound in Fellowship (v. 25b)
      2. Uncherished Anger (vv. 26-27)
        1. Away with Simmering Grudges (v. 26a)
        2. The Sunset Limit (v. 26b)
        3. Escape from the Devil’s Foothold (v. 27)
      3. Conscientious Labor (v. 28)
        1. Away with Robbery (v. 28a)
        2. Social Conscience in Free Enterprise (v. 28b)
      4. Wholesome Language (v. 29)
        1. Away with Rotten Discourse (v. 29a)
        2. The Power of Words to Bless (v. 29b)
      5. Tenderhearted Affection (vv. 30-32)
        1. Away with Grievous Abuse (v. 31a)
        2. Endearment for the Indwelling Spirit (v. 30)
        3. Forgiveness by the Forgiven (v. 32)
  5. Pursuit of the New Walk in a Fallen Order (5:1-21)
    1. Walk in Love Excluding Lust (vv. 1-7)
      1. Imitation of God Who Loves Us (vv. 1-2)
        1. As Children Beloved of the Father (v. 1)
        2. As Christ Who Sacrificed Himself for Us (v. 2)
      2. The Exclusive Affection of a Holy Love (vv. 3-7 )
        1. From the Arrogance of a Flippant Society (vv. 3-4)
        2. From Lifestyles That Deny the King (v. 5)
        3. From Partnerships Set for Wrath (vv. 6-7)
      3. Walk in Light Banishing Darkness (vv. 8-14)
        1. Characteristics of the Children of Light (vv. 8-10)
          1. Dwelling in the Lord’s Light ( v. 8a)
          2. Their Fruit: Goodness, Righteous­ness, and Truth (v. 9)
          3. Intention to Please God in All Things (v. 10)
        2. The Assault Upon the Kingdom of Darkness (vv. 11-14)
          1. Reproved by Brightness not Talk (vv. 11-12)
          2. Transformed by Illumination (v. 13)
          3. Awakened and Beckoned to the Light (v. 14)
        3. Walk in Wisdom Correcting Folly (vv. 15-21)
          1. Redeeming the Time (vv. 15-16)
          2. Understanding the Will of God (v. 17)
          3. Being Filled with the Spirit (vv. 18-21)
            1. Joyful and Melodic Praise (v. 19)
            2. Thanksgiving Always and in Everything (v. 20)
            3. Submission to One Another (v. 21)
        4. Family Obligations in the Household of God (5:22-6:9)
          1. Wives and Husbands (vv. 22-33)
            1. Submission-the Obligation of the Wife to the Husband (vv. 22-24)
              1. A Voluntary, Christian Duty (v. 22)
              2. Loyal Recognition of the Husband’s Role (v. 23)
              3. Patterned after the Church’s Subjection to Christ (v. 24)
        5. Love-the Obligation of the Husband to the Wife (vv. 25-33)
          1. As Christ Loved the Church (vv. 25-27)
            1. Gave Himself for Her in Death (v. 25b)
            2. Guards Her Sanctity and Honor (v. 26)
            3. Cherishes Her Eschatological Beauty (v. 27)
          2. The Wife as His Own Body (vv. 28-30)
            1. Complement of the Husband’s Well-Being (vv. 28-29b)
            2. As the Church Is Joined to Christ (vv. 29c-30)
          3. In the Intimate Union of One Flesh (vv. 31-33)
            1. The Mystery of Christ and the Church (vv. 31-32)
            2. The Care That Engenders Respect (v. 33)
    2. Children and Parents (vv. 1-4)
      1. The Obligations of Children to Parents (vv. 1-3)
        1. Obedience-a Proper, Christian Duty (v. 1)
        2. Honor-With a Promise of Enjoyable Life (vv. 2-3)
      2. The Obligations of Parents to Children (v. 4)
        1. Admonition without Rousing Resentment (v. 4a)
        2. Upbringing in Christ’s Care and Discipline (v. 4b)
    3. Slaves and Masters (vv. 5-9)
      1. The Obligation of Slaves to Masters (vv. 5-8)
        1. Obedience as Servants of Christ (vv. 5-7)
          1. With Respect and Eagerness to Please (v. 8b)
          2. In Singleness of Motive (v. 8c)
          3. Doing the Will of God Wholeheartedly (v. 6)
          4. Working Cheerfully (v. 7)
        2. Reward for Every Task Well Done (v. 8)
      2. The Obligation of Masters to Slaves (v. 9)
        1. Administration without Threat (v. 9a)
        2. The Loss of Rank in Christ (v. 9b)
  6. Reveille and Victory of the Christian Soldier (6:10-20)
    1. Strategy for the Conflict (vv. 10-12)
      1. God-the Believer’s Ally (vv. 10-11a)
        1. His Resources of Strength and Power (v. 10)
        2. His Provision of Weaponry (v. 11a)
      2. The Devil-the Believer’s Enemy(vv. 11b-12)
        1. Resisting His Schemes (v. 11b)
        2. Struggling against His Regiment (v. 12)
          1. Cosmic Rulers of This Present Darkness (v. 12a)
          2. Wicked Spirits in the Heavenlies (v. 12b)
    2. Equipped with the Whole Armor of God (vv. 13-17)
      1. The Stance of Victory in the Field (v. 13)
        1. On Alert for the Evil Day (v. 13a)
        2. A Fight to the End (v. 13b)
      2. The Divine Panoply That Conquers (vv. 14-17)
        1. Girdle-Truth (v. 14a)
        2. Breastplate-Righteousness (v. 14b)
        3. Sandals-Readiness (v. 15)
        4. Shield-Faith (v. 16)
        5. Helmet-Salvation (v. 17a)
        6. Sword-Word (v. 17b)
      3. Vigilance in Prayer and Preaching (vv. 18-20)
        1. A Prayer Alert for Ominous Days (v. 18)
          1. Urgency in the Power of the Spirit (v. 18a)
          2. Watching with Persevering Gaze (v. 18b)
          3. Entreaty for All the Fellow-Soldiers (v. 18c)
        2. Paul’s Request for Boldness in Preaching (vv. 19-20)
          1. Boldness to Declare the Mystery (v.19b)
          2. Boldness in Spite of Chains (v. 20)
  7. Closing Remarks and Greetings (6:21-24)
    1. The Mission of Tychicus (vv. 21-22)
      1. A Trustworthy Helper and Confidant (v. 21)
      2. An Emissary of Good News and Encouragement (v. 22)
    2. The Final Blessing (vv. 23-24)
      1. Peace to the Brotherhood (v. 23a)
      2. Love Linked with Faith (v. 23b)
      3. Grace upon Undying Love (v. 24)

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