Clarifying the Purpose of Ephesians
Before we can discuss the text, we must first confront a common misconception about the Book of Ephesians and the Christian life itself.
Ephesians 4:1 starts off the second portion of the Book of Ephesians. Those that like to get into studying the Bible and its ‘heavy' doctrines prefer to study the first part of Paul's letters and often treat the latter part as secondary or of less value (see the right diagram where a wall separates the two sections). They are content to study the doctrine in the first part and leave off the application of the second. This is a mockery of what Paul is teaching.
If the first part really was more important, then Paul would have left off the ‘life,' ‘practice' or application portion. He did not. It is essential to grasp the importance of the second section even though many would dismiss it. This separation of what one believes from what one lives is very common in the West and allows for the degeneration of the church. This is exactly contrary to what Paul was trying to teach. Our holy life is not a special add-on to the lives of some Christians but a true fixture of every believer.
Paul would have been very upset over this dichotomy that is so commonly made. We are not trying to argue that Paul was oblivious to the two sections of his letters (belief & life). Through a cursory look at his other books, the same pattern is repeatedly found. We might summarize the dissimilarity between the two sections by the word ‘for.'
The first section is the cause while the later is a result. Each section lives for its partner (see diagram on left). They share a symbiotic relationship. There is no true cause if there is no true following result. Again, we are not minimizing the doctrine being taught but maximizing it by giving its full force. If the Gospel of Christ does not radically change our lives, then it is not the Gospel at all.
A brief outline enables us to understand the whole book. A more extensive outline after this one helps understand how the many parts form the whole. Both are important for the student of God's Word.