The book of Ephesians is a Prison Epistle (letter written while in prison). Paul wrote it about 60-62 A.D. The key personalities of Ephesians are the Apostle Paul and Tychicus. It was written to encourage believers to walk as fruitful followers of Christ and to serve in unity and love in the midst of persecution. • In chapters 1-3, Paul begins with the joyful truth that every believer has been chosen by God before the foundation of the world, “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will” (1:4-5). Paul then teaches about the unity of believers. These are the truths and blessings that all believers have in common. He wrote that all Christians are “adopted as sons through Jesus Christ” (1:5). All believers are, “redeemed through His blood” (1:7), and “sealed by the Holy Spirit” (1:13). Paul continues on to clear up one of the most misconceived and/or often ignored subjects even to this day, “Salvation by Grace”. He wrote that salvation is by the “Grace” of God and that it is through “Faith”, and that no one can contribute to salvation, in any way, even with good deeds: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (2:8-9). • In chapters 4-5, Paul encourages the believer to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling”. Every believer has a responsibility to live as servants of Jesus Christ. In these chapters, Paul teaches that it takes hard work to be in unity with others, and that we are to be “imitators of God” (5:1). He mentions imperative truths and advice for well functioning families, including husbands and wives who upon the oath of marriage become as “one flesh” (5:31). Paul explains the concept of a biblical marriage. Marriage is a picture of Christ and the church (body of believers) and the way that Jesus Christ loved the church is the way that the husband must love his treasured wife, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (5:25). Paul doesn’t end there, he goes on to reinforce that husbands are to love their wives, “as their own bodies” and also to love their wives, “even as himself (vs. 28;33). When a husband learns to love his wife in this way, his wife usually has no issues fulfilling her role and even enjoys it, “the wife must see to it that she respects her husband” (vs 33). • In chapter 6, Paul instructs believers how to prepare for spiritual battle by dressing in the “full armor of God” (6:11). Prayer is the key weapon of the Christian soldier. He emphasizes his principle with the repeated statement “stand firm”.
The book of Ezekiel is Narrative History, Prophetic, and Apocalyptic in the genre and even contains Parables. The prophet Ezekiel wrote it approximately 571 B.C. (this date is accurately precise because this book contains more defined dates than any other book in the Bible.) Key personalities include Ezekiel, Israel’s leaders, Ezekiel’s wife, King Nebuchadnezzar, and “the prince”. It was written to announce judgment upon Judah, to allow them one last chance to repent. It also foretells of the coming deliverance of God’s nation from captivity in Babylon. It mainly discusses the events during the Babylonian captivity. Ezekiel is a priest who is called by God to deliver His messages. • In chapters 1-3, God commissions his servant Ezekiel. He receives visions, and his message is to confront God’s sinful nation, “I am sending you to the sons of Israel, to a rebellious people who have rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have transgressed against Me to this very day ” (2:3). • Chapters 4-24, Ezekiel delivered the message of doom to the captives. He told several parables, one that compared Israel to an adulterous woman (16:1-63). He taught them that God was cleansing His chosen nation, “Fou have borne the penalty of your lewdness and abominations’, the LORD declares” (16:58). • From chapters 25-32, Ezekiel condemns judgment upon seven particular nations who mocked YHWH, the God of Israel because of the captivity; they too would soon see their fate. These nations are Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia, Tyre, Sidon, and Egypt. • In chapters 33-48, a message of deliverance and restoration is written. This includes not only the current nation of Israel but also the future of the coming Messiah, the Temple, and the Kingdom of God in the End age. In chapter 37, he writes the famous vision of the valley of bones, “He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, Fou know” (37:3)
The book of Lamentations is a book of sorrowful songs or poems. The name implies that the topic is expressing grief over something (to lament). Jeremiah, also known as the “weeping prophet” writes this after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. It was written soon after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.; he was an eyewitness. He predicted this destruction (as did others), watched it take place, and now in this book he is sadly reflecting on it. Key personalities are the prophet Jeremiah and the people of Jerusalem. Its purpose was to express despair and teach God’s people that disobedience to the Lord results in immense suffering and distress. Jeremiah pours out his emotions in compassion, and empathy for God’s nation, as he watches them inhabit a foreign land. • In chapter 1, Jeremiah mourns for Jerusalem and Judea as it lays in ruin by the raid and destruction of Babylon, “How lonely sits the city that was full of people! She has become like a widow who was once great among the nations! She who was a princess among the provinces has become a forced laborer!” (1:1). • Chapter 2, He described the anger of the Lord who brought judgment to the wicked land (as God had warned), “In fierce anger, He has cut off all the strength of Israel; He has drawn back His right hand from before the enemy…” (2:3). • Chapter 3, we see Jeremiah expressing his troubled spirit and suffering in the gloom. He too is afflicted, as his homeland has been pillaged. On the other hand, he reminds us in verses 19-23, that God is faithful and will restore and bring His promise to pass, “The LORD’S loving-kindness indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail” (3:22). • Finally, in chapter 4, we read that God has brought justice and ruled mightily. During the siege, the city of Jerusalem suffered incredibly. Starvation was so bad and widespread that the Israelites resorted to eating their own children. The nation was warned about their sin and disobedience and the penalty of the coming judgment of God, and in verse 11 we read, “The LORD has accomplished His wrath..”
.The small book of Zephaniah is Narrative History and Prophetic Oracle. Zephaniah wrote it circa 630 B.C. very soon before the fall of Judah in the Southern Kingdom. The purpose of this book was to show that God raised up his prophet Zephaniah to proclaim a warning of coming judgment and to encourage repentance. The Southern Kingdom was complacent in their wicked lives. They not only suffered under wicked kings they also would suffer under the holy judgment of God. Zephaniah was God’s method in bringing a stern warning of the day of the Lord “Near is the great day of the Lord…a day of wrath is that day” (1:14-15). He also brought a message of hope, when the nation would be restored. • In chapters 1-2, Zephaniah, 20 years prior to their captivity, foretells about the looming judgment that was awaiting Judah if they did not turn back to YHWH. He also predicted the desolation of Nineveh the capital city of Assyria in 612 B.C. “And He will stretch out His hand against the north And destroy Assyria, And He will make Nineveh a desolation, Parched like the wilderness” (2:13). • Chapter 3, God demonstrates how He gives the sinner what they do not deserve… Mercy. Zephaniah wrote that there would be a day of hope, when the remnant of Israel would come back out of captivity under the YHWH’s protection, to fulfill His promise. “The LORD has taken away His judgments against you, He has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; You will fear disaster no more” (3:15).