For two years, at his own expense, Paul lived under house arrest in Rome. It was during this time he wrote his letters to the Ephesians, the Colossians, the Philippians, and Philemon.
In the church at Ephesus, the old controversy between Jewish and gentile Christians is still present. Ethnic pride is trumping faithfulness and Christ-like behavior is the loser.
Paul begins the letter with a reminder: All the Ephesians have and all they are is due neither to ethnicity nor nationality, but to the work of God in Christ. Redemption and forgiveness of sin, adoption into the family of God – these are all the work of God in Christ. The Ephesians (and we) have these blessings only because of our relationship with Christ. This relationship is according to the eternal plan of God to bring everyone (and everything) together under the rule of Jesus. There is no room for division.
As I read Ephesians chapter one, two things jump out at me:
First, all that God has done has been so that we might be “holy and blameless” in God’s sight, and “to the praise of his glory (1:6,12,14). We aren’t any of these things if our lives do not show them through our behavior. It is this point Paul will cover in detail in chapters 4-6.
Second, God has brought us together under the Lordship of Jesus by bringing us into Christ’s body, which Paul calls here, “the Church.” While Christ saves each of us individually, he does not save us to be individuals. He saves us to be a part of His Church, His body. Christian people who feel they can live Christian lives on their own without a relationship with the Church have not understood the purpose of their salvation, and eventually, they are doomed to lose it. Salvation cannot be nurtured alone.