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The Ephesians Road

I think it was Scot McKnight who suggested that the “New Perspective on Paul” would make a lot more sense to traditional Protestants if they assumed that Ephesians was the epitome of Pauline theology rather than Romans or Galatians. (He may have merely been reporting an observation of N. T. Wright, and I don’t have time right now to look it up.) If that’s the case—and I think it is—then the “Ephesians Road” version of the “plan of salvation” developed by Trevin Wax and now elaborated by Derek Leman will be of interest.

According to Leman, the “Romans Road,” familiar to evangelical Christians, is not untrue, but it is incomplete:

Whereas the Romans Road says, “You can be forgiven and live forever,” the Ephesians Road says, “God is making a perfected cosmos and you can join in.” The Romans Road is limited because it ends in mere acceptance of future blessing. The Ephesians Road is more complete because it ends in all things united in Messiah and calls for us to work with Messiah through the community to bring about healing and redemption for the world.

Here is Leman’s summary of the “Ephesians Road”:

  • Salvation is about God’s plan for the world (Ephesians 1), including the election of Israel, the adoption of Israel as the people of God, the inclusion of Gentiles in salvation, and the uniting of all things in Messiah symbolized by the new unity of Jew and Gentile in Messiah.
  • Salvation is only by unearned favor (Ephesians 2:1-9), raising us from the dead and saving us from God’s wrath.
  • Salvation comes with a calling that must be fulfilled in the community of faith (Ephesians 2:10-22), including good works, kingdom community of mutual blessing between Jew and Gentile, and imaging God to the world.

What do you think?



  1. I dislike canned “plans of salvation,” but this is more true to the overall message of Ephesians than is the Romans Road to Romans. The latter is mostly prooftexting for a scheme decided on other than exegetical grounds.


  2. Kyle French says:

    I like. Ephesians is easier than Romans for me to hold in my head.


  3. LOL, I feel a post coming on. This synopsis still clings too closely to the other understanding, spends too much time looking over its shoulder at the other paradigm and trying to justify the differences. Maybe it’s just the audience for which it’s written. Ephesians is possibly the most beautiful of all the epistles, and I would gladly see it deserve more attention. And for a letter that touches on matters that are often considered “mystical”, Paul’s logical structure is very well laid out. There are sections where his argument is so clear you can see his topic sentences and supporting points, almost as if he’d made an outline first …

    I love the book of Ephesians. If I had to pick a favorite epistle, I don’t think I’d have to think long before I picked it.

    Take care & God bless
    Anne / WF


  4. I look forward to that post, Anne! 🙂


  5. SingingOwl says:

    I read this last week, and I looked at the links, and I’ve been pondering the implications ever since. WF’s comments about “looking over its” shoulder have me very intrigued. I look forward to that post as well, but somehow it feels like someone opened a door and a needed breeze blew in. Perhaps it is because I grew up hearing the Romans Road talked about so much that it became a sort of formula (much like the thinking behind just getting someone up front to say a certain prayer, as if that is all being a “Christian” amounts to…) and perhaps it is because I also would count Ephesians as my favorite of the Pauline epistles. Maybe even my favorite biblical book, period. I have to think thorugh the implications of this a bit more. I’m not tossing out the implications of Romans, but this does seem to make many of my current struggles with the Evangelical camp versus the Mainline camp sort of fade away. I hope that made at least some sense! 🙂


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