The Mystical Body of
Ephesians tarries largely
among the heavenlies. It is characterized by dignity
and serenity which is in harmony with the elevation
of its thoughts. There is scarcely even an echo of
the great controversies which ring so loudly in the
Epistles to the Romans and Galatians.
It is "the divinest
composition of man," wrote Coleridge. It has been
called "the crown of St. Paul’s writings," "the
Queen of the Epistles," and the "greatest and most
relevant of his works." W. O. Carver said,
"Ephesians is the greatest piece of writing in all
of history." It may well be the "most influential
document ever written."
"Paul has written nothing
more profound than chapters 1 to 3 of Ephesians,"
writes A. T. Robertson. Stalker termed them the
profoundest thing ever written. He sounds the depths
of truth and reaches the heights. It is a letter
written in the atmosphere of prayer. Most Christians
have never prayed for some of the things which Paul
prayed for in these two prayers.
Expositors observes: "It
is the grandest of all the Pauline letters. There is
a peculiar and sustained loftiness in its teaching
which has deeply impressed the greatest minds and
has earned for it the title of the ‘Epistle of the
is Paul of Tarsus an apostle of Jesus (1:1).
THE PRISON EPISTLES
are Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and
Philemon. All four were probably written during
Paul’s Roman imprisonment, between the beginning of
A.D. 60 and the end of A.D. 61 (Eph. 3:1; Phil. 1:7;
Col. 4:30; Philemon 9). F. F. Bruce observes: "If
any orderly progress at all is to be traced in
Paul’s thinking, then Ephesians must be dated last
of all his letters to churches, and immediately
after Colossians." Some scholars see Paul having
served two Roman imprisonments. During the first
imprisonment in Rome Paul lived for two years near
the Praetorian Guard barracks in rental quarters at
his own expense (Acts 28:30). At that time these
prison epistles were written. Paul anticipated his
release in Philemon 22, and following his release he
made mission trips, wrote First Timothy and Titus.
He was then rearrested and taken to Rome were he
wrote Second Timothy, and was beheaded by the Roman
authorities. Ephesians is part of the first Roman
letters, while II Timothy is the second Roman
imprisonment letter. The theory of two Roman
imprisonments seems to fit the facts better. There
are also scholars who hold to a one imprisonment
PLACE OF WRITING
is Rome, which is the same as for Philemon,
Colossians and Philippians (Col. 4:3; Eph. 6:20;
Philemon 9). It was written while the author was in
prison (Eph. 3:1; 4:1; 6:20). Tychicus is the bearer
of this letter (6:21f), and the one to Colossae
(Col. 4:7f), and to Philemon (10-12).
of Ephesians is the same as for Philemon and
Colossians, i.e. about A. D. 60 or 61. This would be
after Paul’s arrival in Rome from Jerusalem in A.D.
60 (Acts 28:3ff), and before the burning of Rome by
Nero in A. D. 64. If Philippians was already sent
from Rome, then A. D. 62 marks the last probable
year for the writing of this group of letters. Paul
was probably released after this imprisonment (A.D.
63–65 or 66), and later imprisoned a second time at
Rome (A.D. 65). He was martyred in Rome about May or
early June 66 A. D.
The oldest manuscripts of Ephesians do not have the
words en Ephesoi in 1:1. "At Ephesus" was
inserted by a later hand. Origen did not have them
in his copy. Marcion calls it the Epistle to the
Laodiceans. Put Col. 4:16 "the letter from Laodicea"
here and the problem is solved. After writing the
Epistle to the Colossians Paul dictated this epistle
to the Ephesians as a general or circular letter for
the churches in the Roman province of Asia. Perhaps
the original copy had no name in 1:1 as seen in
Aleph and B and Origen, but only a blank space for
the recipients to fill in the name, or the person
who made the copy for the church at Ephesus to fill
in the name of the church. The original letter may
have been this way: "To all the saints that are at
_____," leaving a blank for the insertion of the
name of the church to which a copy would be sent. We
do know that the early churches made copies of their
letters and passed them on to other churches in the
area. Most manuscripts were copies from the one in
Ephesus, therefore, it came to be called the Epistle
to the Ephesians. This would also explain the
general nature of the letter even though Paul lived
in Ephesus for three years (cf. Acts 19:1-4).
The letter does not refer
to any specific controversy, or particular problems
in a local church. Paul normally mentions friends
and personal acquaintances when writing to local
churches, however, there is an absence of personal
names in this letter even though he had worked there
for three years on a previous occasion. There is a
good likelihood that Paul sent the letter first to
Ephesus by Tychicus (Eph. 6:21–22; Col. 4:7–8), and
then it was copied and sent to neighboring churches.
This is probably the same letter that is called "my
letter. . . from Laodicea" in (Col. 4:16). There is
an absence of personal greetings and any local tone
in the letter.
THE CITY OF EPHESUS
was the capital of the Roman proconsular Asia. It
was situated on a plain near the mouth of the River
Cayster. It was originally a Greek colony. Ephesus
was a free city and enjoyed to a great extent the
right of self-government under the Romans. It had
essentially a democratic constitution. The municipal
authority was vested in a senate, and in the
assembly of the people. The Town Clerk, or Recorder,
was an officer in charge of the archives of the
city, the promulgator of the laws, and had great
authority (cf. Acts 19:24-40).
Ephesus was a commercial
city, political, and religious center. As a major
trading center, Ephesus ranked with Alexandria and
The pagan temple of Diana
was located in Ephesus. Her image was a
many-breasted, mummy like figure of oriental
symbolism. Her famous temple was a Greek building of
the Ionic order. It was considered one of the
wonders of the world because of its vast dimensions,
costly materials, extended colonnades, numerous
statues and paintings, and accumulated wealth. The
city of Ephesus considered itself the
"Temple–sweeper," the servant of the great goddess.
One of the most lucrative occupations of the people
was the manufacture of miniature silver
representations of the temple which brought
extensive trade at home and abroad.
The practice of sorcery
was from the earliest times connected with the
worship of Diana. It was the center of all forms of
magic arts for all Asia.
PAUL’S MINISTRY AT
EPHESUS is recorded in Acts
18:18-21; 19:1-41; 20:17-38. Aquila and Priscilla
were probably the founders of the church when they
came to Ephesus with Paul (Acts 18:18-19). Paul had
just finished eighteen months in Corinth, at the end
of his second missionary journey.
He sailed to Ephesus in
company with Priscilla and Aquila. Paul went to the
Jewish synagogue in Ephesus and preached (Acts
18:18-26). He then left and returned to give a
report to his sending church.
Paul returned to Ephesus
on his third missionary journey (Acts 19:3-6). He
found some followers of John the Baptist there (Acts
considerable results in Ephesus.
1. A great number of Jews
and Greeks were converted.
2. The Gospel spread
throughout the proconsular Asia.
3. Certain exorcists
attempted to work miracles in the name of Jesus whom
Paul was preaching, made public confessions and
burned their magical books.
4. The marked reduction
of sales of silver temple of Diana excited a general
alarm by the silversmiths.
The establishment of a large and flourishing church
at Ephesus (Acts 20).
Paul warned the church to
guard against heresy and false teachers.
On his third missionary
journey Paul stayed in the city for about three
years. At this time the Gospel spread throughout
Asia Minor with Ephesus as the base of operations
(Acts 19:10). Timothy was pastor of the church in
Ephesus for some time (I Tim. 1:3), and was there
when Paul wrote him (I and II Timothy).
In later years the
Apostle John made the city his headquarters.
Ephesians is one of the seven churches of Asia Minor
addressed in Rev. 2:1-7.
is God’s eternal purpose to establish and complete
His body, which is the church of Christ.
STYLE OF WRITING
is meditative, with poetical quality which is most
apparent, and a long prayer culminating in a great
doxology in chapters 1–3. There is nothing like this
in Paul’s other letters. It is the language of a
TO COLOSSIANS: The same Gnostic heresy is met in
Colossians, but with a different emphasis. Paul’s
emphasis in Colossians is on the Dignity of Christ
as the head of the Church, while in Ephesians chief
stress is placed upon Dignity of the Church as the
Body of Christ the Head.
"The two epistles were
sent at the same time, but clearly Colossians was
composed first. Ephesians bears much the same
relation to Colossians that Romans does to
Galatians, a fuller treatment of the same general
theme in more detached and impersonal manner" (A. T.
COMPARISON OF THE
EMPHASIS in Colossians, Ephesians &
Philippians: The theme that dominates Colossians is
the "all-sufficiency of Jesus Christ." In Jesus
Christ "are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and
knowledge" (Col. 2:3). "It was the Father's good
pleasure for all the fullness of God dwelt in Him"
(Col. 1:19). In Christ Jesus "all the fulness of
Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have
been made complete . . ." (Col. 2:9-10).
Christ is our all sufficient Savior because in Him
"we we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins"
(Col. 1:14). The whole letter is based on the
absolute sufficiency of Jesus Christ.
The mystical Body of
Christ, the church, is the theme of Ephesians. The
believer is "a man in Christ." Every believer is
placed "in Christ." The Body of Christ is built upon
the all-sufficiency of our great God and Savior
Jesus Christ. Everything in and about the church is
dependent upon Christ. Everything is summed up in
Christ who redeemed us, and the "administration
suitable to the fulness of the times, that is, the
summing up of all things in Christ, things in the
heavens and things upon the earth" (Eph. 1:10). The
key thought of Ephesians is the gathering together
of all things in Jesus Christ. The universe is "dead
in trespasses and sins," radically depraved, and can
only reach its eternal destiny when every thing bows
in submission to Christ "who fills all in all."
Mankind is restored to its original purpose when it
is reconciled to God in Christ.
This concept of the unity
of all things in Jesus Christ is the outcome of his
conviction in Colossians that Christ is
all–sufficient. For Paul all things must center in
OUTLINE OF EPHESIANS
I. Greetings (1:1-2)
II. The Position of
A. Chosen and Sealed
B. Saved By Grace
C. United in One Body
D. Equal in the Body (the
III. The Practice of
A. In Relation to Other
B. In Relation to
Spiritual Gifts (4:7-16)
C. In Relation to the
Former Life (4:17-32)
D. In Relation to Evil
E. In Relation to the
Holy Spirit (5:18-21)
F. In Relation to Home
G. In Relation to Slaves
and Masters (6:5-9)
IV. The Protection for
A. Against Whom?
B. With What? (6:13-20)
Concluding Words (6:21-24)
Title: Introduction to
Introduction to Bible Books