LETTER OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE EPHESIANS
Author and Date
The letter to the Ephesians was written by Paul, the apostle, from a Roman prison. Along with Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon it is one of four letters in the New Testament known as the prison epistles. Most likely, Paul wrote the letter around A.D. 60, thirty years after Jesus’ crucifixion and a few years before Paul’s own death.
There is good reason to believe that Ephesians was not written exclusively to the church in Ephesus. Instead, it was a circular letter carried by Tychicus and read at each stop throughout Asia Minor (modern Turkey) until finally arriving at the capital city of Ephesus.
The city of Ephesus was a large, bustling, commercial centre on the Aegean coast of Asia Minor. Originally a Greek colony, the city rose to worldwide prominence as a centre for international trade, largely due to its fine, natural harbour.
Adding to the city’s mystic was the Temple of Artemis, a huge marble structure considered to be one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The statue of Artemis was thought to have descended from heaven and was widely worshipped. The city also contained a large, outdoor Greek theatre, capable of seating 50,000 people, as well as a stadium where fights, races, and other athletic contests were held.
Paul’s Ministry in Ephesus
On his second missionary journey, Paul visited Ephesus and left Priscilla & Aquilla there
Later, he returned during his third missionary journey and spent about three years there (Acts 19-20). His ministry was both effective and controversial. After three months in the synagogue, he was forced out and began teaching in the lecture hall of Tyrannus.
News of Paul’s message spread throughout Asia Minor and as a result, extraordinary things happened. Handkerchiefs touched by Paul were used to heal the sick, demons were cast out in the name of Jesus, and new believers burned their books of magic and idols (worth millions of dollars in today’s currency).
Eventually, Paul’s ministry caused a riot in the city of Ephesus. Demetrius, a silversmith, organized a city-wide protest accusing Paul of threatening the economic well-being of craftsmen who made their living from the worshippers of Artemis. As a result, Paul left the city and moved on to Macedonia. By this time the church was firmly established.
Paul never visited Ephesus again. He did, however, give a moving farewell address to the elders of the church at the nearby port of Miletus (Acts 20:17-38). Later on, Paul wrote 1 and 2 Timothy in an attempt to deal with the false teaching that had arisen in the Ephesian church.
Read Acts 20:17-38 text for context and insight in Paul’s apostolic heart for the church and their purpose in the context of the Kingdom of God.
v32 – Now I commit you to God and to the word of His grace, which can build you up and give an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
The theme of Ephesians is living in community with God and with one another. In chapters 1-3, Paul applauds the great reconciling work of Jesus Christ, who through the cross overcame Satan’s power and broke down the wall between God and us and between Jew and Gentile. In chapters 4-6, Paul emphasizes the practice of community in our relationships with one another at home, at work, and in the church.
The Ephesians letter shows the balance in the Christian life between Doctrine (CHS 1-3) and Duty (CHS 4-6), Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility.
We do not obey God so that He will give us His grace, we obey Him in response to the grace He has already given us.
Concludes with the Warrior of the Lord Ch 6:10-24
– War – Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might against demonic opposing forces
But before we can war, we are strongly urged to:
– Walk – 4:1 Walk worthy of the call you have received, 4:17 walk not as the Gentiles in the futility of their minds, 5:2 walk in love, just as Christ also loved us, 5:17 walk carefully not as fools, but as wise
But before we can walk, we are urged and stirred to Worship for the matchless grace, majesty, power and wisdom of the Lord
– Worship – our standing in Christ:
1:3 – Blessed be the God and Father of the Lord JESUS Christ
1:6 – to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved
1:12 – that we who first trusted in Christ, should be to the praise of His glory
3:21 – to Him be glory in the church by Christ JESUS to all generations, forever and ever. Amen
Some theologians consider the book of Ephesians to be the Alps of New Testament – the mountain upon we gaze upon our heavenly riches in Christ. I tend to agree.
Some theologians consider the book of Ephesians to be the Grand Canyon of Scripture – where we delve in to the immeasurable depths of God’s incredible love and meticulous plan for us, the church and the entire creation. I tend to agree.
Big Idea – In Christ – occurs 27 times in this book – over 150 times in Paul’s writings.
The Church – is the great emphasis and thrust of this book. The church in the agency on which God ‘displays His glorious grace in His kindness towards us’ – Ephesians 1.
It is where the Church is instructed to live out our purpose as the Body of Christ, through the incomparably great might of His power – Ephesians 1.
Truly, Ephesians is like no other letter or book or epistle in the Bible.
The Father – Salvation is of the Father 1:3-5,
Salvation is due to the Father’s grace 1:6,
Salvation is for the Father’s glory 1:14,
Salvation reveals the Father’s greatness 1:19
The Son – Christ is the Redeemer 1:7,
The One by whom history will ultimately be consummated 1:10,
He is Resurrected King who pours His life over us 1:15-23,
He is the Peacemaker – reconciles man to God and man to man as well 2:11-18,
He is the chief Cornerstone of the new temple 2:19-22,
He is the Treasure of unsearchable riches 3:8,
The Indweller of our hearts, securing us in the Father’s love 3:17-19,
The Giver of ministry gifts to equip His church 4:7-11,
The Model Husband, unselfishly giving Himself to enhance His bride – 5:25-27, 32,
He is the Lord, mighty in battle, the resource of strength for His own, as they engage in spiritual battle 6:10
The Holy Spirit – The Spirit is the Sealer – authorising the believer to represent Christ 1:13,
The Spirit is our down payment, guaranteeing our complete redemption 1:14,
The Spirit is the Revealer who enlightening our hearts to perceive God’s purpose 1:17-18,
The Spirit is our access to the Father 2:18,
The Spirit builds us together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit 2:22,
The Spirit is the Empower who strengthens our inner man 3:16,
The Spirit enables the Body to live in unity 4:3,
The Spirit can be grieved through our words & deeds 4:30,
The Spirit is the Fountain, that fills us, to empower us to live our lives full of worship, gratefulness, submission and obedience 5:18,
The Spirit equips us to pray out the Word of God (which is the sword of the Spirit), so we can use to engage in battle against our struggles 6:17-18
Timeline for Ephesian Church
Acts 18:19 – 21 – First Visit – partners with Priscilla and Aquilla 50-52AD
Acts 19:1 – 20:1 – Second visit – First disciples, uproar, many works– 53–55AD 3 years
Acts 20:17 – 38 – Third Visit – Ephesian elder address and farewell – 56-58AD
Letter to Ephesians – Around 60AD when Paul was in house arrest in Rome
(after Acts 28)
1 Timothy Letter – written to Timothy, whom Paul had left in Ephesus while he continued his journey into Macedonia – Around 63-65 AD, at least 8 years after Paul 3 year stay in Ephesus
Philippians 2:19-22 – Paul said about Timothy, ‘I have no one else like him’ – genuinely concerned for JESUS’ interests, not his own.
2 Timothy Letter – written to Timothy from Roman jail, where Paul was imprisoned by emperor Nero – Around 66-67AD. Paul knew his time was coming to an end and wanting the church to remain strong through the time of persecution of Nero.
Book of Revelation – Around 95AD – Written by John, through JESUS – one of the
7 churches JESUS had a message for – Revelation 2:1-7.