THE LETTER TO THE EPHESIANS. Paul intended this letter to be a circular one to the churches of Asia Minor. Later manuscripts add “in Ephesus” to the salutation. But absent personal greetings, it’s highly unlikely Paul addressed this letter to the church where he spend three years. It was written in the Summer of A.D. 62 along with Colossians and Philemon.
It is the most impersonal of all of Paul’s letters. It contains no purpose statement nor is it a polemic against problems or errors. Some consider it the deepest and most difficult book of the NT. There is a striking likeness to Colossians.
Ephesians: In Christ
Writer: “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.”
Addressee: “To the saints [in Ephesus] and faithful in Christ Jesus.” It is a circular letter to the churches of Asia Minor. There are no personal greetings is highly unlikely if addressed to Ephesus, where Paul spent three years.
Date and Place Written: March A.D. 60 to March 62. Paul was a prisoner at Rome when it was written (Ephesians 3:1; 4:1; 6:20). It was composed at the same time as Colossians and Philemon and delivered by Tychicus (6:21-22).
Purpose: There is no statement of purpose in the letter. It is the by-product of Colossian conflict. It is not polemical against problems or error, but helps saints from being swayed by the philosophical speculations troubling the Colossian church.
Key Verses: Ephesians 1:4, 2-23; 3:16-17; 2:19-20
Key Phrases: In Him (19 times); In Christ (14); In Jesus (1); According to (5)
Key Words: In (120 times); Love (16); Spirit (13); Grace (11); Church (9); Pray/er (9); Heaven/ly (9); Power (8); Mystery (7); Rich/es (6)
A. Thematic Theme:
You in CHRIST (1:4)—CHRIST in You (3:20). The thematic theme is based on John 14:20 as Paul explains the living union between Christ and the believer. The Church is a new community purchased by Christ to carry out the purposes of God in the world. Themes abound around the origin of the Church, its glory, character, progress, function and fullness. Paul gives a new description for the spiritual oneness of the Church in each chapter: (1) Body, (2) Temple, (3) Mystery, (4) New Man, (5) Bride, and (6) Soldier.
B. Primary Themes:
1. The Relationship between Christ and His Universal Church—a new community purchased by Christ to carry out the purposes of God in the world.
2. The Church:
a. Origin, Ephesians 1:3-14
b. Glory, 1:15-23
c. Character, 2:1-10
d. Progress, 2:11-22
e. Function, 3:1-13
f. Fullness, 3:14-21
C. Subordinate Themes:
1. Spiritual Oneness of the Church, Ephesians 1:10
2. Purposes of God from Eternity to Eternity, 1:11
3. Grace, 1:3-14; 2:4-10
4. Mystery of the Church, 3:2-12
5. Christian’s Armor, 6:10-17)
6. Prayer, 1:15-23; 3:14-21; 6:18-20
7. Fullness of God, 3:19
8. Christ, 4:13
9. Spirit, 5:18 —> Fullness of Life
Style: This is the most impersonal of all Paul’s letters. It is the deepest and most difficult book of the NT. It is rich vocabulary, abounding with unique words to the NT and new word combinations. Striking likeness and difference between Ephesians and Colossians (78 of 155 verses has much of the same phraseology).