Paul, from Roman prison, probably AD 61-62 (depending on Colossians dating details), delivered by Tychicus in route to delivering the Epistles of Colossians and Philemon. Many express doubts on Paul’s authorship despite the text saying as such (1:1,3:1), the fact that there are many personal notes to readers (1:15,16, 3:1, 4:1, 6:19-20), and that external sources such as Muratorian Cannon, Ignatius, Polycarp, and Marcion site him as the author.
Earliest manuscripts do not list a recipient city. The letter may have been circulated throughout the province of Asia, of which Ephesus was the capital. Paul expresses a great deal of confidence in his audience – he tackles deeper topics and maintains a more temperate tone comparatively to his other Epistles.
Probably written as a general pastoral letter to address people’s fear of “the powers of this dark world.” This gives occasion for Paul to explain the grand potency of Christ’s power in human relations, as well as the cosmic scope of His sovereignty. Three key themes of deeper understanding: 1) mission of Gentile inclusion in a unified salvation, 2) Christ’s victory/sovereignty over the “powers,” 3) maintain the “unity of the Spirit” in all relationships.
How to Read it
Note the three major themes (see “purpose” section above) as they occur. Note how Paul’s experience with the Trinitarian God lies behind this writing.
I. Predestined for God’s Glory (1.3-14) – read 1.4-5 chose/predestined
II. Prayer for Deeper Understanding (1.15-23) – read 1.17 deeper understanding is the overarching thrust of the book
III. Steps toward Deeper Understanding (2-3)
a. Salvation as a Gift (2.1-10) – read 2.8-10 grace & works
b. Salvation for Gentiles (2.11-3.13) – read 2.15b one united salvation plan
c. Prayer for Deeper Understanding (3.14-21) – read 3.20
IV. Applying Deeper Understanding (4-6)
a. Unity (4.1-16) – read 4.5-6,16 one source, united function
b. Abandon Old Life; Live for Christ (4.17-5.20) – read 5.8 light vs. dark
c. Respectful Relationships (5.21-6.9) – read 21
i. Wives & Husbands (5.21-33)
ii. Children & Parents (6.1-4)
iii. Slaves & Masters (6.5-9)
d. Spiritual Battling (6.10-20) – read 6.12,18 battlefield of prayer
Ephesians inspires imagination and deeper understanding regarding God’s sovereignty and a unified church. Great for inspiring faith that exceeds mental capacity.