Author, date and time
Paul wrote this letter (1:1;3:1) while in Rome’s prison (A.D. 59-61) destined to the saints in Ephesus (1:1). Other than Ephesians, Paul also wrote the letters of Colossians, Philippians and Philemon. These letters of called “prison epistles”.
Paul asked Tychicus (6:21), together with Onesimus (Col 4:9) to deliver these letters to the church in Ephesus, the church in Colossee, and to Philemon. The letter to Philippians was potentially delivered by Ephroditus from Philippi(4:18)
Purpose of the letter
The purpose of this letter is to reveal the eternal purpose of God to the church.
The key verses of the eternal purpose of God was mention on 1:10 and 3:10.
Ephesians and Colossians are the highest revelation of God’s eternal purpose to His church. Colossians emphasizes on Christ as the head of His church. Ephesians emphasizes on the church as Christ body.
The Heavenly Realms
This epistle talks about things of the heavenly realms (G2032, epouranios)
1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
1:20 which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms
2:6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus
3:10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms
6:12 For our struggle is not against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Ephesus was a rich, busy port at the end of the caravan route from Asia. It is on the intersection between the eastern and the western world. It was a trading city, where goods were exchanged between east and west. This huge city contained a 25,000 seats theater (Acts 19:29), an agora (town square), public baths, a library, and few temples.
A temple of the Greeks goddess Artemis (Acts 19:23), also known by the Romans as Diana, was built near by the city. It was the largest building in the Greek world. Many pilgrims came to Ephesus to worship Artemis, as a result many people in Ephesus made good living as silversmith, craftsmen and workman for Artemis (Acts 19:25). Ephesus was known as the guardian of the temple of Artemis and of her image (Acts 19:35).
Paul visited Ephesus on his second missionary journey (Acts 18:19) for a short stay, and on his third missionary journey (Acts 19) and stayed there for three years. He spent 3 months in the synagogue arguing about the kingdom of God, and later spent two years in the lecture hall of Tyrannus (Acts 19:10) to teach the whole counsel of God.
Relationship of OT
Ephesians is often compared to Joshua in OT. Joshua was a book about the Jews entering the promised land, and had victory over the enemies by the promised and the power of God.
Ephesians 1:3 says “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ”. Christ is our promised land.
Paul and Ephesus
Paul first visit to Ephesus was at the end of his second missionary journey. He only spent a short time in Ephesus on his way back to Antioch (Acts 18:22). When he left Ephesus, he asked Aquila and Priscilla to stay (Acts 18:26).
A man name Apollos from Alexandrian came to Ephesus. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John. and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.
On Paul third missionary journey he stay in Ephesus three years (Acts 20:31). He baptized a dozen of the John the Baptist’s followers (Acts 19:1-7). He taught the whole counsel of God to the Ephesians in the hall of Tyrannus (Acts 19:8-10). God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them (Acts 19:11-12). During Paul ministry in Ephesus, the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power (Acts 19:20). A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. (Acts 19:19).
Because of Paul’s preaching that man made gods are no gods at all, the silversmith, craftsmen and workmen of Artemis started an uproar against Paul’s traveling companions, Gaius from Derbe and Aristarchus from Thessalonica (Acts 19:29).
At the end of Paul’s 3d missionary trip, on his way to Jerusalem, he called for a meeting with the elders of the Ephesus’s church (Acts 20:17) in the coastal town of Miletus.
When Paul was in the prison of Rome, he wrote this letter to the Ephesians church (A.D. 60-62). (3:1;4:1;6:20).
After Paul was released, he traveled to Ephesus for the last time. After he left Ephesus, he wrote to Timothy (1 Tim) who he left in Ephesus to ministry to the church. After that Paul was arrested by the Roman again, he then wrote a second letter to Timothy who are still in Ephesus. According to church history, Paul was martyred in Rome.
Seat, Walk, Stand
Ephesians give us a blueprint of our spiritual growth in Christ. Paul taught about three positions of Christians in Christ, that help us to growth in Christ, to enjoy the riches of Christ.
- Seat (2:4-6)
- Walk (4:1,17;5:2,8,15)
- Stand (6:10-13)
There are two prayers of Paul in Ephesus. The posture that links “sitting” with “walking” and standing” is “bowing the knee”. It is through prayer that we lay hold of Christ’s riches that enable us to behave like Christians and battle like Christians.
- 1:15-23 – Emphasizes on enlightenment. Paul prayed to God to gave us the Spirit of revelation and truth so we can truly know God.
- 3:14-21 – Emphasizes on enablement. Paul prayed to God that through His Spirit, God will strengthen the inner man in us, so that we may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
In the first prayer, the emphasis is asking God to give us a revelation. The emphasis of the second prayer is that the revelation will be realized in us.
Division (According to the role of Christ’s church)
- Chapter 1: The Church is Christ’s Body
- Chapter 2: The Church is God’s temple
- Chapter 3: The Church is Christ’s mystery
- Chapter 4: The Church is a New Man
- Chapter 5: The Church will be Christ’s bridge
- Chapter 6: The Church is Christ’s soldier