The book of Ephesians is considered by many people to be the greatest of Paulís writings. The rule by which we measure greatest is according to the benefits we derive from an object or person. Thus, while studying the Ephesian Epistle we are very prone to say, "It is the sublimest of all of Paulís writing." On the other hand, I am confident that a verse by verse study of any of the other twelve letters of Paul would similarly affect us. We need to remember Paulís own words, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:" (2nd Timothy 3:16).
The Ephesian Epistle seems to have a greater degree of relevancy of our day and time than many of the other letters of Paul, and that could account for it being the favorite of New Testament Baptist.
Ephesians was written during Paulís first imprisonment at Rome, Approximately ten years after the Church at Ephesus was founded. Paul calls himself the "Prisoner of Jesus Christ", "The prisoner of the Lord", and "An ambassador in bonds" (3:1, 4:1, 6:20). Allowing these references to refer to Paulís first imprisonment at Rome would fix the date of this Epistle within the Year the years of 61 Ė 63 AD.
The doctrine of the Church is the prominent teaching throughout the Epistle, yet the doctrinal scope of the letter is of such extent that the doctrine of the Sovereignty of God, and subjects related thereto are discussed at length.
In Ephesians we will find clear and graphic language dealing with moral, marital, and Church problems. Submission to principles set forth by Paul in this letter which relate to these problems will be the means of solving any current difficulties we may have, and will fortify us for the whole of our life.
The Ephesian letter and the Colossian letter are alike in many respects. There are some profound differences, and these differences argue against Ephesians being a circular letter. Yet, the sameness of both is apparent, and Ephesians may be correctly described as an expansion of the Colossian letter. (The Colossians were instructed to exchange letters with the Laodiceans, Col. 4:16).
There are many key words and phrases in the letter which facilitate our understanding. The key phrase is, I believe "In Jesus Christ," which appears twelve times. The key word, I believe is, "all," which appears forty times in the letter, and is used in such God honoring statements as "He created all things" "worketh all things after the counsel of His own will", "and hath put all thing under His feet, and gave Him head over all things to the Church", and He fills "all and in all". Etc... Etc...
We will in the series of these studies frequently refer to the book of Acts, chapters 19, 20, & 21.
The first two verses of Ephesians make up the salutation. This kind of salutation was generally used in Paulís day in beginning a letter. The order of procedure was to give first the name of the writer; hence, thirteen of the 27 books of the New Testament begin with the name, "Paul". Secondly, identification of the person or people being addressed, and thirdly, it was customary to express greeting.
Paul being a devout follower of Christ, would not so much as let a
salutation be spent without bringing honor to his Lord in it.
Paul was a freeborn Roman citizen (Acts 22:28), yet he was a Jew racially, (Acts 22:3). It is highly probable that Paulís parents gave him two names at birth, Saul and Paul. Saul was his Jewish name, and connected him to the citizenship in the empire.
Over and over in Paulís writings it is made clear that he was called
of God to be an Apostle to the Gentiles and as his work demanded
practically all of his time to be spent in the Roman world he began to
use the name that would commend him in some measure to that world.
The Roman Catholic Church claims their popes are the successors to
the apostles, and with each elevation to the papal chair another new
apostle is made. This claim is the ultimate combination of ignorance and
arrogance. But not so with Paul, he says his ascendancy to the office
was "not of men, but by Jesus Christ" Gal. 1:1. Therefore, he occupied
the office as a result of sovereign and irresistible grace. Paulís
attitude toward his apostolic office was not one of pride or
haughtiness, but rather of astonishment.
Those whom the letter was sent are designated "the saints which are
at Ephesus, and the faithful in Christ Jesus" V.1. All saved people are
saints, but all saved people are not faithful. The Ephesians are
addressed by Paul here as faithful saints. The word "saint" and the word
"sanctify" come from the same root word which means, "To set apart for
the common use". In the N.T. usage the term "saint" meant one that was
separated from whatever was unholy, and coupled with separation from the
unholy was consecration to God.
I think it would be remiss on my part if I did not mention the fact
that Paulís letter was not the only letter the church at Ephesus
received from an apostle of Jesus Christ. Some thirty years after the
date of Paulís letter they received an apostolic communiquť from the
exiled apostle John. The church at Ephesus was at the time of Johnís
letter yet faithful as regards orthodoxy, but they had removed to a
dangerous degree from Christ on the scale of love.
Ephesus during the days of Paul and John was steeped in paganism. It
was in Ephesus that the great temple of Diana stood, which temple was
considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Acts 19:35
"...The city of the Ephesian is a worshipper of the great goddess Dianna
..." The temple of Diana was the chief glory at the city, and the people
were completely given over to the worship of the image, they were
idolaters in the ultimate sense of the word. In spite of Ephesians
idolatry the Jews had erected, a synagogue were the city (Acts 19:8),
and speculation has it that some of the Jews from the Ephesian synagogue
were present on the day of Pentecost and witnessed the baptism of the
church in the Holy Spirit, and that it was through this experience the
first seeds of Christianity were sown in Ephesus.
Vs. 2 "Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ." The usual Greek greeting would begin with "rejoice!" The words rejoice and grace in the Greek pronunciation sounded much the same, but the deviation was due to the fact Paul and the Ephesians knew that it was God's grace which was the basis all rejoicing. The term "peace" is the Jewish element In the greeting.