|Books of the
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|Acts of the Apostles|
1 Corinthians · 2 Corinthians
Galatians · Ephesians
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1 Timothy · 2 Timothy
Titus · Philemon
Hebrews · James
1 Peter · 2 Peter
1 John · 2 John · 3 John
|New Testament manuscripts|
The Epistle to the Ephesians, often shortened to Ephesians, is the tenth book of the New Testament. Its authorship has traditionally been credited to Paul the Apostle, but it is considered by some scholars to be Deutero-pauline, that is, written in Paul's name by a later author strongly influenced by Paul's thought. Bible scholar Raymond E. Brown asserts that about 80% of critical scholarship judges that Paul did not write Ephesians, while Perrin and Duling say that of six authoritative scholarly references, "four of the six decide for pseudonymity, and the other two (PCB and JBC) recognize the difficulties in maintaining Pauline authorship. Indeed, the difficulties are insurmountable."
The main theme of Ephesians is “the Church, the Body of Christ.”
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
The Church is to maintain the unity in practice which Christ has brought about positionally. According to New Testament scholar Daniel Wallace, the theme may be stated pragmatically as “Christians, get along with each other! Maintain the unity practically which Christ has effected positionally by his death.”
Another major theme in Ephesians is the keeping of Christ's body (that is, the Church) pure and holy.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
From Ephesians 4:17-6:20 the author of the Epistle to the Ephesians gives practical advice in how to live a holy, pure, and Christ-inspired lifestyle. Many devotional thoughts and sermons that are addressed to the practically minded individual have been drawn from this section of the New Testament, due to its nature as being good for application studies.
According to tradition, the Apostle Paul wrote this letter while he was in prison in Rome (around AD 62). This would be about the same time as the Epistle to the Colossians (which in many points it resembles) and the Epistle to Philemon. However, as noted above, most critical scholars have questioned the authorship of the letter, and suggest it may have been written between AD 80 and 100.
The first verse in the letter, according to the late manuscripts used in most English translations, reads, "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus." ( NIV). Hence, the letter identifies Paul as its author, and these manuscripts designate the Ephesian church as its recipient. Ephesians is found in the two earliest canons, and many of the early Church Fathers (including Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Hermas, and Polycarp) support Paul's authorship. However, there are a few problems with this traditional position, including:
There are four main theories in Biblical scholarship that address the question of Pauline authorship.
The lack of any internal references to Ephesus in the early manuscripts may have led Marcion, a second-century heretic who created the first New Testament canon, to believe that the letter was actually addressed to the church at Laodicea, for details see Epistle to the Laodiceans. The view is not uncommon in later traditions either, considering that the content of the letter seems to suggest a similar socio-critical context to the Laodicean church mentioned in the Revelation of John.
Most English translations indicate that the addressees are 'the saints who are in Ephesus' (1:1), but the words 'in Ephesus' are not found in the earliest and best Greek manuscripts of this letter. Most textual experts think that the words were not in the letter originally but were added by a scribe after it had already been in circulation for a time.
"This was probably a circular letter to be read in more than one place....Most likely, the author did not know the readers personally (see 1:15, 3:2-4, and 6:23-24). According to Acts, Paul spent better than two years in Ephesus and was emotionally attached to the believers there. If this letter were to Ephesus, one would expect it to have more of the warmth evidenced in Philippians...We may safely assume the letter was a general letter to Gentile believers in southwestern Asia Minor and that it became identified with Ephesus as the most important city between Rome and Antioch." (NIV application commentary; Klyne Snodgrass; p. 21)
If Paul was the author of the letter, then it was probably written from Rome during Paul's first imprisonment (  In the latter case, the possible location of the authorship could have been within the church of Ephesus itself. Ignatius of Antioch himself seemed to be very well versed in the epistle to the Ephesians, and mirrors many of his own thoughts in his own epistle to the Ephesians.; ; ), and probably soon after his arrival there in the year 62, four years after he had parted with the Ephesian elders at Miletus. However, scholars who dispute Paul's authorship date the letter to between 70-80 AD.
The major theme of the letter is the unity and reconciliation of the whole of creation through the agency of the Church and, in particular, its foundation in Christ as part of the will of the Father.
In the Epistle to the Romans Paul writes from the point of view of the demonstration of the righteousness of God — his covenant faithfulness and saving justice — in the gospel; the author of Ephesians writes from the perspective of union with Christ, who is the head of the true church.
The following parallels between this epistle and the Milesian charge may be traced:
The purpose of the Epistle, and to whom it was written, are matters of much speculation.:p.229 It was regarded by C.H. Dodd as the "crown of Paulinism.":p.229 In general, it is born out of its particular socio-historical context and the situational context of both the author and the audience. Originating in the circumstance of a multicultural church (primarily Jewish and Hellenistic), the author addressed issues appropriate to the diverse religious and cultural backgrounds present in the community.
Paul exhorts the church repeatedly to embrace a specific view of salvation, which he then explicates. It seems most likely that Paul's Christology of sacrifice is the manner in which he intends to affect an environment of peace within the church. In short: "If Christ was sacrificed for your sake, be like him and be in submission to one another." Paul addresses hostility, division, and self-interest more than any other topic in the letter, leading many scholars to believe that his primary concern was not doctrinal, but behavioral.
Some theologians, such as Frank Charles Thompson, agree the main theme of Ephesians is in response to the newly converted Jews who often separated themselves from their Gentile brethren. The unity of the church, especially between Jew and Gentile believers, is the keynote of the book. This is shown by the recurrence of such words and phrases as:
Together: made alive together;
One, indicating unity: one new man,
The Pauline theme of unity based on a sacrificial Christology may also be noted in the epistle to the Philippians.
Ephesians is notable for its domestic code treatment in Christian Egalitarian theologians, such as Katharine Bushnell and Jesse Pen-Lewis, interpret these commands in the context of the preceding verse, for all Christians to "submit to one another." Thus, it is two-way, mutual submission of both husbands to wives and wives to husbands. This would be the only instance of this meaning of submission in the whole New Testament, indeed in any extant comparable Greek texts. The word simply does not connote mutuality. Dallas Theological Seminary professor Daniel Wallace understands it to be an extension of on being filled by the Holy Spirit., covering husband-wife, parent-child, and master-slave relationships. In , wives are urged to submit to their husbands, and husbands to love their wives "as Christ loved the Church."
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Epistle to the Ephesians
Books of the Bible
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