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CITY OF EPHESUS
Ephesus[ 1 ] was an "inland seaport" on the Aegean/Mediterranean. I say it was a seaport--until its harbor silted up. Even in Paul's day the city was in decay and the harbor largely reeds and marshes. Ephesus boasted one of the wonders of the ancient world. It was the temple of Artemis, called "Diana" by the Romans. The bizarre, many-breasted image of Diana was ministered to by numerous eunuchs and virgin priestesses[ 2 ] (see Ac 19:35). Images of the goddess made of silver or terra cotta sustained the local economy.[ 3 ] Paul's preaching against idolatry threatened to destroy the profitable image trade (see Ac 19:24).
After reading the Ephesian letter and comparing it with other epistles, especially Colossians, there is little doubt that Paul wrote it.
WHERE AND WHEN WRITTEN
The Ephesian letter was apparently written from prison about AD 62. If it was a Roman prison, it must have been written before Rome burned in AD 64 (see Eph 3:1; 4:1; 6:20). If it was written during Paul's two year imprisonment in Caesarea, the date of writing could be as early as AD 60.
TO WHOM WRITTEN
It is believed that Paul and others converted some 100,000 people in and near Ephesus. At least portions of the Ephesian letter are addressed to Gentiles (see Eph 2:11; 3:1, 13). Paul never said any part of it was addressed to Jewish Christians. However, some have assumed that "In whom you also trusted" (Eph 1:13) alludes to Gentiles. They argue that the material prior to that was addressed to Jewish Christians. They are only partly right. The key to the correct understanding of the pronouns we and us in chapter 1 is Ephesians 3:5, 6. It is clearly indicated that "we" and "us" were the apostles and prophets, Paul himself included (see also Eph 3:7, 8).
Critics claim to see two benedictions at the end of the epistle. One is Ephesians 6:23 and the other 6:24. Did Paul write to the Ephesians and, at the same time, to a larger constituency? The answer is yes. The letter was intended to be widely read. As a matter of fact, several, if not all of the NT epistles, were handed from one church to another. They were copied over and over and passed on again and again. For instance, the Jerusalem letter of Acts 15 was delivered to many congregations. I am convinced that the letter "from" Laodicea is none other than the Ephesian letter (see notes on Eph 1:1; Col 4:16).
PAUL'S ACQUAINTANCE WITH EPHESIANS
Obviously, Paul was known in Ephesus because he spent three years there (Ac 19:10; 19:1-20:1, 31). On one of his trips to Jerusalem, He summoned to the Ephesian elders to meet him at the port city of Miletus,[ 4 ] some twenty miles south (Ac 20:17-28). Although he started the church in Ephesus, it is by no means certain that he was acquainted with all of those addressed in the letter (see Eph 1:15; 2:3).
OTHER LETTERS TO EPHESUS
The letter of 1 Timothy, and possibly 2 Timothy, was sent to Ephesus (see 1Ti 1:3; 2Ti 1:18). Through John, Christ sent another letter to that church, no doubt, along with the entire book of Revelation (see Re 2:1-7). Many think that the Gospel of John was written right there at Ephesus. The book of Acts and other epistles must have been widely circulated among Christians at Ephesus.
Chart OUTLINE OF EPHESIANS (A)
- Introduction (Eph 1:1, 2).
- Blessings of the elect in Christ (Eph 1:3, 4).
- Redemption (Eph 1:5-14).
- Prayer for wisdom and knowledge (Eph 1:15-23).
- Made alive in Christ (Eph 2:1-10).
- Jew and Gentile in one body (Eph 2:11-22).
Chart OUTLINE OF EPHESIANS (B)
- Dispensation, administration, of mystery (Eph 3:1-13).
- Prayer for inner strength (Eph 3:14-19).
- Praise to God; glory in the church (Eph 3:20, 21).
- Life worthy of calling (Eph 4:1-3).
- Seven-fold unity (Eph 4:4-6).
- Gifts for perfecting of saints (Eph 4:7-16).
Chart OUTLINE OF EPHESIANS (C)
- Warnings against sinful living and encouragement to put on the new man (Eph 4:17-5:1-21).
- Husband, wife, children (Eph 5:22-6:4).
- Slaves and masters (Eph 6:5-9).
- Christian warfare (Eph 6:10-20).
- Conclusion (Eph 6:21-24).
The main theme of the Ephesian letter is the glorious church of Christ! (see charts OUTLINE OF EPHESIANS A, B and C). The church, which stems from God's pre- historic and loving plan, gives to Christians unity, purpose and a multitude of other blessings. It promotes practical, godly living for its members, both Jew and Gentile. Most importantly, salvation is in it (see chart SALVATION IN THE ONE CHURCH at Eph 5:23).
[ 1 ] EPHESOS, desirable. The basic text in this chapter is the NKJV; also see footnote just before verse 1.
[ 2 ]Contrast the temple of Aphrodite at Corinth that was served by a thousand courtesan priestesses (prostitutes).
[ 3 ]Thayer 264; Zondervan 254.
[ 4 ]The "port city" of Miletus, like Ephesus, is now silted up. The old town is now about 10 miles from the coast.
Copyright ©2002, Charles Hess, Ridgefield, Washington, U.S.A.
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The basic text, and all quotations not designated otherwise, are from the New King James Version, copyrighted ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Greek transliteration follows the BibleSoft method.
Published in The Old Paths Archive (http://www.oldpaths.com)