THE APOSTLE PAUL'S LETTER TO THE CHURCH OF EPHESUS
(Written from Rome about 62AD)
Ancient ruins at Ephesus
THEME OF EPHESIANS
Ephesians expresses the wonders of the glorious life to which we are called in Christ Jesus, by the will of God the Father.
Ephesus was the seat of the temple of Diana, a major city and religious centre in Asia Minor. On Paul's second visit to the city, he spent all of three years there, establishing deep roots within the church. That may be the reason his letter was able to express the more magnificent facets of the Christian faith – knowing his readers were mature enough for lofty spiritual thoughts. It is also the leaders of this church that he called to meet him, shortly before he faced his long imprisonment. Knowing he might be going to his death, he spoke moving final words to them recorded in Acts 20. They wept bitterly, fell on his neck and kissed him goodbye. Paul was arrested in Jerusalem shortly after this and endured 2 years of imprisonment there before being sent to Rome. In Rome he was kept under house arrest for another two years and during this time he wrote this letter to the church in Ephesus. Paul would face martyrdom a few years later, in 65AD.
It might be of interest that many of the points covered in this letter, are also found in the letter to the Colossians.
SHORT-PHRASE OF EPHESIANS
– The writers main argument simplified –
We have taken each chapter of Ephesians and summarised the core message in a short-phrase (shortened paraphrase). That creates a condensed version of Paul's main train of thought. We suggest you go through this summary, before reading the full text through in your Bible.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heavenly things, in Christ. Just as He chose us (in Christ), before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame. He predestined us to adoption according to His will. We have redemption through His blood by grace. He has sown us the mystery of His will, that in the fullness of time He will gather all things together in Christ (things in heaven and earth). In Him we have obtained an inheritance, being sealed with the Holy Spirit as our guarantee. I pray that God will give you wisdom and revelation that you may know the hope of this calling, and how great His power is towards us. The same power that raised Jesus from death and set Him high above every principality and power in this age and the one to come.
You who were dead in your sins, He has made alive. He was rich in mercy because of how much He loved us, even while we were sinners. And He has raised us up and seated us with Christ in heaven, so that in the ages to come, He can show how rich His kindness and grace towards us is. You are saved by grace, through faith, as a gift from God. Therefore remember that you were once Gentiles, strangers from God's promises and without hope. But Christ Jesus has brought you near by His blood. Through Him we have access to God. Therefore you are now fellow citizens of the household of God.
God has shown me this mystery, which in previous ages was not known, that the Gentiles should also be partakers of the promise in Christ. I was given grace to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ to the Gentiles making clear to all men what was hidden in God, so that now, principalities and powers in heavenly places might know the manifold wisdom of God according to His eternal purpose which He worked in Christ Jesus. Therefore I bow my knees to the Father, that He might strengthen you in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith. That being rooted in love, you may be able to comprehend the breadth, length, depth and height of Christ's love, that passes understanding – so that you may be filed with the fullness of God. To Him who is able to do vastly more than we can ask or think,be praise forever, Amen.
As a prisoner of Christ, I pray that you walk worthy of this calling, with all humility, patience and love, keeping the unity of the Spirit in peace. There is one body, one Spirit and one hope of your calling. One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God of all, who is above all and in you all. Some He gave to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, pastors and teachers, for the edification of the body to maturity. So that we are no longer children, tossed by every wind of doctrine by the deceit and craftiness of men. But let us follow the truth in Christ by whom the whole body is knit together in love. Do not walk like other Gentiles then who are strangers to the life of God because of the hardness of their hearts. Cast off the old man and be renewed in the spirit of your mind. Put on the new man which is created for righteousness. Let no corrupt words come from your mouth, and do not grieve the Holy Spirit. Freely forgive one another as God has freely forgiven you.
Walk in love as Christ has loved us. Do not even let fornication and uncleanness even be named among you. For you know that no unclean person has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Therefore do not be their companions, for you were once in darkness but now you are light in the Lord. For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness and truth and the light makes even the hidden things manifest. Understand what the Lord's will is. Submit to one another in the fear of God. Wives submit to your husbands as the head. Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church. For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
Children obey your parents. Honour your mother and father. Fathers, do not provoke your children. Servants, obey your masters, as the servants of Christ. Masters be good to your servants, knowing your master is in heaven. Finally brethren, be strong in the Lord. Put on the armour of God so that you can stand against the devil. We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, powers, princes of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Therefore put on righteousness, the Gospel of peace, faith, the knowledge of salvation, and the Word of God. Pray always with all perseverance, and pray also for me, that I may boldly proclaim the secret of the Gospel.
EPHESUS AFTER PAUL'S LETTER
Both Paul and John had a strong connection to the church in Ephesus. John stayed there with Mary (who he took in as his own mother) after Jesus' crucifixion. An early church father, Tertullian (155 - 220AD), records that in an attempt to kill him, John was thrown into boiling oil. When he was completely unharmed, John was exiled to the isle of Patmos (just off the coast of Ehepesus). When the emperor died, he was allowed to return to Ephesus where he lived out his remaining years. He was the last surviving apostle, and the only one not to be martyred. He died in Ephesus, at a ripe old age in 100AD.
The Cities Paul's letters were written to.
(These original letters were still in their respective churches more than 150 years later and probably survived until Roman Emperor Diocletian made a point of destroying them around 300AD).
We have many known references, quotes and endorsements of the letter to Ephesus from the earliest days of the church. These include: Clement of Rome (95-97AD), Ignatius (35-140AD), Polycarp (110-150AD), Justin Martyr (100-165AD), Tertullian (150-220AD), and Origen (185-254AD), Irenaeus (130-202AD), Clement of Alexandria (150-215AD), Athanasius (296-373AD), and many others.