Ephesus was a major Roman city on the shores of the Aegean Sea east of Greece in what is now modern-day Turkey. The city was very multicultural due to the significant amount of trading and the many roads leading in and out. The people of Ephesus took pride in the fact that they were the home of the famous Temple of Artemis, a fact that led to a riot in defense of the goddess against Christianity (see Acts 19).
The majority of the church in Ephesus was made up of Gentiles (non-Jews), and included the training and guidance of Aquila, Priscilla, and Apollos (see Acts 18:18-28). The apostle Paul stayed in Ephesus for two years and no doubt used the influential city as the center for missionary activity in the province of Asia.
Both internal (see, for example, Eph 1:1 and Eph 3:1) and abundant early external evidence show that this letter was written by the apostle Paul.
For more information about the apostle Paul, see his bio page as well as the Chronology of Paul’s Ministry.
Purpose for Writing
There doesn’t seem to be a particular reason for Paul writing to the Ephesians except that he was already sending letters to the Colossians and to Philemon in regard to Onesimus, Philemon’s slave. Paul was in prison in Rome for preaching the gospel, and since Ephesus was directly on the way to Colossae from Rome, it would make sense that Paul would also send a letter along for the Ephesians and other Christians in the province of Asia.
The entire letter is an all-encompassing hymn of praise to God for his plan of salvation and his work in the members of the Church. Christ is emphasized as the head of the Church, which is comprised of both Jews and Gentiles, a truth that was especially important for the church in Ephesus considering its cultural and religious diversity as well as the previous difficulties from the riot mentioned in Acts 19. A good theme for this letter is Unity in Christ because Paul emphasizes the unity between God and his believers, between different peoples, and between family members thanks to the work of Jesus our Savior.
Place and Date of Writing
The letter to the Ephesians was most likely written in Rome during Paul’s imprisonment sometime around 61-62 AD.
See also the Chronology of New Testament Books.
- Ephesians 1:3-14
- Ephesians 1:17-23
- Ephesians 2:1-10
- Ephesians 2:18-22
- Ephesians 3:10-13
- Ephesians 3:14-21
- Ephesians 4:1-6
- Ephesians 4:11-13
- Ephesians 4:22-24
- Ephesians 4:32-5:2
- Ephesians 5:3-13
- Ephesians 5:21-32
- Ephesians 6:4
- Ephesians 6:10-17
- A plan devised by the triune God from eternity – Ch. 1
- We are chosen by the Father to be holy and blameless in his sight (Eph 1:3-6).
- We are redeemed by the blood of his Son in accordance with the riches of his grace (Eph 1:7-12).
- We are sealed with the promised Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13-14).
- Prayer: that God would enlighten the Ephesians to see his power (Eph 1:15-23).
- A plan carried out in time – Ch. 2
- Gentiles & Jews have been saved by grace…through faith (Eph 2:1-10).
- Gentiles & Jews have been united into a holy temple in the Lord (Eph 2:11-22).
- A plan preached to the Gentiles by Paul – Ch. 3
- The mystery revealed: the Gentiles are members with the Israelites in Christ Jesus through the gospel (Eph 3:1-6).
- The mystery proclaimed to the Gentiles by Paul (Eph 3:7-13).
- Prayer: that God would enable the Ephesians to know the love of Christ (Eph 3:14-21).
- Live lives worthy of God’s plan – Ch. 4-6
- Keep the unity and build up Christ’s body together (Eph 4:1-16).
- Keep the Church pure from the sin of the outside world and live as children of light (Eph 4:17-5:20).
- Specific application: Christ as an example for husbands and wives (Eph 5:21-33).
- Specific application: instructions for children, parents, slaves, and masters (Eph 6:1-9).
- The power to live these godly lives: the armor God has given us (Eph 6:10-20).
- Personal greetings and conclusion (Eph 6:21-24).