Introduction to Ephesians
Author, Date, and Recipients
The apostle Paul wrote this letter to the churches in Ephesus and the surrounding region c. a.d. 62 while imprisoned in Rome (Acts 28). During this time he also wrote Colossians and Philemon. All three letters were sent with Tychicus and Onesimus.
There are three main themes of Ephesians: (1) Christ has reconciled all creation to himself and to God; (2) Christ has united people from all nations to himself and to one another in his church; and (3) Christians must live as new people.
Ephesians offers general instruction in the truths of God’s redemptive work in Christ; the unity of the church among diverse peoples; and proper conduct in the church, the home, and the world.
- All people are by nature spiritually dead. They disobey God’s law and are ruled by Satan (1:7; 2:1–3, 5, 11–12).
- God predestined his people to redemption and holiness in Christ (1:3–14; 2:4, 8–9).
- God’s rich mercy in Christ has saved sinners. This free gift is by grace through faith alone (1:7–8; 2:4–14).
- Jesus’ saving work was part of redeeming a fallen creation for God. For this he deserves glory, honor, and authority in this age and the next (1:15–23; 3:1–13).
- Jesus unites Jews and Gentiles into his one body, the church, as a new creation (1:23; 2:10–22; 3:1–21; 4:1–6).
- Christ’s people are saved to new lives of holiness in thought, word, and deed. They must reject their old, sinful lifestyles (4:1–3, 17–32; 5:1–20).
- Holiness in life includes submission to proper authorities, in home and family life, and those in authority must care for those in submission to them (5:21–6:9).
- Jesus has given powerful gifts to his church. These bring unity, maturity, and defense against the devil and his allies (4:7–16; 6:10–19).
- Introduction (1:1–14)
- Paul’s Prayer of Thanksgiving (1:15–23)
- Salvation by Grace through Faith (2:1–10)
- Unity and the Peace of Christ (2:11–22)
- Revelation of the Gospel Mystery (3:1–13)
- Paul’s Prayer for Strength and Insight (3:14–21)
- Unity of the Body of Christ (4:1–16)
- Paul’s Testimony (4:17–24)
- Encouragement for a Holy Lifestyle (4:25–32)
- New Life in Love (5:1–20)
- Submission to One Another (5:21–6:9)
- The Whole Armor of God (6:10–20)
- Conclusion (6:21–24)
The Setting of Ephesians
c. a.d. 62
Ephesus was a wealthy port city in the Roman province of Asia. It was a center of learning and was near several key land routes. Paul probably wrote his letter to the Ephesians while under house arrest in Rome (Acts 28).