THE BOOK OF EPHESIANS
INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK
"How much God loves you through Christ Jesus"
"What You Have In Christ" 1:1-2:22
"Why You Have It In Christ" 3:1-21
"How You Respond In Christ" 4:1-6:9
"How You Prepare In Christ" 6:10-18

J. Deering, AncientPath.net


1.   About The Writer
2.   About The Language of Paul
3.   About the Place of Writing
4.   About The Date of Writing
5.   About The Occasion For Writing
6.   The Characteristics Of The Book
7.    Where The Church Of Ephesus Was Located
8.    About The Ephesian Church Origins
9.    The Ephesian Geographic History
10.  The Key Verse Of The Book
11.  A Note On The Companion Book
12.  C.E. Mason, Introduction to Ephesians
13.  C.E. Mason, Summary Outline of Ephesians
14.  C.E. Mason, Expository Analysis of Ephesians
15.  C.I. Scofield, Biblical Covenants
16.  Flow Chart graphic of Chapters 1-2-3
17.  Flow Chart graphic of Chapters 4-5-6

 


WRITER:
The Apostle Paul, formerly Saul of Tarsus, Cilicia (South central Turkey), about 425 miles East of Ephesus.


THE LANGUAGE OF PAUL:
Most of the New Testament was written in Koine Greek.  Koine was the normal "street" language of the day.  It was oriented towards commerce between different peoples and cultures.  The areas of Anatolia and the eastern Mediterranean were the centers of trade traffic.  All trade with Asia and Africa came either by ship or by land through the cities that were central to the trade routes. Ephesus was one of these cities.

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THE PLACE OF WRITING:
From Prison in Rome (1st imprisonment)

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PROBABLE DATE OF WRITING:
Summer AD 62

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OCCASION FOR WRITING:
This letter contains Paul's continuing thoughts about the nature of the Body of Christ and the believer's responsibilities to that Body.  His original thoughts were sent earlier in "The letter to the Colossians" where he stressed Christ's headship.  The Colossian conflict revealed to Paul the need for a fuller statement of God's program as it centers in Christ and His relationship to the Church. This letter appears to be written to make sure the Ephesians got the message as well.  This epistle then becomes the corner stone of study for those who would seek the building up, both for establishment and maturity, of the "Body of Christ, the Church.

Anatolia was bounded by the Black, Aegean, and Mediterranean seas. It contained the Roman Provinces of Bithynia, Galatia, Cappadocia, Cilicia, and Asia.

The Hellenistic (Greek), Mediterranean, and Anatolian (pre-Turkey) society was deeply entrenched in the philosophy of the day called "Syncretism."  Syncretism was the constant assimilation of other peoples, cultures, and religions into one universal culture.  Paul fought syncretism with the clear preaching of the Gospel especially in the areas of unity, identity, and the Christ centered individual.  In Paul's mind assimilation was not to become a part of the doctrines of Christianity, instead, the Body of Christ was to be distinct with its major achievement to be unity. This theme runs strong and clear in both Ephesians and Colossians. Paul would want the Christians at Ephesus to be able to withstand the pressures of cultic and philosophical attacks.  He was already acquainted with the church at Colossae and knew the kinds of pressures which would plague the Ephesians.

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CHARACTERISTICS OF THE BOOK:
1.   The exposition of the equality between Jew and Gentile in the Body of Christ.
2.   The emphasis on unity in matters of faith (4:3-6).
3.   The purpose and will of God.
4.   The concept of In-Christ (used 35 times).
5.   Two prayers interrupt the flow of the book
      a.   Prayer of Knowledge - 1:15-23
      b.   Prayer of Love - 3:14-21
6.   Sharp contrast between things doctrinal and things practical.
7.   Grace, Love, Holiness, Mystery, The Heavenlies - heavy use of these concepts.
8.   Heavy emphasis on domestic relationships (5:22-6:9).
9.   The conflict of believers VS hostile spiritual forces and powers.

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Prophetical Biblical Reference to the Church at Ephesus
Revelation 2:1-7
Message to Ephesus

1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:

The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this:

2I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; 3 and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent. 6 Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’

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CHURCH LOCATION:
Western shore of Asia Minor, in a plain at the mouth of the river Cayster, on whose southern bank was the city.  300 miles due east of Corinth, 425 miles west of Tarsus, Paul's home town.  The original Ephesus is now near the city of Izmir, in modern Turkey.

There were at least thirteen major churches in Anatolia, the region of the Roman Empire which contains the city of Ephesus.  They were:  Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, Hierapolis, Colossae, Antioch of Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. They were all on a loop of ancient trade routes.  The first seven of these are the Seven Churches of the book of Revelation.

The City's Status and Commerce:
Ephesus was one of the three greatest commercial centers in the eastern Mediterranean (Antioch of Syria, Alexandria of Egypt, and Ephesus of Asia).  It was the commercial and religious center of the Roman province of Asia - a free city, having its own governor, council, and assembly.  It's commercial and religious advantage came because of its strategic location.  Its port brought the Roman and Asian trade worlds together.  Every traveling dignitary passed through Ephesus. Pergamum, however, was the capital of the province.

The City's Attractions:
The Temple of Diana (Artemis) was one of the 7 ancient wonders of the world.  Its length was four hundred and twenty five feet and its breadth was two hundred and forty feet.  Its one hundred supporting columns measured sixty feet in height.  Diana was the Roman goddess of fertility and Artemis was the Greek goddess of fertility.  This temple was constructed as a way to satisfy the demands of both religions and their goddesses.  She was a mummy like statue with many breasts.  There were inscriptions on the statue that were used in religious incantations.  The worship of Diana largely became a business religion.  Ephesus had many cults that dealt with astrology, sorcery, incantations, amulets, and exorcisms.

Also in Ephesus was "The Great Theater" which was the largest in the Province.  It could hold 50,000 spectators.  It was built much like "The Hollywood Bowl," with a natural seating area and a well developed center stage and acoustic reflecting structures, no microphones needed here!

Paul's work there:
Paul was a Gospel missionary, and as a result of his preaching and teaching the worship of the goddess Artemis fell off drastically, and the magic arts practice took a major reverse.  Because of this, after three years ministry, he was ejected from the City.  He later returned sometime after writing this letter.

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CHURCH ORIGINS AND HISTORY:
The origins of the church at Ephesus are largely unclear.  There was a small church already in Ephesus before Paul went there from Rome.

The man thought responsible for bringing Christianity to the Lycus Valley, South central Anatolia, was Epaphras, a native of Colossae (Colossians 4:12).  It probably was from him that the Colossians first heard the Gospel (Colossians 1:6-7).  He had labored diligently at Laodicea and Hierapolis as well (Colossians 4;13).  The relationship of whether Epaphras heard the Gospel from Paul in Ephesus or whether the Ephesians were an outcropping of the Colossian church is unclear. Most writers prefer the former view.

There were Jews present at Pentecost from Ephesus but there is no information as to whether they brought Christianity back to Ephesus with them when they returned, or if they returned.

Paul first went to Ephesus briefly during his second missionary journey (approx. A.D. 51).  The church was made up of mostly Gentiles.  Paul's first priority when he came to Ephesus was to separate the Gentile believers from the unbelievers within the church.  His mission was to teach, build up believers, and to convert unbelievers.

He left Aquila and Priscilla in Ephesus perhaps to help organize the church there (A.D. 51-53).  Apollos came on the scene in Paul's absence and Aquila and Priscilla furthered his knowledge in the Resurrected Christ.

Later (October A.D. 53) Paul returned and his ministry there lasted about two or three years.  His ministry resulted in the rapid decline of pagan temple worship and which resulted in his ejection from Ephesus by the business and religious community.

Later (A.D. 62) Paul returned again after his first Roman imprisonment experience.  When he left for the last time he left Timothy in charge of the local church.  Some years later the Apostle John spent his last years there heading up the Asian ministry.

The Ephesian church was considered to be the mother church for the province of Asia and long retained its leadership.  As the City declined, mostly due to the silting up of its harbor and canal system, the church failed as well.  Over the centuries she declined and is now desolate.  In Revelation 2:1-7 God revealed that the "Candlestick" was removed from Ephesus due to their lack of repentance.  They did not continue to walk after their first true love, Jesus Christ.  They did not turn back to God from Idols they began to follow.  They did not soften their stiff necks.  Today all that remains of the Great and Glorious city of Ephesus is sand.

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GEOGRAPHIC HISTORY:  (Condensed from:  Life World Library, "Turkey," by Desmond Stewart, TIME 1965) (See Anatolia Maps)

Ephesus sits in the south western corner of what now is modern Turkey.  The geographical area is referred to as Anatolia.  Its population is made up of a mixture of peoples acquired over thousands of years from those who have either annexed, occupied, traveled, or traded there.

This region of the world is a natural land bridge between Europe and Asia.  The trade routes that went between these two continents passed through Anatolia.  Ephesus was one of several major trade cities that stretched along these ancient trade routes.  Interestingly the Seven Churches of the book of Revelation were along these major trade routes.

Ephesus' major geological feature would be that it was once the major sea port for Western Anatolia.  With population growth in the area, because of the development of these major trade routes, came the building trades.  The building trades required great amounts of wood and lumber for building, heating, and cooking.  The end result was the deforestation of the region, and the result of that was soil erosion.  The end result of the soil erosion was the silting up of Ephesus harbor, the changing of the climate to arid (no trees, no rain), and the eventual disappearance of a city.  At the time of Paul's writing to the Ephesians the city had been already moved, at least once, further west toward the Aegean sea in order to remain a sea port with a harbor for trade.

Anatolia is one of the oldest areas of human settlement.  Remnants of civilization have been found that date from 6500 B.C. That date suggests a time 4000 years before the construction of Egypt's pyramids.

At about 1900 B.C. the area was developed and controlled by a people that, until recently, were used for ridiculing the accuracy of the Old Testament.  A man named Uriah the Hittite had become the basis of a great enigma.  The Old Testament must have been inaccurate because there was no evidence anywhere in the world that the Hittites ever existed.  But, because of modern archeology, the Hittites have been found. They were a culture of highly developed businessmen who controlled most of what is now Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and a corner of the former Soviet Union, Armenia.  These areas make up the region of Anatolia.

The Hittites were Indo-European migrants in origin, the same distinction as those who created much of Western civilization.  The Hittite state collapsed in the 12th Century B.C., and out of them rose a number of Kingdoms whose names still abound in the area:  Lydia, Phrygia, Troy, etc.

Alexander the Great, himself a Macedonian under Greek influence (Hellenist), conquered most of Anatolia in his great fourth century B.C. conquests.  Upon his fall one of his successors, Seleucus, took control of the government.  He, followed by his successors, continued in power for two thousand years.

In the first century B.C. these Hellenists were conquered by the onslaught of the Roman Empire. In this Greco-Roman period Anatolia became one peaceful state for the first time.  It is in this Greco-Roman period that Paul lived and wrote to the Ephesians.

Although Christianity probably had been already established at the time, the Apostle credited with bringing Christianity to Anatolia was Paul, himself a native of Tarsus, a city in the Cilician Plain south of the Taurus Mountains of Anatolia.  Paul's missionary journeys started in the ancient city of Antioch (of Pisidia, Anatolia), where the followers of Jesus first became known as Christians. The Apostle Paul took the message of Jesus Christ to one Anatolian city after another.  Tradition says that the Virgin Mary died in Ephesus.  The beloved apostle, the Gospel writer John, lived there.  The Seven Churches of Asia spoken of in the book of Revelation were all in Anatolia.

It was here in Anatolia, a few hundreds years later, that the converted Roman Emperor Constantine transferred the capital of the empire from Rome to Byzantium and renamed it Constantinople.  It was at Nicaea, a western Anatolian city, today shrunken to a village, that Constantine summoned the first ecumenical church council in 325.  With the Emperor as chairman, the bishops defined the nature of Christ's relationship to God.  The basic creed of the modern Roman, Anglican and Orthodox Churches is still called the "Nicene Creed."

Toward the end of the Middle Ages the Christian community collapsed under the power of Islam. This was due to a large part by the corrupt practices of the apostate Christian Byzantine upper class.  In North Africa a colonial Roman aristocracy had dominated an indigenous peasantry; a similar situation had existed in Egypt, where peasants had been oppressed by a Byzantine upper class based in Alexandria, Egypt.  When the Arabs invaded North Africa in the Seventh Century, their new religion of Islam spread rapidly among the peasants; imperial Christianity collapsed like a house of cards.  The Anatolian masses became more or less indifferent to the question of who would rule them next.  Islam was to spread easily in the ensuing years among peasants who had never understood Orthodox theology and who disliked their oppressive Byzantine lords.  The absence of a strong Christian influence in this once mighty Christian region left them open to religious conquering.  It is no wonder that John paints such a sad picture in the book of Revelation concerning the Seven Churches and their place of responsibility in all of this.  One large area of the world, Anatolia, became no longer Christian because the churches did not listen to the teachings of Paul and did not grow and mature in Jesus Christ.

The next phase in Anatolian history -- the Turkish -- has continued until today.  The Turks came conquering from the central Asian region on the frontiers of China.  The Arabs, pagans lightly influenced by a trickling of Jewish and Christian ideas, submitted to a new prophet.  The stern monotheistic of the Meccan merchant Mohammed appealed to these masses.  By the tenth century the North and West had remained somewhat Christian, those areas which became a part of the now defunct Soviet Union.  The South and East had become totally converted to Islam.

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KEY VERSE:
Ephesians 4:13

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COMPANION EPISTLES:
Ephesians - emphasis on the BODY.
Colossians - emphasis on the HEAD of the body.

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1.   About The Writer
2.   About The Language of Paul
3.   About the Place of Writing
4.   About The Date of Writing
5.   About The Occasion For Writing
6.   The Characteristics Of The Book
7.    Where The Church Of Ephesus Was Located
8.    About The Ephesian Church Origins
9.    The Ephesian Geographic History
10.  The Key Verse Of The Book
11.  A Note On The Companion Book
12.  C.E. Mason, Introduction to Ephesians
13.  C.E. Mason, Summary Outline of Ephesians
14.  C.E. Mason, Expository Analysis of Ephesians
15.  C.I. Scofield, Biblical Covenants
16.  Flow Chart graphic of Chapters 1-2-3
17.  Flow Chart graphic of Chapters 4-5-6

The Book of Ephesians, Bible Study, J. Deering, AncientPath.net, study materials are a ministry of AncientPath.net, and may be copied for use in Bible study groups, in limited numbers, providing that no charge is made for them.  No further distribution or use of these materials is allowable under U.S. or International Copyright Law without the express permission of AncientPath.net. 2014 AncientPath.net, All rights reserved.


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2014-11-21