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
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.
THE PLACE OF WRITING:
From Prison in Rome (1st imprisonment)
PROBABLE DATE OF WRITING:
Summer AD 62
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.
bounded by the Black, Aegean, and Mediterranean seas. It contained the Roman
Provinces of Bithynia, Galatia, Cappadocia, Cilicia, and Asia.
(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.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE
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
8. Heavy emphasis on domestic relationships (5:22-6:9).
9. The conflict of believers VS hostile spiritual forces and
Prophetical Biblical Reference
to the Church at Ephesus
1 “To the angel of the
Message to Ephesus
The One who holds
the seven stars in His right
hand, the One who walks
among the seven golden
lampstands, says this:
know your deeds and your toil
and perseverance, and that you
cannot tolerate evil men, and
put to the test those who call
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
4 But I have this against
you, that you have
left your first love.
5 Therefore remember from
where you have fallen, and
the deeds you did at first; or
else I am coming to you and will
lampstand out of
its place—unless you repent.
6 Yet this you do have,
that you hate the deeds of the
which I also hate.
who has an ear, let him hear
what the Spirit says to the
him who overcomes, I will grant
to eat of
the tree of life which is in the
Paradise of God.’
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
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 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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
Ephesians - emphasis on the BODY.
Colossians - emphasis on the HEAD of the body.
The Book of Ephesians,
Bible Study, J. Deering, AncientPath.net,
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