Ephesians

Paul's letter to the Ephesians was written around the year 60, from a Roman prison.  Paul states that he is “an ambassador in chains” (Eph 6:20).  This short book contains the heart of Paul's christology, ecclesiology and ethics --  in other words, the divine character of Jesus, the nature of the church, and the daily conduct expected of believers.  These themes are expressed in a more summary form than in, say, Romans or Corinthians.  Nevertheless, there is much important teaching on racial questions.  

         

Scholars like to argue about every possible attribute of a book.  In this case, both the authorship and destination of the letter have been disputed (see Ephesians, Word Biblical Commentary, by Andrew Lincoln).  Eph 1:1 reads "To the saints in Ephesus," but many early manuscripts lack "in Ephesus."  There are also no references to local conditions (such as in Corinthians) or key people (such as in Romans -- "Greet so-and-so").  This omission is puzzling because Paul knew Ephesus very well.  He first visited it at the end of his second missionary journey (Acts 18:19), and at the start of his third journey (Acts 19:1).  Paul made Ephesus his headquarters in Asia Minor for the next two years or more (Acts 19:10Acts 20:31).  This is when the great riot occurred, sparked by the silversmith who made trinkets of the goddess Diana.  Finally, on his way to Jerusalem, he stopped near Ephesus to say farewell to the elders of the church (Acts 20:15-16).  Some writers have suggested that the lack of greetings shows that this letter was meant to circulate among many churches.

         

Another characteristic of Ephesians is that its audience is primarily Gentiles:

          For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles... (Eph 3:1)

          There is no mention of the Law or Abraham, and only two passing references to Israel.