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Ephesians is the tenth book in the New Testament. According to Ephesians 1:1 and 3:1, Paul wrote this letter to believers in Ephesus while he was imprisoned. Some recent scholars have questioned this because the style and theology differ from other letters attributed to the Apostle Paul. Despite these questions, it is still widely accepted that Paul is the author.
According to Acts 19:1-41, Paul spent three years in Ephesus where he founded the church and lived among church members. At the time, Ephesus was one of the largest cities in the Roman Empire and was famous for its temple built in honor of the goddess Artemis or Diana. This was the longest time Paul spent in one city on any of his missionary journeys and it is likely he became very close to church members. The purpose of the letter is to thank, encourage, and comfort the Ephesians during his imprisonment.
Paul begins Ephesians by reminding the Ephesians of the blessings and rewards God has for believers (Eph 1:3-14). He explains that they, once dead, are now alive in Christ through the grace God provided through Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:1-10). Paul reminds them that, as Gentiles, they have been brought into the family of God which was previously not understood by past prophets and apostles (Eph 2:11-3:21).
In the second half of Ephesians, Paul gives specific instructions on how the Ephesians should live as members of Christ’s church.
- He first reminds them that they are new in Christ and should not live as they formally did (Eph 4:17-24).
- He tells them to act in kindness and love for one another and to walk “in the light” and wisdom (Eph 5:1-21).
- Paul then gives specific instructions to husbands, wives, children, slaves and masters (Eph 5:22-6:9).
Using a metaphor of Roman armor, Paul describes each piece of armor as a symbol of the Christian walk such as the “shield of faith.” This famous passage is often referred to as the “Armor of God.” He closes the letter calling himself an “ambassador in chains” and comforts the Ephesians by sending Tychicus, a brother and minister, to “make all things known to” them (Eph 6:21).