A. Introductory Questions Author Most scholars agree that this letter was not written by Paul. Due to “differences in style, phrasing, and viewpoint between this Letter and the seven unquestionably authentic Pauline Letters” (HCSB p2192) and the lack of any hint to a relationship between the author and community (Powell p342). It is likely a disciple of Paul wrote the letter in Paul’s name (HCSB p2192). Date The letter is not easily dated, but it is sometime to the last third of the first century (HCSB p2193). Depending on who wrote the letter it could have been the 70s or 80s if a disciple of Paul and possibly the 90s if it was a later admirer (Powell p348). Audience The letter was addressed to a mainly gentile audience (HCSB p2192, Powell p348, 2:11-12; 3:1). The oldest and most reliable Greek Manuscripts do not contain in Ephesus in verse 1:1, so scholars believe it could have been a letter that was sent to many churches over the area (Powell p344). Genre While this writing has an opening and closing like all Pauline letters, “it is more like a homily or theological tract” (Powell p344).
B. Outline Diagram with Summaries
Breaking Down the Dividing Wall Gentiles who are not a part of the circumcision or the promise were once far off, have been brought near by Christ Jesus (2:12-13). Christ has reconciled both Jews and Gentiles to God in one body (2:16). And we are all “members of the household of God” (2:19). Ministry to the Gentiles Paul is a prisoner and was commissioned by God’s grace to make the mystery known to the Gentiles (3:1-5). Gentiles are now “fellow heirs, members of the same body” in Christ Jesus (3:6). The good news is for all, and believers shouldn’t lose heart over suffering (3:9-13). Body of Christ “Lead a life worthy of your calling” (4:1) as there is one body and one spirit, one God and Lord of all (4:4-6). Gifts are given to all according to God’s Grace for the unification of the Body (4:11-13). All must “speak the truth in love” (4:15) and not be swayed by every scheme of deceitfulness (4:14). Building the body in love (4:16). Household Code Wives and husbands should mutually respect each other and love each other as Christ loves them (5:23-33). Children should obey their parents and parents shouldn’t provoke their children (6:1-4). Slaves should be obedient to earthly masters who should remember they have a master in heaven and so should show respect to slaves (6:5-9). Armor of God Stand firm wearing the armor of God (6:10-11), for our struggle is against the power or evil in the world (6:12). Clothe yourself in God, for God will protect you. (6:13-17). And always be in prayer, conversation with God for all of the saints and for Paul that the gospel maybe made clear (6:18-20).
C. Interpretive Issues Ephesians seems to remove Paul’s already but not yet understanding of the church being with God. It seems “Ephesians describes the present status of Christians in an idealistic spiritual reality,” (Powell p353). Where the fulfillment of us being with God has already happened. Paul’s undisputed epistles link the communities with the crucified Christ and proclaim when the fulfillment of the kingdom comes, then we will be like the risen Christ (Powell p353-354). Ephesians seems to make it clear the power that raised Jesus from the dead and exulted him is available to all who believe (Powell p353, 1:19-20). Some scholars say that Ephesians proclaims a “theology of glory” rather than the “theology of the cross” the undisputed Paul proclaims (Powell p354). However, scholars who include Ephesians in the Pauline corpus say that the letter simply says that those “in Christ are no longer subject to control of spiritual enemies” (Powell p354). And the believers involvement is still required as they “clothe yourselves with the new self,” (4:24) and apply the armor of God (6:13) and remain ardent in prayer (6:18) and faithful to life we have been called (4:1).
D. Ministerial Application “I encourage you to live as people worthy of the call you received from God.” (4:1). The letter to the Ephesians is an open letter to “To the holy and faithful people in Christ Jesus” (1:1). The “purpose of the letter is to offer encouragement to those believers by articulating God’s plan for them and exhorting them to fulfill the role that they have been chosen to play in that plan.” (Powell p348). This can help the community at Treehouse see how they are a part of the family of God, made to be a part with each other and through that can build each other up in mutual strength and love. One way we did this recently was through hearing of the need of one of our members to end a 4-year relationship because she was not being accepted by her partner’s parents and felt she never would be. We heard her pain and anguish supported her with prayers and understanding. We encouraged her in her decision and reminded her we are always here for her, as is God. Ephesians helps us see the peace coming when Christ returns and how we might live in peace in the meantime.