The apostle Paul wrote this epistle around 62 AD while a prisoner in Rome. This letter was written after Acts 20. This epistle is the 49th book of the Bible, the 5th Pauline epistle, has 6 chapters, 155 verses, and 3,022 words. Paul’s work at Ephesus is recorded in Acts, chapters 18 through 20. The major themes of the book include: the Church/body (16x), Christ (45x), love (16x), Grace (12x), and the mystery (6x). Ephesians has been called the greatest revelation of Christ.
Ephesus was the capital city of Asia minor and had a population of about 300,000 people. Thanks to its large harbor Ephesus grew very wealthy on trade. Thanks to the Temple of Diana it attracted many visitors who wanted to see one of the seven wonders of the world. The temple was 418 feet long by 239 feet wide and had 100 columns that stood 50 feet high. It housed an image of Diana (false goddess of fertility) that supposedly fell from heaven. Like the temple of Aphrodite in Corinth, the temple of Diana had hundreds of temple prostitutes.
In spite of much opposition, the Lord gave Paul a great ministry at Ephesus that spanned over two years. In that short time, the book of Acts records that “all they that dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:10). We cannot make people believe the word, but we are responsible to make sure that everyone in our area hears it. His ministry was so influential it caused a riot because the idol-makers were losing money.
Ephesians is the second of the great books of doctrinal instruction for believers in this present age of grace. Romans sets forth the truth concerning the standing of the sinner in Christ, as having died and risen with Him. Now we are taken a further stage and taught that the sinner not only died and rose again in Christ, but that he is now in God’s sight and purpose and seated with Christ in heavenly places. Romans ends with a reference to the revelation of the mystery (Rom 16:25). Ephesians takes up that subject and unfolds it to us. It is, therefore, the pinnacle of divine revelation for the Body of Christ, just as the Book of Revelation is for Israel.
The Book of Revelation is marked by the number seven, and so is Ephesians. The number seven is God’s number of perfection and completion. Ephesians opens with seven spiritual blessings, it closes with seven pieces of the spiritual armor, and in the middle, we find the sevenfold unity of the Spirit.
The Godhead is found in every chapter of Ephesians, concerning:
Salvation (Eph 1:3-14)
Access (Eph 2:18)
Prayer (Eph 3:14-17)
Unity (Eph 4:4-6)
Fulness (Eph 5:18-21)
Prayer (Eph 6:18; 3:14; 5:20)
The six chapters of Ephesians are divided into two main sections. Paul always begins with doctrine and then makes the proper applications. The practical application of Scripture must be based on the foundation of sound doctrine in order for it to be effectual in our lives (Phil 1:9-11; Col 1:9-11; Titus 2:1, 10).
When we compare Eph 1:3 with Deut 28:1-14, we see a great contrast between law and grace.
Based on Performance
Body of Christ
In Heavenly Places
Based on Position
There is a great emphasis in Ephesians on the Holy Spirit:
Sealed (Eph 1:13)
Earnest (Eph 1:14)
Access (Eph 2: 18)
Temple (Eph 2:22)
Revelation (Eph 3:5)
Might in the inner man (Eph 3:16)
Unity of (Eph 4:3)
Grieve not (Eph 4:30)
Fruit (Eph 5:9)
Fullness (Eph 5:18)
Sword (Eph 6:17)
Prayer (Eph 6:18)
I. Ephesians 1-3 = Doctrine (standing-position-riches-calling) – God’s glory in the Church.
- Purpose, nature, mission of the Church
- Union with Christ (1), separation from vanity (2), the mystery and love (3)
II. Ephesians 4-6 = Duty (your service) (state-practice-responsibility-walk) – Their calling, walk, our ministry in the Church, our responsibility in Christ.
- Union with Christ (4), separation from vanity (5)
- Love for one another (5-6), standing against the devil (6)
Dispensational Context = Israel is fallen, but present, the mystery is revealed, and Paul is in bonds.
- Paul is in prison – Eph 3:1, 6:20 (multiple imprisonments Acts 24:23-27, 28:28)
- Speculation surrounds the dating, no direct clues except after Acts 20
- No other person/place mentioned save Tychicus (Eph 6:21, Acts 20:4)
- Tychicus also goes to Ephesus in 2 Tim 4:12
- That it is similar to Colossians people want to link them together in time
- Other possibles – Trophimus (Acts 21:29), Demas, Epaphras (Col 4:12)
- Why did he write? Perhaps they wrote to him first – Eph 6:22
- The most mentioned church in Paul’s ministry – Acts 16, 18-20
- He spent much time there, and fought with ‘beasts’ there 1 Cor 15:32, 16:8
- The capital of Asia (minor) (Act 19:22), the city worshipped Diana (Acts 19:35)
- Mentioned in the list of seven in Revelation 1:11, John’s warning – Rev 2:1-7
- Ephesus was diverse: Jews (Acts 2:9) believing and not, John’s disciples (Acts 18:24, 19:1-10), the little flock (1 Pet 1:1), Paul’s ministry, and Gentiles (Eph 4:17)