According to one chronological list of New Testament book Ephesians appears after Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, James, Galatians, Thessalonians, Corinthians, Romans, Philemon, and Colossians and prior to 1Timothy, Titus, 1 Peter, Hebrews, 2 Timothy, Jude, 2, Peter, 1-3 John, and Revelation.
This is relevant because prior to the church in Ephesus receiving Paul’s letter there was significant awareness of texts preceding Ephesians, texts circulated by taking advantage of the Roman mails and traveling routes, and frequently passed from church (a gathering of Believers) to church and read aloud. The texts following Ephesians, yet to be authored and distributed, were built upon Old Testament prophesies and those of Jesus while in the flesh.
According to many Biblical scholars, the book of Ephesians appears not to have been uniquely written to the church in Ephesus. Ephesians gained it’s identification with Ephesus because theirs is believed to be the first church to receive this letter and because there were multiple copies found there (which indicates the intent of the church in Ephesus to distribute the letter). Regardless, the intended audience is clearly that of all believers everywhere.
Understanding some key definitions in the Bible helps in understanding the book of Ephesians:
- Creation- bara (Heb.) ‘make something out of nothing’
- Delegation- God’s contract with His created to manage His creation
- Rebellion- Adam & Eve’s breach of contract
- Curse- the consequences for breach of contract
- Promise- “Christ” to come, providing redemption from the consequences
- CHRISTmas- Jesus the Christ born in the flesh, first step in His provision realized
- Easter- the culmination of propitiation, substitution, resurrection, ascension, intercession
Understanding key descriptive Biblical names and terms helps to understand Ephesians:
- Trinity (Triune God) - God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit
- God the Father - Creator, Lord, and never-corporeal keeper of glory
- God the Son - Jesus the man, sinless human of immaculate conception
- Jesus the Christ, God’s son in the flesh, anointed as Savior (Acts 2:22-24)
- Jesus our Lord, His God-glory restored, He Whom we worship and obey
- God the Holy Spirit - Comforter of the living, restorer of the dead, empowerer of holiness
- Spirit (human) - God’s unique essence placed in man to engage Him at the spiritual level
All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated—http://bible.org
Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.
Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.
Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.
Copyright © 2011 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study— “Ephesians”—prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in October of 2011. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.