The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians

New Testament Teacher Resource Manual, (2002), 198–201


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Author and Audience: Ephesians was written by Paul and addressed to the Saints at Ephesus, an important city in western Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). Ephesus, located at an intersection of major trade routes, was a center for commercial trade (see Bible map 13). Paul used this select location as a central point for his ministry for about three years.

The book of Ephesians was written to gentile converts who were baptized members of the Church, not people who were converts from Judaism and who had once lived under the law of Moses. The Epistle is written in a general manner and lacks personal references, so it was probably sent to several congregations in the area.

Historical Background: During Paul’s third missionary journey, he spent about three years in Ephesus. This city was the site of a famous temple for the fertility goddess Diana. Paul’s mission had been so successful at turning people from idol worship to the worship of Jesus Christ that the craftsmen of the city who sold pagan statues created an uproar about the threat to their trade (see Acts 19:21–41). Paul probably wrote the book of Ephesians during his first Roman imprisonment around A.D. 60–62.

Unique Features: The book of Ephesians addresses vital gospel principles. Among these are foreordination, the latter-day Restoration, and the Holy Spirit of Promise. Ephesians also addresses the importance of prophets and apostles, Church organization, and family relationships.

Theme: Much like today, the Church members of Paul’s day came from a variety of backgrounds. Paul reminded them of the uniting force of the gospel organization built on prophets and apostles, with Jesus Christ as the foundation. He counseled the members to be one in doctrine, righteousness, and family life.