Summary: This is an introduction to the book of Ephesians.
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A brief introduction to the book of Ephesians:
The author: PAUL. Paul refers to himself by name in 1:1 and 3:1.
The date: around A. D. 62. Paul probably wrote Ephesians while imprisoned in Rome (cf. 3:1; 4:1).
The recipients: the EHESIANS. Ephesus was an important city in Asia Minor (present day Turkey). Paul knew the Ephesians well (cf. Acts 20:17-38). Many scholars claim that Paul could not be the author of Ephesians because of its impersonal nature. However, Ephesians could have originally been a circular letter (intended for several other churches in the area). The words “in Ephesus” are missing from a few early manuscripts.
The purpose: to teach proper THEOLOGY and BEHAVIOR. Ephesians is about our riches (chaps. 1-3) and our responsibilities (chaps. 4-6). “The whole letter is thus a magnificent combination of Christian doctrine and Christian duty, Christian faith and Christian life, what God has done through Christ and what we must be and do in consequence” (John Stott, God’s New Society, 25).
The genre: LETTER.
GRACE, NOT RELIGION
The book of Ephesians praises God for His grace, not us for our religion. “Grace” means “undeserved kindness.”
Religion is about what I CAN DO. Grace is about what GOD HAS DONE.
Even the opening of Ephesians reveals that Christianity is all about grace, not religion.
1. Because of God’s grace, Paul was an APOSTLE.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God (1:1a).
An “apostle” is “one who is sent.” In the NT, the term “apostle” is used in three different ways: (1) office (the original Twelve who had been with Jesus during His earthly ministry and had seen Him after the resurrection, Acts 1:21-22), (2) gift (men like Barnabas, Acts 14:4, 14; 1 Cor. 9:5-7), (3) Paul (an exception to the rule, “Last of all, as to one untimely born, [Jesus] appeared also to me,” 1 Cor. 15:8).
As an apostle “of Jesus Christ” he possessed authority. “An apostle was an official delegate of Jesus Christ commissioned for the specific tasks of proclaiming authoritatively the message in oral and written form and of establishing and the building up of churches” (Harold Hoehner, Ephesians, 136).
Paul was an apostle “by the will of God.” He didn’t pursue the office of an apostle. The first time we find Paul (Saul) in Scripture, he is present at the stoning of Stephen. “And Saul approved of his execution” (Acts 8:1; cf. 22:20). “Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison” (Acts 8:3; cf. 22:4-5). “I [Paul] not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them” (Acts 26:10). When Paul was converted, he was one his way to Damascus to arrest Christians (Acts 8:1-9).