Unger's Bible Dictionary: Ephesians



EPHESIANS, EPISTLE TO. Perhaps the most sublime of all the Pauline epistles. No part of NT revelation sets forth more clearly or more profoundly the believer's position "in Christ" and the results that should be obtained in his practical experience. In contrast to Colossians and Galatians it is remarkably free of controversial elements. As Salmon notes, there have been students "who with an incredible lack of insight have construed it as an insipid production or a tedious and unskillful compilation" (Exp. Gk. Testament, 3:208).


Authorship and Authenticity. Ephesians has a strong claim to Pauline authenticity, both externally and internally. Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, Hermas, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Irenaeus, and Hippolytus give evidence of early and continued use of the epistle. Internal evidence is likewise decisive. The writer twice mentions his name (Eph 1:1 and 3:1). The organization of material is Pauline, beginning with doctrine (chaps. 1-3) and ending with experience based upon the doctrine (chaps. 4-6). The language is definitely Pauline. According to Lewis, "out of 155 verses in Ephesians, seventy-eight are found in Colossians in varying degrees of identity" ("The Epistle to the Ephesians," Int. Stand. Bible Ency., p. 956). First Peter, Hebrews, and the Apocalypse apparently show acquaintance with Ephesians, indicating that Ephesians is earlier than any of the three. Ephesians was written from Rome in A.D. 64 AD (Acts 20-27). Tychicus was the bearer, together with the epistles of Colossians and Philemon. Since Ephesians is the most impersonal of Paul's letters and the words "to the Ephesians" are not in the best manuscripts, it seems that the letter was intended to be circularized, being sent to several churches, and may be referred to in Col 4:16 as the "letter that is coming from Laodicea." The letter would then be addressed "to the saints who are faithful in Christ Jesus anywhere." The theme of the epistle confirms this view.


Although the genuineness of the epistle has been denied by Schleiermacher, de Wette, and others, there are strong arguments in its favor. Coleridge called it "the divinest composition of man."


Position. The apostle's real object in writing this epistle is to set forth the believer's union with Christ (Eph 1:3-14; 2:1-10), relating this to the union of Jew and Gentile in Christ (2:11-22). With the distinctive revelation of this truth to Paul (3:10-13), these sections give the believer's standing in Christ and are doctrinal. Chapters 4-6 are practical and give our state. In the doctrinal section Paul offers two remarkable prayers that the power of the believer's position "in Christ" be understood and by faith be made an experience (1:15-23; 3:14-21). The practical exhortation based on the believer's position in Christ (4:1-6:9) pertains to his walk, which should be consonant with his position. Presented in 6:10-20 is the spiritual warfare of the Spirit-filled believer who through knowledge and faith translates his position into an everyday experience.



BIBLIOGRAPHY: T. K. Abbott, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians, International Critical Commentary (1897); H. C. G. Moule, Ephesian Studies: Lessons in Faith and Walk (1900); B. F. Westcott, St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians (1958); F. Foulkes, The Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians (1963); C. Hodge, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians (1966); W. Hendriksen, Exposition of Ephesians, New Testament Commentary (1967); H. A. Kent, Jr., Ephesians: The Glory of the Church (1971); R. C. Stedman, Riches in Christ (1976); H. C. G. Moule, Studies in Ephesians (1977); C. L. Mitton, Ephesians, New Century Bible (1978); J. A. Robinson, Commentary on Ephesians (1979); J. R. W. Stott, God's New Society (1979); E. M. Blaiklock, New International Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology (1983), p. 181; R. E. Pattison and H. C. G. Moule, Exposition of Ephesians: Lessons in Grace and Godliness (1983); F. F. Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians, New International Commentary on the New Testament (1984).

(from The New Unger's Bible Dictionary. Originally published by Moody Press of Chicago, Illinois. Copyright (c) 1988.)

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New Testament Books and Authors The Book of Matthew The Book of Mark The Book of Luke The Book of John The Book of Acts The Book of Romans The Book of 1 Corinthians The Book of 2 Corinthians The Book of Galatians The Book of Ephesians The Book of Philippians The Book of Colossians The Book of 1 Thessalonians The Book of 2 Thessalonians The Book of 1 Timothy The Book of 2 Timothy The Book of Titus The Book of Philemon The Book of Hebrews The Book of James The Book of 1 Peter The Book of 2 Peter The Book of 1 John The Book of 2 John The Book of 3 John The Book of Jude The Book of Revelation Books of the New Testament The New Testament

But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises. Heb. 8:6 (The Book of Hebrews)


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Hebrews James 1 Peter
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