Lanny Carpenter Dr. John Hucks, Jr.

Bi 522 15 November 2013 An Introduction to Paul‟s Epistle to the Ephesians The book of Ephesians is perhaps Paul‟s loftiest epistle. While Romans may be his greatest doctrinal treatise, and Galatians and Colossians his best polemical epistles, Ephesians appears to be his grandest poetical and practical letter. William Robertson Nicoll said of Ephesians: In the judgment of many who are well entitled to deliver an opinion, it is the grandest of all the Pauline letters. There is a peculiar and sustained loftiness in its teaching which has deeply impressed the greatest minds and has earned for it the title of the “Epistle of the Ascension”. It tarries largely among “the heavenlies,” and lifts us into the eternities . . . . It is characterized by a dignity and a serenity which is entirely in harmony with the elevation of its thoughts. It has little to do with the questions of ceremonialism or with the personal vindications which fill so large a space in others of the great epistles of St. Paul. The polemical element is conspicuous by its absence. There is scarcely even an echo of the great controversies which ring so loudly in the Epistles to the Romans and Galatians. (Nicoll) It is one of the best loved of Paul‟s writings because it has no argumentative or controversial element, but instead encourages believers to recognize and realize their position before God. It celebrates the elevated status of those who are “in Christ.”

Carpenter 2 Introductory Issues Author. From the earliest of times it has been the tradition of the early church to receive this epistle as written by the apostle Paul. Ephesians 1:1 states, “Paul, an apostle of Christ . . . .” Charles Smith Lewis says of this epistle, “None of the epistles which are ascribed to Paul have a stronger chain of evidence to their early and continued use than that which we know as the Epistle to the Ephesians” (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia). The early church fathers confirmed this by their own testimonies. A. R. Fausett references these testimonies: Irenaeus in Against Herisies, Clement of Alexandria in Miscellanies and The Instructor, Origen in Against Celsus, Valentinus quotes Hippolytus‟ The Refutation of all Heresies, Polycarp in his Epistle to the Phillipians, Tertullian in Against Marcion, and Ignatius in his Epistle to the Ephesians (Faucett). Even Marcion, the heretic, admitted its Pauline origin. The early Muratorian canon includes this as an epistle of Paul. Only radical modern-era critics questioned its authenticity. Recipients Ephesus was a strategic city for the Roman Empire as it was a port city. It also was a religious city, home to the famous Temple of Diana (the Roman name), or Artemis (the Greek name), renown as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The church at Ephesus was started by the Apostle Paul at the end of his second missionary journey. Here he left his companions, Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18:18-21). He himself on his third missionary journey stayed in Ephesus with the church for about three years (Acts 19; 20:30). The title “To the Ephesians” has been the title of this epistle for as far back as can we can know. This has always been the traditional view of the early church. The only documented objection was that of Marcion in A.D. 140. He actually entitled this letter “To the Laodiceans,”

Carpenter 3 based on Colossians 4:16, “And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea.” Tertullian was quick to come to a defense, actually charging Marcion with changing the title of the book. Furthermore, the text includes its own testimony in Ephesians 1:1, “To the saints who are in Ephesus . . . .” The church has always stood united on this point. Date Two other epistles are associated with Ephesians, and assist in dating it. Colossians and Philemon seem to have been written at about the same time as Ephesians. Both of the books of Ephesians and Colossians indicate that they are being sent by the hands of a man named Tychicus. After telling both churches he was sending the letter with Tychicus and then introducing him (Eph. 6:21; Col. 4:7), Paul‟s wording is the same to both: “I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts” (Eph. 6:22; Col. 4:8). Then he continues in Colossians to inform the church there that Onesimus is with Tychicus. Since Paul reports to Philemon that he is sending Onesimus back to him, it is to be assumed that Onesimus was carrying the letter Paul wrote to him (Phlm. 1:12). Therefore, it is apparent that the three letters were written in close proximity to each other. As to the exact date, all three epistles make reference to Paul as a prisoner (Eph. 3:1; 4:1; Col. 4:10; Phlm. 1:1, 9, 23). The place Paul wrote from has always been maintained as Rome, where he was imprisoned for two years. These, along with Philippians, are commonly referred to as the Prison Epistles of Paul. It is believed that the date of his imprisonment was about A.D. 6163. Philemon 1:22 seems to indicate that Paul‟s appeal to Caesar had not yet been taken up, and allowing time for the Colossian problems to have occurred and Epaphras to bring the report to Rome, a conservative estimate would be middle to late A.D. 62.

Carpenter 4 Occasion and Purpose There seems to be no problems, as in Colossians, which calls this letter forth from the pen of Paul. But perhaps, after dealing with the false teachings and doctrinal heresies of the Colossians, Paul felt it necessary to give a “. . . fuller statement of God‟s program for the universe as it centers in Christ in his relationship to His Church” (Hiebert 266). In fact, this is the only epistle where Paul uses the word “Church” to refer to the Church universal rather than the local church. This letter is written to mature Christians within the Church, not mere novices in the faith. Paul calls the Church to recognize its position in Christ and to move on toward maturity. The key verse may be Ephesians 4:1: “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” Critical Concerns Authenticity The uniqueness of the content of Ephesians also shows a uniqueness in writing style, so much so that the authorship of Paul has been questioned. External evidence has never been the problem; the Church has always accepted this as a work of Paul the apostle. It is the internal evidence that has caused the skepticism of some critics. “Schleiermacher seems to have been the first to suggest that this Epistle was written by an attendant of Paul under his direction. De Wette formally denied the Pauline authorship, attributing the letter to a gifted disciple of the Apostle. Others, with various modifications, have presented the same view” (Schaff). Various arguments are made against a Pauline authorship. These can be divided into three main categories: historical, linguistic/literary, and theological. Historical arguments fall into two categories:

Carpenter 5 “There are two historical arguments: (1) assuming the salutation “to the saints in Ephesus” in 1:1 to be genuine, Paul could not have written this letter because he betrays no personal acquaintance with his audience (cf. 1:15); (2) the author‟s personal references are forced and artificial (cf. 3:4 where he speaks of the “holy apostles” which, since it includes him, seems pretentious). (Wallace) The first objection rests on whether or not “in Ephesus” was in the original (see later for treatment of this discrepancy). It is possible this was intended to be an encyclical letter, prompting Paul to speak in general terms instead of referencing a particular church. The second argument holds no weight since the same root word for “holy” is used by the author in calling his readers “saints” in 1:1; he even includes himself as one of the “holy ones” (“saints”) in 3:8. No pretention is necessary to state the obvious facts. The linguistic/literary arguments are several. The first says that the vocabulary of Ephesians is different from Paul‟s other writings, for some 35-42 words are unique to this epistle. This is not unusual for Paul‟s letters, however. “Although it is true that the author employs thirty-five words not found elsewhere in the Pauline corpus, this is comparable to Galatians (31) and Philippians (40), two undisputed books” (Wallace)! Some of the words are found in the writings of the early church fathers, but they may have borrowed them from Paul. The second literary argument involves the literary style of Ephesians. It is argued that the style is more complex and awkward than Paul‟s other writings. The language does appear to be more reflective than other letters. “It is undeniable that Ephesians is not nearly as lively, but is in fact more reflective in its style. Part of this must surely be explained on the basis of the occasion: Ephesians betrays no pressing battles, no occasion which has gotten under Paul‟s skin. As Wood remarks, „He could afford to be more reflective. The style of Ephesians matches Paul‟s mood‟”

Carpenter 6 (Wallace). Some have argued that Paul could have used an amanuensis for this letter, which is not outside the realm of possibility. The fact is, Paul‟s writing seems to change over time, and those written in the A.D. 60‟s would be considered later epistles. Even if Paul used an amanuensis, he always includes a personal greeting at the end, which seems to indicate he had final approval of the contents of the letter. The third literary argument involves an apparent dependency of Ephesians on the letter to the Colossians. Some seventy-three verses are virtually identical to verses in Colossians. One reason may be because these two were written in close proximity to each other. One question to ask is whether or not an imitator would borrow so heavily from only one of Paul‟s writings. If Paul is doing it, he has the liberty to do so! Besides, only one verse is completely identical; how would a forger quote so closely and yet only duplicate one verse verbatim? If some imitator wanted to appear to be Pauline, certainly he would have borrowed from more than one letter, and probably from weightier letters than Colossians. The theological arguments deal with discrepancies in the statement of theology. The major argument is that this epistle is more theologically advanced than Paul‟s other writings. “If Romans is a sample of the kind of teaching that Paul would give to churches upon his first visit to them, Ephesians is a specimen of his „Bible Conference‟ technique” (Tenney 319). Certainly we can expect Paul to become more advanced in his comprehension of theology and to express theology in a more complex way to the more mature Christians. While Paul does not speak of justification by faith in those terms in Ephesians, he certainly develops the doctrine. Mere differences in the manner in which doctrines are stated are not good arguments against authorship by the same person. After all, Ephesians does follow the Pauline pattern of a doctrinal section, followed by a practical section, and closed out with personal comments.

Carpenter 7 Destination Another critical concern deals with the destination of the epistle. In Ephesians 1:1, the words “in Ephesus” (ἐν Ἐφέσῳ) is not in five of the best manuscripts, all Alexandrian texts: P46 (Chester Beatty II papyri, 3rd century), ‫( *א‬Sinaiiticus, 4th century), B* (Vaticanus, 4th century), 424c (11th century), and 1739 (10th century). These are a combination of uncial and miniscule texts. Also, the Greek texts of Origen and Tertullian omit the words, and Basil in the fourth century mentions some manuscripts with no name in them. For this reason, many conclude that Ephesians must have been intended to be an encyclical letter. Some suggest that the name may have been purposefully left blank so that churches could insert their own name to make it more personal. As far back as can be known, the early church believed this was addressed to the Ephesians. It is entirely possible, though, that this letter was intended to be passed from church to church. Tychicus would have sailed from Rome with the letter and landed first in the port city of Ephesus, making that church the true recipients of the letter. Tychicus would have continued his journey northward toward Colossae, having to go through Laodicea before arriving in Colossae. Perhaps copies of the letter were carried on to ensuing churches. Taken with the missing designation in those five copies is the fact that there appears to be a lack of a personal element in the letter. It is often pointed out that Paul spent three years in the church at Ephesus, yet states in 1:15-16 that he has only “heard” of their faith and love. This is easily explained if Paul is referring to hearing of their continued growth in these areas, especially since about five years has elapsed since the time he spent with them. The lack of greetings to any specific person or persons may again be because it was intended to be an encyclical. He does take the time to announce why he sent Tychicus with the letter.

Carpenter 8 Application The Church stands unique in Christ. The Christian experience is like nothing else in the Word of God, placing a believer in a position that even God‟s people Israel never experienced in the Old Testament. It was God‟s plan from eternity past, carried out in human history, and impacting every individual Christian‟s own personal history. Christians have a dire need to understand their position in Christ in order to comprehend God‟s plan for His Church. This is Paul‟s message in Ephesians 1:3-14, and this passage deserves intricate study in order to be applied in the lives of believers today. Ephesians 1:3-14 in the Greek is one long sentence construction. Bibles like the King James Version, Young‟s Literal Translation, and The Bible in Basic English all show this as one sentence. Other versions, such as the New International Version, the Holman Christian Standard Bible, the English Standard Version, and the New English Translation break the sentence into shorter sections for better comprehension. It is unusual to see such a long sentence, and yet in it Paul summarizes who believers are in Christ. Eph 1:3-14 comprises one long sentence in Greek, with three major sections. Each section ends with a note of praise for God (vv. 6, 12, 14), focusing on a different member of the Trinity. After an opening summary of all the saints‟ spiritual blessings (v. 3), the first section (vv. 4-6) offers up praise that the Father has chosen us in eternity past; the second section (vv. 7-12) offers up praise that the Son has redeemed us in the historical past (i.e., at the cross); the third section (vv. 13-14) offers up praise that the Holy Spirit has sealed us in our personal past, at the point of conversion. (NET Notes)

Carpenter 9 Paul sets this up in verse 3 when he pronounces a blessing on the Triune God: “the God and Father,” who is the Father of our “Lord Jesus Christ,” and who blesses us in Christ with the blessings given through the Spirit (“every spiritual blessing”). Two phrases in verse three remind believers of their great position in God. The first is that we have been blessed “in Christ.” This phrase or a similar one (“in Christ Jesus” and “in Jesus”) appears fifteen times in this epistle alone. The preposition “in” does not speak merely of a place, but of a union. Spiritual enrichment comes as a result of union with the One who is Savior and Lord. These blessings are maintained through a continued relationship with Him. The Christians‟ identity is bound up not in material possessions, worldly position, or mighty power, but in the sacred blessedness of their having a personal relationship with their Savior, Jesus Christ. The other phrase is “in the heavenlies.” Many versions supply the word “things” following the word “heavenly,” but most translations correctly “interpret” it by supplying “places” or “realms,” though neither appear in the original language. In the other four places in Ephesians that this word occurs (1:20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12) the word is used in a locative sense. So, here, the word speaks of location. The blessings spoken of here are found in the true place of citizenship for believers, heaven itself. But, with the above rendering, what is the sense? Our country . . . is in heaven, Php 3:20 : there our High Priest stands, blessing us. There are our treasures, Mat 6:20-21, and our affections to be, Col 3:1 ff.: there our hope is laid up, Col 1:5 : our inheritance is reserved for us, 1Pe 1:4. And there, in that place, and belonging to that state, is the [blessing], the gift of the Spirit, Heb 6:4 . . . . Materially, we

Carpenter 10 are yet in the body: but in the Spirit, we are in heaven—only waiting for the redemption of the body to be entirely and literally there. (Alford) But as eternal life starts here in this life and not when heaven is attained, so the blessings received because of our relationship with Christ are also experienced in this life. Godbey reminds us that Paul is speaking not of the blessings of justification, but of sanctification. “These heavenly graces are not reached in justification, but sanctification. Our Savior is the paragon Exemplar of Christian saintship. He never enjoyed the peace of pardon, from the simple fact that he had no sins to be pardoned. But he always enjoyed the peace of purity. Hence we must reach entire sanctification in order to enjoy our Savior‟s peace, rest, submission, faith, obedience, joy, happiness, love, and victory. These constitute the heavenly experiences, only attainable in entire sanctification, and indispensable to our admission into heaven.” (Godbey) Paul‟s praise of the Trinity is expounded in verses 4-14. The Father, in his eternal love, has chosen us to holiness (1:4), ordained us to sonship (1:5), and bestowed grace on us in the Beloved (1:6). In the Son we have redemption according to the riches of His grace (1:7), knowledge of the mystery of His will (1:8-9), and inheritance under Him the one Head (1:10-12). Through the Spirit we are sealed by hearing the word of salvation (1:13) and by receiving the earnest of our inheritance (1:14) until the redemption of the purchased possession. For the church to be able to move forward in the way Paul describes in chapters 4-6, she must recognize the blessed and privileged position she is in through her relationship with God. If there is to be unity in the church (4:1-16), holiness in living (4:17-5:21), the acceptance of responsibilities at home and at work (5:22-6:9), and preparation for and involvement in the spiritual conflict (6:10-24), then the church must know who she is and whose she is. Armed with

Carpenter 11 this knowledge, the church can move onward and upward toward the furthering of the kingdom of her God.

Carpenter 12 Works Cited Alford, Henry. The Greek New Testament. theWord, 2012. Biblical Studies Press, L. L. C. NET Notes. theWord, 2012. Fawcett, Andrew. Commentary Critical and Explanatory upon the Whole Bible. theWord, 2012. Godbey, William B. Commentary on the New Testament. theWord, 2012. Gundry, Robert Horton. A Survey of the New Testament. Third ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House, 1994. Print. Hiebert, D. Edmond. An Introduction to the Pauline Epistles. Chicago: Moody Press, 1954. Print. Lewis, Charles Smith. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. theWord, 2012. Nicoll, William R. The Expositor’s Greek Testament. theWord, 2012. Schaff, Philip. A Popular Commentary on the New Testament. theWord, 2012. Tenney, Merrill C.. New Testament Survey. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1961. Print. Thiessen, Henry Clarence. Introduction to the New Testament. 1943. Reprint. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985. Print. Utley, Bob. You Can Understand the Bible: Study Guide Commentary Series. theWord, 2012. Wallace, Daniel B. New Testament Introductions and Outlines. theWord, 2012.

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