The letter is the authored by the apostle Paul. It was written when Paul was a prisoner in Rome (Acts 28). See ch 3:1. It was probably written about AD 64, and carried by Tychicus to the recipients.
People to whom written
The consensus of most scholars is that this is actually a circular letter, the church at Ephesus being one of several who received and read it. Despite that, however, the events of Acts 18:19-21, 19:1; 20:17-38, are a valuable background for the epistle.
In contrast to many of his other epistles, Paul is not correcting wrong belief or behavior in this letter. He is writing to reveal some of the deepest mysteries and truths concerning Christ and the church. His emphasis is on the body or church aspect; Colossians, a sister epistle with many parallels, will emphasize the Head and His glories.
In Ephesians, the unity of Jew and Gentile in “one body” is presented. The blessings and privileges belonging to that body are detailed. Finally in chapters 4-6, Paul emphasizes the responsibilities linked with those blessings.
The pattern of the epistle is evident. In the first three chapters, Paul outlines the positional blessings of believers as a result of being “in Christ.” In the final three chapters, Paul deals with the practical issues resulting from being “in Christ.”
A. Positional Blessings ch 1-3
1. The Majesty of God in His Counsels ch 1
Recipients of Divine Blessing vs 1-14
Request for Divine Benediction vs 15-23
2. The Mercy of God in His New Creation ch 2
The New Creation vs 1-10
The New Condition vs 11-22
3. The Mystery of God and Pauls Commission ch 3
Gods Eternal Secret Revealed vs 1-13
Gods Effectual Strength Recognized vs 14-21
B. Practical Behavior ch 4-6
1. Morality in our Conduct ch 4
Indivisible Unity vs 1-6 Graces
Individual Diversity vs 7-11 Gifts
Indispensable Ability vs 12-16 Goal
Imperative morality vs 17-32 Godliness
2. Manifestation of light in our Character ch 5
Character Manifested vs 1-14
Control Maintained vs 15- ch 6:9
3. Mastery in our Conflict ch 6
Adversary and His Strategy vs 10-13
Armor and its Sufficiency vs 14-17
Appeal and its Sincerity vs 18-20
Assurance and His Sensitivity 21-24
Points for study
Look for the twelve references to the Spirit of God in the letter. Compare the two prayers (ch 1 and ch 3), and then collect all of Pauls Prison Prayers, noting their content and the character of his requests. Trace the Levitical offerings in the epistle. A rich vein of truth to find is to gather together the different prepositions which are used in the epistle such as, “according to” (katha), “in order that” (hina), “in” (en), and “through” (dia).