Paul is the writer and he is writing about AD 64 from his house arrest confinement (Acts 28). See ch 6:20 “ambassador in a chain.” The letter was likely carried by Tychicus, possibly accompanied by Philemon.
Controversy continues as to whether this was a circular letter to many assemblies, or a letter to Ephesus. Most accept it as a circular letter which did reach Ephesus, possibly as the last assembly, and which thus came to be known as to Ephesus.
Taking the letter as at least having gone to Ephesus, the background of Ephesus is helpful in understanding some of the imagery of the letter. We know more about Ephesus than any other assembly. We know of its planting (Acts 19), its protection (Acts 20), its progress (the epistle), its preservation (1Tim), and its peril (Rev 2).
Paul is not correcting anything. In the first three chapters he is setting forth the doctrine and its greatness; our blessings and wealth. In the final three chapters he deals with the application of that doctrine to our individual lives, family life, and corporate testimony. Positional truth ch 1-3; practical truth ch 4-6.
Recall that in Ephesus there was a great Temple to Artemis (Diana); there were the workmen, the silversmiths. There were the books of curious art and the riches and wealth of the city.
Everything is in the heavenlies, a term which recurs 1:3, 20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12. This is not so much a location as to stress that it is not linked with earth but with heaven and is secure.
The Range of Time
From everlasting to everlasting: before the foundation of the world 1:4; times past 2:2; now 2:13; dispensation of fulness of times 1:1:10; until the redemption of the purchased possession 1:14; throughout all ages, world without end 3:21.
The great teaching of the Ephesian Epistle concerns the Church, which is the Body of Christ, her position, prospects, and wealth. The sister epistle, Colossians, deals with the Head and His glory. The Church is God’s Mystery, Workmanship, Showcase (ch 3), and Masterpiece.
Recurring Words and Phrases
“In love”: Hina; Kata; Kathas
Postures in which we are seen: in the heart of God in ch 1; seated in ch 2; kneeling in prayer ch 3; walking in ch 4; standing in the field of battle ch 6.
Ch 1 Wealth Majesty Counsels of God
Ch 2 Workmanship Mercy Creation
Ch 3 Wrestling Mystery Communion
Ch 4 Walk Morality Conversation
Ch 5 Witness Manifestation Conduct
Ch 6 Warfare Mastery Conflict
Consider just chapter 1: The Greatness of the Grace of God
The Wealth that Grace Confers
Blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places. Sevenfold: chosen, predestined to sonship, accepted, forgiven, remission, an heir, sealed. Elected, earmarked for sonship, emancipated, forgiven, enlightened, enriched, the earnest
Sins forgiven (v7)
Slavery canceled (v7)
Sharer in inheritance
Sealed – upon conversion; seal (proof of ownership), earnest (pledge of future), anointing (power that enables)
The Worth that Grace Imparts
Accepted – highly favored; same word as Luke 1:28
In the Beloved – not just “in Christ” but in the Beloved
God could not think higher of us or accept us more fully – you are not on trial
Believer’s worth is a conferred worth – this is why it is secure
The Will that Grace Reveals
The good pleasure of His will (v5) to make us His sons; no reluctance and no regret
The mystery of His will/good pleasure: Gather together in one; Glorify His Son
Works after the counsel of His own will – That as sons we should be heirs
The Worship that Grace Inspires
Blessed be the God and Father … for being the source of all blessings
To the praise of the glory of His grace (v6) … for our place in Christ
That we should be to the praise of His glory (v12) … as sons to be wealthy and worshipers
Unto the praise of His glory – (v14) … for sealing and security
The Wisdom that Grace Provides
Immediate, intelligent, incessant,
Direction to God … Father of Glory
Desire – eyes opened to know – not for more blessings but to grasp what their current blessings are.
Divine Purpose – the hope of His calling
Divine Portion – riches of glory – abundance available
Divine Power – (v19) ability to perform
Power that has been displayed is greater than
Death, demons, dominions
No power, person, or prospect can hinder divine purposes; NB 4x “All”
Expression concerning God
1:5 His sovereignty – good pleasure of His will
1:6 His grace – praise of the glory of His grace
1:7 His wealth – riches of His grace
1:8 His wisdom – abounded in all wisdom
1:9 His pleasure – good pleasure purposed in Himself
1:11 His will – counsel of His own will
1:12 His praise – to the praise of His glory
1:14 ” ” ” “
1:18 His riches – riches of the glory of His inheritance
1:19 His power and might – exceeding greatness of His power ….
2:4 His mercy – God rich in mercy
2:4 His love – His great love …
2:5 His grace – by grace
2:7 His kindness – exceeding riches of His grace and His kindness
2:8 His salvation – by grace are ye saved