Survey of Ephesians

Book Type: Pauline Epistle. One of four Prison Epistles, along with Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. One of the apostle Paul’s 13 books, 10th book of the New Testament.

Author: Paul is named as the author in Ephesians 1:1.

Audience: Ephesians is written to a group of believers whom Paul served alongside Aquila and Priscilla. This was during his second missionary journey (Acts 18:18–19). During his third missionary journey he ministered in this city for about at least two years, with the gospel spreading throughout the area (Acts 19:10). After Paul, Timothy led the church in Ephesus for a period of time (1 Timothy 1:3). The apostle John also served in this city. The letter was likely intended not only for the Ephesian Christians, but to be read at multiple churches in the area. For example, some early manuscripts do not include "at Ephesus" in 1:1. In addition, this letter does not deal with particular controversy related to a particular church like many of Paul’s other letters. There is also a lack of references to personal friends, something Paul often included in other letters. This letter likely first came to Ephesus with Tychicus (Ephesians 6:21–22) and may be the same letter referred to in Colossians 4:16.

Date: Approximately AD 60–62, during Paul’s first Roman imprisonment.

Overview: The focus of Ephesians is on growing the church of Jesus Christ. Important themes include predestination (Ephesians 1:3–14), Christ’s leadership over the church (Ephesians 1:22–23), the church as God’s building and temple (Ephesians 2:21–22), the mystery of Christ (Ephesians 3:1–21), spiritual gifts (Ephesians 4:7–16), the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:25–33), and the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10–18).

Chapter 1 includes a brief introduction (Ephesians 1:1–2) followed by two key sections. First, Paul describes the spiritual blessings in Christ believers have (Ephesians 1:3–14). Second, he focuses on thanksgiving and prayer for his readers (Ephesians 1:15–23).

Chapter 2 emphasizes the theme of salvation by grace through faith in Christ Jesus. First, Paul describes the process of salvation coming as the result of God’s grace through faith (Ephesians 2:1–10). Second, Paul transitions to a focus on unity in Christ (Ephesians 2:11–22). This includes tearing down the previous divide between Jews and Gentiles who are now one family in Christ.

Chapter 3 speaks about the mystery of Christ revealed (Ephesians 3:1–13). The second part of this chapter emphasizes Paul’s prayer for spiritual strength for the Ephesian church (Ephesians 3:14–21).

Chapter 4 describes both the unity of believers and the new hope Christians have in Jesus. The first part of the chapter begins with Paul’s mention of his imprisonment and his focus on Christian unity (Ephesians 4:1–16). The second part develops the concept of the new life believers have in Jesus (Ephesians 4:17–32).

Chapter 5 covers two important themes: love and the relationship between husbands and wives. First, Paul discusses how believers are to be imitators of God and focus on the love of Christ (Ephesians 5:1–21). Second, wives and husbands are given clear biblical teaching regarding mutual love and submission in relationship to Christ (Ephesians 5:22–33).

Chapter 6 consists of four major sections to complete Paul’s brief letter. First, he provides instruction regarding children and parents (Ephesians 6:1–4). Second, he provides instructions for the relationship between masters and servants (Ephesians 6:5–9). Third, Paul discusses the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10–20). Fourth, Paul concludes with final greetings to his readers (Ephesians 6:21–24).

Key Verses (ESV):

Ephesians 1:3: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places."

Ephesians 2:8–10: "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."

Ephesians 4:4–6: " There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."

Ephesians 5:21: "…submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ."

Ephesians 6:10–11: "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil."