Ephesus was the capitol of pro-consular Asia. It was about one mile inland from the eastern portion of the Aegean Sea. A great theater, seating about 50,000 people, was there (see Ac.19v31). Also, one of the seven wonders of the world, the temple of Diana (Artemis), was located in Ephesus. Rivaling Jerusalem and Antioch, Ephesus proved to be a very powerful springboard for influencing the world for Christ.

Paul visited Ephesus during his second missionary journey (Ac.18v18-21). He left Aquila and Priscilla (Prisca) there to help them. He spent three years in Ephesus on his third tour (Ac.19v1-14). He exerted so much influence there that the idol-makers became worried and incited a riot against him (Ac.19v21-41). He was compelled to leave for Macedonia (Ac.20v1). Upon his return trip, while heading for Jerusalem, he asked the elders of the Ephesian congregation to meet with him at Miletus, thirty-five miles to the north, on a quick stopover (Ac.20v16-38).

Ephesians is one of Paul's five "Prison Epistles", probably written while in prison in Rome (from about 60-64 A.D.) Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon were written and sent about the same time period. Paul's letter to the Laodiceans (Col.4v16) did not survive. This Ephesian letter was addressed to the congregation in Ephesus (see Ac.19), but was also probably intended as a circulating letter to other area congregations. This may account for the absence of specific information in the letter. Also, there is a textual problem in Eph.1v1. The words "at Ephesus" are absent from several important manuscripts.

Ephesians is quite similar to Colossians. There are 78 verses between them which are almost the same. Each is devoted half to doctrine and half to practical Christian duty. Colossians portrays Christ as the head of the Ekklesia (GSN1577), but Ephesians goes further to display Jesus as the ascended, glorified Christ. In Colossians, Paul is within the throes of fighting against a serious heresy, but in Ephesians Paul is relishing the grandeur of Christ in quiet meditation.

Paul's letter to the Ephesians is truly profound, transcending the pettiness of some of the other congregations. The major theme of Ephesians is: The Ekklesia (GSN1577) is the mystical body of Christ. God's great master plan was to bring everything together (Eph.1v10) under Christ as head (Eph.1v22-23). We, as the body of Christ on earth, have a part in this plan and the Holy Spirit is the guarantee of God's promise (Eph.1v13-14).

"There is one body" (Eph.4v4), not two (i.e. races). Paul emphasizes the unity of the Ekklesia (GSN1577). Jews and Gentiles are now one in Christ. Non-Jews could become Christians without first becoming Jewish converts (proselytes). But many Jewish Christians, who had always been prejudiced against the pagan Gentiles, thought that Gentiles should not presume to call themselves followers of the Messiah unless they were first circumcised and obedient to the Law of Moses. In other words, the Jewish believers tended to see themselves as the center, instead of seeing the centrality of Christ. However, Paul taught that they should view the Gentiles as their brothers in Christ--on an equal footing. Jesus soars high above all cultural barriers. The large gift from Gentile congregations offered to Jewish brethren in need in Judea (Ac.21v15-27; Ac.24v17-18; Rom.15v25-28; 2Cor.8v1-15; Gal.2v10) bound them together more closely and promoted a much better feeling. Christ is large enough to accommodate all races, divergent positions, culture, problems of humanity (social and family life, see Eph.5v22--6v9), and even the unseen beings (Eph.3v10).

Paul used several figures of speech to explain: The Ekklesia (GSN1577) is like a body, with Christ as head (Eph.1v22-23; Eph.2v15-16). The Ekklesia (GSN1577) is like a building with Christ as the cornerstone (Eph.2v20-22). The Ekklesia (GSN1577) is like a wife with Christ as the husband (Eph.5v21-33).

God's chosen people have been set free from sin by Jesus, and they must live consistently with the oneness which is in Christ.

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