An Overview Of The Book Of Ephesians

The City Of Ephesus:

Ephesus was located at the mouth of the Cayster River on the west coast of the Roman province of Asia (Asia Minor) in what is now Turkey. Being on this navigable river near the Aegean Sea, Ephesus was an important commercial port city. It was also situated at the junction of natural trade routes. The city lay about midway between Miletus to the south and Smyrna to the north.

Ephesus was a major population center and the capital of the Roman province of Asia. It contained a theater that was one of the largest known of all that have remained to modern times. The auditorium was a semicircle that measured 495 feet in diameter, with 63 rows of seats that provided seating for an audience of 24,500 spectators. It was in this theater that the silversmiths led by Demetrius rioted against the Christian mission work of Paul and his companions.

Adding to the attraction of Ephesus was the temple of the Greek goddess Artemis, who in the Latin language was called Diana. This temple was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The temple was a magnificent work of Ionic architecture, which was four times the size of the Greek Parthenon in Athens. The temple stood on a platform about 425 feet long and 239 feet wide. The platform had ten steps that led up to its pavement. The temple itself was 342 and 1/2 feet long and 164 feet wide. The temple consisted of two rows of eight columns each in the front and rear and two rows of twenty columns each on both sides of its sanctuary. In all the temple contained one hundred columns. Each column was a monolith of marble 55 feet high. The eighteen columns at each end were sculptured. The temple roof was covered with large white marble tiles. The inner sanctuary of the temple was 105 feet long and 70 feet wide. The Goths destroyed this temple in 260 A.D.

Ephesus was home to a large number of Jews. They had a synagogue in the city, where Paul began his mission work (cr. Acts 19:8). When some of the Jews who had hardened their hearts against the gospel of Jesus began persecuting those who believed in Jesus, Paul turned to the Gentiles. From Ephesus the gospel spread throughout the whole province of Asia (cf. Acts 19:10).


Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, Ephesians 1:1

For more information about Paul and his ministry, see An Overview Of The Book Of Acts.

Date Of Writing:

About 60-61 A.D. See the Background for Paul's Prison Epistles--Colossians, Philemon, Ephesians, and Philippians.


The Christians of the church in Ephesus, Ephesians 1:1.

It has been asserted that this letter was not originally written to the church in Ephesus. This assertion has been made because a few ancient Greek manuscripts did not contain in the first verse the words “in Ephesus”. In the past the two most notable of these manuscripts were given undue superiority in evaluating what should or should not be considered part of the original Greek text. The undue superiority given to these manuscripts has since diminished. In more recent times a shift has occurred to considering the value of all ancient manuscripts. The evidence of all the manuscripts indicates the words “in Ephesus” should be retained as part of the original text written by Paul.

An additional argument made against the letter having been written to the church of Ephesus is Paul's failure to include any personal greetings to individuals in the church of Ephesus. It is asserted that since Paul had worked among the Ephesians for such a long period of time, it would only be natural for him to have included his personal greeting to those whom he knew in the church. This is an argument from silence, which in itself proves nothing. It loses validity in the light of other letters Paul wrote to other churches. Neither of Paul's letters to the Thessalonians contains any personal greetings either, even though Paul had ministered in that church and revisited it. On the other hand, Paul's letter to the Romans contains numerous greetings to individuals in the church of Rome, a church and a city he had never visited prior to his writing of that letter. The lack of greetings, therefore, does not substantiate that the letter we know as the letter to the Ephesians could not have been written to the church of Ephesus.


To strengthen the Christians in the church of Ephesus.

Being a prisoner in Rome who was awaiting trial, Paul could not revisit the church in Ephesus, as he had revisited other churches he had established during his first and second missionary journeys. Paul had established the church in Ephesus on his third missionary journey about three to five years earlier. He wrote his letter to the Ephesians to do what he could not do personally. He wrote to strengthen and confirm the believers there in the grace of God and the gospel of Christ, as well as to encourage them in performing their works of service and holiness in response to God's saving grace.


While Paul's companion letter to the Colossians emphasized the greatness of Christ, who is the head of the church, Paul's letter to the Ephesians emphasized the church itself, of which Christ is its head.

The first three chapters concentrate on the church being God's workmanship, which he made to be what it is according to his eternal plan of salvation. It was a plan that began in eternity, was implemented in time, and will be completed on the day of judgment when God receives his church of believers, the new Israel, into heavenly glory. This plan of salvation is all by God's grace. See Ephesians 2:8,9.

The last three chapters concentrate on the response of the believers to God's plan of salvation as the recipients of his grace. The believers are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, to do good works. Their good works will be holy lives of loving service to God and their neighbor. See Ephesians 2:10.


Ephesians 2:10: For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.


Greeting, Ephesians 1:1,2

Part 1: The Church Is God's Workmanship, Created In Christ Jesus, Ephesians 1:3-3:21

A. A Song Of Praise (Doxology) to the Triune God for his gracious plan for saving his church, Ephesians 1:3-14

1. God's divine purpose for saving his church began with the Father's electing his believers in eternity--to the praise of his glory, Ephesians 1:3-6

2. God's divine purpose for saving his church was accomplished in the time of this world's history by the redeeming work of Christ--to the praise of his glory, Ephesians 1:7-12

3. God's divine purpose for saving his church was sealed by the giving of the Holy Spirit, who guarantees our eternal inheritance--to the praise of his glory, Ephesians 1:13,14

B. Thanksgiving and prayer, Ephesians 1:15-23

1. Thanksgiving for the faith and love of the believers to whom this letter was addressed, Ephesians 1:15,16

2. A prayer in behalf of the believers to whom this letter was addressed for the spiritual wisdom and knowledge to understand all that God has done for their salvation, Ephesians 1:17-23

2.a The hope that God's calling them to faith gives them, Ephesians 1:18

2.b The rich glory of the heavenly inheritance, Ephesians 1:18

2.c The greatness of God's power at work in his believers, the same divine power that God exerted in raising Christ from the dead and exalting him at his right hand over all things for the good of his church, Ephesians 1:19-23

C. God's steps taken to carry out his eternal plan of salvation in time to make his church what it is, Ephesians 2:1-3:21

1. God saved both Jew and Gentile by his grace alone and the faith he works in his believers, so no one can boast of having saved himself, Ephesians 2:1-10

2. God united both Jew and Gentile in the one true church through Christ's atoning sacrifice, which church is founded on the teachings of the apostles and prophets and the gospel of Christ, Ephesians 2:11-22

3. God had his eternal plan of salvation preached to the Gentiles, Ephesians 3:1-21

3.a God revealed the mystery of his plan of salvation in Christ, Ephesians 3:1-6

3,b God in his grace had Paul proclaim the mystery of his plan of salvation in Christ to the Gentiles, Ephesians 3:7-13

3.c A prayer that the Father would strengthen his believers by the Holy Spirit to comprehend the love of Christ, Ephesians 3:14-21

Part 2: The Church Is Created In Christ Jesus To Do Good Works, Ephesians 4:1-6:18

A. As a member of God's church do the good work of striving for unity in his church, Ephesians 4:1-16

1. Preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, Ephesians 4:1-6

2, Use Christ's gifts of grace in works of service for building up the church to a united spiritual maturity in Christ, Ephesians 4:7-16

B. As a member of God's church do the good work of living a pure life, Ephesians 4:17-5:20

1. Separate yourself from the godless pagan ways and become spiritually renewed to be like God in righteousness and holiness, Ephesians 4:17-24

2. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit with lies, sinful anger, stealing, rotten language, resentment, slander, or any wicked intention of heart. Rather be imitators of God, Ephesians 4:25-5:2

3. Live as children of light who guard themselves against greed and keep themselves sexually pure in thought, word, and deed, Ephesians 5:3-14

4. Be wise and make the most of the time you have to be filled with the Spirit by the Word in worship, Ephesians 5:15-20

C. As a member of God's church do the good work of honoring Christ in your personal relationships, Ephesians 5:21-6:9

1. To honor Christ, arrange yourselves under one another in your personal relationships, Ephesians 5:21

1.a As husband and wife, Ephesians 5:22-33

1.b As children and parents, Ephesians 6:1-4

1.c As a slave/employee and master/employer, Ephesians 6:5-9

D. As a member of God's church do the good work of putting on the full armor of God and prayer to overcome the devil's schemes, Ephesians 6:10-18

Conclusion, Ephesians 6:19-24

A. Paul requests the prayers of the church, Ephesians 6:19,20

B. Paul sent Tychicus, who carried this letter to the Ephesians, for the purpose of informing the church about Paul's circumstances in Rome, Ephesians 6:21,22

C. Closing benediction