Ephesus, the capital of the province of Asia in Roman times, was situated on the mouth of Cayster River off the coast of the Aegean Sea. Midway between Smyrna and Miletus at the end of the Asiatic caravan route, it was a great commercial, political, and religious city. Commercially it was the most easily accessible city by land and sea. Religiously it was the center for the emperor cult with three temples, a Jewish synagogue, and the site of the Temple of Artemis--Diana, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, which took over 200 years to build. Its population was 250-330,000. Paul first visited Ephesus, spending a Sabbath day in the synagogue before sailing to Caesarea, at the end of his second missionary journey in early A.D. 53.
The writer of Ephesians was also the Apostle Paul, whom God used to write fourteen New Testament Books (see Notes on First Thessalonians, page 516).
Internal evidence to Paul's authorship is clear both by the accepted title that bears his name and the text: he identifies himself in his opening salutation (1:1). He refers to himself as the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles (3:1-8 cf. Acts 9:15). And he requests prayer in his bonds (6:18-20)
External evidence comes from the writings of the "church fathers" (patristic tradition of the early church). The Muratorian Canon (A.D. 160-200) attests: "For the Epistles of Paul . . . he wrote to not more than seven churches, . . . the second to the Ephesians." There is no contradictory evidence found in the early church but Paul's authorship was an accepted fact and never doubted until the eighteenth century.
Dating is determined by the fact that he was in prison in Rome (3:1; 4:1 cf. Acts 28:16.30). Both the Ephesian (6:21,22) and Colossian (4:7,8) Epistles were delivered by Tychicus, so were written at approximately the same time. Philippians, co-authored by Paul and Timothy (1:1), was written near the end of the same two year imprisonment (2:23,24) at Rome (1:13; 4:22) in A.D. 62
The Purpose of Paul is to clarify the truth that the Church is the Body of Christ and to instruct the saints in walk and in warfare.
Characteristics include: doctrinal (over 43 doctrines are mentioned) and didactic; neither corrective nor controversial (no particular circumstances evoked it); reflective and meditative; and well balanced (equal emphasis on doctrine and practical walk). Ephesians is often called "Paul's Third Heaven Epistle." Of 150 verses in Ephesians, 78 expressions are found in Colossians. Paul deals with sevens in Ephesians: blessings (1:1-14), prayer (1:14-23; 3:14-21), power (1:19-23), the past of the Gentiles (2:1-3,11,12), our relationship to Christ (3:13-18), unity (4:4-6), exhortation (4:21-32), our new life-style-walk (5:15-21), and our armor for warfare (6:14-18).
The Book may be outlined as follows:
I. Doctrinal (1:1-3:21).
A. Origin of the Church (1:1-23). B. Formation of the Church (2:1-22).
C. Purpose of the Church (3:1-21).
II. Practical (4:1-6:24).
A. Christian Conduct (4:1-6:9). B. Christian Conflict (6:10-24).