Background

Ephesians – Amazing Grace! Amazing Love!
– Presented on 2 Jan 05 by Adult ‘D’ Class (Teacher: Loke WK)

Background

1. City of Ephesus

  • Ephesus was about 1,000 years old when Paul arrived there in 52 AD during his 2nd missionary journey.
  • Despite several change of rulers, Ephesus was prosperous, known as the “First and Greatest Metropolis of Asia”.
  • Had a population of about 340,000.
  • Situated about 3 miles from the Aegean Sea on the Cayster River.
  • The city of Ephesus was a great commercial center of Asia Minor. Famous for its rich culture: Oriental religion, Greek philosophy, Roman government, worldwide commerce.
  • Today, Ephesus is in western Turkey, near Selcuk. Once a large harbour area, it is now 10 km away from the coast due to the silt deposits from the Cayster river over the centuries.

2. Key Monuments in Ephesus

  • It was also a great religious center which was famous for its magnificent Temple of Diana (in Roman) or Artemis (in Greek). The temple took 220 years to build. Shining marble were used; the temple was 342 feet long by 164 feet broad; supported by a forest of columns, each 56 feet high.
    – One of the seven wonders of the ancient world,
    – Worshipped the goddess Diana.
  • Great Theatre
    – The great theater was erected in 41 AD. It seats 25,000 people, is one of three remaining theatres of ancient times and is still used for performances today.
  • Library of Celsius
    – The facade is most impressive structure, was built long after Paul was there (between 115-125 AD) and it represents the standard monumental form of the Roman library.

3. Church of Ephesus

  • In Acts Chapter 18 & 19, we learnt that Paul visited Ephesus at the end of his 2nd missionary journey around 52 AD.
  • Priscilla and Aquila continued Paul’s ministry (Acts 18:19-21).
  • During his 3rd missionary journey (53 – 56 AD), Paul stayed in Ephesus for 3 years, evangelizing the city and the surrounding region
  • Paul established the Ephesian Church.
  • The Gospel spread in Ephesus.
  • Certain trades that profited by the old superstitions felt threatened. It was because Paul was so successful that he threatened the livelihood of the craftsmen who made silver souvenirs of the temple of Diana and sold them to the foreign tourists and pilgrims.
  • A commotion started and Paul left Ephesus. Since that departure, Paul had not seen Ephesus again. He only met the elders of the church at Miletus when he was on his way to Jerusalem (Acts 20:17) .

4. Authorship

  • The writer identifies himself as Paul ( Eph 1:1, 3:1 ).

5. Date and Place of Writing

  • Paul may have written it about the same time as Colossians in 60 AD, while he was in prison in Rome.
  • Paul probably wrote this epistle during his first Roman imprisonments. So, this book was also Known as a Prison Epistle (Eph 3:1, 4:1, 6:20). Paul was in prison three times:
    – at Caesarea for about 2yrs 58-60 AD,
    – in Rome for about 2yrs 61-63 AD,
    – again in Rome around 67 AD.

6. Target Group of Epistle

  • This epistle was written for and sent directly to believers in Ephesus, just like what was recorded in Eph 1:1; 6:21-22.
  • Some other commentators said that it was a circular letter which intended for the Christian churches in Asia Minor of which Ephesus was the centre, because Ephesus was a large, important city at that time, so it was a natural that the letter was sent there.
  • But still, some commentators said that this letter was addressed to the gentile Christians.
  • But no matter which the target group was, as Christians today, we are benefitted from this book.

7. Purpose of Epistle – The Book of Ephesians was written with the intention of preventing problems in the church by encouraging maturity, knowing how to stand and fight the battles as every member of His church will face. It was also written to make believers more aware of their position in Christ, knowing that we are fellow heirs of the promise made to Abraham’s seed in Christ by the Gospel.

  • Sets forth the church as a divine institution.
  • Sets forth God’s purpose of bringing all things in heaven and on earth under one head in Christ (Eph 1:9-10).
    – In Eph 1:9 “And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ”. The Christian mystery is not secret knowledge for a few only. It is a revelation of divine truths-once hidden but now openly proclaimed. Notice Paul emphasize the word make known which refer to something formerly hidden but now revealed by God for all to know and understand.
  • Emphasizes that salvation is only in Christ (Man’s greatest possession).
    – it emphasizes the wonderful truth that salvation in Christ is God’s free gift to all who believe. In Eph 1:7 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace”.
  • And finally, it shows the nature and significance of our salvation which is by grace through faith (Eph 2:8-10). Both Jews and Gentiles are saved this way (Eph 3:3-6).