Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Ephesians Overview

The home Bible study group I am a part of will be studying the book of Ephesians over the next few months.  This is one of my favorite books in the Bible so I am really looking forward to the study.  I expect to be blogging some of my notes as the study goes on and am interested in any feedback.  Most of these blogs will be a work in progress and are primarily for the benefit of the other group members.

Author
The apostle Paul is traditionally considered to be the author of Ephesians, although that is in dispute among modern scholars.  The dispute seems mostly to center around the use of some specific words not used in other Pauline writings as well as a more fully developed idea of Christ and his church.  As a result many see that this was a later writing produced by a disciple of Paul and attributed to him.  I have read many of the arguments for and against the traditional view of Paul's authoring the letter but have yet to see a compelling reason to doubt his authorship.

Audience
The traditional view holds that this letter was written to the church at Ephesus, a city that Paul ministered in for around 3 years.  There is some dispute about that though because Paul does not include any personal references to people he knew there, he seems to relay on second hand testimony concerning their faith, and because some of the earlier manuscripts do not include the words 'in Ephesus' in the address.  I think it is possible that this letter was more of an open letter to all the saints rather than addressed to a specific church.  But ultimately it really doesn't matter to me.  I read it as a letter addressed to me and to the church I am a part of.

Purpose
More than any other book in the Bible, Ephesians helps me to understand the big picture concerning God's purpose for and working in his creation, what's it's all about.  In some ways it is like being given a peak behind the curtains.  Paul's prayers for the saints are significant both in helping me to prayer for others as well as in helping me to understand what God wants to do in my life.  And his description of the armor we are to don gives me hope for engaging in the spiritual conflict that wages around us.

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