Epistle to the Ephesians

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Fragment of the Epistle to the Ephesians, circa 250 CE.

The Epistle to the Ephesians, often named simply, Ephesians, is a letter purportedly written by Paul the Apostle to the people of Ephesus in what is now western Turkey.

The major themes of the letter include the importance of people agreeing with position of the church to ensure unity, doing good things rather than bad things, submitting to your superiors, and guarding against evil.

Ephesians contains the modified version of the "Armor of God," originally described in First Epistle to the Thessalonians, where the author describes a metaphorical armor and a sword to combat evil (6:10-18). It also contains what some denominations believe to be the Harrowing of Hell (4:9-10).

Authorship and Dating

Like most of the books in the New Testament, scholars are critical of the traditional authorship. They suggest that this epistle wasn't written until around 80-100 CE, decades after Paul had died. The writer uses the style of Paul, and identifies as Paul in 1:1, but isn't Paul, so the document is fraudulent. Furthermore, it is unlikely that this letter was written to the Ephesians, as the earliest manuscripts contain the phrase, "To the saints," only later manuscripts add, "in Ephesus."

Status

I have several translations of this book from various bibles, and have read it the NIV translation.

Review

Good

  • Nothing.

Bad

  • The letter is pretty dull and uninspired. There are a few nice sentiments, but they're very generic, and the bulk I found to be quite off-putting.
  • The self-congratulatory praise at the beginning goes on a little too long.
  • The author uses annoying false modesty common among preachers describing himself as "less than the least of all God's people." (3:8). If you're so pathetic and unimportant, then a rational person shouldn't listen to you.
  • There is the usual demand for unreasonable levels of goodness. Don't say anything unwholesome, don't be angry, don't fight, be kind and forgiving to everyone, etc. (4:29-32). And it gets worse as it goes; the author forbids even a hint of impurity, obscene behavior, or even dirty jokes (5:3-4). Yes, we should strive for goodness, but there are times for anger and fighting in order to combat terrible people.
  • The author describes himself as being a captive (6:20), but if that's the case, why aren't his supposed captors preventing him from sending letters that badmouth them?

Ugly

  • The evidence points to this letter being fraudulent.
  • The author has a disgusting love of obedience demanding that people submit to each other (5:21), wives submit to their husbands (5:22), children submit to their parents (6:1), and slaves submit to their masters (6:5). He even suggests that slaves should serve their masters as though they were serving the Lord! (5:7).

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