Ephesians: Outline and relation to other Pauline epistles.

Class Outline:

Thursday August 16, 2018


Title: Ephesians: Outline and relation to other Pauline epistles.


Very general outline:

1. Prescript (1:1-2)

2. The new humanity, a divine creation (1:3 - 3:21)

3. The new humanity in earthly life (4:1 - 6:20)

4. Closing (6:21-24)


Textual evidence throws doubt on whether the letter was initially sent to Ephesus. From the letter, it would seem that it was sent to those whom Paul had not visited, and therefore, as the letter to the Colossians, a place Paul had not visited, this letter may have been sent to the churches in the Lycus valley, possibly to Laodicea.


We possess many manuscripts and some of the older and best ones do not contain the phrase “at Ephesus.”


Textual evidence suggests that it wasn’t sent to Ephesus. Was the letter initially written to Laodicea?



P46, Chester Beatty papyrus, oldest copy of Ephesians dating around 200 AD.



See if you can read it: Paulos apostolos Christou Iesou dia thelematos Theou tois hagiois [tois] ousin [en Epheso] kai pistois en Christo Iesou


[note: Christou and Christo are abbreviated. Tois before ousin is missing and en Epheso is missing]


EPH 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus, and who are faithful in Christ Jesus:


EPH 1:2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


COL 4:16 And when this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and you, for your part read my letter that is coming from Laodicea.


Had Paul visited the recipients?


EPH 1:15 For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you, and your love for all the saints,


EPH 3:1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles — 


EPH 3:2 if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace which was given to me for you;


We cannot say for sure which recipients were in Paul’s mind when he sent it. Though we can see how this letter could be a logical sequel to Colossians. Colossians expounds on the cosmic role of Christ while Ephesians expounds on the cosmic role of the church.


Eph is like Col, but Col emphasizes the role of Christ and Eph the church. Eph may be a sequel to Col.


We might say that Colossians is the motif of the Head while Ephesians is the motif of the body.


Colossians was written to combat the Colossian heresy, which was a Gnostic attack on the person of Christ, namely the hypostatic union and the finished work. This is the same falsehood that John had to combat in 1 John.


Therefore, in Colossians we find the Person of the Lord Jesus more clearly presented than in any other of Paul's letters. The very necessity of defining His Person in view of the heresies about Him, made this imperative.


Ephesians emphasizes the role of the church as the body of Christ. Christ is Lord of the world and His church has a role in that Lordship.


EPH 1:22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church,


EPH 1:23 which is His body, the fulness [pleroma] of Him who fills all in all.


Colossians emphasizes the Lord as the fulness (pleroma), while the church is the pleroma of Him in Ephesians.


COL 1:15 And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation.


COL 1:16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities —  all things have been created by Him and for Him.


COL 1:17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.


COL 1:18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything.


COL 1:19 For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fulness [pleroma] to dwell in Him,


COL 1:20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.


COL 2:9 For in Him all the fulness [pleroma] of Deity dwells in bodily form,


COL 2:10 and in Him you have been made complete (perfect passive of pleroo), and He is the head over all rule and authority;


Ephesians has the most affinities with Colossians, but it also has clear and distinct connections with Paul’s other letters. It could be said that Ephesians is Paul’s commentary on his other writings.


Ephesians lacks a polemic or argument. There is no address to a problem. It is a grand statement of the new creature and his new life.


Colossians contains a direct address to those who are threatened by falsehood and so truth is presented in an argument against the falsehood. Corinthians and Galatians also have this. Ephesians is written to the saints who are faithful and it is a clear statement of the new creation and his new life that has been granted by the blood of Christ.


The doctrine of the Holy Spirit plays a prominent part in this letter.


We would expect this because the letter is about the regeneration and the function of the body of Christ.


EPH 1:13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation —  having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,


EPH 1:14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory.


EPH 3:16 He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man;


EPH 4:1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,


EPH 4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love,


EPH 4:3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.


EPH 4:4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling;


EPH 4:5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism,


EPH 4:6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.


EPH 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.


EPH 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,


EPH 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.


Colossians only mentions the Holy Spirit once, and that indirectly.


The church is seen as the body of Christ animated by the Holy Spirit.


The church is also portrayed as a building, Christ being the Cornerstone and the Spirit being the One who bonds the stones together in the building.


EPH 2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household,


EPH 2:20 having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone,


EPH 2:21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord;


EPH 2:22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.


The stones are seen as new men and full-grown men, to the measure of the stature of Christ’s fullness. Christ is the Head and embodiment of the new creation.


EPH 4:12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;


EPH 4:13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ.


The believer is seen as incorporated into Christ and as a personal imitator of Christ. The new humanity is Christ Himself - not Christ in isolation from His people but Christ in His people, the same as when Paul wrote in GAL 4:19, Christ formed in you.


GAL 4:19

My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you


The relationship of Christ to His church is revealed to be of the highest intimacy. It is as a husband and wife.


The church is seen as universal, but not in the catholic way, but in the spiritual way. The church is seen as an organism and not an organization.


The letter also encourages Gentile Christians to appreciate the dignity of their calling. The church began mostly with Jews and some of the Gentiles may have thought themselves to be an afterthought of God, but not so says Paul. Gentile and Jewish believers were elected before the foundation of the world.