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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature

Ephesians Epistle to the

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This Epistle expressly claims to be the production of the Apostle Paul (; ); and this claim the writer in the latter of these passages follows up by speaking of himself in language such as that Apostle is accustomed to use in describing his own position as an ambassador of Christ (;; ). The justice of this claim seems to have been universally admitted by the early Christians, and it is expressly sanctioned by several of the fathers of the second and third centuries.

The question to whom was this Epistle addressed has received different answers. Grotius, reviving the opinion of the ancient heretic Marcion, maintains that the party addressed in this Epistle was the church at Laodicea, and that we have in this the Epistle to that church which is commonly supposed to have been lost; while others contend that this was addressed to no church in particular, but was a sort of circular letter, intended for the use of several churches, of which Ephesus may have been the first or center.

Without entering into a minute consideration of these theories, which our limits will not permit, we may remark that both are unsupported by satisfactory evidence, and that we fully concur in the common opinion that the party to whom this Epistle was sent was the church at Ephesus.

The Epistle is so much the utterance of a mind overflowing with thought and feeling that it does not present any precisely marked divisions under which its different parts may be ranked. After the usual apostolic salutation Paul breaks forth into an expression of thanksgiving to God and Christ for the scheme of redemption (), from which he passes to speak of the privileges actually enjoyed by himself and those to whom he was writing, through Christ (). He then reminds the Ephesians of their former condition when they were without Christ and of the great change which, through divine grace, they had experienced (). An allusion to himself as enjoying by divine revelation the knowledge of the mystery of Christ leads the Apostle to enlarge upon the dignity of his office and the blessed results that were destined to flow from the exercise of it to others (). On this he grounds an exhortation to his brethren not to faint on account of his sufferings for the Gospel, and affectionately invokes on their behalf the divine blessing, concluding this, which may be called the more doctrinal part of his Epistle, with a doxology to God (). What follows is chiefly hortatory, and is directed partly to the inculcation of general consistency, stedfastness in the faith, and propriety of deportment (; ), and partly to the enforcement of relative duties (; ). The Epistle concludes with an animated exhortation to fortitude, watchfulness and prayer followed by a reference to Tychicus as the bearer of the Epistle, and by the usual apostolic benediction (). This Epistle was written during the earlier part of the Apostle's imprisonment at Rome, at the same time with that to the Colossians [COLOSSIANS, EPISTLE TO THE].





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Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Ephesians Epistle to the'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature".

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