Archibald Thomas Robertson

The Epistle to the Ephesians

From Rome A.D. 63

By Way of Introduction

There are some problems of a special nature that confront us about the so-called Epistle to the Ephesians.

The Authorship

It is not admitted by all that Paul wrote it, though no other adequate explanation of its origin has ever been given. So far as subject matter and vocabulary and style are concerned, if Colossians is Pauline, there is little or nothing to be said against the Pauline authorship of this Epistle.

Relation to Colossians

As we have seen, the two Epistles were sent at the same time, but clearly Colossians was composed first. Ephesians bears much the same relation to Colossians that Romans does to Galatians, a fuller treatment of the same general theme in a more detached and impersonal manner.

The Destination

The oldest documents (Aleph and B) do not have the words en Ephesōi (in Ephesus) in Eph 1:1 (inserted by a later hand). Origen did not have them in his copy. Marcion calls it the Epistle to the Laodiceans. We have only to put here Col 4:16 “the letter from Laodicea” to find the probable explanation. After writing the stirring Epistle to the Colossians Paul dictated this so-called Epistle to the Ephesians as a general or circular letter for the churches in Asia (Roman province). Perhaps the original copy had no name in Eph 1:1 as seen in Aleph and B and Origen, but only a blank space. Marcion was familiar with the copy in Laodicea. Basil in the fourth century mentions some MSS. with no name in the address. Most MSS. were copies from the one in Ephesus and so it came to be called the Epistle to the Ephesians. The general nature of the letter explains also the absence of names in it, though Paul lived three years in Ephesus.

The Date

The same date must be assigned as for Philemon and Colossians, probably a.d. 63.

The Place of Writing

This would also be the same, that is Rome, though Deissmann and Duncan argue for Ephesus itself as the place of writing. Some scholars even suggest Caesarea.

The Character of the Epistle

The same Gnostic heresy is met as in Colossians, but with this difference. In Colossians the emphasis is on the Dignity of Christ as the Head of the Church, while in Ephesians chief stress is placed upon the Dignity of the Church as the Body of Christ the Head. Paul has written nothing more profound than chapters Ephesians 1-3 of Ephesians. Stalker termed them the profoundest thing ever written. He sounds the depths of truth and reaches the heights. Since Ephesians covers the same ground so largely as Colossians, only the words in Ephesians that differ or are additional will call for discussion. 

Taken from "Word Pictures in the New Testament" by Archibald Thomas Robertson