Ephesians is to the epistles what John is to the Gospels: the most exalted and universal of them all. Paul probably wrote Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon from prison in Rome around AD 60 or 62. Ephesians seems to be a letter for all the churches in the region Asia Minor), for it mentions no specific controversies in any local church. Instead, its topic is universal. Totally universal, in fact: We might call it Paul's treatise on "the cosmic Christ." Ephesians, like life, is really only about one thing: Christ. But we can distinguish at least 12 sub themes.
The Epistle to the Ephesians, along with those letters to the Philippians, the Colossians, and Philemon, is a Christological Epistle. Careful examination unfolds the grandeur and the glory of the Person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. While it is true that this book of six chapters is a treatment of the design and destiny of the Church, we must be careful to observe that the Church has her calling and consummation “in Christ.” All of her blessings are in Him. All of the purposes of God toward the Church are related to the Lord Jesus Christ, so that the Church, in its calling as an organism and in its conduct as an organization, is seen from the Christocentric standpoint. The most significant phrase in the epistle is made up of the two words, “in Christ.” If one is not “in Christ” he can know nothing experientially of these “spiritual blessings.” The doctrinal teaching of this epistle is very little more than a development of the single expression, ‘in Christ.’ Except a man is “in Christ,” he can claim none of the blessings of God as his redemption rights. We cannot by-pass Jesus Christ to get to God.
The letter states that it is from Paul, writing from prison, however some commentators are not convinced due to it's difference in style, different use of words (such as 'church'), and theological differences from other Pauline letters. Due to these controversies, the date of the authorship of this letter is not clear, although it was probably written before 95 AD, perhaps as early as 62 AD. If it wasn't written by Paul himself, it was certainly written by a Jewish Christian who was a devoted admirer of Paul.
The book does not have the form of a letter in the strict sense, since it does not address any local issues or problems, or a particular groups of Christians. It may have been a compilation of Pauline texts designed to introduce Pauline theology, and as such were circulated to a number of churches for teaching.
Ephesians is almost definitely a later expansion of Colossians, since they are so similar in structure and theology, but quite different from Paul's earlier letters; Ephesians was probably written to serve as a "cover letter" for an early collection of Pauline letters.
Ephesians is the least personal of Paul’s letters. The standard epistolary elements of opening greeting (1:1-2), blessing (1:3-14), thanksgiving (1:15-23), body (2:1—6:20), and final greeting (6:23-24) are all formal. The letter is almost devoid of references to the circumstances of either the writer or the readers. About Paul, we learn only that he is a prisoner. He does not know the community firsthand but has only heard of its “faith in the Lord Jesus and love toward all the saints”. No community crisis seems to have motivated the writing of the letter; it’s two brief references to false teaching serve as warnings against the possibility, rather than actuality, of deviance. The only person mentioned by name is Tychichus who appears, as in Colossians, to be the one delivering personal news from Paul.
This would indeed be a strange document if written by Paul to a church where, according to Acts, he had spent over two years. From reading Ephesians you can tell that the author doesn’t have the impression of intimacy for the church he spent over two years. The evidence suggests that Ephesians is a letter generated not by the immediate circumstances of Paul or a specific community crisis, but by the desire to communicate the implications of his mission to a wider circle of gentile churches.
Ephesians is stylistically closest to Colossians, except that it is even more expansive, with a tendency to heap substantives for effect. In summary: the vocabulary and syntax of Ephesians does not reflect a later period of Christian thought, and the knowledge language is a key element in most of Paul’s major letters.
Word Count: 754