Hello and welcome to the book of Ephesians! Ephesians is the first "disputed" letter of Pauls that we have come across so far. What I mean by this is it is uncertain among top scholars on whether or not this was written by Paul himself or by a loyal follower of his using his name to sum up his teachings. It's about a 60/40 split in favor of Pauline authorship as of the last "census" taken by scholars. For those that are curious there a few literary clues that give pause to Paul's authorship. For example, a careful reader might notice that in Ephesians the author (whoever it is) writes about "in the heavenly places" whereas Paul was much shorter and simply said "in the heavens" in the undisputed letters. Or, Paul generally uses the term "Satan" when describing the tempter whereas Ephesians writes "the devil." In Ephesians the phrase to introduce citations in scriptures says "therefore it says" whereas Paul uses no such formula elsewhere. However, the authorship "really" doesn't matter all that much. The motifs of Ephesians are clearly supported by Paul and are convincing enough that most of the worlds best attribute this Paul. But, for those that are curious, this is one of the possible letters written by an unknown author.
The themes you'll encounter in this letter are "the mystery of salvation" and the biblical source for the popular expression "the church as body of Christ." Further, Paul talks in our reading tomorrow about the roles of "ministers" in the church body and their function to equip Christians for service. Finally, this is a Pauline letter with a strong shift towards Eschatology (the study of the end times) with language that would support a "rapture" event so to speak. I'll have a Bible Project video down below that will illustrate these themes and more better than I have here but just to give you a little clue heading into it. Enjoy!
Scripture to Read
Questions to Consider
Paul opens his greeting with a long eulogy (written praise) for salvation before he gets down to business. Have you ever started your day in an attitude of gratitude before getting started with business? How does that change your day if at all?
In your own words what is the distinction between being saved by faith or by works? Why is this important to you?
Paul writes that Christ is our peace and has broken down the dividing wall between the two groups - how has your faith helped you extend love to someone you might disagree with? How has it made it difficult?
No commentary for today but I do have a Bible Project overview to share with you that will go over the main themes and beautifully illustrates not only what you've just read but also what you will read coming up. Enjoy!
Praying the Hymns
Our prayer for today is inspired by hymn 318 in our hymnal - Christ is Alive! Ephesians is a great book for these resurrection hymns!
1 Christ is alive! Let Christians sing.
His cross stands empty to the sky.
Let streets and homes with praises ring.
His love in death shall never die.
2 Christ is alive! No longer bound
to distant years in Palestine,
he comes to claim the here and now
and dwell in every place and time.
3 Not throned afar, remotely high,
untouched, unmoved by human pains,
but daily, in the midst of life,
our Savior in the Godhead reigns.
4 In every insult, rift, and war,
where color, scorn, or wealth divide,
he suffers still, yet loves the more,
and lives, though ever crucified.
5 Christ is alive, and comes to bring good news to this and every age, till earth and all creation ring with joy, with justice, love, and praise.