Ephesians :: Catholic News Agency

Author: Paul of Tarsus

Date Written: 60 A.D.


Paul wrote this letter to the Church at Ephesus, which by this time was much more mature than some of the other churches.  The Apostle John and the Virgin Mary had lived there and helped the congregation grow spiritually.  Paul himself had spent about three years there preaching and teaching.  Notice that Paul does not accuse the Ephesians of anything specific, nor does he treat them as beginners.  Rather he writes this letter to encourage their faith, which is already strong.


Paul reaffirms the Ephesians' adoption by God.  It is not we who chose God, but God who chose us (1:4).  We are predestined by God, not that God forces us to make certain choices, but he has called us from all eternity to be his own children (1:5).  No one is predestined to evil.  Paul prays for the Ephesians and gives thanks to God for their faith (1:15-16). 

In our sins, we were spiritually dead, but just as Christ was raised from physical death, we have been raised from spiritual death by his power (2:1-6).  God's grace saves us.  Fundamentally, we cannot earn our salvation by works because it is a free gift (2:8-9).  For more on justification read CCC 1987-2009.


The Gentiles before Christ were "separated from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world" (2:12).  But the death and resurrection of Jesus have enabled the Gentiles to obtain salvation for the first time.  In Christ, both Jews and Gentiles are being "built together" (2:22) as a "holy temple" (2:21).  Paul relates some of his personal testimony and his calling to proclaim the gospel of Jesus.  He offers a powerful prayer for the Ephesians, that their faith might increase (3:14-21).


He issues a call that we be a unified people who keep "the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace" (4:3).  Though each member of the "household of God"(2:19) has different gifts, we are not to be blown about by every "wind of doctrine," (4:14) but we are to work together "until we all reach the unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God" (3:13).  Unity is the central theme of the whole epistle.  


Paul calls us to put off the "old man" and to put on the "new man,"(4:22-24) to shun the "unfruiful works of darkness" (5:11) and to walk as "children of the light" (5:8).  Paul gives very straightforward directions about moral and immoral behaviors, emphasizing purity of mind and speech (5:3-8).  He presents important principles regarding marriage, children and master-slave relationships (5:21-6:9).  In the last section of Ephesians, Paul highlights the reality of the spiritual battle we are fighting.  He paints a profound image of the "armor of God" that we must wear to "stand firm" (6:14).


Ephesians is deeply theological and provokes profound meditation on the mysteries of God.  The themes of God's providence, resurrection, unity, spiritual warfare, family and the moral life are key points for study and prayer.

By Mark Giszczak


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