The Pauline Epistles: What They Really Are- Ephesians

This is one of the Epistles that many modern-day scholars believe was not written by Shaul.

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It was written around 62 A.D., which is the time when Shaul was imprisoned in Rome (although it was more like house arrest), to the Gentile believers in Ephesus, as well as any Jewish believers who may have been there. Ephesus was located in what today we call Turkey.

You may recall that when Shaul was first in Ephesus (Acts 19) there was a silversmith named Demitrius who made money creating idols of the false gods, and when he heard how Shaul had been turning so many away from idol worship, he started a riot.

Now, whoever wrote this to the congregation did so to help them stay on track. It seems he concentrated on telling them to remain humble and to be more loving towards each other. As with all the letters we know Shaul did write, this one begins with praising God and Yeshua, then turns to the congregation.

In the very beginning the writer opens up a can of worms for future religions in that he states there are those chosen for salvation and others who are not. This is a clear statement for Predestination, which he never really identifies in any of his other letters so absolutely.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons the scholars think he did not write this letter?

He identifies Satan as the power of the air (today nearly all communication is sent through the air. Hmmmm….) and is the spirit of disobedience. He reminds the Ephesian believers that before they accepted Yeshua they were dead, meaning that their sinful lives would result in death and not eternal life.

To explain how they were dead before, but now alive in Yeshua, the writer uses the example of the Torah creating a barrier between the Gentiles and the Jews, but Yeshua, through his sacrifice, destroyed that barrier by abolishing it.

This has been misunderstood to mean the Torah is not applicable to Gentiles who believe in Yeshua. That could never be something Shaul, a life-long Pharisee and life-long Torah observant man, would ever preach. In the letters we know he wrote, he allows that the Gentile believers should learn the Torah slowly, at a pace they can handle, but never comes out and says, directly, that they don’t have to obey the Torah.

One thing you need to understand is that if the Messiah Yeshua, the Son of God, had ever taught or preached anything other than obedience to his father’s commandments in the Torah, that would have made him a rebellious son and a sinner. As such, he could not have been the sinless lamb whose sacrifice would be accepted.

But we know he was raised from the dead, so that proves his sacrifice was accepted, which means he was not a sinner, which means he did not teach against the Torah- ever!

Back to the letter.

The writer pleads with the congregation in Ephesus to be humble, loving, and to strengthen their faith so they will not be fooled by the craftiness of men. Sadly, that seems to be exactly what has happened throughout the last two millennia, with many different men (and in some cases, women) craftily taking people from one Christian belief system into a different system of beliefs, ceremonies, rules, holidays, and tenets, all which they created on their own.

The writer warns against sexual immorality, telling them that they have thrown off their old selves and taken on new ones, so they should not give the Devil a foothold.

Obviously, all these warnings and admonitions, just as with the other letters Shaul wrote to the other congregations, are specifically addressing issues that existed within the congregation.

As I have said, these letters are managerial directives.

The best part of this letter is Ephesians 6:14, where we are told about the Armor of God that is to be worn every day:

  • Belt of truth
  • Breastplate of righteousness
  • Feet wearing the sandals of peace
  • Shield of faith (to put out the flaming arrows of the Enemy)
  • Helmet of salvation, and
  • Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God (Torah)
    (That’s good news for me- I was on the Varsity Fencing Team in High School)

The writer ends this as Shaul would, greeting those in the area and asking for prayer for the saints, and for himself.

To review, the main issues with this letter are the introduction of the idea of predestination and that Yeshua’s death abolished the Torah. In no other letters does Shaul indicate that the Torah is invalid or done away with, nor does he indicate that salvation is not available to anyone, which is the opposite of the idea of Predestination. When we examine this letter closely against the letters we know Shaul wrote, we can see not only differences in style of writing, but in the messages it sends.

The next letter will be the one written to the Philippians.

Until then, l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

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