This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. I am writing to God’s holy people in Ephesus, who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.Ephesians 1:1-2
The opening to this letter has nothing remarkable about it at all and that is remarkable. The opening is short and standard without any thing to be commented on apart from what I have already commented on when we looked at the opening to the letters to the Romans or the letter to Corinthians. (See Bible Gems 135–137, 274, 308–309 and 501). The grace is ordinary and unremarkable as well. That for a letter to the Ephesians is strange. Paul was intimately connected with the Ephesian leaders and the Ephesian church having spent two years there and having called the Ephesian leaders to Miletus to meet with him to say farewell (Acts 20:17 ff) This farewell was very emotional. To send them such a bland letter is very un-Paul-like . Hence the commentators input as we have seen. (See Bible Gem 596)
This indeed looks like a form letter. It is the kind of opening and close to a letter that some of us might have stored on our computer these days in order to be able to clip and paste for those general occasions. Or maybe it is stored as a macro so you can action it when you need it. As some have suggested, perhaps this was a letter used in multiple church situations and only the name of the church was changed. This would account for some manuscripts having Ephesians listed as the recipients and others missing Ephesians. It would also account for Marcion claiming that his copy of the letter was addressed to Laodiceans.
The other feature to remind you is that in the body of the letter there are no personal touches for the Ephesians. The kind of thing Paul does in Corinthians, Philippians and Colossians to name some. Ephesians has none of those personal touches. Paul even does that in the letter to the Romans, yet he has never been there. He has one chapter listing the people to greet even though he has never met many of them. Yet in the “Ephesian” letter there is none of that at all. You have to conclude it is rather strange. Hence I have to confess the task I set to look at the opening of Ephesians was a little obtuse. You were looking for something that wasn’t there. When you know what should be there it is easier to spot it when it isn’t. If you get my point.
Furthermore the content is pitched at church level and could apply to any church in Asia Minor rather than specifically the Ephesians. That is not a bad thing. Paul has been free in this letter of the problems that beset the church and therefore he does not have to address issues but rather has free reign to talk about some general high level things. Which also fits the Ephesians as God’s Spirit speaking through John in Revelation, tells them only that they have left their first love. In other things they are to be commended. The opening lines here tell us this church is filled with holy people who are faithful followers of Christ. Of course these comments could be seen in a more general light of us all being holy because He, God the Father, has called us holy. We looked at that issue in Gem 136.
I will leave you to decide what you think of this opening and it significance to the rest of the letter. Where this opening is unremarkable, in the following Gems we will spend our time analysing just one remarkable sentence. Enough for now.
God knows the complete, full-orbed truth about anything or anyone… and I’m not God.Rick Warren
The Bible Is Not Just Another Textbook; It Is A Manual For Life.Robb Thompson