Monday, March 26, 2012

Who wrote Ephesians?


(Theater is Ephesus) BiblePlaces.com Image Library. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009.
           Ephesians clearly starts off as Paul identifying himself as the main source behind the letter stating, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, the saints in Ephesus[1] (Eph 1:1 NIV84), but some have called into question if this is actually true starting with F. C Baur in 1845.[2]  Dianne Bergant and Robert J. Karris imply that the      author is unknown claiming someone put Paul’s name at the beginning to make specific point.  They write, “By writing in Paul’s name, the author clearly wanted to anchor his or her own teaching in the apostolic tradition.”[3]  NT Historian and Textual Critic Bart Ehrman, being more forthright, labels Ephesians as a “Deutero-Pauline” letter along with several Colossians and 1st Thessalonians.[4] One of the objections some make that there is not a direct Paul did not have a direct connection to the penning of Ephesians cite a lack of, according to the Apologetics Study Bible, “..personal references that are present in most of Paul’s other letters to churches.[5] 

           However, there are good arguments for Pauline authorship. 1) He refers twice that he is the one writing or being the direct source behind the letter (Eph 1:1, 3:1). 2) He refers to being in prison stating, “for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”(Eph 6:20NIV84)  3) The differences that skeptical scholars point out have reasonable explanations for example in Ephesians 4:11 Paul acknowledges that there are five types of spiritual gifts.  He states, “
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers.” (Eph 4:11 NIV84)  However, in the Pauline corpus(well recognized letters being authored by Paul), Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 have many gifts these letters list thus some coming to the conclusion Ephesians was written later since the list of recognized gifts is more structured and less charismatic.[6]  However, a reasonable explanation can be offered for this difference as commentator Walter Liefield proposes:
In the Pastoral Epistles, also claimed to be later, spiritual endowment was conveyed by the laying on of hands along with prophecy (1 Tim 4:14). This is a practice consistent with the charismatic emphasis in the Corinthian letters. Conversely, although 1 Corinthians 12:4–11 mentions a number of spiritual gifts, verses 28–30 of that chapter refers to a limited group of leaders like that in Ephesians 4:11.[7]

 These reasons and more have led commentators like Walter L. Liefeld that “…the epistle was indeed written by Paul the apostle.”[8]



[1] The Holy Bible: New International Version, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), Eph 1:1.
[2] Ted Cabal, Chad Owen Brand, E. Ray Clendenen et al., The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007), 1761.
[3] Dianne Bergant and Robert J. Karris, The Collegeville Bible Commentary : Based on the New American Bible With Revised New Testament (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1989), 1188.
[4]Ehrman, Bart D. (2009-01-23). Misquoting Jesus (p. 219). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
[5] Ted Cabal, Chad Owen Brand, E. Ray Clendenen et al., The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007), 1761.
[6] Walter L. Liefeld, vol. 10, Ephesians, The IVP New Testament commentary series (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1997).
[7] Ibid
[8] Ibid

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