Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The most controversial of the so-called “prison letters” is what we know as the book of Ephesians. Some believe it to be a letter from Paul during the latter part of his imprisonment in Rome. Others question whether it is actually a letter, to whom it was actually addressed, and whether or not it was actually Paul who wrote it.
Those who do not believe Paul wrote the letter point out a difference in the Greek used, and words used in the letter not used by Paul elsewhere. The letter speaks to the “church”, as the universal church, whereas in his other letters, Paul addresses individual churches. As for the address to Ephesus, the more ancient and the best Greek texts available do not include the address to Ephesus. A number of themes in the letter would represent a movement in Paul’s thinking from the earlier letters. There are those who contest that the letter to the Ephesians, if not written by Paul, is more Pauline than Paul himself. The answers to these questions will never be known – and scholars will argue incessantly. As for me, I have always loved the theology of this particular letter or book, and it is that which I read. Sometimes I see Paul clearly reflected, and sometimes not.
One thing to note – in the first century it was not considered plagiarism to attach the name of an honored person to one’s writings, but a way of honoring that person. It may well be that a disciple or close follower of Paul gathered his thoughts and conversations, perhaps his sermons, into this text, attaching Paul’s name.
The purpose of the letter appears to be to show the nature of the church (the universal church) and the Christian life to a largely pagan community. The letter speaks of God’s cosmic and universal intentions and purposes. The church, with Christ as its head, is the way through which God will accomplish his cosmic purposes. All of this is crafted within the form of a letter – it opens with a salutation, followed by a blessing and prayer for those who are addressed.
Grace be to you, and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!